Santa Cruz, Calif. -- Electronic system-level tools today aim primarily at hardware designers, but an upcoming SystemC architectural design tool expects to provide strong support for embedded-software development. That's the idea behind Space Codesign, a startup that Canadian university researchers are spinning out from the Polytechnic School of Montreal.
The researchers are preparing a tool set that lets users capture a complete high-level architecture using SystemC modules and run simulation with no notion of hardware and software. Users can then do hardware/software partitioning us- ing a SystemC real-time operating system (RTOS) interface.
Next, with the help of an instruction-set simulator, users develop a cycle-accurate architectural model. Finally, they can generate the applications software and map the hardware to a field-programmable gate array.
Space Codesign exhibited at July's Design Automation Conference and is seeking beta site partners. With help and funding from Univalor, a partnership that helps commercialize research from several universities in Montreal, Space Codesign expects to incorporate next year and to have products ready for beta sites in early 2007.
Space Codesign's technology follows five years of research into electronic system-level (ESL) tools, said co-founder Guy Bois, a Montreal Polytechnic professor who believes the time has come for commercialization. "More and more people believe in ESL," Bois said, "and I think this is a good window."
While ESL products and companies abound, Space Codesign's embedded software support sets it apart, Bois said. Its tools will support commercial RTOSes and instruction-set simulators. A second distinction is drag-and-drop hardware/software par- titioning. "We can move blocks from hardware to software and vice versa without any recoding, because everything is in SystemC," Bois said.
One potential obstacle is that few software developers use SystemC today. "I believe one reason is the current lack of embedded software support in SystemC," Bois said. "Space Codesign proposes a solution to that problem. With Space Codesign, the software engineer can see the implication of implementing a task in software rather than in hardware."