I think I have discovered a new kind of program testing that may soon need to be performed by anybody wanting to create ultra-reliable software.
A previous post discussed the compiler related work being done to reduce the probability that a random bit-flip in the memory used by an executing program will result in a change in behavior. At the moment 4G of ram is expected to experience 1 bit-flip every 33 hours due to cosmic rays and the rate of occurrence is likely to increase.
Research by Artem Dinaburg looked for, and found, occurrences of bit-flips in domain names appearing within HTTP requests, e.g., a page from the domain
ikamai.net being requested rather than from
akamai.net. A subsequent analysis of DNS queries to VERISIGN’S name servers found “… that bit-level errors in the network are relatively rare and occur at an expected rate.” (the bit error rate was thought to occur inside routers and switches).
What we really need is a way of automatically radiation hardening source code.