A Dynamic Scheduling Approach to Designing Flexible Safety-Critical Systems

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The design of safety-critical systems has typically adopted static techniques to simplify error detection and fault tolerance. However, economic pressure to reduce costs is exposing the limitations of those techniques in terms of efficiency in the use of system resources. In some industrial domains, such as the automotive, this pressure is too high, and other approaches to safety must be found, e.g., capable of providing some kind of fault tolerance but with graceful degradation to lower costs, or also capable of adapting to instantaneous requirements to better use the computational/communication resources. This paper analyzes the development of systems that exhibit such level of flexibility, allowing the system configuration to evolve within a well-defined space. Two options are possible, one starting from the typical static approach but introducing choice points that are evaluated only at runtime, and another one starting from an open systems approach but delimiting the space of possible adaptations. The paper follows the latter and presents a specific contribution, namely, the concept of local utilization bound, which supports a fast and efficient schedulability analysis for on-line resource management that assures continued safe operation. Such local bound is derived off-line for the specific set of possible configurations, and can be significantly higher than any generic non-necessary utilization bound such as the well known Liu and Layland’s bound for Rate-Monotonic scheduling.

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Postprint version. Published in Proceedings of the 7th Annual ACM Conference on Embedded Software (EmSoft '07), October 2007, 8 pages.
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