Many modern products are complex systems comprised of highly integrated mechanical, electrical, electronic, and software components, which are commonly known as mechatronic systems. Similarly, product data and life-cycle management systems that support the engineering and design of mechatronic systems are becoming complex and need to store, retrieve, and process vast amounts of files associated with mechatronic products. For many years, software developers and computer architects have benefited by continuous increases in computational performance, as predicted by Moore's law. However, issues such as extreme power consumption have begun to limit certain types of performance increases such as hardware clock rates. In an effort to find new ways to increase computational performance, engineers and computer scientists have been investigating new techniques such as hardware acceleration systems, reconfigurable computing, and heterogeneous computing (HC). In light of these emerging computational paradigms, this paper introduces a semantic association hardware acceleration system for integrated product data management (PDM) based on semantic file systems. The concept of semantic path merger (SPM) is described along with a discussion of its realization as a hardware-based associative memory for accelerated semantic file retrieval. The energy and retrieval performance metrics of the proposed hardware system is given along with its comparative analysis with the industry standard content addressable memory (CAM). The goal of the proposed system is to enhance the state-of-art for the field of heterogeneous computing within the scope of computational platforms for design and engineering applications.

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