Latency Analysis

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The latency analysis plugin provides minimum (best case) and maximum (worst case) latency time for each end-to-end flow of an architecture. The plugin supports end to end latency analysis at various levels of abstraction and fidelity. The fidelity of the analysis is determined by the details in the AADL model and by some preference settings. The plugin outputs the results in a spreadsheet document that shows the final result (best/worst case latency) and the details of each latency contributor.

An example model from a case study of latency analysis is available at Model on Github. The case study paper is available at Flow Latency Case Study Paper


The Basics

The General Latency Analysis Model

Worst-case and best-case end to end latency is calculated for each of the end-to-end flows defined in an AADL model. The analysis is performed in the instance model and the result are recorded in a report.

An end-to-end flow is a path through an alternating sequence of components with flow specifications and of connections. Users can define architecture models with various levels of hierarchical nesting with latency property values on component flow specifications and connections.

Users can add periodic sampling characteristics, add queue size properties, size of data types communicated through ports, execution times and deadlines for threads and devices, partitions with a major frame period and detailed partition schedules, protocols and networks with transmission latency based on a latency property value or based on the size of data being transmitted. If those are present their contributions are added instead of a latency value of the flow specification.

The latency analysis takes into account the following latency contributions:

  • Components contribute processing latency and sampling or queuing latency. Sampling latency is affected by whether connections are declared to be immediate (mid-frame) or (frame) delayed.
  • Partitions contribute partition output latency and latency in terms of major frame offset.
  • Connections contribute communication latency. It is determined by the components (virtual bus, hardware components) that the connection is bound to.

Note: An end to end flow may include components without a flow specification. In this case the actual component latency contribution, if the appropriate properties are set, is added.

The Preference Settings

The latency analysis offers several preference settings that affect how latency is calculated. This allows users to perform trade studies along certain dimensions without changing the model. The preference settings can be found under the menu Window/Preferences then OSATE Preferences/Flow Analysis. The latency analysis supports the following settings:

  • Treat as synchronous or asynchronous system. Used to assess the latency of connections between components not inherently synchronous or explicitly determined by the Reference_Time property as synchronous (same reference value) or asynchronous (different reference value). Software components or partitions (virtual processors) bound to the same processor are considered inherently synchronous. This is relevant when sampled processing occurs.
    • Asynchronous system (AS) [default]: The components are not time synchronized, i.e., dispatches may have time shift.
    • Synchronous system (SS): The components are time synchronized, i.e., periodic dispatches are aligned across systems.
  • Partition output policy. Used to reflect different inter-partition communication policies in partitioned systems.
    • Major Frame delayed (MF) [default]: assume that inter-partitions connections are flushed/realized at the end of the major frame. If a task in partition A sends a data to a task in partition B, the fresh data will be available only after completion of all remaining partitions, regardless the execution order of partition A or partition B.
    • Partition End (PE): assume that inter-partitions connections are available at the end of the partition whose task sends data. If a task in partition A sends a data to a task in partition B, the later will receive the data in the same major frame if partition B is executed after partition A.
  • Worst-case processing time: Users can choose between deadline and worst-case execution time as worst case processing time.
    • Deadline (DL) [default]: Deadline represents the worst-case completion time assuming the tasks are schedulable.
    • Maximum Compute Execution Time (ET): Maximum compute execution time. This assumes the task executes as highest priority task and is not preempted.
  • Queuing latency on incoming ports: Affects how the best case queuing delay is determined.
    • Assume empty queue (EQ) [default]: No delay as the queue is assumed to be empty.
    • Assume full queue (FQ): Use minimum compute execution time times the queue size to determine the best case queuing time.
  • Data set processing (DS) yes/no [default no]: allows the user to specify a per element execution time and separately the size of the data set. The Data_Model::Dimensions property of the port data type is interpreted as the size of the data set.

