OPERA faces the challenges of implementing a customized and low power computing platform, by capturing the needs of users that operate in vertical domains, as well as the innovation demands of EU industries that operate in the Cloud, Datacentre, and CPS sectors. Moreover, OPERA aims at strengthen the leading position of EU industries in these sectors. In order to cope with such challenges, OPERA follows an incremental technology and research innovation starting from existing technology and platforms. OPERA takes the advantage of the strong mix of competence and expertise of the consortium’s partners, which comprises industries leading architectures and platform technologies on low and ultra-low power computing sectors, and academia for the scientific aspects. OPERA is organized upon a well-known iterative approach used in several complex R&D projects. The agile approach used by OPERA is depicted in figure B, and it is characterized by a large use of collaboration iterations in all the phases of the project.
Incremental innovations encompass relatively modest improvements to existing products and production processes, whereas breakthrough innovation is given by their integration and by their scientific and commercial novelty. A key aspect of the methodology applied by OPERA is the iterative approach that allows taking advantage from the “lesson learned” during the project: the knowledge acquired in the progress of the project will be integrated in the requirements and later reflected in the project implementation and prototypes. According to the agile methodology, OPERA approach starts from the specifications related to the low power objectives, technologies that will be adopted, application scenarios, and general inputs.
Regarding low power objectives, OPERA takes into account information provided both by EU Work Programme and other stakeholders. Adopted technologies will set the specifications for hardware and software components, as well as for the metrics used to measure the efficiency. The selected application scenarios represent another important source of information, since they provide a useful insight regarding real-life workloads and their characteristics. Other inputs will be gathered by monitoring industrial and scientific initiatives, as well as the state-of-the-art. At the same time, requirements already coded in the Description of Work (DoW) and the knowledge from existing standards and from on-going projects in the same domain are also included in the analysis process. After collecting these various specifications, OPERA moves on a subsequent phase of refinement, where the specifications are integrated in order to provide the input for the implementation of the low power computing platform through engineering innovation. This phase represents also the first iteration point put into effect by the OPERA agile methodology. Requirements carried out in the previous phase are used to drive the integration process for hardware and software components and existing technologies. Also the integration phase provides useful feedback that OPERA intend to use for a further refinement of the initial specifications. The result of the integration of hardware and software components/technologies is the creation of fully working prototypes that can be easily deployed in the selected use case scenarios. This point represents the last phase in the agile methodology adopted by OPERA. The evaluation in field of working prototypes is an important aspect for OPERA in order to achieve the objective set up by the project. In fact the working prototypes evaluation with real-life workloads provides the feedback necessary to eliminate the difference between the expected features and what the prototypes actually can do. This important feedback represents the “lessons learned” block depicted in figure B, and it allows OPERA to introduce a further iteration point. In fact, all the information gathered at this stage are integrated into the initial specifications.
To summarize, the resulting evolutionary requirement engineering, specification and design methodology complies with the following broad template:
• Specification of functionalities for innovation and requirements;
• Requirements /innovation engineering and harmonization;
• Architecture design specification and refinement;
• Enabling technology research architecture and development in agile release cycles;
• Prototype development of the platform, system integration and testing;
• Evaluation of the development platform in the real life workload.