Q: Why would people need another processor?
A:People don’t need another processor. People need new digital devices that are cheaper, with higher performance, and lower power consumption. Having our own processor technology allows us to provide the best value to our customers in meeting their special needs as mentioned above. More importantly, as more and more open-source software and applications become available and widely accepted, especially in China, the software issue for new cores and platforms will be adequately addressed. Under such considerations, we decide to design a new processor based on a brand-new ISA with the following advantages:
- Cost savings from not having to pay for any expensive architecture license
- Freedom to innovate in performance and functionalities without being encumbered to an old ISA
- Ability to cater to the computational needs of multiple application domains.
- Ability to optimize by exploiting the evolving semiconductor process technology.
Q: What makes MVP better than existing processors?
A: MVP is more cost-efficient than existing processors and is better positioned to ride the performance increases projected by Moore’s law, which in turn allows it to adequately meet the needs of emerging applications. For example, by providing performance efficiently through parallel computing, MVP’s underlying design and structure is very suitable for today’s and more so for tomorrow’s parallel programs. Moving forward, such cost efficiency will become more significant as the performance requirements from emerging digital gadgets continue to increase.
Q: What is ICube’s product?
A:An Android SoC with our own core processor technology based on parallel computing with optimizing compilers, parallel programming APIs, and tool sets to assist application migration.
Q: If I am currently using a chip that is based on another processor, can I just switch to MVP-based SoC without any efforts?
A:No, chips cannot be simply swapped and expected to work. However, the boards incorporating such chips could be swapped and made to work without much effort, as long as the board has similar features as defined by our reference board. For example, we will provide a reference board design targeted to Android-based devices. If the board under consideration is Android-based but uses another processor chip, then it should not take much effort to swap to our reference board for Android.
Q: If I have an application written in C/C++ that is already functional in an existing processor, is it easy for me to port it to MVP? What if it is written in some assembly language?
A:The process of porting to MVP involves re-compiling the C/C++ application using the MVP compilers that we provide. Programs written in other assembly languages need to be rewritten using MVP assembly language. We provide documentation and tools to support such porting efforts. We can help do the work until you become up-to-speed.
Q: Why parallel computing ?
A:As more and more sophisticated applications and digital gadgets emerge, they exert greater and greater demands on the processors. Increasing the clock frequency is not a viable solution due to its being accompanied by much greater power consumption. As a result, we are seeing more and more multi-core and multi-threaded chips coming out as a better means to provide balanced performance in a more efficient way. That is parallel computing.
Q: Without many parallel applicationsbeing available today, how can people take advantage of MVP’s parallel execution capabilities?
A:Use it as a multi-core processor. A multi-tasking operating system can use MVP as a SMP target to run multiple processes simultaneously without any need of application changes.
Q: Why Android?
A:Openness. Android, based on Linux, is an open-sourced and free operating system that encourages third-party application innovation. Manygood and reliable applicationsare already available on Android, and we can port and bundle them together before product offering and shipment. That significantly reduces the needs of using MVP chip as a 3rd. party application development platform, which would require a complete tool chain that needs more time to develop.
Q: If I am currently using an ASIC chip for a specific function that I am targeting, would a MVP-based SoC beat that?
A:No, unfortunately. MVP is a general-purpose processor, even though a very cost-efficient one. But it may not be more efficient than an ASIC approach for a specific function. MVP is more suited to systems that need to handle multiple applications, not just one, or systems that need to be programmable for flexibility.
Q: Would a quad-threaded MVP core running at 600 MHz have the same performance as a single-core,single thread processor that is running at 2.4GHz?
A:Yes and no. If the quad-threaded core has 4 tasks running, then the overall throughput for the 4 tasks is the same as on the single core with four times the clock frequency. If there is only one task that needs the entire 2.4GHz performance, then the quad-threaded core cannot satisfy the performance requirement of the single task. However, if the single task has enough coarse-grained parallelism like many applications do, then the single task can be parallelized to fully utilize the quad-threaded core’s computational resources, in which case the performance for that parallelized task will be the same between the 2 cases. Parallelizing the program involves re-programming the application according to somedefined standard parallel APIs though.
Q: If I need a processor that needs to simultaneously handle 4 tasks in 600 MHz, what is the difference between doing that on MVP and doing that on a 2.4 GHz.serial processor?
A:No difference in operating capability, but MVP has one additional advantage that relates to the context switch time and data movement that context switch involves. In a serial processor with higher clock frequency, the non-duplicated processing resources are time-shared among the multiple tasks. Whenever the processor switches its processing from one task to another, the current task’s computation states need to be saved before switching over to the new task. When processing switches back to the old task, its previous computation states need to be restored. Such switching incurs overhead in processor cycles and power consumption. On MVP, each task has its thread running simultaneously with the threads belonging to the other tasks. Each task uses its own dedicated machine resources that areavailable to it all the time. In addition, any computational resource that is not being made use of by a task can be dynamically allocated to another task that can make use of it on a cycle-by-cycle basis This results in much greater utilization, throughput and efficiency.