ASIP stands for “application-specific instruction-set processor” and simply means a processor which has been designed to be optimal for a particular application or domain.
General-purpose versus application- or domain-specific processors
Most processor cores to date have been general-purpose, which means that they have been designed to handle a wide range of applications with good average performance. This may mean that if you have some special computationally intensive algorithm, such as audio processing, you may need a high-performance core (for example with a SIMD unit, or zero overhead loops) or a high clock frequency to achieve your needs. This may result in exceeding your silicon or power budget.
An alternative is to create an ASIP which has a specialised architecture, optimised to efficiently achieve the required performance you require for the audio processing. The ASIP would not usually be designed to optimally handle more generic operations such as those needed for an operating system. Instead, if an OS is needed, you would probably run it on a separate general-purpose core which would not be constrained by the need to run audio processing algorithms. Thus, the ASIP design is optimised for performance with just enough flexibility to meet its use case.
ASIPs have been the subject of research in universities around the world and have been applied to a number of domains such as audio signal processing, image sensors, and baseband signal processing. Indeed, Codasip founder and CEO Karel Masařík with CTO Zdeněk Přikryl researched design automation for ASIPs at the TU Brno.
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