Imagination adds safety, resilience to processor for IoT

Picture this: The networking stack on the main pump controller has crashed, and you need to reboot it — but it’s 20 meters underground, on another continent — and there’s no-one on site to hit ‘reset’.

Or you’re bowling along the highway and one of the processor cores in your self-driving car gets zapped by a cosmic ray (yes, this could actually happen). The software can’t tell whether the resulting error is a transient glitch or a hardware fault, so limits you to 50 kilometers per hour for safety: No fun with a monster truck hurtling up behind you.

Chip designers such as ARM and Imagination Technologies are applying industrial safety design techniques to their processor cores so that they can get themselves out of situations like this. You could soon feel the benefit even if you don’t run a subterranean pumping station in Azerbaijan, nor yet have a self-driving car in your garage.

Functionally safe

We place a lot of faith in the processors in our internet of things, counting on the software they run to perform to spec in all circumstances. But there are problems that no amount of bounds checking, input sanitization or exception handling can fix.

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