Multicore technology started gaining popularity about five years ago. The adoption began with a few adventurous, leading-edge designers, and is now creeping its way into mainstream engineering. Designing with multicore technology encompasses many facets that are similar to other aspects of embedded design, except with multicore, things such as debug, are exponentially hardware problems to solve. Furthermore, developers want to see more issues resolved with processors and tools that help support serial to parallel migration, the resolution of race conditions, support for virtualization, dynamic load balancing, and others.
To open a can of worms on this topic, the Multicore Expo will host a panel discussion entitled "It's (Almost) 5pm. Time for a Multicore?" Although migration to multicore is inevitable in the search for more performance and lower power consumption, development teams are asking when and how. The panel will explore the return on investment (RoI) analysis which all software teams should undertake when assessing the migration to a larger number of cores. According to panel co-moderator, Markus Levy, Multicore Expo chairman, "Multicore technology spans from dual-core, homogeneous processors to highly integrated SoCs sporting hundreds of cores. Therefore, it's not possible to generalize on 'multicore's readiness for primetime', but we should take a step back and ask ourselves what have we got ourselves into and what are the new applications and opportunities that multicore can help deliver."
As an example, previous generation telecommunication systems were built using network processors for data plane processing and generic CPUs for control and management planes. Recently, more designs include a multicore processor used to run all planes. These multicore processors include an increasing number of cores, including heterogeneous engines for application-specific tasks (cryptography, compression, regular expression). However, according to Alex Bachmutsky, chief architect at Nokia Siemens Networks and one of the panelists, "In networking applications, a major shortcoming for multicore is the frequent lack of efficient, flexible, and highly scalable traffic management. Many processors lack good, hardware-based, virtualization support that can affect heavy control plane applications and systems that share data and control plane on the same device."
This controversial panel discussion is set for April 29 at 4:30 p.m, and will be co-moderated by Joe Byrne, senior analyst of the Linley Group. Panelists will include Alex Bachmutsky, chief architect of Nokia Siemens Networks; Sven Brehmer, CEO of PolyCore Software; Alan Gatherer, CTO Baseband SoC of Huawei; and David Stewart, CEO of CriticalBlue.