IEC 60880


Ensure IEC 60880
software compliance

IEC 60880

IEC 60880:2006 (Nuclear Power Plants – Instrumentation and Control Systems Important to Safety – Software Aspects for Computer-Based Systems) is a functional safety standard which, together with IEC 62138, covers the software aspects of computer based systems used in nuclear power plants to perform functions important to safety. IEC 60880 provides requirements for the safety category A as defined by IEC 61226.

Fitness for purpose litigation against companies and individuals is now an increasing risk. IEC 60880:2006 is a technical standard used by lawyers to interpret laws. The relevant law in question for Europe is the General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC (GPSD). This states that the product creator has the responsibility to develop a safety critical product in a way which is compliant with ‘State-of-the-Art’ development principles. ‘State-of-the-Art’ simply refers to commonly accepted best practices, which in the case of nuclear electronic safety related systems are now embodied in IEC 60880:2006. Where companies fail to employ accepted industry practices, they cannot use the “State-of-the-Art” legal defence against such litigation.

Testing tools for compliance with IEC 60880 recommendations


QA Systems enables organisations to accelerate IEC 60880 compliance with automated static analysis and software testing tools:



Automatisierte Analyse mit Cantata synchronisiert


Software-Architektur: verstehen, definieren und kontrollieren


Automatisierte Source-Code-Metriken für C/C++



Automatisierte Unit- und Integrationstests für C/C++-Code


Add-on für die Zusammenarbeit von verteilten Teams


Automatisierte Unit- und Integrationstests für Ada-Code

Tool Certification


QA Systems’ tools have been classified and certified by SGS-TÜV GmbH, an independent third party certification body for functional safety, accredited by Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH (DAkkS). Cantata has been certified as usable in development of safety related software according to IEC 60880:2006.


The tool certification kit for IEC 60880 is available to ease our customers’ path to certification. This contains everything needed to prove that Cantata fulfills IEC 60880 recommendations as well as guidance to help you to achieve compliance.

Please contact us for more information about the tool certification kit.

Cantata Certificate

Software testing for IEC 60880 compliance

Cantata helps accelerate compliance with the standard’s software testing requirements by automating:


  • Test framework generation
  • Identifies code defects and security vulnerabilities
  • Test execution
  • Results diagnostics and report generation

Our IEC 60880 Standard Briefing traces the requirements of IEC 60880, identifying the scope of those which are supported by Cantata and identifies how the requirements are supported by Cantata.

Please contact us for more information on Cantata for IEC 60880.

IEC 60880: Section 8 – Software verification

8.1 Software verification processYes
8.2.1 Verification planYes Verification of implementation with general-purpose languagesYes

IEC 60880 Table E4 – Verification and testing methods

E.4.1 Selected verification methods 
E.4.1.1 Supervision of testing procedureYes
E.4.1.1 Supervision of testing procedureYes
E.4.1.3 Program provingYes
E.4.1.4 Program analysisYes
E.4.2 Testing methods 
E.4.2.1 GeneralYes
E.4.2.1: 1 Cases representative for program behaviour in general, its arithmetics, timingYes
E.4.2.1: 2 All individually and explicitly specified requirementsYes
E.4.2.1: 3 All input variables in extreme positions (crash test)Yes
E.4.2.1: 4 Operation of all external devicesYes
E.4.2.1: 5 Static cases and dynamic paths which are representative for the behaviour of the technical processYes
E.4.2.1: 6 Correct operation shown by turning off and on each redundant subsystem/external device (some combinations should be also tested where relevant)Yes
E.4.2.2 Path testing 
E.4.2.2: 7 Every statement executed at least onceYes
E.4.2.2: 8 Every outcome of every branch executed at least onceYes
E.4.2.2: 9 Every predicate term exercised to each branchYes
E.4.2.2: 10 Each loop executed with minimum, maximum and at least one intermediate number of repetitionsYes
E.4.2.2: 11 Every path executed at least onceYes
E.4.2.3 Data movement testing 
E.4.2.3: 12 Every assignment to each memory place executed at least onceYes
E.4.2.3: 13 Every reference to each memory place executed at least onceYes
E.4.2.3: 14 All mappings from input to output executed at least once eachYes
E.4.2.4 Timing testing 
E.4.2.4: 15 Checking of all time constraintsYes
E.4.2.4: 16 Maximum possible combinations of interrupt sequencesYes
E.4.2.4: 17 All significant combinations of interrupt sequencesYes
E.4.2.5 Miscellaneous 
E.4.2.5: 18 Check for correct position of boundaries of data inputsYes
E.4.2.5: 19 Check for sufficient accuracy of arithmetical calculations at all critical pointsYes
E.4.2.5: 20 Only for programs; test of module interfaces and module interactionYes
E.4.2.5: 21 Every module invoked at least onceYes
E.4.2.5: 22 Every invocation to a module exercised at least onceYes
E.4.2.5: 23 Operation at high loadYes

