The Netherlands holds a strong position in the development and production of a wide variety of electronic equipment. Examples are radar systems (Thales), medical systems (Philips Medical Systems, PMS), copiers (Océ) AND INfotainment systems (NXP). These products have in common that they operate on streams of data and are therefore called streaming applications. To survive international competition, future applications of these companies require processing support for real-time and high-performance streaming applications. For example, future medical imaging systems need to reveal much more detail with lower latencies. Latencies within the millisecond range are the ultimate goal where minutes are feasible with state-of-the-art processors. Only then, real-time medical imaging during surgery is feasible. This requires a dramatic increase of computational capacity against acceptable production and operational costs. Similar requirements hold for streaming applications in the other application domains mentioned above. Furthermore, because of the energy awareness of the general public, there is more and more pressure to produce energy efficient systems.
Due to power consumption, performance and complexity barriers, known processing approaches will not lead to the necessary product innovations. Besides that, current approaches lack the ability to cope with the increasingly dynamic behaviour of architectures and applications in a predictable way. A different approach is inevitable. By limiting the application domain to streaming applications, processors can be more specialized compared to General Purpose Processors, which will increase their energy-efficiency dramatically. Multiple processors will be combined onto a single integrated circuit leading to a so-called Multi-Processor System on Chip (MP-SoC). Tools are required to program and operate these devices efficiently. Because the scope within NEST is limited to streaming applications, these multi-processor systems can be programmed and operated efficiently as preliminary research has indicated.
Within the NEST project, the approach will be to research and exploit:
- MP-SoC architectures with means for low power, composability, and reconfigurability
- A design flow for MP-SoC based systems using high level synthesis
- An MP-SoC run-time system management. By means of dynamic reconfiguration, the run-time system is capable of dealing with adaptive service requirements and platform variability
To realize a major breakthrough requires a broad spectrum of disciplines. The NEST project combines the required expertise on streaming applications available in the Netherlands, resulting in a consortium of research groups from all three Technical Universities in the Netherlands and from Leiden University.
You can find more information on this project at http://www.nest-consortium.nl.