Time-Triggered Program Monitoring
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Debugging is an important phase in the embedded software development cycle because of its high proportion in the overall cost in the product development. Debugging is difficult for real-time applications as such programs are time-sensitive and must meet deadlines in often a resource constrained environment. A common approach for real-time systems is to monitor the execution instead of stepping through the program, because stepping will usually violate all deadline constraints. We consider a time-triggered approach for program monitoring at runtime, resulting in bounded and predictable overhead. In time-triggered execution monitoring, a monitor runs as a separate process in parallel with an application program and samples the program's state periodically to evaluate a set of properties. Applying this technique in computing systems, results in bounded and predictable overhead. However, the time-triggered approach can have high overhead depending on the granularity of the monitoring effort. To reduce this overhead, we instrument the program with markers that will require to sample less frequently and thus reduce the overhead. This leads to interesting problems of (a) where to place the markers in the code and (b) how to manipulate the markers. While related work investigates the first part, in this work, we investigate the second part. We investigate different instrumentation schemes and propose two new schemes based on bitvectors that significantly reduce the overhead for time-triggered execution monitoring. Time-triggered execution monitoring suffers from several drawbacks such as; the time-triggered monitor requires certain synchronization features at the operating system level and may suffer from various concurrency and synchronization dependencies in a real-time setting. Furthermore, the time-triggered execution monitoring scheme requires the embedded environment to provide multi-tasking features. To address the aforementioned problems, we propose a new method called time-triggered self-monitoring, where the program under inspection is instrumented, so that it self-samples its state in a periodic fashion without requiring assistance from an external monitor or an internal timer. The experimental results show that a time-triggered self-monitored program performs significantly better in terms of execution time, binary code size, and context switches when compared to the same program monitored by an external time-triggered monitor.