Skip to Content

Multicore Patents

April 20, 2010

Many microchips today incorporate multiple processing units, known as cores, to boost performance (see “Designing for Mobility”). These cores share system resources such as memory. Widely cited U.S. patent 5,617,537, awarded to Japanese communications giant NTT in 1997, arbitrates between cores as they access system memory, so that one core does not, for example, accidentally overwrite information that another core has placed in memory.

patent map

A patent map created by IPVision, based in Cambridge, MA, shows a key invention by Japanese communications giant NTT. Awarded in 1997, the patent is important to the growing trend toward so-called multicore chips in computers; these chips incorporate multiple processing units, known as cores, which share system resources, such as memory. The advantage of a multicore system is that, in theory, a pair of two-gigahertz cores, for instance, could work together to do the job of one four-gigahertz core but with a lot less power–an important consideration for mobile devices. In practice, it can be difficult to coordinate the cores so that they work together seamlessly. This widely cited patent describes a way to handle a big piece of the coordination puzzle: how to arbitrate between cores as they access system memory, so that one core does not accidently overwrite information that another core has placed in memory.

Credit: IPVision

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.