em-SPADE: A Compiler Extension for Checking Rules Extracted from Processor Specifications

Titleem-SPADE: A Compiler Extension for Checking Rules Extracted from Processor Specifications
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsChaudhary, S., S. Fischmeister, and L. Tan
Conference NameSIGPLAN/SIGBED Conference on Languages, Compilers and Tools for Embedded Systems (LCTES)
Conference LocationNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number978-1-4503-2877-7
Keywordscompiler, embedded systems, llvm, static analysis

Traditional compilers ignore processor specifications, thousands of pages of which are available for modern processors. To bridge this gap, em-SPADE analyzes processor specifications and creates processor-specific rules to reduce low-level programming er- rors. This work shows the potential of automatically analyzing processor- and other hardware specifications to detect low-level programming errors at compile time.

em-SPADE is a compiler extension to automatically detect software bugs in low-level programs. From processor specifications, a preprocessor extracts target-specific rules such as register use and read-only or reserved registers. A special LLVM pass then uses these rules to detect incorrect register assignments. Our experiments with em-SPADE have correctly extracted 652 rules from 15 specifications and consequently found 20 bugs in ten software projects. The work is generalizable to other types of specifications and shows the clear prospects of using hardware specifications to enhance compilers.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
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Looking for motivated students (undergrads and grads) interested in working on embedded software and systems research. Mail Sebastian Fischmeister for further information.