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Writing Device Drivers for Oracle® Solaris 11.3

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Updated: March 2019

Oracle Fault Management Architecture I/O Fault Services

This section explains how to integrate fault management error reporting, error handling, and diagnosis for I/O device drivers. This section provides an in-depth examination of the I/O fault services framework and how to utilize the I/O fault service APIs within a device driver.

    This section discusses the following topics:

  • What Is Predictive Self-Healing? provides background and an overview of the Oracle Fault Management Architecture.

  • Oracle Solaris Fault Manager describes additional background with a focus on a high-level overview of the Oracle Solaris Fault Manager, fmd(1M).

  • Error Handling is the primary section for driver developers. This section highlights the best practice coding techniques for high-availability and the use of I/O fault services in driver code to interact with the FMA.

What Is Predictive Self-Healing?

Traditionally, systems have exported hardware and software error information directly to human administrators and to management software in the form of syslog messages. Often, error detection, diagnosis, reporting, and handling was embedded in the code of each driver.

A system like the Solaris OS predictive self-healing system is first and foremost self-diagnosing. Self-diagnosing means the system provides technology to automatically diagnose problems from observed symptoms, and the results of the diagnosis can then be used to trigger automated response and recovery. A fault in hardware or a defect in software can be associated with a set of possible observed symptoms called errors. The data generated by the system as the result of observing an error is called an error report or ereport.

In a system capable of self-healing, ereports are captured by the system and are encoded as a set of name-value pairs described by an extensible event protocol to form an ereport event. Ereport events and other data are gathered to facilitate self-healing, and are dispatched to software components called diagnosis engines designed to diagnose the underlying problems corresponding to the error symptoms observed by the system. A diagnosis engine runs in the background and silently consumes error telemetry until it can produce a diagnosis or predict a fault.

After processing sufficient telemetry to reach a conclusion, a diagnosis engine produces another event called a fault event. The fault event is then broadcast to all agents that are interested in the specific fault event. An agent is a software component that initiates recovery and responds to specific fault events. A software component known as the Oracle Solaris Fault Manager, fmd(1M), manages the multiplexing of events between ereport generators, diagnosis engines, and agent software.

Oracle Solaris Fault Manager

The Oracle Solaris Fault Manager, fmd(1M), is responsible for dispatching in-bound error telemetry events to the appropriate diagnosis engines. The diagnosis engine is responsible for identifying the underlying hardware faults or software defects that are producing the error symptoms. The fmd(1M) daemon is the Oracle Solaris OS implementation of a fault manager. It starts at boot time and loads all of the diagnosis engines and agents available on the system. The Oracle Solaris Fault Manager also provides interfaces for system administrators and service personnel to observe fault management activity.

Diagnosis, Suspect Lists, and Fault Events

Once a diagnosis has been made, the diagnosis is output in the form of a list.suspect event. A list.suspect event is an event comprised of one or more possible fault or defect events. Sometimes the diagnosis cannot narrow the cause of errors to a single fault or defect. For example, the underlying problem might be a broken wire connecting controllers to the main system bus. The problem might be with a component on the bus or with the bus itself. In this specific case, the list.suspect event will contain multiple fault events: one for each controller attached to the bus, and one for the bus itself.

    In addition to describing the fault that was diagnosed, a fault event also contains four payload members for which the diagnosis is applicable.

  • The resource is the component that was diagnosed as faulty. The fmdump(1M) command shows this payload member as "Problem in."

  • The Automated System Recovery Unit (ASRU) is the hardware or software component that must be disabled to prevent further error symptoms from occurring. The fmdump(1M) command shows this payload member as "Affects."

  • The Field Replaceable Unit (FRU) is the component that must be replaced or repaired to fix the underlying problem.

  • The Label payload is a string that gives the location of the FRU in the same form as it is printed on the chassis or motherboard, for example next to a DIMM slot or PCI card slot. The fmdumpcommand shows this payload member as "Location."

For example, after receiving a certain number of ECC correctable errors in a given amount of time for a particular memory location, the CPU and memory diagnosis engine issues a diagnosis (list.suspect event) for a faulty DIMM.

