Heterogeneous System Challenges Grow

Semiconductor Engineering

How to make sure different kinds of processors will work in an SoC.

Ann Steffora Mutschler of Semiconductor Engineering has written an article on the challenges of heterogenous systems.

As more types of processors are added into SoCs—CPUs, GPUs, DSPs and accelerators, each running a different OS—there is a growing challenge to make sure these compute elements interact properly with their neighbors.

Adding to the problem is this mix of processors and accelerators varies widely between different markets and applications. In mobile there are CPUs, GPUs, video and crypto processors. In automotive, there may be additional vision processing accelerators. In networking and servers there are various packet processing and cryptography accelerators. Server applications traditionally have relied on general-purpose CPU, but the future brings more dedicated acceleration engines, which may be customized for specific applications and may be implemented using FPGAs.

While heterogeneous processing has been in use for some time, it is getting more complex. In 1989, Intel rolled out the 80487 math co-processor for its 80486 CPU. And in 2011, ARM introduced its power-saving heterogeneous big.LITTLE architecture. In between and since then, there has been a growing mix of CPUs and GPUs and many other types of accelerators.

“It’s common, for example, to offload common tasks to a dedicated hardware accelerator, for video compression, cryptographic acceleration and the like,” said …

To read the article, click here.

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