Hardware/Software Codesign

COBRA - 8135

Work Area: Integrated Design of Hardware and Software for Advanced Electronics

Keywords codesign, hardware/software partitioning, specification, verification, synthesis

Start Date: to be announced / Status: starting

[ participants / contact ]

Abstract COBRA develops techniques and tools for the integrated design of hardware and software; in particular cospecification, analysis, partitioning and synthesis. The work builds on ongoing work of all partners.


COBRA aims at developing techniques and tools for the codesign of hardware and software. Advances in VLSI and synthesis technology have made it feasible to construct powerful programmable components (microprocessors) as well as complex specialised components. Today, electronic products consist of a mixture of hardware and software components. Diversity and complexity of applications, the short time-to-market, and design costs, make it important to have design methods and tools, which integrate the hardware and software needed to construct such products.

Approach and Methods

Codesign requires models that allow analysis, verification, and experimentation before making a commitment as to what should be realised as software, and what should become hardware. The description of such a model is called a cospecification. In COBRA, cospecification is the starting point for partitioning the design into hardware and software parts. Both automatic and manual partitioning techniques are studied and refined. For the synthesis of the hardware part, state of the art high-level synthesis tools, starting with VHDL descriptions, are utilised. Similarly, the software parts of the specification are synthesised into executable code.

This project concentrates on the following codesign techniques:

The partners in this project bring together the complementary skills and tools needed for an integrated approach to hardware and software design: Partitioning and synthesis (Karlsruhe/Tuebingen), VHDL experience (VTT), profiling (Braunschweig), specification (Madrid), verification (Lyngby). The role of Siemens providing guidance, benchmarks and performing evaluation is important for the future industrial utilisability of the results.


Codesign has applications in a wide variety of specialised electronic products, for example, embedded real-time controllers, image processing, communication including mobile phones, and robotics. The comparison of different methods and evaluation of the results are based on partner-specific applications.

Further information about COBRA is available from the COBRA home page <URL:http://www.fzi.de/divisions/sim/projects/cobra.html>.


Forschungszentrum Informatik (FZI) - D
an der Universität Karlsruhe
Haid-und-Neu-Strasse 10-14


Technische Universität Braunschweig - D
Universität Tuebingen - D
Technical University of Denmark - DK
Technical University of Madrid - S


Dr. Arno Kunzmann
tel +49/721 9654-456
fax +49/721 9654-409
e-mail: kunzmann@fzi.de

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COBRA - 8135, August 1994

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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook