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Dedicated Digital Processors: Methods in Hardware/Software Co-Design by F. Mayer-Lindenberg

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7

System-Level Design

7.1 SCALABLE SYSTEM ARCHITECTURES

7.1.1 Architecture-Based Hardware Selection

The physical components of a digital system (the ‘hardware’) are chips and boards that each provide certain resources to support application-specific functions. Whether the system ex-tends over several circuit boards, a single one with multiple chips or a single chip depends on the computational requirements and the available components; there may be several options to choose from. A more abstract description of the system structure in terms of functional system components such as processor subsystems including IP modules or software objects eventually translates into a network of underlying hardware components, the FPGA chips and processors to be used. Theoretically, the engineer may select from all the components offered by the industry and add some of his/her own to construct a digital system. Practically, the choice is more limited to keep the inventory of components small, to reuse both the hardware building blocks and the experience gained in previous applications, in particular, the involved software tools and modules. A well-chosen, universal and scalable architecture (see section 1.5.1) can actually cover many applications. Also, the limited set of component types of an architecture can be supported by just a few design tools (even a single, integrated one). Assuming some moderately complex board level components to choose from (e.g., a selection of processor boards), any ...

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