ARM compiler qualification kit targets safety-certified apps

December 02, 2013

Bernard Cole-December 02, 2013

ARM Ltd.  has just made available its Compiler Qualification Kit, a documentation package specifically designed to help developers achieve certification against safety standards such as IEC 61508 and ISO 26262.

According to Reinhard Keil, director, MCU Tools, ARM, the kit is designed to save developers months of effort for users who would otherwise have to create their own evidence for justifying their toolchain selection. He said the ARM Compiler toolchain is already used in an extensive range of products that are certified against safety standards, covering Industrial Control, Automotive, Railway, and Medical applications.

The aim behind the Qualification Kit, said Keil, is to dramatically reduce the effort of certifying the software running on these types of products by providing usage guidelines for the safety-critical application developer and validation evidence demonstrating the appropriateness of the ARM Compiler toolchain for safety-related applications.

“The Qualification Kit documentation can be used by the software developer, corporate safety manager, and the safety certification assessor as evidence that recommended best practices have been followed,” he said, “and that vendor developed test and defect reports have been analyzed with necessary mitigations put in place.”

The company expects the new kit will give it an edge in the safety-critical design segment as users of toolchains that do not provide equivalent documentation face a longer, more expensive qualification process; either generating their own evidence, or opting for third party certification, which typically lacks backing evidence or requires severe restrictions on toolchain functionality.

He said the kit has been designed so that developers of ARM-based safety applications can take advantage of code generated with high levels of compiler optimization.

At the heart of the Compiler Qualification Kit is a Safety Manual that informs the developer how to configure the toolchain for safety-related projects, including recommended use cases and mitigation strategies for potential errors.

Other important parts of the kit is the Defect Report contains a listing of known defects and workarounds, whether found via internal testing or customer reported and the Test Report which provides C language conformance test results, demonstrating that the compiler generates correct output based on ISO c90 and c99 C language conformant input.

Also in the kit is the Development Process document which includes a description of the internal software development process used to produce the toolchain, including procedures for requirements and defect management, procedures for configuration management, traceability between source code commits and defects or requirements, and validation procedures.

Once the toolchain has been qualified internally, long term maintenance is important to protect that investment. Because of this, said Keil, there is also an optional ARM Compiler Extended Maintenance Program available which provides long-term maintenance releases to a fixed compiler branch for a minimum of five years, with longer terms available if needed.

ARM Compiler 5.04 will be available as part of Development Studio 5 (DS-5) in December 2013 and Keil MDK-ARM in January 2014.

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