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A Novel, Comprehensible, Ultra-Fast, Security-Aware CPS Simulator

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - COSSIM (A Novel, Comprehensible, Ultra-Fast, Security-Aware CPS Simulator)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-01-31

One of the main problems the CPS designers face is “the lack of simulation tools and models for system design and analysis”. This is mainly because the majority of the existing simulation tools for complex CPS handle efficiently only parts of the system (e.g. only the processing nodes or only the network) while they mainly focus on the performance. Moreover, they require extreme amounts of processing resources and computation time to accurately simulate the CPS nodes’ processing. Faster approaches are available, however as they function at high levels of abstraction, they cannot provide the accuracy required to model the exact behavior of the system under design so as to guarantee that it meets the requirements in terms of performance and/or energy consumption.
The COSSIM project has addressed all those needs by providing an open-source efficient CPS simulation framework. The framework provides an integrated simulator of both the networking and the processing parts (i.e. the digital system of a node) of a CPS by merging a full-system very widely used processing simulator with a state-of-the-art network simulator. To address the critical issue of performance (as measured in required simulation time), COSSIM uses parallel systems as well as hardware acceleration in the form of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and as a result it can reach up to three orders of magnitude higher performance than any similar combination of CPS simulation tools which are currently single threaded.
Furthermore, the COSSIM simulation framework reports very accurate energy/power consumption figures since it integrates novel energy estimation tools for both the processing and the network parts of the CPS system under simulation.
Last but not least, COSSIM integrates into the CPS simulation framework, for the first time, security models in order to address the fundamental issue of security testing. The models provide an evaluation of the security of the CPS system under simulation by performing security and robustness tests.
Within the project, it has also been realized, through the dissemination actions of the project, that the provided framework can also be efficiently used in the development of HPC and Cloud systems; in those new application domains all the COSSIM unique features can and will be efficiently utilized.
COSSIM aimed at introducing a novel CPS simulation framework that would allow CPS designers to simulate, in an integrated way, the digital processing parts of each node of a CPS and the network interactions between all connected nodes, while capturing energy requirements and reporting certain security issues. The completed project had the following objectives, which have all been fully reached:
• Develop an open-source simulation framework backed by a large community that can, for the first time, simulate a complete CPS comprising of CPS nodes incorporating multi-core CPUs, complex accelerators and peripherals, interconnected with complex and heterogeneous networks. COSSIM extended and integrated different simulators that are adopted by the industrial/research community and are proven in practice for their efficiency and has adapted them to the specific needs of CPS as well as cloud and HPC systems, thus offering a simulation environment with functionality and accuracy beyond any currently available solution.
•Significantly accelerate simulation of complex CPS when compared with the existing solutions. Integration of previously disconnected simulators, in every aspect of the CPS/HPC/Cloud design process, leads to increased productivity and decreases (if not eliminates) the amount of time engineers need to spend in tasks not directly relevant to their main CPS/HPC/Cloud design effort (for example effort spent to adapt simulation results of a specific tool so that they can be used as input to another tool measuring a different aspect of the CPS under design). On top of that, all CPS simulation tools require enormous amounts of processing power and time in order to perform a simulation run and COSSIM drastically reduces those times by using parallel systems and reconfigurable devices to accelerate the simulation process.
•Provide more accurate power consumption estimations, than existing solutions, by using higher quality (lower level) power estimation tools and models and tightly integrating processing and network simulators with power estimators.
•Support, for the first time in a CPS tool, security features/levels as aspects of the system simulation. COSSIM has developed internally security testing mechanisms that tap directly into the CPS simulators that are being developed and provide reports and tests on critical security aspects that have to be investigated.
•Simulate three real-world applications from different domains so as to demonstrate all the above unique features in highly demanding commercial environments. COSSIM’s industrial partners have contributed applications which are already deployed or scheduled to be deployed in actual products, thus making it possible to test the simulation results produced by the COSSIM framework with actual real-world data.
The COSSIM framework, as a whole, is highly innovative since there are no similar simulation packages available that can cover all its supported CPS/HPC/Cloud aspects. At the same time, by means of integration, parallelization and hardware acceleration, COSSIM is significantly faster than current fragmented solutions while being able to address more design aspects and provide more features. To achieve the aforementioned, there were certain research challenges that were addressed and thus there are certain subparts of the overall system that are also innovative; those modules include:
• The synchronization architecture that on one hand binds all framework components together and on the other allows the system to work in a parallel, distributed way. Furthermore, since it is based on well-supported and standardized interconnection methods (HLA), it makes COSSIM able to connect to other major frameworks and expand its capabilities even further
• The sub-system that implements certain parts of the simulation (i.e. the power consumption estimations) on reconfigurable devices
• The accurate Power/energy estimation models that have been developed which also take advantage of the cycle accurate simulations and the large processing power, for certain tasks, of the FPGAs
• The metrics as well as the models for the estimation of the security level of the CPS that have been introduced as well as their efficient implementation and integration into the end system.

COSSIM is expected to trigger a significant impact in the area of CPS as well as on HPC and Cloud systems, as the toolset developed in the context of the project allows for the simulation of complete CPS/HPC/Cloud systems with much higher accuracy than the existing solutions. Furthermore, COSSIM offers, for the first time, support for testing security aspects of a CPS at the simulation level, thus allowing for the creation of CPS platforms with high built-in security.
As such, COSSIM provides a simulation framework that will probably appeal to all European companies and research centers working in the CPS/HPC/Cloud fields and it will very likely contribute towards the increase of the Europe’s market share in the area of ICT systems since it heavily shortens the so important time-to-market for the European companies utilizing it.
Overview of COSSIM simulation framework