Additional preferences affect whether a subtotals column is included in the report, and whether detailed result messages are also shown as Eclipse Markers (result summaries are always also shown as Eclipse Markers visible in the Problems view.

Invoking the Latency Analysis

To use the plugin, select a system instance and select Check Flow Latency in the Analyses menu, the AADL Analyses context menu, or the icon with the green letter f in the toolbar.

Once the analysis is finished, a report is produced in a a directory called reports/latency. The directory is available in your workspace, at the same location as your instance model file.

The Reports

Report Names and Location

Latency analysis reports are produced in a folder called reports/latency. This folder can be found in your workspace folder that contains your instance model. The report names include an indication of the preference settings using the two letter labels shown above. This allows users to maintain copies of reports with different preference settings.

The latency analysis generates the report as a csv file and as a xls file. Both reports contain the same information but the xls file utilizes Excel formatting features (color-coding of results and separate sheets for different end to end flows).

Note: If your installation of Eclipse (OSATE) does not recognize the xls extension, you can add it yourself. Under Window/Preferences go to General/Editors/File associations and add *.xls as file type, and then for this selected file type associate the editor by clicking on Add select External programs and pick the Microsoft Excel Worksheet.

Report Content

Report results include a column for minimum specified and maximum specified latency (reflecting the lower and upper bound of the latency property value).

A second set of columns represents the actual value (min value and max value) used in the end-to-end latency calculation. These columns use the most detailed values available in the model. This may be an execution time value or period value or a specified latency value if no other information is available. The method column indicates whether the actual value represents

  • a specified value (latency property value),
  • processing (based on compute execution time and deadline),
  • transmission (based on latency property value on virtual bus or bus, or transmission time and data size property values),
  • queuing latency (based on queue size and execution time property values),
  • sampling latency (based on period property values),
  • partition latency (based on major frame and partition schedule property values).

Further details about how the actual latency value is calculated see the sections below.

The comments column provides additional detail on the calculations and may give warnings or error messages to report inconsistencies.

If connections are bound to virtual buses and buses, then those components are shown in parentheses “()”. Their latency numbers add up to the latency number shown as actual for the connection.

Note: The report also provides a summary evaluation of the results. For the maximum latency an error message indicates if the actual exceeds the expected maximum latency. For the minimum latency, the summary report distinguishes between better than specified minimum end-to-end latency, and whether the actual latency variation between minimum and maximum exceeds the specified expected variation.


Example models exercising the latency analysis can be found on

Check out latency-case-study and coreexamples/flowlatencyexamples.

Specified Processing and Communication Latency Contributions

The Latency property allows user to associate a latency value with flow specifications of components and with connections. It takes a time range value (minimum and maximum latency). It can be associated with

  • flow specifications (flow sources, flow paths, and flow sinks) of components to represent processing latency contributed by the component.
  • connections to represent communication latency.

Users can perform end-to-end latency analysis on a system based on these latency specifications. They can do so for a system with one layer of subsystems, or subsystems expanded by additional layers of the architecture hierarchy. Different subsystems can be expanded to different levels of the hierarchy. Examples of such models are representing conceptual, functional, and task architectures.

The analysis will calculate the minimum and the maximum end-to-end latency by adding up the specified latencies of all the component flow specifications and of the connections. Absence of a latency property on connections or flow specifications (or the absence of a flow specification on a component) is interpreted as a latency value of zero unless the model includes additional information from which to derive the latency contributions (see next sections).

Note: If the model only includes flow latency values then the analysis does not take into account any sampling, queuing, or partition latency contributions. Once partition information, thread periods and periodic process, queue sizes are added to the model those latency contributions are accounted for as well.

Latency Contributions by Periodic Sampling Processing

In embedded systems it is common to perform periodic processing. Examples are displays refreshing at a specified rate, sensors sampling the physical environment at a given rate, application systems processing their input periodically (periodic threads), networks transferring data periodically (e.g., CANBus).

