Superscalar processors may have the ability to execute instructions out-of-order to better exploit the internal hardware and to maximize the performance. To maintain the in-order instructions commitment and to guarantee the correctness of the final results (as well as precise exception management), the Reorder Buffer (ROB) is used. From the architectural point of view, the ROB is a memory array of several thousands of bits that must be tested against hardware faults to ensure a correct behavior of the processor. Since it is deeply embedded within the microprocessor circuitry, the most straightforward approach to test the ROB is through Built-In Self-Test solutions, which are typically adopted by manufacturers for end-of-production test. However, these solutions may not always be used for the test during the operational phase (in-field test) which aims at detecting possible hardware faults arising when the electronic systems works in its target environment. In fact, these solutions require the usage of test infrastructures that may not be accessible and/or documented, or simply not usable during the operational phase. This paper proposes an alternative solution, based on a functional approach, in which the test is performed by forcing the processor to execute a specially written test program, and checking the behavior of the processor. This approach can be adopted for in-field test, e.g., at the power-on, power-off, or during the time slots unused by the system application. The method has been validated resorting to both an architectural and a memory fault simulator.
|Titolo:||A Functional Approach for Testing the Reorder Buffer Memory|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2014|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1007/s10836-014-5461-9|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|