8. Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS) Extensions

This document describes TF-A support for Arm Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS) extensions. RAS is a mandatory extension for Armv8.2 and later CPUs, and also an optional extension to the base Armv8.0 architecture.

In conjunction with the EHF, support for RAS extension enables firmware-first paradigm for handling platform errors: exceptions resulting from errors are routed to and handled in EL3. Said errors are Synchronous External Abort (SEA), Asynchronous External Abort (signalled as SErrors), Fault Handling and Error Recovery interrupts. The EHF document mentions various error handling use-cases .

For the description of Arm RAS extensions, Standard Error Records, and the precise definition of RAS terminology, please refer to the Arm Architecture Reference Manual. The rest of this document assumes familiarity with architecture and terminology.

8.1. Overview

As mentioned above, the RAS support in TF-A enables routing to and handling of exceptions resulting from platform errors in EL3. It allows the platform to define an External Abort handler, and to register RAS nodes and interrupts. RAS framework also provides helpers for accessing Standard Error Records as introduced by the RAS extensions.

The build option RAS_EXTENSION when set to 1 includes the RAS in run time firmware; EL3_EXCEPTION_HANDLING and HANDLE_EA_EL3_FIRST must also be set 1. RAS_TRAP_LOWER_EL_ERR_ACCESS controls the access to the RAS error record registers from lower ELs.


See more on Engaging the RAS framework.

8.2. Platform APIs

The RAS framework allows the platform to define handlers for External Abort, Uncontainable Errors, Double Fault, and errors rising from EL3 execution. Please refer to RAS Porting Guide.

8.3. Registering RAS error records

RAS nodes are components in the system capable of signalling errors to PEs through one one of the notification mechanisms—SEAs, SErrors, or interrupts. RAS nodes contain one or more error records, which are registers through which the nodes advertise various properties of the signalled error. Arm recommends that error records are implemented in the Standard Error Record format. The RAS architecture allows for error records to be accessible via system or memory-mapped registers.

The platform should enumerate the error records providing for each of them:

  • A handler to probe error records for errors;

  • When the probing identifies an error, a handler to handle it;

  • For memory-mapped error record, its base address and size in KB; for a system register-accessed record, the start index of the record and number of continuous records from that index;

  • Any node-specific auxiliary data.

With this information supplied, when the run time firmware receives one of the notification mechanisms, the RAS framework can iterate through and probe error records for error, and invoke the appropriate handler to handle it.

The RAS framework provides the macros to populate error record information. The macros are versioned, and the latest version as of this writing is 1. These macros create a structure of type struct err_record_info from its arguments, which are later passed to probe and error handlers.

For memory-mapped error records:

ERR_RECORD_MEMMAP_V1(base_addr, size_num_k, probe, handler, aux)

And, for system register ones:

ERR_RECORD_SYSREG_V1(idx_start, num_idx, probe, handler, aux)

The probe handler must have the following prototype:

typedef int (*err_record_probe_t)(const struct err_record_info *info,
                int *probe_data);

The probe handler must return a non-zero value if an error was detected, or 0 otherwise. The probe_data output parameter can be used to pass any useful information resulting from probe to the error handler (see below). For example, it could return the index of the record.

The error handler must have the following prototype:

typedef int (*err_record_handler_t)(const struct err_record_info *info,
           int probe_data, const struct err_handler_data *const data);

The data constant parameter describes the various properties of the error, including the reason for the error, exception syndrome, and also flags, cookie, and handle parameters from the top-level exception handler.

The platform is expected populate an array using the macros above, and register the it with the RAS framework using the macro REGISTER_ERR_RECORD_INFO(), passing it the name of the array describing the records. Note that the macro must be used in the same file where the array is defined.

