The purpose of electronic data acquisition systems is to collect, digitize, format and process the data produced by detection systems that constitute the heart of experimental physics projects. By their very nature, these systems consist of numerous detection nodes running in parallel and producing large flows of digitized data (Fig. 1).
The last fifteen years have been witness to the generalization of intelligent, connected multimedia terminals and, more generally, what we call “the Internet of things;” this global movement has produced numerous innovative software technologies that allow us to design high-performance embedded, distributed applications. These characteristics are precisely those of the data acquisition systems that we need to deliver advanced experimental physics projects (Fig. 2). Irfu has consequently maintained and developed the hardware, firmware and software skills that are primordial to the design and implementation of the whole chain going from the detection of physical phenomena to the scientific processing of the collected data.
Software plays an increasingly decisive role in these highly specialized systems, while posing major challenges pertaining to performance, durability and reliability. As a consequence, in conjunction with the design and implementation activities directly linked to the scientific projects, it has become indispensable for Irfu to maintain comprehensive R&D and technology monitoring activities in order to acquire much needed state-of-the art technologies, methodologies and tools to rationalize and professionalize the production of software components used in experimental physics data acquisition systems (Fig. 3).