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The furthest that I have got down the list was trying to bring up the first prototype of a board that had been designed with too long traces on the PCB between the SoC and DRAM. If you tried to read a location in memory you got the value of the page table entry for that address rather than the address contents.



I once had to debug a poorly-designed board where the CPU would lock up if you did a DRAM burst write with at least 3 of the 5 highest bits of the word set (yes, I narrowed the test case down that far). A quick look at the layout confirmed that those traces were routed directly under the crystal oscillator without any form of ground shielding...

(We ended up underclocking the CPU by about 20% because there wasn't enough time for a redesign. Sigh. It's a miracle the thing even worked in the first place...)


... then your power supply goes marginal (because it will) and well . . . never been there :-)


I've had the opportunity spend about a week debugging incorrect configuration of SDRAM by BSP team. At first I blamed third party library with no source code available. Then it occurred to me that my initial SDRAM tests were doing word-by-word access. Third party library used memset which was optimised to use DMA for bulk transfers, which failed to write subsequent words in the same transaction.

An easy, one bit change in configuration registers of SDRAM fixed it. A week well spent!


Similar: my new driver crashes the machine. A couple days debugging. Triple-check every register value. All good. It doesn't crash when I single-step! A couple more days debugging. Finally get it: the machine crashes when two ports are enabled close enough in time. Go talk to the hardware guys. “Yeah, we know, power traces are fixed in the next rev.”


I feel like "I can reliably make the bug disappear by turning on my debug harness" is a reliable sign that things are about to get weird.




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