Austin, Texas The explosion in multicore designs has given birth to the Multicore Association, with working groups aimed at developing standard interfaces to debug and EDA tools, as well as discussions on how to proceed with an interchip communications protocol that the group has adopted.
"Connecting up two ARM cores, for example, on the same chip has not been that big of a challenge. But we haven't had a real harmonious environment for working with separate multicore chips on the same board," said association chairman Markus Levy, who also runs the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC).
The new group has had several informal meetings since May, with as many as 35 companies represented. How to proceed with formal adoption of the Multicore Association as a legal entity is the subject of a meeting planned for this week in Santa Clara, Calif.
"We've been having meetings, but there has not been a structure in place that allowed everyone to share intellectual property. There are antitrust issues as well that are prompting us to form a legal association," Levy said.
In order not to overwhelm the caterer at the chosen venue, Levy said, people who wish to attend can contact him at markus@multicore association.com.
An interchip communications protocol, the Transparent Inter Process Communications (TIPC) protocol, has been under development by a group of companies led by Ericsson, with support from Wind River, Nokia, QNX and others. Levy said while the TIPC group has a Web site, they have not worked as a legal entity. The TIPC backers have sought to bring their activities under the Multicore Association, and that will be discussed at this week's meeting, Levy said.
A TIPC working group within the Multicore Association is headed up by Tomas Evensen, the chief technology officer at Wind River Systems Inc. Another Wind River manager, Felix Burton, leads the debug working group.
The multitasking and communication API working group is being managed by a three people: Sven Brehmer, president of PolyCore Software Inc.; Mark Lippett, chief tecnology officer at Ignios Ltd.; and Jim Holt, manager of the systems modeling and software enablement group at Freescale Semiconductor Inc.
An EDA working group is also being formed. That group will be headed up initially by Dave Kelf, a manager at Imperas Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.).
In a statement, Evensen said the association will help companies "focus on adding value on top of the standards, instead of reinventing the wheel. It provides a place for the device industry players to come together and find standard ways of interoperating in the multicore arena."
Levy said the Multicore Association membership may hand over the benchmarking task to EEMBC. While creating benchmarks for symmetric-multiprocessor (SMP) multicore architectures may not be that difficult, coming up with system-level benchmarks for heterogenous architectures will be harder to accomplish, he said.
The association also plans to hold a Multicore Expo at the Santa Clara (Calif.) Convention Center on March 21 to 23.