A Japanese government-funded project has become the basis of a standard proposed by the Multicore Association that may provide a better way of supporting development for multicore systems.
The group has launched new working group, the Software-Hardware Interface for Multi-Many Core (SHIM), which will provide a common interface to abstract the hardware properties that matter to multicore tools.
Multicore and manycore system development often gets sidetracked because development tool vendors and runtime systems for these programs are challenged to support the virtually unlimited number of processor configurations. The Multicore Association is initiating the SHIM to foster the development of tools that can cope with this system model.
Unlike the IEEE IP-XACT standard that defines and describes electronic components for hardware design, the primary goal of the SHIM working group is to define an architecture description standard useful for software design. For example, the processor cores, the inter-core communication channels, the memory structure, the network-on-chip (NoC) and routing protocol, and hardware virtualization features are among the architectural features that SHIM will either directly or indirectly describe. The group intends the SHIM standard will be flexible enough to allow vendor-specific, non-standard architectural information for customized tools. Although SHIM standard itself will be publicly available, the vendor-specific information can remain confidential between a processor vendor and its development tool partners.
The concept of SHIM was extracted from a Japanese government-funded project to build a standardized ecosystem to support a manycore hardware/software platform. Initial recipients of this funding were eSOL, Nagoya University, Renesas Electronics, and TOPS Systems. Looking to expand the effort and develop a more comprehensive infrastructure, Masaki Gondo, Software CTO and GM of Technology at eSOL, volunteered to chair the SHIM Working Group within the Multicore Association.
“At a minimum, SHIM will enable us to more easily support successive generations of SoCs from semiconductor vendors without requiring extensive development tool upgrades,” said Gondo.
Markus Levy, Multicore Association president, said: “Ultimately, SHIM will promote highly optimized tools that can provide efficient utilization of very complex SoCs and eliminate the need for users to comprehend 1000-page manuals to program all the device features.”