Designing Processors for High-Performance Embedded Linux Applications
By Mike Thompson, Senior Product Marketing Manager for ARC Processors, Synopsys
Designers of performance-intensive, embedded SoCs running Linux or other virtual-memory operating systems must address increasing performance requirements with power budgets that are often constant or shrinking. Available processors that offer the needed performance often draw too much power, while processors that fit within the power budget lack the necessary performance.
The traditional path of increasing performance by increasing the processor clock speed has significant tradeoffs because power consumption rises linearly with clock frequency. Processors that enable dual- and quad-core designs with cache-coherent symmetric multiprocessing offer chip designers an alternative path to higher performance. Many applications, like wearables that require good performance with very low power consumption to maximize battery life, benefit from running on multiple CPU cores, especially when the software can efficiently distribute workloads across a multicore cluster. For some applications that run high-end operating systems, a single core is enough to achieve the required performance for most implementations. However, when more performance is needed a dual- or quad-core processor can be implemented in a symmetric configuration with the operating system distributing the load across the cores to achieve the required speed.