Press Release 014/2012

Fast and Easy Programming

New EU Consortium ALMA Developing a Tool Chain for Embedded Multi-core Pro-cessors
Smartphones, Kameras und Co. arbeiten mit schnellen, energieeffizienten Mehrkernprozessoren – ALMA will nun die Programmierung von Anwendungen vereinfachen (Foto: Fotolia)
Smartphones, cameras and Co. operate with fast, energy-efficient multi-core processors – ALMA wants to simplify application programming. (Photo: Fotolia)


An increasing number of electronics products such as smartphones are equipped with fast, energy-efficient multi-core processors. As a matter of fact, however, programming of the respective applications is rather time-consuming and expensive. For fast and easy programming, partners from research and industry within the EU consortium ALMA are developing a novel tool chain based on the open-source software Scilab. ALMA is being coordinated by Professor Jürgen Becker and Dr. Michael Hübner from KIT’s Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV).
Not only personal computers but also smartphones, camera systems, and other electronics products are increasingly based on multi-core systems where several parallel processor cores are integrated in one chip to increase processing power while at the same time saving space and energy. Programming new applications for such embedded systems requires highly specialized knowledge and in addition is very time-consuming and expensive. The three-year project ALMA, which started in September 2011, aims to simplify development of software for embedded multi-core processors.

ALMA (Greek for “leap”) is an acronym for ALgorithm parallelization for Multicore Architectures. The project uses the open-source software Scilab which had first been developed for numerical-mathematics applications. In ALMA, Scilab will be enhanced by downstream optimization stages allowing intelligent parallelization and distribution of applications to several processors. At the same time, ALMA focuses on a close co-design of software and hardware to create a single tool chain that can efficiently be used in different multicore architectures. “In that way, we obtain a tool chain for easy programming from a higher level of abstraction, i.e. the programmer does not need detailed knowledge of the complex architecture,” explains Dr. Michael Hübner from KIT’s Institute for Information Processing Technology. The new technology will reduce development time and costs.

The ALMA project is funded by the EU with € 3.2 million. It is being coordinated by Professor Jürgen Becker, Head of ITIV, and Dr. Michael Hübner. The consortium brings together partners from industry and academia: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB), Université de Rennes (France), University of Peleponnese (Greece), Technological Educational Institute of Messolonghi (Greece), Recore Systems B.V. (the Netherlands), and Intracom SA Telecom Solutions (Greece). The project focuses on two case studies from the fields of image processing/object recognition and mobile communication. Besides, ALMA is relevant to many other areas, for example ambient-assisted living and safety systems. ALMA will strengthen the position of Europe in the world market of tool chains for multi-core software development.

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Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,600 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 23,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

or, 30.01.2012


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