Solaris 8 Software Developer Supplement

Periodic Health Checks

A latent fault is one that does not show itself until some other action occurs. For example, a hardware failure occurring in a device that is a cold stand-by could remain undetected until a fault occurs on the master device. At this point, it will be discovered that the system now contains two defective devices and might be unable to continue operation.

As a general rule, latent faults that are allowed to remain undetected will eventually cause system failure. Without latent fault checking, the overall availability of a redundant system is jeopardized. To avoid this, a device driver must detect latent faults and report them in the same way as other faults.

The driver should ensure that it has a mechanism for making periodic health checks on the device. In a fault-tolerant situation where the device can be the secondary or fail-over device, early detection of a failed secondary device is essential to ensure that it can be repaired or replaced before any failure in the primary device occurs.

Periodic health checks can: