Analysis and comment on all matters pertaining to the supply chain and distribution of electronics components from Richard Wilson, editor of Electronics Weekly

Why are we waiting for multi-core processor benchmarks?

Multi-processor system developers have been crying out for more than a year for a benchmarking scheme which is independent. And they have it, well almost. Embedded benchmarking organisation EEMBC has been working on test suites for multi-core processors since last summer, but EEMBC president Markus Levy told EW, that the first multi-core processor code should be available to members within three months. But they will not be available for general licensing until the end of the year. Why the hold-up? So processor suppliers will be able to quote benchmark figures six months before customers get the opportunity to do their own application specific benchmarking. EEMBC’s multi-core benchmark uses evaluation software which will support symmetrical multi-core processors with shared memory. There is also a thread-based API to establish a common programming model. All that exists and is ready to send to member companies, so why a six month wait before general licences are available? The answer seems to be accommodating the multiplicity of applications processors need to be benchmarked for. For example, work has only just started creating multi-processor benchmark data for application such as voice-over-IP and H.264 video. So to whet the appetite of EEMBC non-members the benchmarks (when finally available) will evaluate three forms of concurrency, including task decomposition, multiple data stream processing and the processing of multiple workloads, which assesses scalability of the application in question. But all this needs the interface which makes the test data relevant to real-world applications. So hang on a little longer.

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