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Embedded systems design
The increasing penetration of embedded systems in products and services creates new business opportunities. Europe currently has leading positions in sectors where embedded technologies are central to growth, but this leadership is challenged by increasing system complexity, low software productivity and technology and market shifts. Innovation in this area is essential for the European economy.
Over the last 20 years, embedded systems have evolved from simple stand-alone single-processor computers to advanced multiprocessor systems. In future, interconnected embedded devices will populate large and heterogeneous reconfigurable 'processor ecosystems' in a wide variety of application fields where safety, security, robustness and efficient operation need to be guaranteed. The resulting complexity is an enormous technological challenge that cannot be met today. This is due to the lack of a systematic approach, engineering methods and tools. Innovation is also hindered due to a lack of common standards and tools. Acceptance of design tools in development organisations is be poor if there's the danger of being 'locked in' by a specific vendor in the absence of open standards.
Quote: 'Ten clever designers keep a thousand workers busy in production' U. Schumacher, former Infineon CEO
The pace of micro and nano electronic growth as defined by Moore's Law has led to the so-called 'productivity gap' where the technology is out-pacing the productivity of designers. In the long run, the productivity effects of improved design practice will only be unleashed if adequate, open standards for establishing tool chains exist. Similarly, new standards will be needed to allow diverse embedded devices and electronic systems to talk to and 'understand' each other.
We need to close the design gap with and stimulate solutions to make radical advances in design. A new design approach emphasises high-level tools and hardware/software tradeoffs, rather than low-level assembly-language programming and logic design. The central aim of embedded systems design will be to develop concepts, methods and tools that can master this growing complexity while, at the same time, reducing development costs and time to market. It is crucial to move towards higher levels of abstraction in order to achieve better gains in design productivity and turnaround. This area needs to move away from the niche market it occupied originally to become more mainstream. One way of keeping development costs down is to use generic development platforms that enable rapid integration of product variants. The challenge is early validation of the architecture to ensure that it actually supports the functionality and performance needed for future embedded system products. Tools are needed that are capable of combining the output from high level modelling tools with the description of the target platform. Further issues are re-configurability and timing analysis.
We have nine projects in Embedded Systems Design which includes Artist2, a network of excellence, two integrated projects (on formal proof-based design & dependable components) and a series of strategic targeted research projects (STREPs).
A series of consultations have been planned with the goal of preparing future research activities.
Design consultation meeting, 23 March 2004: