Embedded Systems Architectures

Welcome to the web page of the working group Embedded Systems Architectures!

Embedded systems became part of almost every day-to-day device, such as cellphones, personal assistants, automobiles, airplanes, medical devices, musical instruments, just to name a few. They affect every aspect of modern life, from communication to transport, from entertainment to surveillance. The broad applicability and the high-end nature of embedded systems make their design an ever changing challenge, a struggle for portability, low power consumption, low heat dissipation, low production cost, high performance, and flexibility after production. To deal with these challenges, designers of embedded systems have available a large variety of computing elements from general-purpose microprocessors to application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). Besides that, a new class of computing elements has emerged, which aims at combining the flexibility of microprocessors and the efficiency of ASICs. These type of elements are referred to as reconfigurable computing systems. The hardware of reconfigurable devices can be adapted to an individual application (configured) after production. Reconfigurable devices are per definition more flexible than ASICs, and at the same time, they can achieve a higher efficiency than microprocessors. The first technology for building reconfigurable systems was the field-programmable gate array (FPGA). Recent advances on reconfigurable computing systems led to the development of coarse-grained reconfigurable architectures (CGRAs). CGRAs employ an array of processing elements that, contrary to the look-up table based logic blocks of FPGAs, operate on word-wide data types. CGRAs also allow an extremely fast, cycle-by-cycle reconfiguration mechanism.