state of support for "external ECC hardware"

Gerlando Falauto gerlando.falauto at
Thu Nov 8 11:32:27 EST 2012

Hi Chris,

first of all thanks for answering this quick!

On 11/08/2012 04:21 PM, Christopher Harvey wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 08, 2012 at 12:02:27PM +0100, Gerlando Falauto wrote:
>> Hi Chris,
>> good to hear we're not alone in this thinking... :-)
>> We're now facing the exact same issue as some Micron NAND chips (most
>> likely the same one you're dealing with) can no longer live with the
>> default, simple 1-bit ECC implementation used by default
>> (NAND_ECC_SOFT), I guess because chances of having multiple bitflips
>> within the same page are no longer negligible. So some 4-bit ECC
>> mechanism must be used at the very least.
> We had BCH8 code running, but it wasn't enough. The main reason we
> switched away from host side ECC was because we were getting bitflips
> within the ECC codeword data itself.

Wow... I mean, I figured it wouldn't be that easy to (purposedly) get 
bitflips in any area, I wonder what kind of test you managed to come up 
with in order to get bitflips within the ECC area itself.
In my case it takes several hours (of continuous reads) to get a single 
bitflip within a 1Gb (128MB) flash.

> Yes, it would have been possible
> to add a 1 byte hamming code to protect the main ECC data,

I'd have thought the algorithm would take care of that itself. Adding a 
further level of ECC seems a bit unnatural, at least to me.

> but it was
> just easier to say, "hey, Micron knows their hardware, so we'll trust
> their algorithms", and enable the Micron ECC hardware. Although it
> didn't require too much work to enable it's all a total hack. I took
> the code that runs the "ECC disabled mode", and sprinkled in some
> extra init code and error checking code. Would be nice to add an
> "external ecc mode" to support these chips explicitly.

That was sort of my point below. Would be nice to know whether there is 
some ongoing work for that matter.

>> Support for software-based multiple-bit-resilient ECC mechanism (BCH)
>> was posted ( by Ivan Djelic (which I
>> took liberty to Cc:) and merged in March last year.
>> I haven't been able to track how the situation evolved, but apparently
>> you need to enable it (in addition to within the kernel configuration),
>> also within your flash controller setup.
>> Micron gives an example of how to enable it on a sample NAND host
>> controller S3C6410 in this TN (rest of the code, mainly from the above
>> patch, would be already present in recent kernels):
> I haven't looked into current software ECC algorithms in the
> kernel. Do the protect against corrupted ECC data? As in, corruptions
> in the out of bounds area?

I sort of assumed that BCH would take care of that, but I understand you 
are stating the opposite.

>> As for hardware-based (or on-die) ECC support, one of the application
>> notes from Micron (TN-29-56 Enabling On-Die ECC for OMAP3 on
>> Linux/Android OS,
>> shows how to enable that (rather, it shows how to disable software ECC
>> altogether after enabling it on the chip). However, I haven't been able
>> to find a code section where the information returned by the chip
>> ("Rewrite recommended") is actually used to solicit scrubbing... Neither
>> on the TN, nor on the upstream linux kernel... My next step would be to
>> give it a go and see what happens.
> I got that working, if you're running in "eec disabled mode", try something like this:
> diff --git a/drivers/mtd/nand/nand_base.c b/drivers/mtd/nand/nand_base.c
> index a796dd7..68af8b0 100644
> --- a/drivers/mtd/nand/nand_base.c
> +++ b/drivers/mtd/nand/nand_base.c
> @@ -1069,7 +1069,16 @@ static int nand_read_page_raw(struct mtd_info *mtd, struct nand_chip *chip,
>                                uint8_t *buf, int page)
>   {
>          chip->read_buf(mtd, buf, mtd->writesize);
> -       chip->read_buf(mtd, chip->oob_poi, mtd->oobsize);
> +       chip->read_buf(mtd, chip->oob_poi, mtd->oobsize); /* (this data used in sw ecc) */
> +
> +       /* TODO: only do this CMD_STATUS if we have Micron NAND */
> +       chip->cmdfunc(mtd, NAND_CMD_STATUS, -1, -1);
> +       if (chip->read_byte(mtd)&  NAND_STATUS_REWRITE_RECOMMENDED) {
> +               /* Micron NAND is telling us that this block may be going bad,
> +                  tell Linux to move it */
> +               mtd->ecc_stats.corrected++; /* (we don't actually know if it's just one correction, could be up to 4) */

Right, datasheets and TNs don't even mention what the threshold actually 
is. They just say "Rewrite recommended". Perhaps you could get some 
feeling while running your tests? I mean, if you could get bitflips by 
using host-software ECC (within a reasonable time), and after enabling 
on-die ECC you couldn't anymore, it probably means HW ECC won't tell you 
about bitflips until they reach a number higher than 1. Am I right?

[Did you ever ask Micron by any chance?]

> +       }
> +
>          return 0;
>   }

I was going down the way pointed out by Micron in their TN, that is 
hacking into nand_read_page_hwecc(). But I like your approach more.

> Ran a trace on some manually inserted bitflips, and the block was moved.

Could you give some pointers on how to manually insert bitflips?
nanddump/nandwrite from mtd-utils perhaps?

> Hope that helps.

Yep, it does help a great deal! Thanks a bunch!


>> I'd love to hear some feedback, if anyone has had experience with this.
>> I know it's not been a long time since your post, but perhaps you've
>> heard something in the meantime?
>> I have one additional question though. Looking at the code I got the
>> impression that decisions upon ECC seem to be based on the flash
>> controller rather than on the flash chip itself.
>> I mean, I would think of having a default 1-bit NAND_ECC_SOFT
>> implementation; only when it is detected that the flash part either
>> supports HW ECC or requires multiple-bit ECC, should the ECC mode get
>> switched to NAND_ECC_NONE or NAND_ECC_SOFT_BCH respectively.
>> No matter what the flash controller, I would say.
>> Ivan, do you think that makes any sense?
>> Thank you so much!
>> Gerlando
>> On 10/29/2012 09:42 PM, Christopher Harvey wrote:
>>> I know of at least one Micron NAND chip that has the ability to handle
>>> ECC completely on the NAND chip itself. All the host has to do is send
>>> data and the OOB section is updated automatically. The automatic ECC
>>> hardware can be enabled and disabled with the "Set Feature" command,
>>> (0xEF) and bit flips are reported via get status after page reads. I
>>> don't see support for this in 2.6.37, and a quick check in the logs
>>> doesn't show anything new for these chips in the latest version of the
>>> kernel. Any idea floating around on this list? Are these chips going
>>> to be the future for NAND and does Linux care about them?
>>> thanks,
>>> Chris

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