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Providing ISO 26262-compliant processor IP

Posted: 08 Aug 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ISO 26262  processor IP  software  ADAS  advanced driver assistance systems 

The intended functions of the system are analysed with respect to possible hazards to identify the safety requirements of the system. The ASIL specification asks the question: "If a failure arises, what will happen to the driver and associated road users?"

The estimation of this risk, based on a combination of the probability of exposure, the possible controllability by a driver, and the severity of the possible outcome if a critical event occurs, leads to the ASIL rating (figure 2). The ASIL does not address the technologies used in the system; it is purely focused on the harm to the driver and other road users.

Figure 2: ASIL determination formula.

Each safety requirement is assigned an ASIL of A, B, C, or D, with D having the most safety-critical processes and strictest testing regulations.

The ISO 26262 standard specifically identifies the minimum testing requirements depending on the ASIL designation of the component.

This aids in determining the methods that must be used for test. Once the ASIL is determined, a safety goal for the system is formulated. This defines the system behaviour needed to ensure safety.

Like its parent standard, IEC 61508, ISO 26262 is a risk-based safety standard, meaning the risk of hazardous operational situations are qualitatively assessed and safety measures are defined to avoid or control systemic failures and to detect or control random hardware failures, or mitigate their effects.

ISO 26262 and processor IP
Processor IP is at the heart of many, if not most, new automotive safety system controllers and system-on-chips (SoCs).

The processor runs the software that determines the functions of the ASIC or SoC and, ultimately, the safety performance of the whole system.

The relationships among the processor IP, the software running on it, and achievement of certification now becomes a much more complex mapping of responsibility of safety compliance across the supply chain of the OEM, the component supplier, and now the processor IP provider.

This means that the processor IP provider also needs to be knowledgeable in the requirements of ISO 26262 and ASIL awareness.

To become a valued processor IP provider in the automotive safety market, the provider must integrate hardware features into its processor IP that enable the component supplier to build a more safety-compliant SoC. These features are required to raise the ASIL levels within a chip design.

Creating an ISO 26262-ready processor core
The dramatic growth in processors used in semiconductors for ADAS can be seen in figure 3. The need for more intelligence and programmable control means there is a bigger demand for a programmable processor in place of either discrete logic or pre-programmed state machines.

Figure 3: Advanced driver assisted systems—semiconductor demand. (Source: Strategy Analytics, Jan. 2013)

To enable semiconductor vendors to build chips targeted at ISO 26262 safety-critical applications, changes are needed in the development of processor IP.

As Synopsys discovered, not only does the technology need to change, but the development process and safety culture within the company has to align with the goals of the ISO 26262 standard.

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