The Period property allows users to specify the time interval at which a component executes. We can annotate a system, abstract, process, thread group, thread, device, component with a period. Note that hardware components can also contribute sampling latency (see later section).

An end to end flow latency is determined by the sum of processing, communication, and sampling latencies. For non-sampling components the sampling latency is zero.

Note: In the case of a thread or device with a Timed Dispatch_Protocol the period value is interpreted as the time out value and not interpreted as sampling latency contribution.

Sampling latency contributions are affected by whether two sampling processing units are dispatched against the same clock (synchronous systems) or against different clocks (asynchronous system).

Asynchronous Sampling

In the asynchronous case, the worst-case sampling latency contribution of a sampling processing unit is its period. This is the case when the data arrives just after the periodically sampling unit has been dispatched. The best-case sampling latency contribution is zero. This is the case when the data arrives just before the sampling unit is dispatched.

Synchronous Sampling

In the synchronous case, the sampling latency can be reduced. The second sampling unit is dispatched at the same time as the first sampling unit, i.e., their dispatch times are aligned. In this case, the sampling latency contribution is the difference between any processing and communication latency since the first sampling unit and the next period of the second sampling unit – effectively rounding up to the next period.

Note: The effect of synchronized sampling is that the sum of processing/communication and sampling latency is the same for the best and worst case calculation. For example, a periodic (I/O) task is sampling sensor input. The input is then processed by non-sampling tasks to minimize latency. To manage the cumulative latency variation (jitter) the output is sent to the actuator by the same I/O task at the beginning of the next frame. In other words, the I/O task acts as jitter buffer.

Note: The first sampling unit may be followed by non-sampling units before the second sampling unit. In this case the sum of processing and communication latencies is rounded up to the next multiple of the second sampling unit period.

Note: The cumulative processing and communication latency for the best case and worst case may round up to different multiples of sampling frames (period of the second sampling task). This results in frame-level jitter even if the min/max cumulative processing latency differs only by a few micro seconds, e.g., if one value just below and the other just above a multiple of the sampling frame.

Note: If the first sampling task is followed by an asynchronous sampling task then the processing latency and the period as sampling latency are added. This task then becomes the first sampling task for potential synchronous sampling.

When do we have Synchronous Sampling

Different physical components, e.g., devices, processors, and buses are considered to operate asynchronously, while software components on the same processor are considered to operate synchronously.

Preference note: A preference setting lets users choose whether components that have no indication of being synchronized, i.e., on the same processor, or are inherently asynchronous, i.e., different hardware components, should be handled as if synchronous or asynchronous.

Note: In the future we will also interpret the Reference_time property to recognize whether hardware components operate synchronously.

Execution Times and Deadlines as Latency Contributors

Users may have specified a Deadline property value for components. This property represents the upper bound of worst-case completion time as long as the component is deemed as schedulable.

Users can specify Compute_Execution_Time property values for threads and devices. The maximum value is used if the preference setting is set accordingly (see below). The minimum value is used for best-case latency analysis.

Note: The compute execution time value does not necessarily represent the best/worst-case completion time. It represents the best case scenario of a thread executing first, without preemption, and without executing a recovery handler, in other words a best case lower bound.

Note: The latency analysis tool only considers explicitly set Deadline values. The default value of the Deadline is that of the Period value – the latency analysis does not include the default value.

Note: The flow specification latency is used as processing latency contribution if the execution time (in ET) or deadline (in DL) is not set.

Preference note: The preference setting lets the user choose between using maximum execution time and deadline as the worst-case processing latency contribution.

Mid-frame and Frame-delayed Communication

The AADL thread model supports specification of immediate, and delayed connections between sampling units (periodic threads and devices).

  • An immediate connection means that although both tasks have the same dispatch time the second tasks waits for the completion of the first task. This corresponds to mid-frame communication in a Simulink control model.
  • A delayed connection means that the second task always receives the output in the next sampling period, i.e., it is always frame-delayed. This ensures that for both the minimum latency and maximum latency we have a sampling latency of the second task period.

