By Joseph Dubin, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.Embedded.comOct 27 2005 (10:46 AM)
While multicore system-on-chip (SoC) devices may be relatively new in the desktop market, the embedded world has been using them for the past decade. There are several advantages to using a multicore device in an embedded application. One reason is power efficiency.
Take the example of mobile handsets, where battery life is an important requirement. Many of these systems are based on dual-core heterogeneous chips containing a microprocessor and a digital signal processor. These heterogeneous multicore devices offer better performance per watt as compared to a DSP or MCU alone. System designers will partition tasks to the DSP and the MCU, letting each processor perform the tasks for which it has been optimally designed.
Programmable multicore system-on-chip (SoC) processors are common in many applications, from wireless handsets to desktop computers and automotive controllers. While there are clear benefits to multicore SoCs in terms of cost, performance and power consumption, the burden is on the embedded software developer to manage the additional complexity of programming and debugging multiple processors. Depending on the system architecture, issues include taking advantage of parallelism, managing interprocessor communication, using embedded operating systems, and coordinating the behavior of multiple processors during a debug session.
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