The University of Southampton

Demonstrating hardware fault tolerance at low-energy cost

Published: 10 December 2009

Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi of the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) and co-authors received the Best Paper Award at the 2009 International Conference on Hardware-Software Co-design and System Synthesis (CODES-ISSS).

One of the world’s most prestigious conferences in the design of embedded systems hardware, software and tools, this year’s event was held in Grenoble, France. The award recognizes original research contributions addressing important and challenging problems in embedded computing systems which have the potential to establish new research directions.

The winning paper ‘A standby-sparing technique with low energy-overhead for fault-tolerant hard real-time systems’, by Alireza Ejlali, Bashir M Al-Hashimi, and Petru Eles, developed a hardware-redundancy fault-tolerance technique with dynamic and frequency voltage scaling and dynamic power management awareness to reduce system energy consumption.

‘It is known that hardware-redundancy fault tolerance performs better in recovering from faults than time-redundancy techniques and is often preferred in safety-critical systems. This improved fault-tolerance performance, however, comes at high energy cost,’ said Professor Al-Hashimi.

‘We looked at the problem of how to achieve a high level of protection against faults for hard real-time embedded systems with limited energy budget. We developed all the necessary theoretical foundations to work out the operating voltages of the primary unit and when to activate the spare unit of the developed technique to achieve the best possible fault-tolerance performance with minimum energy cost and meeting the imposed system deadline. ‘This demonstrated how power management and fault tolerance can be combined in optimized manner. It represents an important step towards development of the low power and reliable embedded computing systems required in emerging mobile electronics applications', said Professor Al-Hashimi. This work is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), under the EPSRC platform grant renewal (Electronics Design), awarded to Professor Al-Hashimi in 2007. This research is part of the international collaboration in Embedded Systems Design between Professor Al-Hashimi, Dr Alireza Ejlali of Sharif University, Iran, and Professor Petru Eles of the University of Linkoping, Sweden.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel. +44(0)23 8059 5453.

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