Connections between periodic tasks are considered to be sampling connections if not specified as immediate or delayed connection. This means that a receiving periodic task will sample at its dispatch time, which may lead to frame-level latency jitter, as discussed earlier.

In a sequence of periodic tasks with immediate connections the deadline of the last task becomes the deadline of the sequence, i.e., the cumulative completion times must be within the deadline.

This leads to a minimum cumulative processing latency of the sequence as being the sum of minimum flow specification latency or the sum of minimum compute execution times. The maximum latency is the sum of maximum flow specification latencies or maximum compute execution time for each task.

Preference note: A preference setting lets the user choose between using maximum execution time and deadline (of the last task) as the worst-case latency contribution.

Note: A sequence of periodic tasks with immediate connections is similar to a periodic task followed by data-driven (aperiodic) tasks. The difference is that in the case of a sequence of aperiodic tasks each task execution time has to meet its own deadline, i.e., the cumulative maximum processing latency is bounded by the sum of task deadlines rather than the deadline of the last task.

Note: Immediate and delayed connection assure deterministic up and down sampling of tasks with harmonic periods. This means that a sensor providing readings at 50ms to a processing task operating at 100ms, the processing task will always see every other signal (or if the signals are queued will always see two signals in the queue). The effect is that this sampling pattern does not introduce additional noise into the signal.

Note: Immediate and delayed connections are typically not supported across synchronization domains, i.e., across processors and devices operating on independent clocks – unless clock drift is bounded and a Physically Asynchronous Logically Synchronous (PALS) protocol assures task dispatch level synchronicity.

Communication Latency Contribution by Transfer Mechanisms

In this section we discuss how latency contributions can be associated with communication transfer mechanisms that connections are bound to, i.e., virtual buses, buses, device, systems, and abstract components.

Communication Latency Specifications for Protocols and Networks/Buses

Users can indicate the intended transport mechanism via the Actual_Connection_Binding property or Required_Virtual_Bus_Class property.

The latency analysis will take into account every element of an Actual_Connection_Binding as latency contributor. In the case of a virtual bus the analysis also includes the entities that the virtual bus is bound to according to its Actual_Connection_Binding property value. If the virtual bus or connection does not have a specified Actual_Connection_Binding property value, then the Required_Virtual_Bus_Class property values are interpreted as latency contributors.

A bus or virtual bus can have a Transmission_Time property value. It specifies a fixed time and a per byte time latency contribution. If this property is present and the sending port has a data type with a Data_Size property value, then the communication latency contribution is calculated from these values.

A virtual bus or bus may add protocol wrapper data to be transmitted, which is specified by a Data_Size property on the virtual bus or bus. This will be added to the size of the application data.

If Transmission_Time is not present, the Latency property value associated with the virtual bus, bus, or other component the connection is bound to, is used.

If the Latency property value is absent then no latency contribution is recorded.

More than one protocol may be involved in the connection communication, e.g., one protocol may use a second protocol to perform its transfer. The latency analysis adds each of the protocol latency contributions to the total. This allows users to specify latency overhead being added by each protocol. This overhead may be fixed or dependent on the size of the content.

Note: If the connection has no binding, but the connection end points are bound or are devices, then the latency analysis attempts to determine the buses that connect the two hardware components between the endpoints.

Note: If the connection has no connection binding or required virtual bus, or those contributions are zero, then the Latency property value attached to a connection is used as latency contribution.

Note: The Transmission_Time property on a hardware component indicates the actual transfer time. For a virtual bus the transmission time represents any computational latency by the protocol, which may be dependent on the size of the data being processed.

Note: The protocol overhead can be captured by the fixed portion of the Transmission_Time property of a bus. Alternatively, it can be explicitly specified in a virtual bus (protocol) with Data_Size to account for the extra transmission cost. In addition, computational overhead of the protocol can be reflected as described above.

