SAN JOSE, Calif. Embedded systems developers will make a slow transition to multicore processors, driven by a need for performance but concerned about difficulty programming the new chips and a lack of software standards.
That was the result of an informal survey of 211 developers taken by software tool company Virtutech and Freescale Semiconductor. The companies conducted their poll at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose on April 15-16.
Only 51 percent of respondents said they have applications running on multicore CPUs or will migrate to multicore processors in the next 3-5 years. A whopping 49 percent said they neither use multicore chips nor plan to in the next five years.
Seventy-five percent of respondents planning to use multicore chips said they are doing so to get more performance. But only 13 percent ranked performance as the most important factor in choosing a multicore CPU. Most (80 percent) said ease of programmability was the most important factor in choosing a multicore chip.
Concerns about software rose to the top in terms of issues using multicore CPUs. Most respondents (50 percent) said a longer software development time was the key challenge in multicore. Another 25 percent said the top challenge was porting legacy code to the CPUs.
Most respondents (58 percent) said they do not use a virtual prototyping tool when developing multicore applications. The remaining 42 percent were roughly split between those who do use such tools and those who plan to use them in the future.
For those who use such tools, the lack of standards in virtual prototyping was the main concern for most respondents (49 percent). Indeed, multiple standards efforts are now trying to come to address standards for this emerging class of tools.
The largest group of respondents who have developed multicore systems (38 percent) said their design cycles were between 12-18 months. The next largest group (26 percent) reported design times of 18-36 months. Twenty-one percent said they developed multicore apps in as little as 6-12 months.