# fmdump -v -u 38bd6f1b-a4de-4c21-db4e-ccd26fa8573c
TIME                 UUID                                 SUNW-MSG-ID
Oct 31 13:40:18.1864 38bd6f1b-a4de-4c21-db4e-ccd26fa8573c AMD-8000-8L
100%  fault.cpu.amd.icachetag

Problem in: hc:///motherboard=0/chip=0/cpu=0
Affects: cpu:///cpuid=0
FRU: hc:///motherboard=0/chip=0
Location: SLOT 2

In this example, fmd(1M) has identified a problem in a resource, specifically a CPU (hc:///motherboard=0/chip=0/cpu=0). To suppress further error symptoms and to prevent an uncorrectable error from occurring, an ASRU, (cpu:///cpuid=0), is identified for retirement. The component that needs to be replaced is the FRU (hc:///motherboard=0/chip=0).

Response Agents

An agent is a software component that takes action in response to a diagnosis or repair. For example, the CPU and memory retire agent is designed to act on list.suspects that contain a fault.cpu.* event. The cpumem-retire agent will attempt to off-line a CPU or retire a physical memory page from service. If the agent is successful, an entry in the fault manager's ASRU cache is added for the page or CPU that was successfully retired. The fmadm(1M) utility, as shown in the example below, shows an entry for a memory rank that has been diagnosed as having a fault. ASRUs that the system does not have the ability to off-line, retire, or disable, will also have an entry in the ASRU cache, but they will be seen as degraded. Degraded means the resource associated with the ASRU is faulty, but the ASRU is unable to be removed from service. Currently Oracle Solaris agent software cannot act upon I/O ASRUs (device instances). All faulty I/O resource entries in the cache are in the degraded state.

# fmadm faulty
-------- ----------------------------------------------------------------------
degraded mem:///motherboard=0/chip=1/memory-controller=0/dimm=3/rank=0
-------- ----------------------------------------------------------------------

The primary purpose of a retire agent is to isolate (safely remove from service) the piece of hardware or software that has been diagnosed as faulty.

    Agents can also take other important actions such as the following actions:

  • Send alerts via SNMP traps. This can translate a diagnosis into an alert for SNMP that plugs into existing software mechanisms.

  • Post a syslog message. Message specific diagnoses (for example, syslog message agent) can take the result of a diagnosis and translate it into a syslog message that administrators can use to take a specific action.

  • Other agent actions such as update the FRUID. Response agents can be platform-specific.

Message IDs and Dictionary Files

The syslog message agent takes the output of the diagnosis (the list.suspect event) and writes specific messages to the console or /var/adm/messages. Often console messages can be difficult to understand. FMA remedies this problem by providing a defined fault message structure that is generated every time a list.suspect event is delivered to a syslog message.

The syslog agent generates a message identifier (MSG ID). The event registry generates dictionary files (.dict files) that map a list.suspect event to a structured message identifier that should be used to identify and view the associated knowledge article. Message files, (.po files) map the message ID to localized messages for every possible list of suspected faults that the diagnosis engine can generate. The following is an example of a fault message emitted on a test system.

SUNW-MSG-ID: AMD-8000-7U, TYPE: Fault, VER: 1, SEVERITY: Major
EVENT-TIME: Fri Jul 28 04:26:51 PDT 2006
PLATFORM: Sun Fire V40z, CSN: XG051535088, HOSTNAME: parity
SOURCE: eft, REV: 1.16
EVENT-ID: add96f65-5473-69e6-dbe1-8b3d00d5c47b
DESC: The number of errors associated with this CPU has exceeded 
acceptable levels. Refer to 


 for more information.
AUTO-RESPONSE: An attempt will be made to remove this CPU from service.
IMPACT: Performance of this system may be affected.
REC-ACTION: Schedule a repair procedure to replace the affected CPU. 
Use fmdump -v -u <EVENT_ID> to identify the module.

System Topology

To identify where a fault might have occurred, diagnosis engines need to have the topology for a given software or hardware system represented. The fmd(1M) daemon provides diagnosis engines with a handle to a topology snapshot that can be used during diagnosis. Topology information is used to represent the resource, ASRU, and FRU found in each fault event. The topology can also be used to store the platform label, FRUID, and serial number identification.

The resource payload member in the fault event is always represented by the physical path location from the platform chassis outward. For example, a PCI controller function that is bridged from the main system bus to a PCI local bus is represented by its hc scheme path name:


The ASRU payload member in the fault event is typically represented Oracle Solaris device tree instance name that is bound to a hardware controller, device, or function. FMA uses the dev scheme to represent the ASRU in its native format for actions that might be taken by a future implementation of a retire agent specifically designed for I/O devices:


The FRU payload representation in the fault event varies depending on the closest replaceable component to the I/O resource that has been diagnosed as faulty. For example, a fault event for a broken embedded PCI controller might name the motherboard of the system as the FRU that needs to be replaced:


The label payload is a string that gives the location of the FRU in the same form as it is printed on the chassis or motherboard, for example next to a DIMM slot or PCI card slot:

Label: SLOT 2

Error Handling

This section describes how to use I/O fault services APIs to handle errors within a driver. This section discusses how drivers should indicate and initialize their fault management capabilities, generate error reports, and register the driver's error handler routine.

