• IK4-IKERLAN is participating in three of the five most important European projects in this field and is leading one of them
  • Embedded systems give products great added value, which has prompted the EU to make a significant commitment in this field

(Arrasate-Mondragon, January 2015).- IK4-IKERLAN is one of the European leaders in R&D into dependable embedded systems. These are electronic systems that are used to control, in a robust and reliable way, one or several of the functions of the object to which they have been fitted; they are present in a growing number of products used every day, from mobile phones, vehicles to factory machinery. The centre is one of the organisers of the most important meeting in Europe in this field, the HIPEAC Conference 2015 taking place in Amsterdam today. This event has been organised by the leaders of the five most important European projects. Within these projects, IK4-IKERLAN is leading one (MultiPARTES) and is involved in another two (DREAMS and PROXIMA).

When we drive our cars a whole host of electronic systems undertake to ensure, for example, that the engine works efficiently, the temperature inside the vehicle is the desired one and that all the safety and security devices work. These are embedded systems, devices in which the European Union (EU) has put its faith in order to contribute towards increasing the competitiveness of the continent’s industry. That is why the EU is making a significant commitment towards driving forward the R&D relating to this field.

Embedded systems can be used in many sectors and provide products with very valuable added value on an increasingly competitive market. It comes as no surprise that they allow the features of the objects containing them, their security/safety, their energy efficiency, etc., to be increased. An up-market car can offer up to 270 functions, but for this a large quantity of materials are needed: about 90 electronic circuit boards, 65 kg of leads and 1,100 electronic connectors. The market is demanding more and more features of this type and the industry needs sustainable strategies to be able to offer them to it.

IK4-IKERLAN stands out as an international benchmark in the so-called mixed criticality technologies, which enable all the functions to be incorporated with fewer electronic systems, including those linked to security/safety. That means it would be possible to go on increasing their functions by reducing the weight, volume, consumption and cost of embedded systems. Returning to the above-mentioned car example, a dozen electronic circuit boards, 10 kg of leads and about 100 connectors could suffice.

HIPEAC Conference 2015

One of the most important events in Europe relating to mixed criticality embedded systems is being held in Amsterdam today, 19 January. It is a meeting being organised by the HIPEAC, the European network devoted to promoting excellence in this field, and the leaders of the five most important European projects in this field: MultiPARTES, DREAMS, PROXIMA, EMC2 and CONTREX. As the coordinator of one of them and participant in another two, IK4-IKERLAN will be one of the most prominent players in this conference which will be sharing the results of the projects, the latest knowledge generated and the future perspectives of the participants.

The importance of this event is endorsed by two pieces of data: firstly, the sum of the budgets of the five projects is in the region of 100 million euros, which gives an idea of the importance that the EU is attaching to this field. Secondly, the event will be attended by more than 100 researchers from over 60 institutions in industry, academia and research.

IK4-IKERLAN has for years been collaborating with companies to produce applications of this type for products in the areas of energy, transport, industry, healthcare and the home. Thanks to its experience, the centre is a leading player in the significant investment being made by the European Commission and companies in this field.

The European projects

The three projects that IK4-IKERLAN is participating in will be concluded in 2017 and are being funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme. The consortia promoting them comprise companies, universities and research centres.

MultiPARTES aims to develop a platform that will incorporate embedded systems for control purposes with varying degrees of criticality; it will be possible to deploy them in spheres like video devices, the aerospace sector and wind energy. In addition to IK4-IKERLAN, which is leading the project, another eight European organisations are participating in it. The centre’s functions in this initiative include identifying industry’s requirements, contributing its own experience in the area of dependability, and the development of a new hardware platform, among other things.

DREAMS will be seeking to simplify the production process, reduce the development deadlines and facilitate the processes to certify the electronic systems. It is hoped that these measures will lead to a lower cost and make it possible to improve their production as well as their operation. A leading company in this project is Alstom, with which IK4-IKERLAN has been working very closely, and the consortium comprises 16 members in all. IK4-IKERLAN’s role will be to develop together with Alstom Renewables a controller for offshore wind generators capable of managing various functions with different criticality.

PROXIMA has been set up to assist European industry in moving from the use of multicore processors to manycore ones. Among other advantages, this new range of processors will bring greater added value to the products in which they have been fitted. In this initiative, IK4-IKERLAN is involved in research into railway signalling with the maximum safety level.

“Key technology to drive forward competitiveness”

“Embedded systems, and mixed criticality ones in particular, constitute key technology to drive forward the competitiveness of companies because they give their products added value," said the IK4-IKERLAN researcher Jon Pérez. “For example, thanks to them future wind turbines will be able to have more advanced control functions enabling them to be more efficient, generate energy for longer and work autonomously in hostile environments like offshore ones," he added.

Regarding the centre's prominence at the HIPEAC Conference 2015, Pérez stressed that "it will confirm its technical and scientific leadership in this field". “This event is an excellent showcase that will enable us to position ourselves, establish contacts and collaborate on new initiatives that will enable us to maximise the returns of this research in the Basque industrial base."

About IK4-IKERLAN

IK4-IKERLAN is a leading centre in technology transfer and in the contribution of competitive value to companies, thanks to its capacity to offer comprehensive solutions by combining various technological domains. This is possible due to its high degree of expertise in six major areas: embedded systems, power electronics, microtechnologies, energy efficiency and storage, mechatronics and advanced manufacturing.

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The R&D centre is one of the organisers of the HIPEAC Conference, set to gather together more than 100 researchers from over 60 institutions
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