Explicit state model checking has been widely used to discover difficult-to-find errors in critical software and hardware systems by exploring all possible combinations of control paths to determine if any input sequence can cause the system to enter an illegal state. Unfortunately, the vast state spaces of modern systems limit the ability of current general-purpose CPUs to perform explicit state model checking effectively due to the computational complexity of the model checking process. Complex software may require days or weeks to go through the formal verification phase, making it impractical to use model checking as part of the regular software development process.
In this project, we explore the possibility of leveraging FPGAs to overcome the performance challenges of model checking. We designed FPGASwarm, an FPGA model checker based on the concept of Swarm verification. FPGASwarm provides the necessary parallelism, performance, and flexibility to achieve high-throughput and reconfigurable explicit state model checking. Our experimental results show that, using a Xilinx Virtex7 FPGA, the FPGASwarm can achieve near three orders of magnitude speedup over the conventional software approach to state exploration.