Embedded Virtualization and Multi-Core

By Mark Hermeling

Hermeling_lg VDC has released a recent report showing that multi-core is making fast inroads in embedded systems and we are seeing that at Wind River as well. There are exciting new possibilities with these chips, we have never had this much processing power in such small packages.

Take for example Freescale's new P4080 chip, 8 cores, 2 memory busses and a wealth of peripherals that are designed for multicore usage (such as the data path acceleration architecture (DPAA)). There are many things to consider with this new chip, I have blogged before about the many primary multi-core configurations available from SMP to uAMP, to sAMP to core virtualized. You have to consider partitioning, or virtualizing cores, memory and devices.

This may seem straight forward, but there are many things to consider. As mentioned, the P4080 has two memory busses, all cores have access to these busses at the same cost, however, if you run all cores with memory-heavy workloads on the same bus, you may impact performance, both from a throughput perspective as well as from a real-time and determinism perspective.

Many customers are wondering why, when and how to make the jump from multi-core. They are looking for information, recommendations and experience. Luckily there is help around.

First of all, there is a webinar this Wednesday, Oct 27 at 2pm ET with Curtiss Wright, Freescale and Wind River in which the three parties provide an overview of the P4080 and its possibilities on Curtiss Wright boards.

Secondly, Wind River has today announced the immediate availability of a new version of the Wind River Hypervisor with support for the P4080. Support for a many-core chip like the P4080 in the embedded space requires a hypervisor custom built for scalability and with embedded virtualization in mind. You can’t target this architecture by using an IT virtualization layer or by retrofitting an RTOS to do virtualization. Wind River’s support for the P4080 of course does not stop at the embedded virtualization layer, it extends to VxWorks, Wind River Linux, Wind River Simics and Wind River Workbench. The entire arsenal of products are available to get software our as fast and correct as possible.

Lastly, Wind River has released the Wind River Multi-Core Adoption Package, where multi-core experts from Wind River can work with your team to discover the business case for multi-core with your team and build a list of options as to how you can step into the multi-core era. The goal of this package is to firstly provide you with a list of options within the parameters that were discussed with your team on how you can best utilize multi-core for your business. If you decide that one of these options is the best choice for you, then Wind River is happy to assist you with to assist you with the implementation as well as a second step.

The multi-core disruption is an exciting time to start reconsidering how to architect your next generation of embedded devices.