A new API from the Multicore Association eases the job of programming increasingly heterogeneous embedded processors.
Until roughly a decade ago, processors consisted of a single core. Performance increases were largely driven by frequency scaling. Since then, processor architectures have undergone significant changes to lower power consumption and optimize performance.
To satisfy the demand for high performance even in small devices, hardware manufactures increasingly provide specialized accelerators for compute-intensive tasks. Many chips for embedded systems not only have an integrated graphics processing unit beside the main processor, but also contain additional hardware such as digital signal processors or programmable logic devices.
The trend towards heterogeneity is expected to continue. One recent study said heterogeneous systems provide an effective way of responding to the ever-increasing demand for computing power. A separate report published by the IEEE said heterogeneous architectures will remain one of the top challenges in computer science until 2022.
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