Merger In Progress

Hardware, software and system engineers are converging on models that recognize interdependencies.

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By Jon McDonald
June’s been an interesting month, I was at the Design Automation Conference, DAC, in San Francisco, then a week later, the Freescale Technology Forum, FTF. DAC is generally more of a hardware design conference, while FTF generally is a bit more focused on software and systems. This year I was surprised at the similarities in some of the discussions at both shows.

At DAC there was a significant amount of discussion on integrating the software with the hardware design. It appears to me to be generally accepted that the hardware cannot be designed in isolation. Optimization of the hardware requires analysis of the system, which requires inclusion of the software and real data sets to understand the implications of our trade-offs in the design. The SystemC TLM 2.0 standard generally has been effective at allowing us to model the system at a level appropriate for this mixed hardware/software performance analysis.

At FTF the discussion was around understanding the performance of the software on the hardware and the need to have an accurate model of the hardware to get early feedback on performance, also using this model to tune the software to the specific hardware capabilities. It was interesting to hear more software-focused users accepting the need that the software cannot be designed in isolation. The software must be developed in the context of the hardware it will be running on. These software and system centric users were looking at the capabilities that can be provided by SystemC TLM 2.0 models, to provide that early link of the software analysis with the hardware dependencies.

I believe it is very positive that the software, systems and hardware communities are coming together on the needs and benefits of modeling the system in a way that the interdependencies of the system can be understood by all of the different groups. Each group is accepting that their work cannot be completed in isolation. Each must take into account the decisions and trade-offs made by the others.

—Jon McDonald is a technical marketing engineer for the design and creation business unit at Mentor Graphics.