A watchdog timer is a special kind of timer commonly found on embedded systems that is used to detect when the running software is hung up on some task. The watchdog timer is basically a countdown timer that counts from some initial value down to zero. When zero is reached, the watchdog timer understands that the system is hung up and resets it. Therefore, the running software must periodically update the watchdog timer with a new value to stop it from reaching zero and causing a reset. When the running software is locked up doing a certain task and cannot update the watchdog timer, the timer will inevitably reach zero and a reset will occur.
Luckily for us, the Broadcom BCM2835 SoC on the Raspberry Pi comes with a hardware-based watchdog timer that can do just that. You will find this specially useful if you have a Raspberry Pi in a remote location and the operating system hangs and there’s no one around to reboot it.
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