Overview of P-SOCRATES to be presented at Embedded World 2017

Nowadays, the prevalence of electronic and computing systems in our lives is so ubiquitous that it would not be far-fetched to state that we live in a cyber-physical world dominated by computer systems. All these systems demand for more and more computational performance to process large amounts of data from multiple data sources, and some of them with guaranteed processing response times. In other words, systems required to deliver their results within pre-defined (and sometimes extremely short) time bounds. Examples can be found for instance in intelligent transportation systems for fuel consumption reduction in cities or railway, or autonomous driving of vehicles.

The computer electronic devices to which these systems depends on are constantly required to become more and more powerful and reliable, while remaining affordable. In order to cope with such performance requirements, chip designers have started producing chips with dozens or hundreds of cores, interconnected with complex networks on chip. This radical shift in the chip design paved the way for parallel computing: rather than processing the data sequentially, the cooperation of multiple processing elements within the same chip allowed systems to be executed concurrently, in parallel.

Unfortunately, the parallelization of the computing activities brought upfront many challenges, because it affects the timing behaviour of systems as well as the entire way people think and design applications. Therefore, although many-core processors are promising candidates to improve the responsiveness of these systems, the interactions that the different computing elements may have within the chip, can seriously affect the performance opportunities brought by parallel execution. Moreover, providing timing guarantees becomes harder, because the timing behaviour of the system running within a many-core processor depends on interactions that are most of the time not know by the system designer. This makes system analysts to be struggled trying to provide timing guarantees for such platforms. Finally, most of the optimization mechanisms buried deep inside the chip are geared only to increase performance and execution speed rather than providing predictable time behaviour.

P-SOCRATES (Parallel Software Framework for Time-Critical Many-core Systems) is an European project, which has developed a novel methodology to facilitate the deployment of standardized parallel architectures for real-time applications. This methodology was implemented (based on existent models and components) to provide an integrated software development kit to fully exploit the huge performance opportunities brought by the most advanced many-core processors, whilst ensuring a predictable performance and maintaining (or even reducing) development costs of applications.

The paper will provide an overview of the P-SOCRATES methodology and tools, as well as the results of its application on relevant industrial use-cases.