Towards automated implementation of adaptive systems from abstract SystemC specifications

From SystemC adaptive processes to embedded software and to synthesizable hardware descriptions


Adaptivity is a key feature in embedded systems which requires explicit support in Electronic System-Level (ESL) design methodologies. Similarly, a higher level of abstraction during system specification is crucial for enabling ESL design activities such as Design Space Exploration. This has motivated the development of methodologies, such as A-HetSC, for enabling SystemC abstract specification of the adaptive parts of a system. However, in order to enable practical ESL design flows, it is essential to enable suitable implementation paths from the abstract adaptive specification. Otherwise, the cost of manual refinement of the abstract adaptive specification or simply the inability to systematically achieve an implementation will compromise the advantages obtained by the abstract model. This paper presents a system-level implementation methodology for tackling the implementation of the adaptive parts of an abstract SystemC specification. These adaptive parts are described as abstract adaptive processes, the basic constructs for specifying adaptivity in the A-HetSC methodology. The methodology proposes two main implementation paths. One path automatically targets an embedded SW implementation, for an immediate, flexible and cheap implementation of the adaptive processes. For the HW implementation path, a systematic SystemC-based refinement for targeting a refined model is proposed. Such a refined model is already supported by high-level synthesis tools, which automate the rest of the HW implementation path. It enables a cost efficient implementation of adaptive functionality in contexts where a software implementation does not fulfil time performance demands. The refinement of an adaptive inverse transform module, as part of an adaptive video decoder (AVD), is used as a demonstrative example.

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This work has been partially funded by the European project ANDRES IST-5-033511 and by the Spanish Government through the TEC2008-04107 project. The authors want also to thank OFFIS institute its support, specifically to P.A. Hartmann, from OFFIS, for his collaboration in previous work, and to professor V. Fernández (UC) for his support with CatapultC.

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Correspondence to Fernando Herrera.

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Herrera, F., Ugarte, I. & Villar, E. Towards automated implementation of adaptive systems from abstract SystemC specifications. Des Autom Embed Syst 16, 129–160 (2012).

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  • SystemC
  • Dynamic reconfigurable hardware
  • Adaptive systems