Avnet's video surveillance platform pairs a TI DM6437 DaVinci DSP with a Xilinx Spartan-3A DSP FPGA. here's how the platform works, and how to get the most out of it.By Jim Beneke, Avnetpldesignline.com (March 06, 2009)
Surveillance applications are constantly evolving, adding new features like analytics, image stabilization, image recognition, motion estimation, and target tracking. The features demand improved system performance and capabilities. At the same time, the push to lower system cost and improve time-to-market design cycles presents opposing challenges. Add to this the ever changing landscape of silicon, software, and development tools, and you are left with a complex set of design trade-offs.
Today, DSP vendors offer several low-cost processors optimized for video. Texas Instruments' DM643x family of DaVinci processors is one example. For some applications, these DSPs offer all the performance you need. When you need more performance, Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) are a good option. For example, Xilinx' latest Virtex-5 SX240T FPGA claims over 528 GMACs (billions of multiply-and-accumulate operations per second) and 190+ GFLOPS(billions of single-precision, floating-point operations per second). Unfortunately, FPGAs by themselves are not always the perfect fit either. Instead, it is often better to use the FPGA as a coprocessor for a DSP. When put together, the DSP and FPGA can offer the best of both worlds by increasing performance and reducing overall cost.
Avnet Electronics Marketing recently introduced a co-processing platform tailored to video surveillance and image processing applications. The platform combines the low-cost DM6437 DaVinci DSP from Texas Instruments with the low-cost Spartan-3A DSP FPGA from Xilinx. The integration of these two devices onto a single development platform helps designers explore the concept of co-processing solutions. To further aid development, Avnet supports the platform with a board support package and several reference designs. This article provides an overview of the co-processing platform, explains some of the tools and libraries available to support application development, and highlights where the DSP plus FPGA solution makes sense.
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