MANHASSET, N.Y. The C5000 digital signal processing (DSP) platform from Texas Instruments Inc. got a new entry point for lower-priced products with the introduction Monday (Dec. 4) of the TMS320C5401. Aiming at a new range of consumer end equipment and low-end telephony applications, the 5401 is essentially a stripped-down 5402 that allows the company to hit the new price, performance and power points demanded by those applications.
After only one year in production, TI has shipped over 4 million 5402s, which was the lowest entry point for the company's midrange C5000 platform until the 5401 announcement. The platform runs all the way from ultralow-power 1.2-volt cores for wireless headsets and personal biometrics, up to the high-performance 55XX multicore devices for remote access servers and gateways.
However, TI's worldwide C5000 product manager Mark Mattson pointed out that application demands are changing constantly. "While engaging with 5402 customers, we saw there were a number of new types of consumer end equipment such as low-end telephony and such, that demand a lower price point than what the 02 could offer," he said.
To meet that demand, the company essentially cut the memory and Mips of the 5402 in half, from 16 kwords down to 8 kwords, and from 100 Mips down to 50 Mips, while maintaining pin and code compatibility. Those changes allowed the 5401 to reach a power consumption of 40 milliwatts at a price of $3.50 each in 25,000-unit volumes, versus $6 for the 5402. An extensive peripheral set, which is identical to the 5402's, includes high-performance serial ports, host port interface, two timers and dynamic memory access on-chip.
"We're seeing devices with end-point prices of $100. This means they're looking to add DSP functionality for under $5. So our price [of $3.50] can make a big difference for their overall system cost," said Mattson.
Tugged by toys
In that sub-$100 market, TI is starting to see more products like toys, for instance, that try to add voice recognition, speech synthesis or connectivity for low-end modems. "The interest we're starting to see from toy manufacturers could be really interesting in terms of potential volume," said Mattson.
However, it's not just about price and performance. A key part of TI's strategy is code compatibility right across the C5000 platform, which to date has shipped over 400 million units. Prime markets lately for the C5000 platform include consumer products such as digital still cameras and portable audio. "Maintaining code compatibility allows our customers to use the same software they had from their entry-level products throughout their overall product lines," said Mattson.
Development support for the 5401 includes the company's ExpressDSP real-time software technology, the DSP/BIOS and TMS320 DSP algorithm standards, development boards and software, and extensive documentation. The 5401 will begin shipping this month.