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  Date: 04/08/2013

Multicore Association launches new working group for hardware abstracting

The Multicore Association launches a new working group called Software Hardware Interface for Multi-many core (SHIM) to provide a common interface for abstracting the hardware properties that matter to multicore software tools.

The Multicore Association says 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.

The SHIM working group to describe the architecture for hardware components such as the processor cores, the inter-core communication channels (in support of message passing protocols such as the Multicore Association’s MCAPI), the memory system (including hierarchy, topology, coherency, memory size, latency), the network-on-chip (NoC) and routing protocol, and hardware virtualization features. SHIM standard is said to be flexible enough to allow vendor-specific, non-standard architectural information for customized tools. SHIM standards are going to be made public, where as the vendor-specific information to remain confidential between the processor vendor and its development tool partners.

SHIM standards to benefit tools such as performance estimation, system configuration and hardware modelling. The performance information is said to be critical for most software development tools which includes performance analysis tools, auto parallelising compilers, and other such parallel computing tools. SHIM standard can also be used with hardware modelling to support architecture exploration.

Multicore Association says the concept of SHIM was extracted from a Japanese government funded project (http://www.nedo.go.jp/content/100508843.pdf) 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. Currently, the member companies participating in the SHIM WG include Cavium, CriticalBlue, eSOL, Freescale Semiconductor, Mentor Graphics, Nagoya University, Nokia Siemens Networks, PolyCore Software, Renesas Electronics, Texas Instruments, TOPS Systems, Vector Fabrics, Wind River, and Xilinx.

“Through our work at eSOL, we have long realized the great benefit of having a standard model for describing hardware architectural features. 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 Masaki Gondo. “The participants in the SHIM working group are highly motivated to develop the SHIM standard, as it will serve a critical need in the embedded industry.”

“The lack of high-quality and portable tools has kept system developers from fully utilizing the various multicore and manycore devices,” said Markus Levy, Multicore Association president. “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.”

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