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The Little Bits of Safety Critical Applications

LDRA scales down to verify highly constrained, low-power embedded applications

Ian Hennell
LDRA Operations Director

LDRA, a leader in standards compliance, automated software verification, source code analysis and test tools, has yet again taken a leadership role in providing verification for highly constrained applications. By optimizing its analysis and testing technology, LDRA has enhanced the ability of the LDRA tool suite to scale down to meet the increasing number of highly constrained, minimal-footprint architectures used in today’s safety-critical and security-critical applications. With many systems now being connected, companies must enforce high-quality code, fully test and verify systems, and proactively prevent application vulnerabilities.

“Microcontrollers now deliver far greater functionality at much lower power, thereby playing a much greater role in complex systems where safety and security are essential”

Achieving indepth analysis on a highly constrained microcontroller is not easy. Verification tools often exceed the bandwidth and memory resources of such microcontrollers, causing the analysis to crash or overload the system such that the target no longer functions as intended and system data becomes unreliable.

In contrast, LDRA has fine-tuned its instrumentation and analysis to low-power, highly constrained architectures to ensure that development teams can fully analyze and verify such systems to even the most rigorous levels demanded for safety-critical and security-critical certification. Using optimized technology, LDRA captures data from highly constrained target
systems and sends it back to the host to help companies achieve coding standards compliance, safety standards compliance, and security standards compliance. This level of granular analysis is available not only on LDRA’s stand-alone products, LDRAunit and LDRAcover, but also on the comprehensive LDRA tool suite, helping to ensure that companies gain complete traceability over the entire life cycle of their application from requirements through verification and deployment.

Safety-Critical Industries Have Adopted Connected, Low-Power Systems
Although Internet of Things (IoT) is capturing much of the media’s attention for its scaled-down, connected systems, other industries such as avionics, defense, industrial control, smart energy, medical, and automotive now also take advantage of new, highly functional, low-power controllers that have little tolerance for the overhead of most verification technologies and tools. LDRA recognizes that size, weight, and power are always a consideration and has developed different methods of connectivity between the host and the target to ensure that data can be pulled from even the smallest 8-bit and 16-bit microcontrollers provided by ARM, Freescale, Microchip, Renesas, Texas Instruments, among others. The LDRA tool suite is therefore capable of providing unprecedented end-to-end application and verification analysis on systems where granular expertise for microcontrollers is needed as well as robust, comprehensive analysis for multicore technologies.

“Microcontrollers now deliver far greater functionality at much lower power, thereby playing a much greater role in complex systems where safety and security are essential,” said Ian Hennell, Operations Director of LDRA.

“Whether the controller is used in an unmanned vehicle, infusion pump or engine control system, suppliers need to produce safe, high-quality, secure code. To realize this assurance, they must leverage static analysis for code clarity and consistency, dynamic analysis to ensure their application is adequately tested in accordance with the standards, and automated unit and system-level testing to help control costs. LDRA tools ensure that even the smallest targets can be integrated into a traceable development workflow so auditors can confirm all requirements have been met, fully tested, and verified.”

Superior Instrumentation Delivers Full Coverage Analysis
With more than 40 years of experience helping customers deliver certified systems in the embedded space, LDRA has extensive knowledge and experience with the many architectures and host-target connection strategies used in safety- and security-critical systems. LDRA’s optimized and unique instrumentation technology enables virtually all levels of testing and coverage analysis, from statement coverage all the way down through the Modified Condition/Decision Coverage (MC/DC) required by the most rigorous safety standards.

For more than forty years, LDRA has developed and driven the market for software that automates code analysis and software testing for safety-, mission-, security-, and business-critical markets. Working with clients to achieve early error identification and full compliance with industry standards, LDRA traces requirements through static and dynamic analysis to unit testing and verification for a wide variety of hardware and software platforms. Boasting a worldwide presence, LDRA is headquartered in the United Kingdom with subsidiaries in the United States and India coupled with an extensive distributor network.

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