Skip to main content Skip to main navigation


Intelligent Microchip Networks: An Agent-on-Chip Synthesis Framework for the Design of Smart and Robust Sensor Networks

Stefan Bosse
In: Proceedings of the SPIE 2013, Microtechnologie Conference, Session EMT 102 VLSI Circuits and Systems. SPIE Microtechnologies Conference (SPIE Microtechnologies-20), April 24-26, Alpexpo/Grenoble, France, 4/2013.


Sensorial materials consisting of high-density, miniaturized, and embedded sensor networks require new robust and reliable data processing and communication approaches. Structural health monitoring is one major field of application for sensorial materials. Each sensor node provides some kind of sensor, electronics, data processing, and communication with astrong focus on microchip-level implementation to meet the goals of miniaturization and low-power energyenvironments, a prerequisite for autonomous behaviour and operation. Reliability requires robustness of the entire system in the presence of node, link, data processing, and communication failures. Interaction between nodes is required to manage and distribute information. One common interaction model is the mobile agent. An agent approach provides stronger autonomy than a traditional object or remoteprocedure-call based approach. Agents can decide for themselves, which actions are performed, and they are capable of flexible behaviour, reacting on the environment and other agents, providing some degree of robustness. Traditionally multi-agent systems are abstract programming models which are implemented in software and executed on program controlled computer architectures. This approach does not well scale to microchip level and requires full equipped computers and communication structures, and the hardware architecture does not consider and reflect the requirements for agent processing and interaction. We propose and demonstrate a novel design paradigm for reliable distributed data processing systems and a synthesis methodology and framework for multi-agent systems implementable entirely on microchip-level with resource and power constrained digital logic supporting Agent-On-Chip architectures (AoC). The agent behaviour and mobility is fully integrated on the micro-chip using pipelined communicating processes implemented with finite-state machines and register-transfer logic. The agent behaviour, interaction (communication), and mobility features are modelled and specified on a machine-independent abstract programming level using a state-based agent behaviour language (APL).With this APL a high-level agent compiler is able to synthesize a hardware model (RTL, VHDL), a software model (C, ML), or a simulation model (XML) suitable to simulate a multi-agent system using the SeSAm simulator framework. Agent communication is provided by a simple tuple-space database implemented on node level providingfault tolerant access of global data. A novel synthesis development kit (SynDK) based on a graph-structured database approach is introduced to support the rapid development of compilers and synthesis tools, used for example for the design and implementation of the APL compiler. Keywords: Agent-on-Chip, Embedded Systems, System-on-Chip design, High-Level Synthesis, Parallel systems, Parallel computing, Distributed Systems, Multi-Agent Systems, Artificial Intelligence, ASIC and FPGA technology, Communication.