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Online periodic testing of microprocessors is a valuable means to increase the reliability of a low-cost system, when neither hardware nor time redundant protection schemes can be applied. This is particularly valid for floating-point (FP) units, which are becoming more common in embedded systems and are usually protected from operational faults through costly hardware redundant approaches. In this paper, we present scalable instruction-based self-test program development for both single and double precision FP units considering different instruction sets (MIPS, PowerPC, and Alpha), different microprocessor architectures (32/64-bit architectures) and different memory configurations. Moreover, we introduce bit-level manipulation instruction sequences that are essential for the development of FP unit's self-test programs. We developed self-test programs for single and double precision FP units on 32-bit and 64-bit microprocessor architectures and evaluated them with respect to the requirements of low-cost online periodic self-testing: fault coverage, memory footprint, execution time, and power consumption, assuming different memory hierarchy configurations. Our comprehensive experimental evaluations reveal that the instruction set architecture plays a significant role in the development of self-test programs. Additionally, we suggest the most suitable self-test program development approach when memory footprint or low power consumption is of paramount importance.