Building timing predictable embedded systems
ACM Transactions on Embedded Computing Systems
A large class of embedded systems is distinguished from general-purpose computing systems by the need to satisfy strict requirements on timing, often under constraints on available resources. Predictable system design is concerned with the challenge of building systems for which timing requirements can be guaranteed a priori. Perhaps paradoxically, this problem has become more difficult by the introduction of performanceenhancing architectural elements, such as caches, pipelines, and
... ing, which introduce a large degree of uncertainty and make guarantees harder to provide. The intention of this article is to summarize the current state of the art in research concerning how to build predictable yet performant systems. We suggest precise definitions for the concept of "predictability", and present predictability concerns at different abstraction levels in embedded system design. First, we consider timing predictability of processor instruction sets. Thereafter, we consider how programming languages can be equipped with predictable timing semantics, covering both a language-based approach using the synchronous programming paradigm, as well as an environment that provides timing semantics for a mainstream programming language (in this case C). We present techniques for achieving timing predictability on multicores. Finally, we discuss how to handle predictability at the level of networked embedded systems where randomly occurring errors must be considered.