Characterization of Stack Behavior Under Soft Errors

Junchi Ma and Yun Wang
School of Computer Science and Engineering, Southeast University, Nanjing 211189, China, Key Laboratory of Computer Network and Information Integration, Ministry of Education


As process technology scales, electronic devices become more susceptible to soft error induced by radiation. The stack in the memory implements procedure calls and its behavior under soft error has not been studied yet. To analyze the effects of soft error on the stack behavior, we conduct a series of fault injection experiment in the IA-32 instruction set architecture. The injection targets are the ESP register (used as the stack pointer) and the EBP register (used as the stack-frame base pointer). We obtain a few important observations from the fault injection experiment. Results show that injections on ESP lead to silent data corruption (SDC) or benign only if the flipped ESP points to another return address when executing the RET instruction, otherwise most of the injections cause crash. The injected bits of these SDC and benign cases are distributed in the particular bits (4-7) and the reason for the distribution is given. Moreover, flipped EBP may cause a series of infinite return operations, which is defined as return cycle.We describe the basic mechanism of return cycle and the essential condition for its occurrence.

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