Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (2-27-12): Make the shift to multicores at ESC DesignWest - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (2-27-12): Make the shift to multicores at ESC DesignWest

Embedded Newsletter for 02-27-2012

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February 27, 2012

Tech Focus: Make the shift to multicores at ESC DesignWest


Manage multiple processes and processors in a deterministic multicore design

Multicore networking in Linux user space with no performance overhead

Pick the right multicore virtualization use case for your design

Fixing concurrency defects in multicore design

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor

In UBM Technology's most recent Embedded Market Study , about half the developers who participated said they were building embedded designs that incorporate more than one processor, but only 15 percent had committed to the use of multicore architectures. Most of them, about 60 percent, used multiple different processors in a single design, and about 25 percent were using multiple identical, but separate, processors.

If the use of multiple processors in a design is common, why haven't more embedded developers shifted to designs based on multicore SoC architectures? The responses to Jack Ganssle's recent column on “Multicore madness” capture the struggles embedded developers are having implementing multicore into their designs.

One of his readers – Kalpak – summarized the reaction to the trend currently toward symmetrical and homogeneous multicore architectures. “Though easier to design and manufacture, symmetric multicore is useless beyond a certain limit for most applications,Kalpak writes. “What will be more useful is Asym cores; smaller cores each specialized to a specific task .” Whatever the hardware manufacturers do finally standardize on, writes cshore: “it's up to we SW guys to make best use of them .” Somewhat sarcastically, Neznanovic writes: “I would say replacing a faster clock with multicore is as effective as replacing C with C++ – works well on paper, but not so useful in real life.

For answers to your questions about multicore, the best place to come is the 2012 ESC Designwest March 26-28 and its Multicore Summit , the venue for the seventh annual Multicore Developer Conference. There will be at least 25 classes on a wide range of topics such as multicore debug and tracing techniques, parallel programming paradigms, applying MCAPI, and creating a compiler infrastructure for heterogeneous multicores,

For additional help, there is Embedded.com's knowledgebase of several hundred online multicore design articles, white papers, and webinars. Of those included here, my Editor's Top Picks this week are:

Manage multiple processes/processors in a deterministic design
Pick the right multicore virtualization use case
Multicore networking in Linux user space with no performance overhead.

Design How-Tos

Multicore networking in Linux user space with no performance overhead

In this Product How-To Design article, the Freescale authors discuss multi-core network SoCs and how to leverage them efficiently for data path processing, the limitations of current software programming models, and how to use the VortiQa zero-overhead user space software framework in designs based on the QorIQ processor family.

Manage multiple processes and processors in a deterministic multicore design

How should processes running on different RTOSes communicate in systems with more than one operating system? The author suggests you can manage inter-process communications with global-object networking.

Pick the right multicore virtualization use case for your design

According to Rob Oshana and Stuart Yoder of Freescale, while virtualization enables the sharing of hardware resources on a single computer system, allowing multiple OSes to simultaneously share the system, the trick is picking the use case that best matches your application.

Agile development of real-time systems

In this Product How-To Henk Muller of XMOS uses the company's dual Xcore architecture to illustrate his argument that given a predictable underlying processor architecture, agile development is very well suited to real-time software.

Fixing concurrency defects in multicore design

There are compelling reasons to move to multicore processor designs, but doing so introduces the risk of concurrency defects in the software. Apparently innocent code can harbor nasty multithreading bugs that are notoriously difficult to diagnose and eliminate when they occur. Paul Anderson of GrammaTech offers methods to avoid these problems.

Transitioning to multicore processing

Hesitating to make the shift from single- to multiple-core processing in your design? Here's a guide to making the transition.

Trip over threads to trap multicore bugs

Here is how developers of concurrent programs can find software bugs caused by intermittent failures, non-deterministic behavior and asynchronous events and reproduce them in a controlled environment using a new X86 Linux platform development tool.

Tips on making your application code multicore ready

In this product how-to article Vector Fabrics' Paul Stavers describes a more efficient way to parallelize code for embedded multicore designs illustrating the process using the company's online tool to parallelize Google's VP8 video decoder.

Using trace to solve the multicore system debug problem

In this article, Aaron Spear of VMware outlines current multicore development trends, explores the deficiencies in traditional software development tooling when applied to multicore systems, introducing the “Common Trace Format” (CTF), a coming standard for tracing multi-core systems over time.

The key to realizing full multicore design functionality

The TI authors describe the thinking behind the development of the Keystone multicore architecture and review elements designed to provide device capabilities for advanced communications infrastructure apps such as media servers & wireless baseband.

Overcoming the challenges of multicore software development

Multicore processors are increasingly getting deployed in a vast majority of applications, making it important that developers realize the challenges associated with designing, developing, debugging and deploying the software on such devices.

Embedded Systems Bookshelf


Embedded Books Reading Room
Bernard Cole's favorite links to book excerpts.


Engineer's Bookshelf
Airport fiction blows. A look at books other engineers are reading and why you should read them, too. Recommend and write a review yourself. E-mail Brian Fuller.

Jack Ganssle's Bookshelf
A list of book reviews by Jack Ganssle, contributing technical editor of Embedded Systems Design and Embedded.com.

Max's Cool Beans
Clive “Max” Maxfield, the editor on Programmable Logic DesignLine, often writes about interesting books.


RTX launches world's smallest fully embedded Wi-Fi Module

RTX has launched what the company claims is the world's smallest fully embedded Wi-Fi module, the RTX4100.

Compact second-generation NanoServer for embedded media applications

DSM Computer is launching the first member of its second-generation NanoServer industrial computer with Intel Core processors and the energy-saving QM67 mobile chip set.

Low cost, low power single chip design for Bluetooth Smart tags and accessories

Sampling now, the nRF8002 extends Nordic Semiconductor's Bluetooth low energy offering with a cost-optimized, ultra-low power, and easy to design-in single chip for Bluetooth Smart (as Bluetooth low energy will now be marketed to consumers) tags and accessories.

World's first quad core Mini-ITX board

The EPIA-M900 and EPIA-M910 boards use the 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor for enhanced multi-tasking and multimedia performance on the lowest quad core power budget for next generation embedded products.

NFC-based chip protects luxury goods from counterfeiters and cloners

Inside Secure has introduced the VaultIC160, a memory-enriched NFC-based security solution designed for embedding into high-end consumer or industrial products that are often targeted by counterfeiters and cloners.

MirrorLink based software integrates multi-point and cloud connectivity to cars

Ixonos IVI Connect integrates both mobile devices and cloud services with automotive infotainment equipment and is compatible with Android and iOS devices as well as with all MirrorLink compliant devices.

News & Analysis

Wanted: Better Embedded Multicore Chips, Tools Paid

Embedded developers want more-integrated, heterogeneous multicore processors, and better tools for migrating and scaling up legacy applications on them.

Cracking the code on a next-gen software strategy

Whether you are a chip, board or systems maker, you cannot afford to remain aloof from the shifts in software, unless you don't mind getting lost in a jungle of code.

Multicore programmers must 'think different'

Engineers need to think differently to be successful in the transition to multicore programming, according to UT professor Yale Patt in online conference this week.

Report: Computing has hit 'power wall'

A new report warns that chip designers and software developers must adopt parallelism to overcome power limits.

Intel code lights road to many-core future

Intel Corp. released Parallel JS, an open source, data-parallel version of Javascript that's a small step on a long journey to many-core computing, said CTO Justin Rattner.

Freescale goes dual core for engine control

Freescale Semiconductor raised the hood on a multicore processor for automotive engine control that includes three extra timing cores dedicated to fuel efficiency.

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