Using Formal Verification To Evaluate The HW Reliability Of A RISC-V Ibex Core In The Presence Of Soft Errors


A technical paper titled “Using Formal Verification to Evaluate Single Event Upsets in a RISC-V Core” was published by researchers at University of Southampton.


“Reliability has been a major concern in embedded systems. Higher transistor density and lower voltage supply increase the vulnerability of embedded systems to soft errors. A Single Event Upset (SEU), which is also called a soft error, can reverse a bit in a sequential element, resulting in a system failure. Simulation-based fault injection has been widely used to evaluate reliability, as suggested by ISO26262. However, it is practically impossible to test all faults for a complex design. Random fault injection is a compromise that reduces accuracy and fault coverage. Formal verification is an alternative approach. In this paper, we use formal verification, in the form of model checking, to evaluate the hardware reliability of a RISC-V Ibex Core in the presence of soft errors. Backward tracing is performed to identify and categorize faults according to their effects (no effect, Silent Data Corruption, crashes, and hangs). By using formal verification, the entire state space and fault list can be exhaustively explored. It is found that misaligned instructions can amplify fault effects. It is also found that some bits are more vulnerable to SEUs than others. In general, most of the bits in the Ibex Core are vulnerable to Silent Data Corruption, and the second pipeline stage is more vulnerable to Silent Data Corruption than the first.”

Find the technical paper here. Published May 2024 (preprint).

Xue, Bing, and Mark Zwolinski. “Using Formal Verification to Evaluate Single Event Upsets in a RISC-V Core.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2405.12089 (2024).

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