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Multicore Processors and Embedded Virtualization

Posted September 01, 2011 8:00 AM by embeddedreporter

The advent of multicore processor technology has the potential to revolutionize the way embedded systems are designed. While different technologies are being developed to solve the problem of distributing application functionality among the processors on a multicore chip, the most promising emerging technology from an embedded systems perspective is embedded virtualization. Using global object networking, embedded designers can scale applications with a software platform that maintains determinism, enables upgradability, and reduces development costs.

Embedded virtualization has several positive implications for OEMs. For example, once there is a means for splitting up applications to run on multiple cores while maintaining determinism, the solution can subsequently enable real-time applications to scale the number of cores they use, upward or downward. With scalability, OEMs can offer a range of price/performance options for their products without requiring changes to the software.

Virtualization is not a new concept in computer science, but it has gathered new interest with the advent of multicore processors. Though virtualization is recognized as a way to keep multiple processor cores busy, it's important to note that most types of server or client virtualization are not designed to meet the needs of time-critical embedded processing. These approaches to virtualization most often treat all processors on a multicore chip the same way. In these systems, a single Operating System (OS) assigns tasks to processors as they become available in an attempt to keep all processors as heavily loaded as possible with processing tasks.

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