VxWorks: Delivering on the Promise of Multicore

By Bill Graham

Bill Graham

Wind River had a big week on the multicore front which included a significant presence at last week’s Multicore Developer Conference. In addition to keynoting the event, Wind River delivered two presentations on making the most out of multicore hardware platforms. 

A key takeaway from the event is that the hardware has come a long way — in fact, we demonstrated VxWorks on the latest generation hardware such as the Freescale QorIQ T4240, a 12 core, 24 thread device that is a processing powerhouse. Also of note – we demonstrated the identical software on our Wind River Simics virtual system simulation of the Freescale QorIQ T4240.

What was critical about our message at the conference was that your runtime platform choice makes a big difference in terms of the amount of flexibility you have architecting your system. The goal of these sessions was to illustrate how architecture choice is key to maximizing the processing power provided by these new hardware platforms.

In fact, the traditional approach of using Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) for all cores proves to be inefficient after 8 cores (cores are equivalent to hardware threads of execution, the T4240, for example, has 24.) Amdahl’s Law has been around for a long time, but it has become a reality now that embedded platforms are 8, 16, 24 cores and beyond.

Vxworks smp image

Figure 1: This diagram provides an example of how to mix AMP configurations of 3 separate OS configurations that, in turn, are running an SMP version of VxWorks.

VxWorks provides for arbitrary combinations for SMP and Asymmetric Multiprocessing (AMP). This allows for application specific arrangements of SMP, for general purpose real time applications, and AMP for dedicated, high performance applications. Also, these mixtures allows for unprecedented levels of consolidation – aggregating disparate hardware systems into a single processor, single board. The benefits to this are huge in terms of performance per watt and in overall development maintenance and total cost of ownership down the road.

Last week, we also announced extended multicore capabilities for our VxWorks real-time operating system.  Specifically, expanded multicore operating system support for the latest Intel, Freescale, and ARM processors, and support for key high performance interfaces required by next generation intelligent systems. 

It’s an exciting time as we’re now seeing the impact multicore software will have across various embedded industry segments, not only boosting compute power, but also opening up new applications and opportunities for the embedded multicore industry.


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