An embedded system is a hybrid of hardware and software that combines software flexibility and hardware real-time performance. The co-design of hardware and software is the most critical but difficult issue in embedded system design. In this paper, we propose a novel feature-based approach to the co-design of hardware (HW) and software (SW) in embedded systems. The approach first defines an extension to the NIST Core Product Model and then provides an object-oriented UML (Unified Modeling Language) representation for the embedded system feature model, including models of embedded system artifacts, components, features, and HW/SW configuration/assembly. The extended model provides a feature-based HW/SW component co-design framework allowing the designer to develop a virtual embedded system prototype through assembling virtual components. The resulting feature-based model serves as the basis for developing reusable and adaptable components/artifacts. The underlying SW and HW components are determined through feature configuration, and thus HW/SW co-design is implemented by using feature-component mapping and component generation, which may be associated with feature creation, configuration, analysis and reuse. A case study example is discussed to illustrate the embedded system model.

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