Drivers that have been instrumented to provide FMA error report telemetry detect errors and determine the impact of those errors on the services provided by the driver. Following the detection of an error, the driver should determine when its services have been impacted and to what degree.

    An I/O driver must respond immediately to detected errors. Appropriate responses include:

  • Attempt recovery

  • Retry an I/O transaction

  • Attempt fail-over techniques

  • Report the error to the calling application/stack

  • If the error cannot be constrained any other way, then panic

Errors detected by the driver are communicated to the fault management daemon as an ereport. An ereport is a structured event defined by the FMA event protocol. The event protocol is a specification for a set of common data fields that must be used to describe all possible error and fault events, in addition to the list of suspected faults. Ereports are gathered into a flow of error telemetry and dispatched to the diagnosis engine.

Declaring Fault Management Capabilities

A hardened device driver must declare its fault management capabilities to the I/O Fault Management framework. Use the ddi_fm_init(9F) function to declare the fault management capabilities of your driver.

void ddi_fm_init(dev_info_t *dip, int *fmcap, ddi_iblock_cookie_t *ibcp)

The ddi_fm_init() function can be called from kernel context in a driver attach(9E) or detach(9E) entry point. The ddi_fm_init() function usually is called from the attach() entry point. The ddi_fm_init() function allocates and initializes resources according to fmcap. The fmcap parameter must be set to the bitwise-inclusive-OR of the following fault management capabilities:

  • DDI_FM_EREPORT_CAPABLE - Driver is responsible for and capable of generating FMA protocol error events (ereports) upon detection of an error condition.

  • DDI_FM_ACCCHK_CAPABLE - Driver is responsible for and capable of checking for errors upon completion of one or more access I/O transactions.

  • DDI_FM_DMACHK_CAPABLE - Driver is responsible for and capable of checking for errors upon completion of one or more DMA I/O transactions.

  • DDI_FM_ERRCB_CAPABLE - Driver has an error callback function.

A hardened leaf driver generally sets all these capabilities. However, if its parent nexus is not capable of supporting any one of the requested capabilities, the associated bit is cleared and returned as such to the driver. Before returning from ddi_fm_init(9F), the I/O fault services framework creates a set of fault management capability properties: fm-ereport-capable, fm-accchk-capable, fm-dmachk-capable and fm-errcb-capable. The currently supported fault management capability level is observable by using the prtconf(1M) command.

To make your driver support administrative selection of fault management capabilities, export and set the fault management capability level properties to the values described above in the driver.conf(4) file. The fm-capable properties must be set and read prior to calling ddi_fm_init() with the desired capability list.

The following example from the bge driver shows the bge_fm_init() function, which calls the ddi_fm_init(9F) function. The bge_fm_init() function is called in the bge_attach() function.

static void
bge_fm_init(bge_t *bgep)
        ddi_iblock_cookie_t iblk;

        /* Only register with IO Fault Services if we have some capability */
        if (bgep->fm_capabilities) {
                bge_reg_accattr.devacc_attr_access = DDI_FLAGERR_ACC;
                dma_attr.dma_attr_flags = DDI_DMA_FLAGERR;
                 * Register capabilities with IO Fault Services
                ddi_fm_init(bgep->devinfo, &bgep->fm_capabilities, &iblk);
                 * Initialize pci ereport capabilities if ereport capable
                if (DDI_FM_EREPORT_CAP(bgep->fm_capabilities) ||
                 * Register error callback if error callback capable
                if (DDI_FM_ERRCB_CAP(bgep->fm_capabilities))
                        bge_fm_error_cb, (void*) bgep);
        } else {
                 * These fields have to be cleared of FMA if there are no
                 * FMA capabilities at runtime.
                bge_reg_accattr.devacc_attr_access = DDI_DEFAULT_ACC;
                dma_attr.dma_attr_flags = 0;

Cleaning Up Fault Management Resources

The ddi_fm_fini(9F) function cleans up resources allocated to support fault management for dip.

void ddi_fm_fini(dev_info_t *dip)

The ddi_fm_fini() function can be called from kernel context in a driver attach(9E) or detach(9E) entry point.

