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In the last two years, the embedded DSP market has been swept up by the general increase in interest in multicore that has been driven by companies such as Intel and Sun. One reason for this is that there is now a lot of focus on tooling in academia and also a willingness on the part of users to accept new programming paradigms. This industry-wide effort will have an effect on the way multicore DSPs are programmed and perhaps architected. But it is too early to say in what way this will occur. Programming multicore DSPs remains very challenging. The problem of how to take a piece of sequential code and optimally partition it across multiple cores remains unsolved. Hence, there will naturally be a lot of variations in the approaches taken. Equally important is the issue of debugging and visibility. Developing effective and easy-to-use code development and real-time debug tools is tremendously important as the opportunity for bugs goes up significantly when one starts to deal with both time and space. The markets that DSP plays in have unique features in their desire for low power, low cost, and hard real-time processing, with an emphasis on mathematical computation. How well the multicore research being performed presently in academia will address these concerns remains to be seen.
Date of Publication: November 2009