Embedded Software Implementation Tools for Fully Programmable Application Specific Systems
A variety of diverse pressures are shaping how we will design digital systems in the near future. Shrinking geometries into the deep submicron range raise electrical design challenges that make it impossible to use existing methodologies for application specific system design. In addition, the corresponding exponential increase in the number of devices per chip results in a complexity problem which by itself threatens to cripple existing design methodologies. Finally, increased non-recurring engineering costs for masks and design tools force designs to be limited to higher volume products. All of these point to a gradual reduction of designs done using conventional ASIC (application specific integrated circuits) design methodology.
The above forces are resulting in an increase in systems that contain programmable components that are specialized for a specific application domain, while at the same time providing design flexibility that permits the same device to be used for a range of related products and also generations of a product. These systems need to satisfy one or more of high computation, low power, and real-time constraints. Architecturally, these constraints are met by exploiting concurrency at all levels - at the bit operation level through specialized functional units, at the instruction level through instruction level parallelism and at the coarse grain level through on-chip multiprocessing.
This class of highly specialized embedded systems requires specialized software implementation tools to ensure an efficient mapping of the application onto the architecture. These tools - particularly the compiler and simulator - are needed for two distinct aspects of the design. During architectural evaluation, they are needed to provide feedback about the suitability of the architecture for the application. During system implementation, they are needed to ensure efficient mapping and validation of design constraints.
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