Faster-than-at-speed execution of functional programs: An experimental analysis

Abstract : Burn-In (BI) test is usually applied in manufacturing process to screen out chip early life failures, especially for safety critical applications. Unfortunately, this test method has elevated costs for companies. In recent days, Faster-than-at-Speed-Test (FAST) has become a useful technique to discover small delay defects. At the same time, overclocking methods to enhance system performances have been studied, which focus on temperature management to preserve system functionalities. In this paper, a FAST technique is approached with the aim of intentionally provoking a thermal overheating in the microprocessor by mean of the execution of functional test programs, partly regardless of system behavior preservation. The goal is to introduce an internal stress stronger than current procedures used during BI in order to speed up early detection of latent faults. The method illustrates how to avoid blocking configurations due to timing constraints violation and leads to a significant increase of the switching activity. Experimental results on a MIPS architecture show that, by using the described technique, the processor is not falling into an unpredictable state even at frequencies up to about 20 times higher than the nominal one and the switching activity is increasing up to 300% per nanoseconds.
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Paolo Bernardi, Alberto Bosio, Giorgio Di Natale, Andrea Guerriero, Federico Venini. Faster-than-at-speed execution of functional programs: An experimental analysis. VLSI-SoC: Very Large Scale Integration and System-on-Chip, Sep 2016, Tallinn, Estonia. ⟨10.1109/VLSI-SoC.2016.7753581⟩. ⟨lirmm-01444403⟩



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