IEC 60880 B4.g Unit and integration tests

B4.g Unit and integration tests shall be performed during the program developmentYes The approach to testing should follow the approach to designYes Each module should be tested thoroughly before it is integrated into the system and the test results documentedYes
B4.gc A formal description of the test inputs and results (test protocol) should be producedYes Faults which are detected during program testing should be recorded and analysedYes Incomplete testing should be recordedYes In order to facilitate the use of unit and integration test results during final validation, the former degree of testing achieved should be recordedYes

Start a free trial & get a complete copy of Cantata to evaluate using your code.

Static analysis for IEC 60880 compliance

IEC 60880 (7.1.2) identifies that general purpose programming languages such as C and C++ can be used “provided appropriate design and coding rules are followed”. The Normative Annex B5.d explicitly requires that detailed coding rules shall be issued. Static analysis tools can dramatically reduce the manual effort in enforcing compliance with such coding standards. QA-Verify adds reporting to ensure this over time and across product versions.

Please contact us for more information on static analysis tools and QA-Verify for IEC 60880.

The IEC 60880 requirements for design and implementation in the Normative Annex B are summarised in the tables below.

IEC 6088O: Section 8 – Software verification

8.1 Software verification process
8.2.1 Verification plan Verification of implementation with general-purpose languages

IEC 6088O: Table B2 Software structure

B2.a Control and access structures – Programs and program parts shall be grouped systematically
B2.b Modules shall be clear and intelligible
B2.c Operational system software use shall be restricted
B2.d Execution time – Physical process behaviour influence on execution time shall be kept low
B2.e The use of interrupts shall be restricted
B2.f Where possible simple arithmetic expressions should be used instead of complex ones.

IEC 6088O: Table B3 Self supervision

B3.a Plausibility checks shall be performed (defensive programming)
B3.b Safe Output – If a failure is detected, the system shall produce a well-defined output
B3.c Memory contents shall be protected or monitored
B3.d Error checking shall be performed by the code

IEC 6088O: Table B4 Detailed design and coding

B4.a Branches and loops should be handled cautiously
B4.b Subroutines should be organised as simply as possible
B4.c Nested structures shall be handled with care
B4.d Addressing and arrays – Simple addressing techniques shall be used
B4.e Data structures and naming conventions shall be used uniformly throughout the system
B4.f Dynamic changes to executable code shall be avoided

IEC 6088O: Table B5 Language dependent recommendations

B5.a Sequences and arrangements – Detailed rules shall be elaborated for the
arrangement of various language constructs
B5.b Comments – Relations between comments and the code shall be fixed by detailed
B5.c If an assembly language is used, extended and documented coding rules shall be followed
B5.d Detailed coding rules shall be issued
B5.e Application oriented languages should be used rather than
machine-oriented languages
B5.f Automated code generator – The output of the code generator should
be traceable to the input