The following example from the bge driver shows the bge_fm_fini() function, which calls the ddi_fm_fini(9F) function. The bge_fm_fini() function is called in the bge_unattach() function, which is called in both the bge_attach() and bge_detach() functions.

static void
bge_fm_fini(bge_t *bgep)
        /* Only unregister FMA capabilities if we registered some */
        if (bgep->fm_capabilities) {
                 * Release any resources allocated by pci_ereport_setup()
                if (DDI_FM_EREPORT_CAP(bgep->fm_capabilities) ||
                 * Un-register error callback if error callback capable
                if (DDI_FM_ERRCB_CAP(bgep->fm_capabilities))
                 * Unregister from IO Fault Services

Getting the Fault Management Capability Bit Mask

The ddi_fm_capable(9F) function returns the capability bit mask currently set for dip.

void ddi_fm_capable(dev_info_t *dip)

Reporting Errors

Queueing an Error Event

The ddi_fm_ereport_post(9F) function causes an ereport event to be queued for delivery to the fault manager daemon, fmd(1M).

void ddi_fm_ereport_post(dev_info_t *dip, 
                         const char *error_class, 
                         uint64_t ena, 
                         int sflag, ...)

The sflag parameter indicates whether the caller is willing to wait for system memory and event channel resources to become available.

The ENA indicates the Error Numeric Association (ENA) for this error report. The ENA might have been initialized and obtained from another error detecting software module such as a bus nexus driver. If the ENA is set to 0, it will be initialized by ddi_fm_ereport_post().

The name-value pair (nvpair) variable argument list contains one or more name, type, value pointer nvpair tuples for non-array data_type_t types or one or more name, type, number of element, value pointer tuples for data_type_t array types. The nvpair tuples make up the ereport event payload required for diagnosis. The end of the argument list is specified by NULL.

The ereport class names and payloads described in Reporting Standard I/O Controller Errors for I/O controllers are used as appropriate for error_class. Other ereport class names and payloads can be defined, but they must be registered in the Oracle event registry and accompanied by driver specific diagnosis engine software, or the Eversholt fault tree (eft) rules.

bge_fm_ereport(bge_t *bgep, char *detail)
        uint64_t ena;
        char buf[FM_MAX_CLASS];
        (void) snprintf(buf, FM_MAX_CLASS, "%s.%s", DDI_FM_DEVICE, detail);
        ena = fm_ena_generate(0, FM_ENA_FMT1);
        if (DDI_FM_EREPORT_CAP(bgep->fm_capabilities)) {
                ddi_fm_ereport_post(bgep->devinfo, buf, ena, DDI_NOSLEEP,
Detecting and Reporting PCI-Related Errors

PCI-related errors, including PCI, PCI-X, and PCI-E, are automatically detected and reported when you use pci_ereport_post(9F).

void pci_ereport_post(dev_info_t *dip, ddi_fm_error_t *derr, uint16_t *xx_status)

Drivers do not need to generate driver-specific ereports for errors that occur in the PCI Local Bus configuration status registers. The pci_ereport_post() function can report data parity errors, master aborts, target aborts, signaled system errors, and much more.

If pci_ereport_post() is to be used by a driver, then pci_ereport_setup(9F) must have been previously called during the driver's attach(9E) routine, and pci_ereport_teardown(9F) must subsequently be called during the driver's detach(9E) routine.

The bge code samples below show the bge driver invoking the pci_ereport_post() function from the driver's error handler.

 * The I/O fault service error handling callback function
static int
bge_fm_error_cb(dev_info_t *dip, ddi_fm_error_t *err, const void *impl_data)
      * as the driver can always deal with an error 
      * in any dma or access handle, we can just return 
      * the fme_status value.
     pci_ereport_post(dip, err, NULL);
     return (err->fme_status);
Reporting Standard I/O Controller Errors

A standard set of device ereports is defined for commonly seen errors for I/O controllers. These ereports should be generated whenever one of the error symptoms described in this section is detected.

The ereports described in this section are dispatched for diagnosis to the eft diagnosis engine, which uses a common set of standard rules to diagnose them. Any other errors detected by device drivers must be defined as ereport events in the Sun event registry and must be accompanied by device specific diagnosis software or eft rules.


The driver has detected that the device is in an invalid state.

A driver should post an error when it detects that the data it transmits or receives appear to be invalid. For example, in the bge code, the bge_chip_reset() and bge_receive_ring() routines generate the ereport.io.device.inval_state error when these routines detect invalid data.

