Catania, Italy: The “SMArt systems Co-design” (SMAC) European research project aims to develop a leading-edge design and integration environment for the design of “smart systems.” These intelligent, miniaturised devices would incorporate multiple functions, such as sensing, actuation, computation, wireless connectivity, and energy harvesting, in a single tiny package.
Overall goals of the project are to accelerate development, minimise design costs, and reduce time-to-market for smart systems in a variety of applications, including energy saving, healthcare, automotive, consumer and factory automation. By achieving these objectives, European companies could thus potentially assume a leading position in these markets. The program is a three-year project partially funded by the EU.
According to the project’s partners, the current bottleneck in developing smart systems is not due to the technologies, but rather the design methodology. Advanced packaging technologies such as system-in-package (SiP) and chip stacking (3D IC) with through-silicon vias already allow manufacturers to incorporate all of these capabilities more densely. However, design methodologies have not kept pace with technology advances.
Today, smart-system design uses separate design tools for different parts of the system. For example, completely different tools model, simulate, and design components like MEMS sensors, analogue and RF components, and digital ICs. None of these tools take the ultimate system integration into account.
The new integration environment, already dubbed the “SMAC Platform,” will be co-developed by academic and industry partners, including several EDA and semiconductor vendors to ensure its usability in realistic, industry-strength design flows and environments. Ultimately, industrial partners and their customers hope to increase their global competitiveness in the smart-system market.
Specific scientific and technical goals of the project include:
- New modeling and simulation capabilities to support accurate multi-physics, multi-layer, multi-scale, and multi-domain co-simulation.
- Innovative integration-aware design techniques for components and subsystems from different technology domains and with different functions.
- Combination and augmentation of existing modeling and simulation tools into a seamless design flow (the SMAC Platform), enabling integration-aware co-design of smart systems.
- Demonstration of the effectiveness of some new design solutions by implementing test-cases featuring leading-edge technology.
- Demonstration of the accuracy and ease of integration of new and existing EDA tools within the SMAC Platform by comparing state-of-the-art reference methodologies.
- Demonstration of the SMAC Platform’s usability through its application to an industry-strength design case.