Cloud computing is often the most referenced computational model for Internet of Things. This model adopts a centralized architecture where all sensor data is stored and processed in a sole location. Despite of many advantages, this architecture suffers from a low scalability while the available data on the network is continuously increasing. It is worth noting that currently, more than 50% internet connections are between things. This can lead to the reliability problem in realtime and latency-sensitive applications.

Edge-computing, which is based on a decentralized architecture, is known as a solution for this emerging problem by: (1) reinforcing the equipment at the edge (things) of the network and (2) pushing the data processing to the edge. Edge-centric computing requires sensors nodes with more software capability and processing power while, like any embedded systems, being constrained by energy consumption.

Hybrid hardware systems consisting of FPGA and processor offer a good trade-off for this requirement. FPGAs are known to enable parallel and fast computation within a low energy budget. The coupled processor provides a flexible software environment for edge-centric nodes. Applications design for such hybrid network/software/hardware (SW/HW) system always remains a challenged task. It covers a large domain of system level design from high level software to low-level hardware (FPGA). This results in a complex system design flow and involves the use of tools from different engineering domains.

A common solution is to propose a heterogeneous design environment which combining/integrating these tools together. However, the heterogeneous nature of this approach can pose the reliability problem when it comes to data exchanges between tools. Our motivation is to propose a homogeneous design methodology and environment for such systems. We study the application of a modern design methodology, in particular object‡oriented design (OOD), to the field of embedded systems.

Our choice of OOD is motivated by the proven productivity of this methodology for the development of software systems. In the context of this thesis, we aim at using OOD to develop a homogeneous design environment for edge-centric systems.

Our approach addresses three design concerns:

  • hardware design, where object-oriented principles and design patterns are used to improve the reusability, adaptability, and extensibility of the hardware system.
  • hardware / software co‡design, for which we propose to use OOD to abstract the SW/HW integration and the communication that encourages the system modularity and flexibility.
  • middleware design for Edge Computing.
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    We rely on a centralised development environment for distributed applications, while the middleware facilitates the integration of the peripheral nodes in the network, and allows automatic remote reconfiguration.

    Ultimately, our solution offers software exibility for the implementation of complex distributed algorithms, complemented by the full exploitation of FPGAs performance. These are placed in the nodes† as close as possible to the acquisition of the data by the sensors† in order to deploy a first effective intensive treatment.


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