SiFive has been granted a patent for checker cores in fault-tolerant processing. The technology involves an integrated circuit with a processor core, outer memory system, and checker core to detect errors in instruction packets. An architectural state injection circuit triggers a pipeline flush and corrects errors detected by the checker core. GlobalData’s report on SiFive gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s company profile on SiFive, Vector processing optimization was a key innovation area identified from patents. SiFive's grant share as of April 2024 was 23%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Fault tolerant processing integrated circuit with checker core

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: SiFive Inc

The granted patent (Publication Number: US11966290B2) discloses an integrated circuit designed for executing instructions efficiently and reliably. The circuit includes a processor core responsible for executing instructions, an outer memory system for storing instructions and data, a checker core that checks committed instruction packets for errors, and an architectural state injection circuit that corrects errors by invoking a pipeline flush in the processor core and transferring corrected architectural state from the checker core.

Furthermore, the integrated circuit incorporates an error detection circuit in the memory pathway of the processor core to detect and correct errors in data transmission. The error detection circuit can implement a parity check, error correcting code, and check cache entries, memory reservation status registers, and interrupt identifier registers. The communication between the processor core and the checker core is limited to dedicated wire bundles, ensuring efficient data flow. Additionally, the checker core is formally verified, while the processor core is not, and commits instructions after a fixed number of clock cycles post the processor core's commitment, enhancing error detection and correction capabilities.

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GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.