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Fault tolerance is a crucial operational aspect of biological systems and the self-repair capabilities of complex organisms far exceeds that of even the most advanced electronic devices. While many of the processes used by nature to achieve fault tolerance cannot easily be applied to silicon-based systems, in this paper we show that mechanisms loosely inspired by the operation of multicellular organisms can be transported to electronic systems to provide self-repair capabilities. Features such as dynamic routing, reconfiguration, and on-chip reprogramming can be invaluable for the realization of adaptive hardware systems and for the design of highly complex systems based on the kind of unreliable components that are likely to be introduced in the not-too-distant future. In this paper, we describe the implementation of fault tolerant features that address error detection and recovery through dynamic routing, reconfiguration, and on-chip reprogramming in a novel application specific integrated circuit. We take inspiration from three biological models: phylogenesis, ontogenesis, and epigenesis (hence the POE in POEtic). As in nature, our approach is based on a set of separate and complementary techniques that exploit the novel mechanisms provided by our device in the particular context of fault tolerance.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2007