By Will Strauss, Forward Concepts
August 20, 2007 -- dspdesignline.com
The market for chips based on digital signal processing (DSP) technology is far greater than the "DSP chip" market. Forward Concepts estimates that the traditional DSP chip market is only a third of the total market for DSP-based silicon. Certainly, the general-purpose programmable DSP is the most visible product, since the newest versions represent state-of-the-art semiconductor technology in addition to novel architectures that make them the product of choice for most new DSP applications. And it is the great breadth and depth of development tools and software support that makes those traditional DSPs the first place to prove in new product concepts.
However, there are a number of other chips based on DSP technology that people don't call DSP chips. For example, simple MP3 players are based on DSP technology, but most are based on RISC chips with added DSP hardware. That's feasible because the DSP "horsepower" demands for decoding MP3 music are relatively modest. And, because of the high volumes involved, MP3 player chips tend to be ASICs based on system-on-chip (SoC) solutions. All of the traditional RISC IP vendors like ARC, ARM, MIPS and Tensilica have added DSP capabilities to their product offerings.
But when more DSP horsepower is required, ASICs are often implemented using DSP cores, whether fabricated by one of the traditional DSP chip houses using their own cores or through licensed cores from companies offering DSP IP, like Ceva and VeriSilicon.
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