Design Con 2015

Toshiba low power OS targets Many-Core embedded designs

March 25, 2013

Bernard Cole-March 25, 2013

Toshiba Corp.  has taken the wraps off an innovative, low power operating system (OS) it has developed for many-core processors, targeting application in embedded systems, including automotive products and digital consumer products.

Details of the new OS were presented at "Design, Automation & Test in Europe (DATE 2013)" in Grenoble, France, this week.

An evaluation of the OS on the company's own many-core processor recorded a 24.6% power reduction against the standard OS when running a super resolution program that scaled 1920x1080 pixel images to 3840x2160 resolutions.

Cognizant of the fact that many recent multimedia processing designs, including video encoding and decoding and image recognition, require high performance processors, the company has focused on the needs for many-core processors, with up to dozens of cores, which are finding an important role in running these applications.

The new many-core RTOS is the company’s solution to a problem in such designs: the higher the number of cores, the higher total power consumption. In current approaches, the OS controls power to the processor based on computation load history. However, this is not accurate enough to reduce power consumption and fails to manage abrupt fluctuations in computation load, and so more power than necessary is consumed.

According to the company, the many-core processor OS achieves low power consumption by using information inherent to parallel programs to control power supply. Parallel programs are run by a thread unit, and to run correctly the order for executing the threads must be specified.

Toshiba has developed and employed a technique for specifying the "number of dependence" among threads and controlling the execution order.

This approach recognizes that the dependency number at any given time closely foreshadows the computation load in the near future, securing a more accurate prediction of power requirements.

The new OS controls power supply and achieves a low power system without degradation in performance. Toshiba plans to apply the low power OS to embedded systems for such applications as high resolution image processing and image recognition.

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