A Framework for Real-Time High-Throughput Signal and Image Processing on Workstations

Prof. Brian L. Evans

in collaboration with Greg E. Allen and K. Clint Slatton

Embedded Signal Processing Laboratory Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1084

2:00 PM, August 5, 1999, Shell Technology Center, Houston, TX



Real-time data-intensive systems such as sonar beamformers and synthetic aperture radar processors have traditionally required implementation in expensive custom hardware. Current systems use off-the-shelf programmable processors in customized configurations to reduce development cost. To reduce development cost and time further, we consider the use of workstations as the target architecture and design environment. We present a general approach for realizing real-time data-intensive systems in software on a multiprocessor workstation.

First, we present several dataflow models which are commonly used to describe signal processing systems. Second, we present a framework for developing scalable software implementations of signal processing systems on workstations. The framework models the concurrency and parallelism in these systems using Process Networks. The Process Networks model guarantees determinate execution of concurrent programs regardless of the scheduling algorithm being used. We employ a scheduling algorithm that always finds a bounded execution if one exists. Third, we implement the framework in C++ using lightweight real-time POSIX threads.

We use two case studies to evaluate the performance of our framework: a high-resolution 3-D sonar beamformer and a synthetic aperture radar processor. On a Sun Ultra Enterprise workstation, the 4-GFLOP beamformer exhibits near-linear speedup using 1 to 12 processors and executes in real time with 12 336-MHz UltraSPARC-II processors.

Time permitting, Prof. Evans will give a brief overview of other research being conducted in the Embedded Signal Processing Laboratory.


Brian L. Evans is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, and the Director of the Embedded Signal Processing Laboratory, which is part of the Center for Telecommunications and Signal Processing and the Center for Vision and Image Sciences. His research interests include real-time embedded systems; signal, image and video processing systems; system-level design; electronic design automation; symbolic computation; and filter design. Dr. Evans has published over 50 refereed conference and journal papers in these fields. He developed and currently teaches EE381K Multidimensional Digital Signal Processing, EE382C Embedded Software Systems, and EE379K-17 Real-Time Digital Signal Processing Laboratory. His B.S.E.E.C.S. (1987) degree is from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and his M.S.E.E. (1988) and Ph.D.E.E. (1993) degrees are from the Georgia Institute of Technology. From 1993 to 1996, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California at Berkeley with the Ptolemy Project. Ptolemy is a research project and software environment focused on design methodology for signal processing, communications, and controls systems. In addition to Ptolemy, he has played a key role in the development and release of six other computer-aided design frameworks, including the Signals and Systems Pack for Mathematica, which has been on the market since the Fall of 1995. He is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, a member of the Design and Implementation of Signal Processing Systems Technical Committee of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, and a Senior Member of the IEEE. He is a recipient of a 1997 National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Mail comments about this page to bevans@ece.utexas.edu.