ARM data kit for C in functionally safe systems

ARM Cortex families

ARM Cortex families

ARM has announced a document package intended to ease the certification of its compiler against safety standards such as IEC 61508 and ISO 26262.

It has also started a series of ‘extended maintenance’ compiler version which are guaranteed to be maintained for years. The first one, v5.04, is to be maintained for five years until 2018. The next will overlap, being introduced in 2016. These will be updated with defect repairs, but not gain new functions.

“The ARM architecture is finding its way into more safety-related applications. Until now it has been left up to the customer to prove the compiler tool-chain is doing what it is supposed to be doing,” Daniel Owens, compiler product manager at ARM told Electronics Weekly.

Called the Compiler Qualification Kit, the document package consists of:

Safety Manual – informs the customer how to configure the tool-chain for safety-related projects, including recommended use cases and mitigation strategies for potential errors.

Defect Reports – a listing of known defects and workarounds, whether found via internal testing or customer reported. Until now, only repaired defects were made public. “It takes a fair amount of work to take a customer report and turn it around for other customers. We haven’t done it before,” said Owens. These reports will be referenced to extended maintenance versions of the tool-chain.

Test Report – provides a list of C language conformance tests passed, based on ISO C90 and C99 language conformant input.

Development Process – provides a description of the internal software development process used to produce the tool-chain, including procedures for requirements and defect management, procedures for configuration management, traceability between source code commits and defects or requirements, and validation procedures.

Some compiler vendors get a third party to assess their tool-chains. Why not ARM?

“Our approach is to provide information directly to customers. The end user still has to do due diligence,” said Owens. “There is no accreditation body that qualifies tool-chains. A third party can say you meet requirement of a standard [in one or a limited number of ways], but requirements are vague because typically there are many ways to do things and meet the requirements. It is not good enough in my opinion.”

Related posts