Due to the growing complexity of digital systems, the availability of technologies, and the need for decreasing costs in digital design, nowadays, many systems are mixed hardware/software systems. Hardware/software co-design is the design of systems composed of two kinds of components: application specific elements (often referred to as hardware components) and general programmable components (it software components). Although such mixed systems have been designed since hardware and software first came into being, there is a lack of CAD tools supporting the development of such heterogeneous networks.
Embedded systems that have timing constraints are classified as real-time systems. In these systems, not only the logical result of the computation is essential, but also the time instant in which it is obtained. Considering stringent timing constraints, the system is called a hard real-time system. In a hard real-time order, if timing constraints are not met, consequences can be disastrous, including equipment damage or loss of human lives. In many cases, hard real-time systems are composed of several CPU-bound tasks, which may need to rely on multiple processors, since just a single processor may not meet all timing constraints. In general, specialized operating system kernels are often adopted in embedded real-time systems.
Advances in microelectronics have allowed the development of embedded systems with several sophisticated features as well as with reduced size, making possible the rapid emerging of powerful mobile devices, such as military gadgets and medical devices. These devices generally rely on constrained energy sources (e.g., battery), in such a way if the energy source is depleted, the system stops functioning. Consequently, energy saving becomes of utmost importance when designing mobile systems. Over the last years, DVS (Dynamic Voltage Scaling) has been adopted as one of the most effective techniques for reducing energy consumption in embedded systems.
This research area concerns the study of alternative methods for modeling, metrics estimation, and design of real-time power-aware embedded systems.