To quench their customers’ thirst for ever-increasing high-performance, semiconductor designers are turning to multi-processor (MP) architectures as a means of offering greater performance than is possible with single processors. Multiprocessing is ideal for demanding applications executing multiple tasks at the same time such as consumer entertainment and convergence devices in the home and car. Examples include a settop- box recording several TV channels while sharing home movies across the Internet, and an in-car navigation system delivering simultaneous back-seat video gaming. But MP designs introduce programming complexity that can make them difficult to use and can threaten development schedules. Better software tools are needed to make MP development easier, and included among them is the operating system, which has the unique capability of enabling an MP system to be programmed much like a single processor system. To the extent that this can be achieved, developers can reap the benefits of MP performance without the cost of overly complex software development.

Reprinted in its entirety from ARM IQ Vol. 4, No. 3, 2005