The protection of processor-based systems to mitigate the harmful effect of transient faults (soft errors) is gaining importance as technology shrinks. At the same time, for large segments of embedded markets, parameters like cost and performance continue to be as important as reliability. This paper presents a compiler-based methodology for facilitating the design of fault-tolerant embedded systems. The methodology is supported by an infrastructure that permits to easily combine hardware/software soft errors mitigation techniques in order to best satisfy both usual design constraints and dependability requirements. It is based on a generic microprocessor architecture that facilitates the implementation of software-based techniques, providing a uniform isolated-from-target hardening core that allows the automatic generation of protected source code (hardened code). Two case studies are presented. In the first one, several software-based mitigation techniques are implemented and evaluated showing the flexibility of the infrastructure. In the second one, a customized fault tolerant embedded system is designed by combining selective protection on both hardware and software. Several trade-offs among performance, code size, reliability, and hardware costs have been explored. Results show the applicability of the approach. Among the developed software-based mitigation techniques, a novel selective version of the well known SWIFT-R is presented.
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