A Survey on Formal Verification Techniques for Safety-Critical Systems-on-Chip

Tomás Grimm, Michael Hübner, Djones Lettnin

Electronics, MDPI, Special Issue Hardware and Architecture


Abstract

The high degree of miniaturization in the electronics industry has been, for several years, a driver to push embedded systems to different fields and applications. One example is safety-critical systems, where the compactness in the form factor helps to reduce the costs and allows for the implementation of new techniques. The automotive industry is a great example of a safety-critical area with a great rise in the adoption of microelectronics. With it came the creation of the ISO 26262 standard with the goal of guaranteeing a high level of dependability in the designs. Other areas in the safety-critical applications domain have similar standards. However, these standards are mostly guidelines to make sure that designs reach the desired dependability level without explicit instructions. In the end, the success of the design to fulfill the standard is the result of a thorough verification process. Naturally, the goal of any verification team dealing with such important designs is complete coverage as well as standards conformity, but as these are complex hardware, complete functional verification is a difficult task. From the several techniques that exist to verify hardware, where each has its pros and cons, we studied six well-established in academia and in industry. We can divide them into two categories: simulation, which needs extremely large amounts of time, and formal verification, which needs unrealistic amounts of resources. Therefore, we conclude that a hybrid approach offers the best balance between simulation (time) and formal verification (resources).

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Tags: Formal, Safety-Critical, survey, Systems-on-Chip, Techniques, verification