High-end embedded systems are turning to multicore architectures to meet the performance, and performance/Watt, demands required for their applications. Moreover, as the demand for more compute-intensive capabilities for embedded systems increases, these multicore architectures will evolve into many-core systems for improved performance or performance/area/Watt. These systems are often organized as cluster-based Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) architectures that provide the programmer with a shared-memory abstraction. That is, simple cores are grouped into clusters sharing local interconnection and memory and these clusters are then replicated and interconnected using a scalable network-on-chip medium. This project investigates one of the principal challenges presented by these emerging NUMA architectures for embedded systems: providing efficient, energy-effective, and convenient mechanisms for synchronization and communication. In particular, it proposes new solutions based on hardware support for speculative synchronization, and software support to make such speculation transparent. Important metrics for measuring the effectiveness of the solutions include throughput, ease of use, system energy consumption, and architectural simplicity.
Embedded systems are becoming ubiquitous over a broad range of applications, including smart phones, automotive systems, security, and other ambient intelligence systems. Increasing computational demands have led to more sophisticated products and therefore increased challenges in meeting tight design constraints, particularly throughput/Watt. Improvements to the way these systems communicate and synchronize data can have a substantial impact in terms of improved functionality, utility, and durability. The project is an international collaboration that combines PI expertise in Network-on-Chip architectures, embedded system design, and memory synchronization. Broader impacts of the proposal include new course development, outreach to graduate and undergraduate women and under-represented minorities, and student exchanges between international institutions.