Periodically Sampling Buses and protocols (virtual buses)

Buses and virtual buses may operate periodically. For example, a CANBus operates on a static time line with fixed slots for different transfer actions. This is specified by associating a Period property value with a virtual bus, bus, or other component acting as transfer mechanism. In this case a sampling latency is added for every connection that is bound to such a bus.

When reflecting the sampling effect of communication the rules for asynchronous and synchronous sampling latency calculation and for determining whether synchronous sampling occurs apply here as well. In the synchronous case sampling latency contribution may be reduced from the full sampling period.

Note: When several protocols or the bus have a sampling period specified, the largest sampling period is used as it determines the transmission rate.

Queuing Latency Contributions

AADL has event and event data ports that are queued ports. The port includes properties to specify the queue size (Queue_Size) and policies for processing the queue.

The worst-case queuing latency the latency analysis assumes a full queue and uses the product of the queue size and the worst-case execution time.

Preference note: The deadline may be used if specified by Preference Settings DL. For the best-case queuing latency the latency analysis either assumes an empty queue (EQ) or full queue (FQ) using minimum execution time (as specified by Preference settings).

Note: In the case of a periodic or sporadic task with a queue the period is used instead of the worst-case or best-case execution time to reflect the fact that queue processing is paced at the rate specified by the period.

Note: In the case of a periodic or sporadic task with a queue the queue size is reduced by one in calculating the queuing latency to reflect the fact that the sampling latency of the periodic recipient accounts for one element.

Partitioned Systems

Partitioned systems use the concept of virtual machine (represented by AADL virtual processor) to enforce address space protection of processes at runtime.

In their simplest form partitions can be modeled by associating a SEI::isPartition property and a SEI::Partition_Latency property to specify the time period of partition execution. This property can be associated with a process or abstract component containing threads. In this case the user does not have to explicitly model a partition using virtual processor components.

The user can also use virtual processors to represent partitions. Virtual processors can be declared as subcomponents of processors, or they can be bound to processor. The latency analysis tools handles both modeling styles.

The SEI::Partition_Latency property can be used to specify the partition major frame for a virtual processor.

Alternatively, the user can specify ARINC653::Module_Major_Frame on a processor to which partitions are bound. The user can also specify a full partition schedule using the ARINC653::Module_Schedule property, whose value is a list of records with the Partition field referring to the partition and the Duration field indicating the window size.

The latency analysis will use the ARINC653 partition schedule information, the ARINC653 major frame information, or the SEI Partition Latency information in this order.

Partitions contribute two types of latency: partition output delay, and partition start delay.

Partition output delay is due to the partition flushing its output at the major frame or at partition end.

Partition start delay is due to a partition being scheduled in a particular partition schedule window, or because of the alignment of the partition major frame. In the latter case the latency analysis distinguishes between synchronous and asynchronous cross-partition communication. The same rules about alignment calculation as for sampled processing apply.

Preference note: A preference setting lets the user choose the partition major frame or the partition end as the time at which the output is flushed.

Note: The latency of tasks within a single partition are calculated as before. However, when communication occurs across a partition boundary, communication is delayed until the next frame – determined by the partition period, or until the partition end output and the alignment between the sending and receiving partition – using the partition schedule or major frame property values.

Note: A thread may have a period that is a multiple of the partition major frame. The latency analysis takes into account the additional sampling delay of the thread.

Note: Choosing the major frame as partition output assures that end to end latency is not affected by a change in the order in which partitions are allocated to a processor.

Latency Analysis and Modes

Latency analysis takes into account modes. It executes the analysis for each of the modes. If you have mode-specific end-to-end flows or mode-specific property values you will get mode-specific results.

Note: the analysis is currently not smart enough to avoid executing for all possible modes if and end-to-end flow is not affected by modes.

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