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Extending ASSERT to HW/SW Co-design


HWSWCO (Hardware Software Co-design) is an ESA TRP study, contract ESTEC 22810/09/NL/JK.

The study aims to develop and produce a HW/SW co-design framework extending the ASSERT/TASTE process, and experimenting this framework on a case-study. So that, the resulting framework shall be compatible with the existing ASSERT/TASTE approach, process and tools.

HWSWCO is coordinated by the European Space Agency (ESA). GMV, UPM Technical University of Madrid and Cantabria University integrate the consortium, acting GMV as prime.


The objectives pursued are the following:

  • Development and production of a HW/SW co-design framework extending the ASSERT/TASTE process to incorporate the HW/SW co-design:

    • Definition of a consistent methodology for the system HW/SW co-design phase ensuring consistency between HW and SW design and verification.

    • Building a prototype version of the tool support, HW/SW co-design toolset, that shall be strongly compatible with the ASSERT/TASTE approach, process and tools.

  • Experimenting the developed HW/SW co-design framework on a case study.


HW/SW co-design refers to the simultaneous consideration of HW and SW in the design of the system, rather than the more common approach of specifying the HW and constraining the SW to it.

HWSWCO defines a top-down approach to design the system architecture considering different HW and SW concurrent designs.

Therefore, it is necessary to define a concurrent and integrated process:

  • Concurrent HW and SW development.
  • Interaction of HW and SW development all over the process.
  • Consequence, HW and SW developments meet performance criteria from system design to system integration.
  • HWSWCO methodology explores different trade-offs in order to achieve performance criteria for both HW and SW components.
  • The process must integrate ASSERT for SW development.

The principal benefits of this approach are:

  • Enables mutual influence of both HW and SW early in the design cycle.
  • Provides continual verification throughout the design cycle. As the design progresses through subsequently levels of detail, both HW and SW are continuously co-verified to improve design quality.
  • Enables evaluation of larger design trade space. Interoperability of tools and automation of co-design early in the architecture progress significantly improve the ability to consider designs that may otherwise be ignored.
  • Reduces integration and test. As HW and SW are co-verified throughout the design process, HW/SW co-design will be a significant factor in reducing the resources devoted to integration and test.


HWSWCO study started in November 2009. The study involves three major tasks:

  • Task 1 - Definition of the proposed HW/SW co-design approach.
  • Task 2 - Implementation of the tool support.
  • Task 3 - Demonstration on a case study.

A Technical Meeting held at GMV premises (GMV) on June the 23rd 2010 declared Task 1 successful.

Task 2 results were evaluated at a Technical Meeting held on December the 17th 2010 at GMV premises (GMV). Task 2 was also considered sucessful.

Finally, Task 3 was declared successful during a Final Review held on July/2011 at ESTEC.