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Modeling and Optimization Techniques for Efficient Implementation of Parallel Embedded Systems (Electronics Project)

Embedded systems are becoming more and more important. The products containing embedded systems span from day-to-day household and consumer products, such as digital TVs, mobile phones, and automobiles, to industrial devices and equipment, including, for example, robots, aviation equipment, and high end military and scientific devices such as aircraft.

Previously, because embedded systems were highly limited in computational capability, memory size, and power consumption, much research was dedicated to making the best use of limited system resources.

In these works, system performance issues, such as execution time, were traded off with system resources, and resources were carefully scheduled and utilized. With more available computational capability in embedded system devices, and more complicated requirements demanding more intensive computation, the most critical design concerns are changing in some important application domains. In such application areas, researchers are paying more and more attention to improving system execution time, which is also the core topic of our work. Execution time is especially critical to real time systems, in the sense that it is related not only to system performance, but also to system correctness and reliability.

Multi-core devices, which incorporate two or more processors on the same integrated circuits, are becoming increasingly relevant to the design and implementation of embedded systems. In multi-core platforms, carefully managing communication and synchronization among different cores is important to achieve efficient implementations. Two or more processing cores sharing the same system bus and memory bandwidth limit the achievable performance improvements. The ability of multi-core processors to increase application performance depends on the use of multiple concurrent tasks within applications. Therefore, if code is written in a form that facilitates decomposition into concurrent tasks, the multi-core technologies can be exploited more effectively. Dataflow-based languages are suitable for such decomposition into concurrent tasks, particularly in the broad domain of digital signal processing (DSP) applications.

Dataflow representations of DSP software have been explored actively since the 1980s. Such representations have proved to be useful in identifying bottlenecks in DSP algorithms, improving the efficiency of the computations, and designing appropriate hardware for implementing the algorithms.

Dataflow descriptions have been used in a wide range of DSP application areas, such as multimedia processing, and wireless communications. Among various forms of dataflow modeling, synchronous dataflow (SDF) is geared towards static scheduling of computational modules, which improves system performance and predictability. However, many DSP applications do not fully conform to the restrictions of SDF modeling. More general dataflow models, such as CAL, have been developed to describe dynamically-structured DSP applications. Such generalized models can express dynamically changing functionality, but lose the powerful static scheduling capabilities provided by SDF.

This thesis explores modeling and optimization techniques for efficient implementation of parallel embedded systems. We propose a dataflow based framework, which covers modeling, analysis and optimization and bridges between user-friendly design and efficient implementation. The framework is applied to two kinds of applications: control systems and video processing systems.
Source: University of Maryland
Author: Ruirui Gu

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