[J-core] Roadmap question (SMP)

Rob Landley rob at landley.net
Tue Sep 6 13:53:59 EDT 2016

What would be involved in implementing higher-order SMP: 4-way, 8-way,
or even 16-way? And is doing so interesting to do down the road, or
should we just try to throw DSPs at everything?

At the moment we've got a couple bottlenecks I'm aware of:

1) Cache coherency.

The dual-processor we've got implements cache coherency without a _bus_
per se, but instead by directly connecting the caches. For cache
coherency among more processors we'd need something more like the old
Alpha bus (which the Opteron guys happily recycled when ARM acquired
that part of DEC's corpse in 1996).

I note Intel went down the cache-connection route for a while, which
maxed out at 4x and their first x8 chips were sort of two 4x chips doing
a semi-NUMA thing.

Possibly the right thing here is to have individual ASICs only have 2-4
processors, and if you want more SMP than that have the ASICs connected
by a fast bus doing NUMA (which Linux happily supports).

2) Memory size.

Right now our memory controller drives a type of memory that maxes out
at 256 megs. In theory we could have multiple instances of said memory
controller, but we haven't gone there yet. Even 2x is a bit cramped in
256 megs, and 4x would probably be pretty unhappy. (I'm sure Rich will
bring up threading here.)

3) FPGA size.

An LX25 has 2.7 times the resources of an lx9, so we _might_ be able to
fit 4-way in there if we can get sh2 squeezed down a bit. The J1 stuff
would presumably fit 4 instances easily.

An LX45 has 5 times the resources of an LX9, so we could definitely fit
4-way in there. 8-way would be a stretch (ala the 4-way on lx9 squeeze),
and 16 is probably off the table.

My understanding at the moment is we're basically not worrying about
this while there are still low-hanging fruit to be had in
single-processor performance. (Multi-issue isn't exactly low-hanging
fruit, but it's an achievable goal.) But I'm wondering if anybody's put
any thought into this yet, or is it too far down the road?


More information about the J-core mailing list