ISSN : 1796-203X
Volume : 3    Issue : 6    Date : June 2008

Profiling Tools for FPGA-Based Embedded Systems: Survey and Quantitative Comparison
Jason G. Tong and Mohammed A. S. Khalid
Page(s): 1-14
Full Text:
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Profiling tools are computer-aided design (CAD) tools that help in determining the computationally
intensive portions in software. Embedded systems consist of hardware and software components
that execute concurrently and efficiently to execute a specific task or application. Profiling tools are
used by embedded system designers to choose computationally intensive functions for hardware
implementation and acceleration. In this paper we review and compare various existing profiling
tools for FPGA-based embedded systems. We then describe Airwolf, an FPGAbased profiling tool.
We present a quantitative comparison of Airwolf and a well known software-based profiling tool,
GNU gprof. Four software benchmarks were used to obtain profiling results using Airwolf and gprof.
We show that Airwolf provides up to 66.2% improvement in accuracy of profiled results and reduces
the run time performance overhead, caused by software-based profiling tools, by up to 41.3%. The
results show that Airwolf provides accurate profiling results with minimal overhead and it can help
the designers of FPGA-based embedded systems in identifying the computationally intensive
portions of software code for hardware implementation and acceleration.

Index Terms
Profiling Tools, FPGA, Embedded Systems, co-design