 * The SEND INDEX registers should be reset to zero by the
 * global chip reset; if they're not, there'll be trouble
 * later on.
sx0 = bge_reg_get32(bgep, NIC_DIAG_SEND_INDEX_REG(0));
if (sx0 != 0) {
    BGE_REPORT((bgep, "SEND INDEX - device didn't RESET"));
    bge_fm_ereport(bgep, DDI_FM_DEVICE_INVAL_STATE);
    return (DDI_FAILURE);
/* ... */
 * Sync (all) the receive ring descriptors
 * before accepting the packets they describe
if (*rrp->prod_index_p >= rrp->desc.nslots) {
    bgep->bge_chip_state = BGE_CHIP_ERROR;
    bge_fm_ereport(bgep, DDI_FM_DEVICE_INVAL_STATE);
    return (NULL);

The device has reported a self-corrected internal error. For example, a correctable ECC error has been detected by the hardware in an internal buffer within the device. This error flag is not used in the bge driver.


The device has reported an uncorrectable internal error. For example, an uncorrectable ECC error has been detected by the hardware in an internal buffer within the device.

This error flag is not used in the bge driver.


The driver has detected that data transfer has stalled unexpectedly.

The bge_factotum_stall_check() routine provides an example of stall detection.

dogval = bge_atomic_shl32(&bgep->watchdog, 1);
if (dogval < bge_watchdog_count)
    return (B_FALSE);

BGE_REPORT((bgep, "Tx stall detected, 
watchdog code 0x%x", dogval));
bge_fm_ereport(bgep, DDI_FM_DEVICE_STALL);
return (B_TRUE);

The device is not responding to a driver command.

bge_chip_poll_engine(bge_t *bgep, bge_regno_t regno,
        uint32_t mask, uint32_t val)
        uint32_t regval;
        uint32_t n;

        for (n = 200; n; --n) {
                regval = bge_reg_get32(bgep, regno);
                if ((regval & mask) == val)
                        return (B_TRUE);
        bge_fm_ereport(bgep, DDI_FM_DEVICE_NO_RESPONSE);
        return (B_FALSE);

The device has raised too many consecutive invalid interrupts.

The bge_intr() routine within the bge driver provides an example of stuck interrupt detection. The bge_fm_ereport() function is a wrapper for the ddi_fm_ereport_post(9F) function. See the bge_fm_ereport() example in Queueing an Error Event.

if (bgep->missed_dmas >= bge_dma_miss_limit) {
     * If this happens multiple times in a row,
     * it means DMA is just not working.  Maybe
     * the chip has failed, or maybe there's a
     * problem on the PCI bus or in the host-PCI
     * bridge (Tomatillo).
     * At all events, we want to stop further
     * interrupts and let the recovery code take
     * over to see whether anything can be done
     * about it ...
    goto chip_stop;
Service Impact Function

A fault management capable driver must indicate whether or not an error has impacted the services provided by a device. Following detection of an error and, if necessary, a shutdown of services, the driver should invoke the ddi_fm_service_impact(9F) routine to reflect the current service state of the device instance. The service state can be used by diagnosis and recovery software to help identify or react to the problem.

The ddi_fm_service_impact() routine should be called both when an error has been detected by the driver itself, and when the framework has detected an error and marked an access or DMA handle as faulty.

void ddi_fm_service_impact(dev_info_t *dip, int svc_impact)

The following service impact values (svc_impact) are accepted by ddi_fm_service_impact():


The service provided by the device is unavailable due to a device fault or software defect.


The driver is unable to provide normal service, but the driver can provide a partial or degraded level of service. For example, the driver might have to make repeated attempts to perform an operation before it succeeds, or it might be running at less that its configured speed.


The driver has detected an error, but the services provided by the device instance are unaffected.


All of the device's services have been restored.

The call to ddi_fm_service_impact() generates the following ereports on behalf of the driver, based on the service impact argument to the service impact routine:

  • ereport.io.service.lost

  • ereport.io.service.degraded

  • ereport.io.service.unaffected

  • ereport.io.service.restored

In the following bge code, the driver determines that it is unable to successfully restart transmitting or receiving packets as the result of an error. The service state of the device transitions to DDI_SERVICE_LOST.

 * All OK, reinitialize hardware and kick off GLD scheduling
if (bge_restart(bgep, B_TRUE) != DDI_SUCCESS) {
    (void) bge_check_acc_handle(bgep, bgep->cfg_handle);
    (void) bge_check_acc_handle(bgep, bgep->io_handle);
    ddi_fm_service_impact(bgep->devinfo, DDI_SERVICE_LOST);
    return (DDI_FAILURE);

Note - The ddi_fm_service_impact() function should not be called from the registered callback routine.