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OCP-IP launches network-on-chip benchmarking initiative

Posted: 08 Mar 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SoC? processor? OCP-IP? processor? multiprocessors?

Providing a way to compare performance, cost, and other features of multiprocessor SoC architectures, the Open Core Protocol International Partnership (OCP-IP) is launching a network-on-chip (NoC) benchmarking initiative. The first deliverable is a new white paper that outlines the essential features of an NoC benchmarking environment.

Definitions vary, but the NoC concept generally refers to a packet-based on-chip communications approach and a layered methodology. Advocates say it will provide much faster data transmission, more flexibility, and easier intellectual property (IP) reuse compared with conventional shared buses.

The OCP-IP has set up the NoC Benchmarking Working Group to come up with a suite of benchmarks. "We are delighted to begin the sponsorship of this leadership effort of international experts from both the academic and industrial community in addressing this important aspect of SoC evolution," said Ian Mackintosh, president of OCP-IP, in a statement.

The OCP-IP NoC benchmarking white paper was authored by researchers from the University of British Columbia, Carnegie Mellon University, Royal Institute of Technology, Tempere University of Technology, and Washington State University. It provides a top-level view of a benchmarking approach for NoCs.

The paper describes requirements and features for application programs, synthetic micro-benchmarks, and abstract benchmark applications. It proposes ways to measure and benchmark reliability, fault tolerance, and testability of the on-chip communication fabric.

The paper notes that classic benchmarks for microprocessor systems are application oriented, and cannot be used directly for communication-intensive architectures such as NoCs. Current SoC benchmark circuits, the authors say, contain only a very limited number of blocks and are targeted at test development only. "We are promoting a collaborative initiative to develop a set of NoC benchmarks that will foster improved and accelerated developments in this field," the paper says.

Two types of performance benchmarks are described in the paper. Benchmark programs represent real applications, and exercise the entire communication architecture and design methodology. Micro-benchmarks are synthetic benchmarks that exercise one or a few specific aspects of a communications architecture.

The paper's authors note that benchmark input formats and detailed benchmarking methodologies will be part of a second document from the NoC Benchmarking Working Group.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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