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...

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