Skip to main content

Thermal-aware Resource Management for Modern Computing Platforms in the Next Generation of Aircraft

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - THERMAC (Thermal-aware Resource Management for Modern Computing Platforms in the Next Generation of Aircraft)

Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2022-01-31

Developing cost-effective safety-critical avionic applications for small aircraft transportation (SAT) systems has revealed that heat dissipation is a significant obstacle to increase performance and reduce the size and cost of on-board control units. To address this challenge, the THERMAC project proposed the development of thermal-aware software-based resource management techniques to optimize the thermal behavior of avionics computing platforms in SAT systems. The proposed approach contrasts to alternative approaches that focus specifically on mitigating heat dissipation (these approaches target new heatsink designs and/or advanced heat-conduction materials).

Considering the next generation of SAT systems, THERMAC has two main goals: (i) to reduce the operating temperature and (ii) to increase the guaranteed performance of the target computing platform, by means of software-based resource management solutions. The envisioned solutions should enable the integration of more complex and/or a larger number of functionalities in the same computing platform while: (1) complying with certification requirements of the avionics domain (exposed in safety-related standards such as DO-178/C and ARINC); (2) ensuring a thermally efficient usage of the hardware resources at disposal (i.e. without increasing the operating temperature of the system); and (3) meeting the functional and non-functional requirements of applications.

Throughout the duration of the project, the THERMAC’s team explored various hardware and software features of multicore and GPU-based platforms. The goal was to validate state-of-the-art models and better understand the relationships, in terms of temperature and energy, between the different components when real workloads were executed. In addition, there was also the need of selecting a representative platform, one expected to be found in small aircrafts, to validate the project results and showcase the technology developed within the project. Thus, a heterogeneous GPU-based platform with several multicore processors was selected – the i.MX8 from NXP.

The THERMAC’s team achieved ambitious goals with the development of different models and tools. First, the project’s team developed a set of thermal-aware models that allow one to evaluate if a given workload can meet the thermal and schedulability requirements. In addition to the models, two other tools were developed – ThermoBench, for benchmarking purposes, and DEmOS, for simulating an avionics operating system. Both of these tools and the developed models were integrated in a temperature and energy sensing and monitoring framework. This framework works in a loop, in which there is the possibility of measuring the performance of the models on the monitored platform and tweaking them by modifying the model’s parameters. For an end-user, this has the benefit of decreasing the prototyping time while making sure the applications under development can meet the timing and thermal requirements.

Overall, THERMAC's proposed approach and tools have the potential of working in synergy with active cooling devices which is essential in increasing reliability, serviceability, and availability of hardware components. Moreover, it simplifies installation and integration, thus avoiding schedule delays and budget slips for OEMs. On another front, it has the potential to allow for computing platforms to be more resource-efficient, and therefore more affordable. Altogether, this has the potential to achieve a reduction in size, weight, and power consumption of both the platforms and the supporting systems (i.e. cooling and power subsystems), which translates into more cost-effective solutions for the industry. In addition to the benefits for the aeronautics industry, THERMAC has an indirect impact on citizens, which will be directly perceived in the increased quality, functionality, and reliability of small aircrafts. Finally, THERMAC will have a direct environmental impact as it will allow for a decrease in energy consumption and an increase in the expected lifetime of solutions.
THERMAC's team analyzed the existing state-of-the-art techniques for thermal-aware resource management. These include: thermal-aware scheduling algorithms for multi-core processors and thermal-aware general-purpose computing on GPUs, and possible policies for thermal-aware resource management for SAT systems. Moreover, possible hardware platforms and software tools that could be used in the project were also studied.

The development of a temperature sensing and monitoring framework was completed. The developed framework includes a testbed built around the i.MX8 platform and a software tool named ThermoBench ( This tool allows one to measure thermal related properties of the platform while executing different types of workloads. In parallel, three thermal-aware resource management policies, named NP-COIN, NP-ThermCare and MultiPAWS, for single processor systems and multiprocessor systems, have been developed. Our experimental evaluation shows that the proposed methods can reduce the peak operational temperature by up to 31%.

In order to evaluate the developed thermal-aware resource management policies, a Linux-based simulator, named DEmOS, was developed to simulate an environment similar to those in use by avionics operating systems. DEmOS ( enables the possibility of evaluating applications concerning not only their functional and non-functional requirements, but also the thermal effects caused by their execution on the target platform. Consequently, it enables the comparison of different types of applications with respect to their thermal profiles.

A prototype that includes both tools, ThermoBench and DEmOS, benchmark programs and a real application was also developed. The prototype enables the demonstration of the carried work, by showing how the different activities of the different project’s work-packages integrate among themselves, the current limitations and open-topics.

Concerning the dissemination of results, it had a strong focus on academic publications and interested industry stakeholders. As for the exploitation, the consortium believes that there is opportunity for the commercial exploitation of results as the project tools are open‐source. This aspect significantly increases the potential for industrial exploitation and provides future growth opportunities from the presented ideas.
The aeronautics domain is a key driver for the improvement of people’s lives, through the advances it brings in transportation systems. THERMAC is expected to impact the development time of new systems and to indirectly impact the society since citizens will perceive an improvement in the transportation systems through the increased quality, functionality, and reliability. THERMAC will also have a direct environmental impact, since thermal analysis is a key input for concerns related to energy consumption and life-time of solutions. Additionally, not only the aeronautics domain will benefit from the results of THERMAC. The Embedded and Cyber-Physical market is growing rapidly in Europe and is therefore in an excellent position to integrate the innovative solutions developed within the project. This, in turn, allows the creation of high-skilled and high-valued jobs.
Close up of the chip's heating points using data collected from the thermal camera
Thermal camera capturing the heat in a computing board