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General-purpose multicore processors are being accepted in all segments of the industry, including signal processing and embedded space, as the need for more performance and general-purpose programmability has grown. Parallel processing increases performance by adding more parallel resources while maintaining manageable power characteristics. The implementations of multicore processors are numerous and diverse. Designs range from conventional multiprocessor machines to designs that consist of a "sea" of programmable arithmetic logic units (ALUs). In this article, we cover some of the attributes common to all multicore processor implementations and illustrate these attributes with current and future commercial multicore designs. The characteristics we focus on are application domain, power/performance, processing elements, memory system, and accelerators/integrated peripherals.
Date of Publication: November 2009