Multi-processor solutions in safety-critical systems

Written by Maciej Gajdzica

Senior Software Developer

Multi-processor solutions are overwhelmingly popular in safety-critical systems. Contrary to popular beliefs, increased performance is usually not the reason for this fact. The two prevalent reasons are increased security by means of redundancy and simplified development by means of moving complicated, yet less critical elements to separate processors.

Let’s start with security -the system needs to maintain its security at all times, even when a malfunction or an error of a processor occurs. In case of a severe failure the processor might not be able to switch the system to the safe state on its own. Therefore, processor redundancy is indispensable as it provides the second processing unit to detect the problem and counteract.

The simplest redundancy system is one fitted with a supervising processor. In this configuration the main processor implements all the major functions, while the additional processor simply monitors operations and intervenes when significant anomalies are detected.

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