Multi-core embedded wireless sensor networks: Architecture and applications

Arslan Munir, Ann Gordon-Ross, Sanjay Ranka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technological advancements in the silicon industry, as predicted by Moore's law, have enabled integration of billions of transistors on a single chip. To exploit this high transistor density for high performance, embedded systems are undergoing a transition from single-core to multi-core. Although a majority of embedded wireless sensor networks (EWSNs) consist of single-core embedded sensor nodes, multi-core embedded sensor nodes are envisioned to burgeon in selected application domains that require complex in-network processing of the sensed data. In this paper, we propose an architecture for heterogeneous hierarchical multi-core embedded wireless sensor networks (MCEWSNs) as well as an architecture for multi-core embedded sensor nodes used in MCEWSNs. We elaborate several compute-intensive tasks performed by sensor networks and application domains that would especially benefit from multi-core embedded sensor nodes. This paper also investigates the feasibility of two multi-core architectural paradigms - symmetric multiprocessors (SMPs) and tiled many-core architectures (TMAs) - for MCEWSNs. We compare and analyze the performance of an SMP (an Intel-based SMP) and a TMA (Tilera's TILEPro64) based on a parallelized information fusion application for various performance metrics (e.g., runtime, speedup, efficiency, cost, and performance per watt). Results reveal that TMAs exploit data locality effectively and are more suitable for MCEWSN applications that require integer manipulation of sensor data, such as information fusion, and have little or no communication between the parallelized tasks. To demonstrate the practical relevance of MCEWSNs, this paper also discusses several state-of-the-art multi-core embedded sensor node prototypes developed in academia and industry. We further discuss research challenges and future research directions for MCEWSNs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6587244
Pages (from-to)1553-1562
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • compressive sensing
  • embedded systems
  • heterogeneous
  • multi-core
  • near-threshold computing
  • symmetric multiprocessors
  • tiled many-core architecture
  • Wireless sensor networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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