Multicore? Ah, Software, There's the Rub

A Viewpoint by Larry Lapides, Vice President of Sales, Imperas Ltd.

I have a soft spot in my heart for plays and poetry.  I couldn’t have made it through high school English classes without these forms of expression.

Moby Dick?  Have you ever read past “Call me Ishmael?”  There are loads of pages where nothing happens.  Give me e. e. cummings poetry any day.  Or Shakespeare, or Oscar Wilde.  The forms of these genres force playwrights and poets to be concise and precise with their thinking.

Writing poetry is actually a good exercise in that regard, forcing one to focus.  So, let’s apply it to multicore, the topic of the day in the SoC world, just for grins:

Silicon breakthrough:
Multicore SoC, but ...
software the issue

Haiku is particularly challenging, with a formal structure of 5-7-5 syllables per line.  But still, you get the point, I hope, as multicore SoCs have been around for a while now.

Software is the issue for these SoCs.  It’s great that fabs keep pushing the silicon technology, enabling more and more functionality on a chip.  Additional processor cores are added continually to the SoCs, but as dedicated resources for specific features.  This isn’t really multicore processing; it’s just multiple processor cores on a chip.

Lest you think that poetry is all seriousness, there’s the limerick:  five lines, inherently humorous due to the vast library of humorous limericks that we’ve read.  (And if you haven’t, I highly recommend Isaac Asimov’s Limericks:  Too Gross as a good place to start.)

There once was a hot semi, fabless,
Thought software the beast from Loch Ness
Turned a great chip,
Multicore, the whole bit
No software? No one bought it, they confess

Back in the real world, semiconductor developers have been building multicore chips for a number of years.  But again, what has been done with them?  One dedicated application per core, which does not take advantage of multicore architecture benefits — namely, higher bandwidth due to more processing power, and lower power consumption due to running processors at lower speeds.

Why haven’t systems been taking advantage of the benefits of multicore?  To paraphrase Shakespeare, from the...

[To read the full article at DACeZine, go here]