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Unformatted text preview: IEEE SIGNAL PROCESSING MAGAZINE [ 26 ] NOVEMBER 2009 1053-5888/09/$26.00©2009IEEE Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MSP.2009.934110 A Survey of Multicore Processors [ Geoffrey Blake, Ronald G. Dreslinski, and Trevor Mudge ] G eneral-purpose multicore processors are being accepted in all segments of the industry, including signal processing and embedded space, as the need for more performance and general-pur- pose programmability has grown. Parallel process- ing increases performance by adding more parallel resources while maintaining manageable power characteristics. The implementations of multicore processors are numerous and diverse. Designs range from conventional multiprocessor machines to designs that consist of a “sea” of programmable arithmetic logic units (ALUs). In this article, we cover some of the attributes common to all multi- core processor implementations and illustrate these attributes with current and future commercial multi- core designs. The characteristics we focus on are applica- tion domain, power/performance, processing elements, memory system, and accelerators/integrated peripherals. INTRODUCTION Parallel processors have had a long history going back at least to the Solomon computer of the mid-1960s. The difficulty of programming them meant they have been primarily employed by scientists and engineers who understood the application domain and had the resources and skill to program them. Along the way, a surprising number of companies created par- allel machines. They were largely unsuccessful since their dif- ficulty of use limited their customer base, although, there were exceptions: the Cray vector machines are perhaps the best example. However, these Cray machines also had a very fast scalar processor that could be easily programmed in a conven- tional manner, and the vector programming paradigm was not as daunting as creating general parallel programs. Recently the evolution of parallel machines has changed dramatically. For the first time, major chip manufacturers—companies whose primary business is fabricating and selling microproces- sors—have turned to offering parallel machines, or single chip multicore microprocessors as they have been styled. There are a number of reasons behind this, but the leading one is to continue the raw performance growth that customers have come to expect from Moore’s law scaling without being over- whelmed by the growth in power consumption. As single core [ A review of their common attributes ] © PHOTO F/X2 Authorized licensed use limited to: Univ Politecnica de Madrid. Downloaded on December 2, 2009 at 12:27 from IEEE Xplore. Restrictions apply. IEEE SIGNAL PROCESSING MAGAZINE [ 27 ] NOVEMBER 2009 designs were pushed to ever higher clock speeds, the power required grew at a faster rate than the frequency. This power problem was exacerbated by designs that attempted to dynamically extract extra performance from the instruction stream, as we will note later. This led to designs that were complex, stream, as we will note later....
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- Central processing unit, IEEE Xplore, SIGNAL PROCESSING MAGAZINE, Univ Politecnica de Madrid