IMEC Transforms Sequential Code to Multi-Threaded Code with SPRINT

2/17/2004 - IMEC, Europe's largest independent microelectronics and nanotechnology research center, used its presence at DATE to demonstrate a new design methodology, called SPRINT, which will semi-automate the transformation of sequential C-input descriptions to pipelined, or multithreaded System C output. SPRINT offers designers the first real opportunity to escape much of the time-consuming, error-prone procedures that are currently being done manually.

Today's complex electronic design consists of platforms that typically contain embedded processors and a wide range of hardware accelerators. A key step in the design process is the assignment of functionality to the processors, analyzing the trade-offs between software and hardware implementation, and determining the actual inter-process communication implementation. These tasks present designers with a broad range of implementation alternatives that must be explored in order to find a cost-efficient implementation.

The task of exploring various process partitions presents one of the major bottlenecks in current design environments. Partitioning a sequential description in design environments is currently done manually. However, manual rewriting of the application is time consuming and error-prone, so it is typically performed only once in the complete design cycle. SPRINT provides a semi-automated way of exploring different process partitioning alternatives by reducing the designer interaction to the definition of the process boundaries.

During the transformation from the sequential C-input description to the pipelined SystemC output description, SPRINT checks the data precedents to guarantee functional equivalence between the sequential input and the pipelined output description and inserts the communication channels for the data transferred between processes.

SPRINT utilizes three types of communication between the different processes it examines:

  1. Point-to-point queue based communication for transferring data between the processes, thereby providing implicit synchronization
  2. Shared-variable-based communication for large arrays, providing no synchronization between the processes
  3. A parameter-passing mechanism used for system configuration settings

Operationally, the different processes are activated through the point-to-point communication channels. Synchronization between the different processes is also performed through the data passed, using these queues.

Companies can have early access to IMEC's SPRINT design methodology before it becomes commercially available by entering into a research agreement with IMEC.

About IMEC
IMEC (Inter-university MicroElectronics Center) was founded in 1984 and today is Europe's largest independent research center in the field of microelectronics, nanotechnology, enabling design methods and technologies for ICT systems. IMEC's activities concentrate on the design technology for integrated information and communication systems, silicon process steps and modules, silicon processes, nanotechnology, microsystems, alternative devices, packaging, solar cells and training in microelectronics. IMEC is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has a staff of more than 1300 people including over 380 industrial residents and guest researchers. Its revenue in 2002 of more than 138Meuro was derived from agreements and contracts with the Flemish government, equipment and material suppliers and semiconductor and system-oriented companies worldwide, the EC, MEDEA+ and ESA. News from IMEC is located at

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