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This paper describes the design of an automotive traffic sign recognition application. All stages of the design process, starting on system-level with an abstract, pure functional model down to final hardware/software implementations on an FPGA, are shown. The proposed design flow tackles existing bottlenecks of today's system-level design processes, following an early model-based performance evaluation and analysis strategy, which takes into account hardware, software and real-time operating system aspects. The experiments with the traffic sign recognition application show, that the developed mechanisms are able to identify appropriate system configurations and to provide a seamless link into the underlying implementation flows.