An Empirical Study of the Impact of Single and Multiple Bit-Flip Errors in Programs

Behrooz Sangchoolie, Karthik Pattabiraman and Johan Karlsson, To appear in the IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing (TDSC). [ PDF (coming soon) ]

Expanded version of our conference paper.

Abstract: Recent studies have shown that technology and voltage scaling are expected to increase the likelihood that particle-induced soft errors manifest as multiple-bit errors. This raises concerns about the validity of using single bit-flips in fault-injection experiments aiming to assess the program-level impact of soft errors. The goal of this paper is to investigate whether multiple-bit errors could cause a higher percentage of silent data corruptions (SDCs) compared to single-bit errors. Based on 2700 fault-injection campaigns with 15 benchmark programs, featuring a total of 27 million experiments, our results show that single-bit errors inmost cases either yield a higher percentage of SDCs compared to multiple-bit errors or yield SDC results that are very close to the ones obtained for the multiple-bit errors. Further, we find that only around 2% of the multiple-bit campaigns resulted in an SDC percentage that was more than 5 percentage points higher than that obtained for the corresponding single-bit campaigns. For most of these campaigns, the highest percentage of SDCs was obtained by flipping at most 3 bits. Based on our results, we also propose four techniques for error space pruning to avoid injection of multiple-bit errors that are either unlikely or infeasible to cause SDCs.

Comments are closed.