Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Embedded Systems Week: Systems Engineering and Run-Time Adaptation

Monday's keynote at Embedded Systems Week came from Clas Jacobson, Chief Scientist at United Technologies Systems and Controls Engineering.  UTC designs a lot of complex cyber-physical systems, including elevators, car subsystems, and jet engines.  Dr. Jacobson identified three As as important in CPS design: architecture, abstractions, and automation.  He stressed the importance of good modeling as the foundation of robust system design.

I also attended a session on run-time adaptation with presentations by Joerg Henkel, Vijay Narayanan, Sri Parameswaran, and Juergen Teich.  Determining all aspects of system operation at design time simply doesn't work for today's complex systems.  The computation required depends on the input data---image/video compression is a classic example of a complex relationship between image/video data and compression time.  The complexities of thermal management are also best handled in many cases with run-time systems.  The talks gave a multi-level view of the problem.  Joerg's talk concentrated on thermal, including  a cool infrared video of chip temperature over time.  Vijay's talk looked at the opportunities presented by tunneling transistors, which provide good off characteristics but are slower than traditional MOSFETs.  Sri's talk looked at video compression and how to manage the complex pipeline required to perform all the steps required for compression.  Juergen's talk described a new model of computaiton for run-time management known as invasive computing.

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