Greater system complexity drives need for interface standard

In January, the Khronos Group created an exploratory group to determine the industry’s interest in developing a simplified open standard for embedded heterogeneous communications. If there is enough interest, Khronos will form a working group and invite all interested parties to collaborate on the development of a multi-vendor standard.

Khronos has a proven multi-company governance process. It is an open consortium of hardware and software companies creating advanced acceleration standards.

Two decades ago, embedded real-time processing for system modeling, simulation, image and signal processing often used scaled-down supercomputer architectures–a homogenous array of identical processors interconnected in a parallel, symmetric topology. Programming solutions for these architectures were initially fragmented, often using hardware vendor or microprocessor-specific software layers for communication between processing elements.

Over time, the need for portability drove the development of new open standards. For example, MPI (Message Passing Interface) evolved to enable developers to create high performance, scalable, and portable applications to run on these homogeneous, parallel architectures.

In the last ten years, new technologies, such as multi-core CPUs, DSPs, GPUs, and FPGAs, have provided orders of magnitude more embedded processing power. Today’s architectures are increasingly heterogeneous.

A modern system combining an FPGA, multi-core CPU, and powerful GPU can now replace a system that had tens to hundreds of processors a decade ago. This  SoC technology can integrate multiple processing architectures on one piece of silicon with the performance to match that of a supercomputer of the late ‘90’s.

These new high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) architectures have enabled a rapidly expanding raft of new embedded applications, such as virtual and augmented reality, IoT/cloud computing, medical devices, robots, and autonomous vehicles.

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