By Mark Hermeling
Multicore processors (processors with multiple processing cores) are being considered in more and more embedded designs. There are in general two drivers that are bringing people to multicore: performance and/or consolidation.
The performance driver is simple. Many devices need the best performance in the smallest package with the lowest power demands. A multicore processor provides more MIPS per Watt than a single core processor. In 'the old days' performance could be improved by increasing the processing frequency on the processor, but for many designs this is no longer the case. The networking industry especially has been ahead of the rest of the pack in the migration to multicore.
The consolidation driver covers the fact that a (for example) dual core can be used as two single core processors. This means that an old dual processor board or perhaps a dual card rack with one processed per card can be replaced by a single processor with multiple cores. This saves board space, reduces the bill of material and reduces power consumption. Besides consolidating existing processors into a single package, the multicore processor also provides to option of using one or more of the cores to add new functionality to an already existing design.