[Beowulf] Curious about ECC vs non-ECC in practice

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Tue May 24 10:06:15 PDT 2011

This *is* a big problem.
I suggest reading some of what Nancy Leveson has written.  
"Professor Leveson started a new area of research, software safety, which is concerned with the problems of building software for real-time systems where failures can result in loss of life or property."

Two popular papers you might find interesting and fun to read:
"High-Pressure Steam Engines and Computer Software" (Postscript) or (PDF). This paper started as a keynote address at the International Conference on Software Engineering in Melbourne, Australia) and later was published in IEEE Software, October 1994.

"The Therac-25 Accidents" (Postscript ) or (PDF). This paper is an updated version of the original IEEE Computer (July 1993) article. It also appears in the appendix of my book.

There is a generic problem with complex systems, as well.  "Normal Accidents" by Charles Perrow is a good work (if a bit frightening in some ways... not in a senseless fear-mongering way, but because he lays out the fundamental reasons why these things are inevitable)

Marais, Dulac, and Leveson argue that the world isn't as bad as Perrow says, though. 

Jim Lux
> -----Original Message-----
> From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On Behalf Of David Mathog
> Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 8:42 AM
> To: beowulf at beowulf.org
> Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Curious about ECC vs non-ECC in practice
> Joe Landman wrote:
> > I am wondering about this for larger systems.
> Your post makes me wonder about ECC in much smaller systems, like
> dedicated single computers controlling machinery or medical devices.
> Some really nasty things could result from "move cutting head in X
> (int32 value) mm" after the most significant bit in the int32 value has
> flipped.
> Regards,
> David Mathog
> mathog at caltech.edu
> Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech
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