Fault Tolerance Middleware (FTM) provides a framework to run on a dedicated core of a multi-core system and handles detection of single-event upsets (SEUs), and the responses to those SEUs, occurring in an application running on multiple cores of the processor.

This software was written expressly for a multi-core system and can support different kinds of fault strategies, such as introspection, algorithm- based fault tolerance (ABFT), and triple modular redundancy (TMR). It focuses on providing fault tolerance for the application code, and represents the first step in a plan to eventually include fault tolerance in message passing and the FTM itself.

In the multi-core system, the FTM resides on a single, dedicated core, separate from the cores used by the application. This is done in order to isolate the FTM from application faults and to allow it to swap out any application core for a substitute. The structure of the FTM consists of an interface to a fault tolerant strategy module, a responder module, a fault manager module, an error factory, and an error mapper that determines the severity of the error.

In the present reference implementation, the only fault tolerant strategy implemented is introspection. The introspection code waits for an application node to send an error notification to it. It then uses the error factory to create an error object, and at this time, a severity level is assigned to the error. The introspection code uses its built-in knowledge base to generate a recommended response to the error. Responses might include ignoring the error, logging it, rolling back the application to a previously saved checkpoint, swapping in a new node to replace a bad one, or restarting the application. The original error and recommended response are passed to the top-level fault manager module, which invokes the response. The responder module also notifies the introspection module of the generated response. This provides additional information to the introspection module that it can use in generating its next response. For example, if the responder triggers an application rollback and errors are still occurring, the introspection module may decide to recommend an application restart.

This work was done by Raphael R. Some, Paul L. Springer, Hans P. Zima, Mark James, and David A. Wagner of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This software is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Daniel Broderick of the California Institute of Technology at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-47806

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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