Virtualized Development and Testing for Embedded Cluster Computing

Ian Vince McLoughlin, Timo Rolf Bretschneider, Chen Zheming


Embedded cluster processing solutions can be difficult to design if quantity and type of processors, interconnectivity technology and code partitioning are not specified in advance, and yet it may not be possible to determine these without qualitative and quantitative testing which can not be performed until hardware is available. Similar issues are faced in conventional development projects for generic embedded systems, or for generic distributed systems, but the issues are exacerbated when both attributes are combined. This paper considers issues relating to custom embedded cluster processing system development in general, before focussing on a specific example of a space-borne cluster computer using ARM processors running embedded Linux. This early example, which will be shown performing distributed synthetic aperture radar image processing, is representative of a growing number of systems in the pervasive and ambient computing fields. It illustrates many difficulties in co-developing hardware and software for specific tasks. We present one potential solution – the use of distributed virtualization to simulate the final design. An ARM cluster simulator is presented, constructed using QEMU and
virtual networking, and shown used for the development and validation of distributed embedded processing tasks on a cluster-type architecture. As clusters of embedded processors, pervasive embedded networks, and the “embedded cloud” become more popular in the near future, such virtualized systems can prove useful for development and testing.


Embedded cluster; virtualization; hardware-software codesign; distributed embedded computing

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