ABOUT THE MULTICORE ASSOCIATION®
People have been building multicore and multiprocessing systems for a long time. Until now, however, the interfaces and the tools have been somewhat proprietary. This approach may work well within a given implementation, but as multicore becomes more prevalent and more vendors are working together to create solutions, the need to have industry-standard approaches is becoming more urgent and will become increasingly relevant as multicore implementations find their way into a larger set of applications.
The Multicore Association® has chosen to start off focusing on multitasking and communication APIs and debug. Its goal is to provide a forum in which all relevant multicore standardization issues can be discussed and resolved. Ultimately, our objective is to help our members' customers achieve quicker time to market, and part of this is giving our members the ability to certify to their customers that their products are compatible with the standards set by The Multicore Association.
In no way, of course, does the effort to establish standard APIs intend to limit innovation in multicore architectures. APIs that reflect the intrinsic concurrency of an application are in no sense a restriction on the creativity and differentiation of any given embodiment.
The first meeting of the group that has now become The Multicore Association, took place in San Jose, California on May 16, 2005. During the meeting, the participants delivered presentations and led discussions that highlighted the key areas of multiprocessing that could be addressed by standardization. The presentations and discussions included the following:
- Multiprocessor Debug and On Chip Instrumentation, First Silicon Solutions
- Rethinking Multiprocessor Architectures In FPGA Platforms, Xilinx
- Performance Modeling of Multiprocessor Systems, Synopsys
- Automatic Load-Balancing for SMP Architectures, Express Logic
- Application/Algorithm Partitioning, PolyCore Software
- Inter-Processor Communication In A Multi-Core Environment, Wind River
- Support for Heterogeneous Embedded Distributed Systems, Freescale
- Software APIs for Inter-process/thread communications, PolyCore Software
- Implementing SMP Linux on the MIPS MT Architecture, MIPS Technologies
Picking one as an example, Sven Brehmer, CEO of PolyCore Software, focused on the need to avoid rewriting applications in the course of enabling communication between processors on chip, on a board, or with a very distributed system. Mr. Brehmer states "The mechanism to accomplish this should be built on open standards and APIs. There is not a single solution that does everything you may want. A collaboration can develop APIs to make it simpler to scale up and down and achieve interoperability."
Markus Levy is president of The Multicore Association® and chairman of the Multicore Developer's Conference. He is also the founder and president of EEMBC. Mr. Levy was previously a senior analyst at In-Stat/MDR and an editor at EDN magazine, focusing in both roles on processors for the embedded industry.
Levy began his career in the semiconductor industry at Intel Corporation, where he served as both a senior applications engineer and customer training specialist for Intel's microprocessor and flash memory products.
He is the co-author of Designing with Flash Memory, the one and only technical book on this subject, and received several patents while at Intel for his ideas related to flash memory architecture and usage as a disk drive alternative.
Markus is also a volunteer firefighter.