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The shared-memory model has been adopted, both for data exchange as well as synchronization using semaphores in almost every on-chip multiprocessor implementation, ranging from general purpose chip multiprocessors (CMPs) to domain specific multi-core graphics processing units (GPUs). Low-latency synchronization is desirable but is hard to achieve in practice due to the memory hierarchy. On the contrary, an explicit exchange of synchronization tokens among the processing elements through dedicated on-chip links would be beneficial for the overall system performance. In this paper we propose the Medea NoC-based framework, a hybrid shared-memory/message-passing approach. Medea has been modeled with a fast, cycle-accurate SystemC implementation enabling a fast system exploration varying several parameters like number and types of cores, cache size and policy and NoC features. In addition, every SystemC block has its RTL counterpart for physical implementation on FPGAs and ASICs. A parallel version of the Jacobi algorithm has been used as a test application to validate the methodology. Results confirm expectations about performance and effectiveness of system exploration and design.