Electrical Engineering
      and Computer Sciences

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences


UC Berkeley


2008 Research Summary

Epic: A Next Generation Platform Architecture for Motes (Epic)

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Prabal Dutta, David E. Culler, Scott Shenker and Ion Stoica

Epic is a next-generation platform architecture for wireless sensor nodes ("motes"). A key goal of the Epic project is to develop a composable hardware architecture for sensornet modules that specifically supports prototyping, measurement, and reuse. Prototyping enables design concepts to be explored, parameterized, and manipulated before they are finalized. Epic facilitates prototyping through componentized hardware with flexible interconnections between both the components themselves and third-party hardware. Once prototypes are constructed, their properties are measured under a range of input parameters to decide among alternate design choices. Although some properties can be measured directly in software, others like power draw require explicit platform support, which Epic provides. Efficient reuse reduces the time and cost of going from prototype to production, but the requirements for reuse are at odds with the goals of prototyping and measurement: a final design rarely needs the scaffolding required during design and evaluation. Epic addresses this tension by partitioning hardware into specialized, minimalistic, and reusable core components with wide, connector-free interfaces and no decoding logic. In contrast, prototyping and measurement is supported through generic components that encapsulate core components and export flexible interconnections. Such partitioning of functionality, and adherence to a few simple design rules, can enable faster prototyping without sacrificing measurement-based evaluation or reuse, ultimately allowing systems to be deployed quicker and less expensively.