8.3.1. Standard Error Record helpers

The TF-A RAS framework provides probe handlers for Standard Error Records, for both memory-mapped and System Register accesses:

int ras_err_ser_probe_memmap(const struct err_record_info *info,
            int *probe_data);

int ras_err_ser_probe_sysreg(const struct err_record_info *info,
            int *probe_data);

When the platform enumerates error records, for those records in the Standard Error Record format, these helpers maybe used instead of rolling out their own. Both helpers above:

  • Return non-zero value when an error is detected in a Standard Error Record;

  • Set probe_data to the index of the error record upon detecting an error.

8.4. Registering RAS interrupts

RAS nodes can signal errors to the PE by raising Fault Handling and/or Error Recovery interrupts. For the firmware-first handling paradigm for interrupts to work, the platform must setup and register with EHF. See Interaction with Exception Handling Framework.

For each RAS interrupt, the platform has to provide structure of type struct ras_interrupt:

  • Interrupt number;

  • The associated error record information (pointer to the corresponding struct err_record_info);

  • Optionally, a cookie.

The platform is expected to define an array of struct ras_interrupt, and register it with the RAS framework using the macro REGISTER_RAS_INTERRUPTS(), passing it the name of the array. Note that the macro must be used in the same file where the array is defined.

The array of struct ras_interrupt must be sorted in the increasing order of interrupt number. This allows for fast look of handlers in order to service RAS interrupts.

8.5. Double-fault handling

A Double Fault condition arises when an error is signalled to the PE while handling of a previously signalled error is still underway. When a Double Fault condition arises, the Arm RAS extensions only require for handler to perform orderly shutdown of the system, as recovery may be impossible.

The RAS extensions part of Armv8.4 introduced new architectural features to deal with Double Fault conditions, specifically, the introduction of NMEA and EASE bits to SCR_EL3 register. These were introduced to assist EL3 software which runs part of its entry/exit routines with exceptions momentarily masked—meaning, in such systems, External Aborts/SErrors are not immediately handled when they occur, but only after the exceptions are unmasked again.

TF-A, for legacy reasons, executes entire EL3 with all exceptions unmasked. This means that all exceptions routed to EL3 are handled immediately. TF-A thus is able to detect a Double Fault conditions in software, without needing the intended advantages of Armv8.4 Double Fault architecture extensions.

Double faults are fatal, and terminate at the platform double fault handler, and doesn’t return.

8.6. Engaging the RAS framework

Enabling RAS support is a platform choice constructed from three distinct, but related, build options:

  • RAS_EXTENSION=1 includes the RAS framework in the run time firmware;

  • EL3_EXCEPTION_HANDLING=1 enables handling of exceptions at EL3. See Interaction with Exception Handling Framework;

  • HANDLE_EA_EL3_FIRST=1 enables routing of External Aborts and SErrors to EL3.

The RAS support in TF-A introduces a default implementation of plat_ea_handler, the External Abort handler in EL3. When RAS_EXTENSION is set to 1, it’ll first call ras_ea_handler() function, which is the top-level RAS exception handler. ras_ea_handler is responsible for iterating to through platform-supplied error records, probe them, and when an error is identified, look up and invoke the corresponding error handler.

Note that, if the platform chooses to override the plat_ea_handler function and intend to use the RAS framework, it must explicitly call ras_ea_handler() from within.

Similarly, for RAS interrupts, the framework defines ras_interrupt_handler(). The RAS framework arranges for it to be invoked when a RAS interrupt taken at EL3. The function bisects the platform-supplied sorted array of interrupts to look up the error record information associated with the interrupt number. That error handler for that record is then invoked to handle the error.

8.7. Interaction with Exception Handling Framework

As mentioned in earlier sections, RAS framework interacts with the EHF to arbitrate handling of RAS exceptions with others that are routed to EL3. This means that the platform must partition a priority level for handling RAS exceptions. The platform must then define the macro PLAT_RAS_PRI to the priority level used for RAS exceptions. Platforms would typically want to allocate the highest secure priority for RAS handling.

Handling of both interrupt and non-interrupt exceptions follow the sequences outlined in the EHF documentation. I.e., for interrupts, the priority management is implicit; but for non-interrupt exceptions, they’re explicit using EHF APIs.

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