A new multinational/multidisciplinary European research project: ‘SMArt systems Co-design’ (SMAC) has gone underway. The three-year project, partially funded by the EU aims to develop a design and integration environment (the ‘SMAC Platform’) for the design of smart systems.

These are intelligent, miniaturised devices that incorporate multiple functions such as sensing, actuation, computation, wireless connectivity and energy harvesting in a single tiny package; and will be key components of next-generation applications in areas such as energy saving, healthcare, automotive, factory automation and consumer devices.

The program will explore ways to reduce design costs and time-to-market for new smart systems.

The bottleneck in smart system development is not the technologies but design methodology.

Advanced packaging technologies such as System-in-Package (SiP) and chip stacking (3D IC) with through-silicon vias already allow manufacturers to package all these capabilities more densely to meet increasingly demanding cost, size, performance and reliability targets.

However, design methodologies have not kept pace with technology advances. Today, smart systems are designed using separate design tools for different parts of the system.

The SMAC Platform will be co-developed by academic and industry partners to ensure its usability in realistic, industry-strength design flows.