I've seen two performance advantages from a multicore design. Since many high-end designs use an OS that time slices the various tasks performed by the application, a multicore can now devote an entire core to a specific task. The next boost is from designs that had multiple processors. Rather than having a communication link between the various processors, the processors now share the same resources and cohabitate together without having to communicate.
Two of the cores serve as basic microprocessors and one handles all of the I/O controls, which makes a lot of sense because I/O operations and handling various streams of serial data from sensors, microcontrollers, and wireless links could weigh heavily on the dual core portion of the chip. The 3-processor chip offers some redundancy as well as error-detection and error-correction technologies, mandatory for safety-critical equipment.
I would think that multicore might also help automakers do what they've been trying to do for years -- that is, cut the number of microcontrollers in vehicles. Some of the more complex high-end vehicles are now using 80 or 90 MCUs each.
Chuck, that is an interesting development. Lower clock speeds mean less power drawn, that is true. Automotive applications (especoally engine control) consist of a large number of calculations done repetitively in a short time. Couple the extra cores with virtualization software and you can get great performance with lots less power.
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