Real-Time Communication over Wormhole-Switched On-Chip Networks

University dissertation from Västerås : Malardalen University Press

Abstract: In a modern industrial system, the requirement on computational capacity has increased dramatically, in order to support a higher number of functionalities, to process a larger amount of data or to make faster and safer run-time decisions. Instead of using a traditional single-core processor where threads can only be executed sequentially, multi-core and many-core processors are gaining more and more attentions nowadays. In a multi-core processor, software programs can be executed in parallel, which can thus boost the computational performance. Many-core processors are specialized multi-core processors with a larger number of cores which are designed to achieve a higher degree of parallel processing. An on-chip communication bus is a central intersection used for data-exchange between cores, memory and I/O in most multi-core processors. As the number of cores increases, more contention can occur on the communication bus which raises a bottleneck of the overall performance. Therefore, in order to reduce contention incurred on the communication bus, a many-core processor typically employs a Network-on-Chip (NoC) to achieve data-exchange. Real-time embedded systems have been widely utilized for decades. In addition to the correctness of functionalities, timeliness is also an important factor in such systems. Violation of specific timing requirements can result in performance degradation or even fatal problems. While executing real-time applications on many-core processors, the timeliness of a NoC, as a communication subsystem, is essential as well. Unfortunately, many real-time system designs over-provision resources to guarantee the fulfillment of timing requirements, which can lead to significant resource waste. For example, analysis of a NoC design yields that the network is already saturated (i.e. accepting more traffic can incur requirement violation), however, in reality the network actually has the capacity to admit more traffic. In this thesis, we target such resource wasting problems related to design and analysis of NoCs that are used in real-time systems. We propose a number of solutions to improve the schedulability of real-time traffic over wormhole-switched NoCs in order to further improve the resource utilization of the whole system. The solutions focus mainly on two aspects: (1) providing more accurate and efficient time analyses; (2) proposing more cost-effective scheduling methods.

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