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An increasing number of real-time applications are today implemented using distributed heterogeneous architectures composed of interconnected networks of processors. The systems are heterogeneous, not only in terms of hardware components, but also in terms of communication protocols and scheduling policies. Each network has its own communication protocol, each processor in the architecture can have its own scheduling policy, and several scheduling policies can share a processor. In this context, the task of designing such systems is becoming increasingly important and difficult at the same time. The success of such new design methods depends on the availability of analysis and optimisation techniques. Analysis and optimisation techniques for heterogeneous real-time embedded systems are presented in the paper. The authors address in more detail a particular class of such systems called multi-clusters, composed of several networks interconnected via gateways. They present a schedulability analysis for safety-critical applications distributed on multi-cluster systems and briefly highlight characteristic design optimisation problems: the partitioning and mapping of functionality, and the packing of application messages to frames. Optimisation heuristics for frame packing aimed at producing a schedulable system are presented. Extensive experiments and a real-life example show the efficiency of the frame-packing approach.