In my first two blogs on this topic I talked about why DSPs are suddenly popping up everywhere and why particularly they are starting to displace some custom hardware accelerators (HWA) as a more flexible and future-proofed option. In this blog I want to talk about a more detailed analysis you can follow to decide if you should be thinking about a DSP rather than an HWA implementation.
I mentioned in the last blog some of the ideal applications for DSPs. Signal processing for modem or audio signals are obvious examples. Another very common example is the signal processing in radars for autonomous cars, which is quite similar to the signal processing in a modem. Many of these have been built around a hardware accelerator combined with a small controller. We’re now seeing a significant trend among those solution-providers to switch to architectures in which more of the functionality is based on software running on a DSP, combining the signal processing currently handled by the HWA and even some control. The reasoning is simple: Software provides more flexibility in functionality and much lower-cost and more timely ability to adapt to evolving communication standards.
Global positioning is another application, in this case heavily leveraging the math capabilities inherent to DSPs for the triangulation calculations. You might initially think that GPS support is all you need and perhaps you can build a really fast implementation in a hardware accelerator. However in the global GNSS standard you also need to consider support for GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (Europe) and BeiDou (China). A hardwired implementation for GPS may limit your markets unnecessarily since supporting all variants can be accomplished in software if you’re running on a DSP.
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