Multicore Association readies communications API spec

April 10, 2008
The Multicore Association said that version 1.0 of its multicore communications application programming interface (MCAPI) specification has been completed and will soon be made publicly available

The Multicore Association said that version 1.0 of its multicore communications application programming interface (MCAPI) specification has been completed and will soon be made publicly available.

"A key part of having software applications run efficiently on multicore architectures is to enable swift intercore communication on the chip," said Eric Heikkila, industry analyst with VDC. "The MCAPI proposal will help multicore software developers build applications that can run on a wider variety of multicore architectures, enlarging their multicore design options and minimizing the amount of time spent porting and tuning applications for different multicore implementations."

MCAPI captures the basic elements of inter-core communications that are required for "closely distributed" embedded systems. It can scale to support hundreds of processor cores. The API is expected to be used in embedded multicore systems that have tight memory constraints and task execution times and that require reliable on-chip interconnect and high system throughput. The MCAPI specification includes example usage models for automotive and other applications.

Sven Brehmer, chairman of the Multicore Association's MCAPI working group, said MCAPI provides three communication modes – connectionless messages, connected channels for packets, and connected channels for scalars – and also provides functions for endpoint and non-blocking operations management.

Brehmer is also president and CEO of PolyCore Software, which plans to introduce its own implementation of MCAPI. "MCAPI was designed to provide basic and simple multicore communication functionality," Brehmer said. "This allows for flexible and high performance implementations and more complex functionality to be layered on top of MCAPI."

"MCAPI, the result of two years of intense consortium work, has been developed by a wide variety of member companies that range from processor vendors such as Freescale Semiconductor, Intel, MIPS Technologies, and Tilera, to software and development tool suppliers such as Codeplay, eSOL, Imperas, PolyCore Software, and Wind River," said Markus Levy, president of the Multicore Association.

The Multicore Association is an industry consortium focused on developing standards that speed time to market for systems using multicore processors. In addition to the MCAPI working group, the Association includes active working groups for Hypervisors and Multicore Resource Management.

Members of the Association in addition to those named above are ARC International, Enea, Mentor Graphics, National Instruments, NEC Electronics America, Nokia Siemens Networks, Plurality, QNX, Texas Instruments, and the University of York.

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