Jeff Bier, Berkeley Design Technology(01/16/2006 10:00 AM EST)EE Times
Looking at the past year, a striking trend emerges: Increasingly, the hardware used for signal processing is something other than a DSP. I quickly surveyed the year's developments by skimming the archives on www.InsideDSP.com and discovered that only about half of the chips BDTI wrote about were DSPs. The rest were general-purpose processors, FPGAs or other hardware.
Ironically, DSPs are facing growing challenges partly because of the increasing importance of signal processing in a range of applications. Today, signal processing is found in everything from digital power supplies to portable video players. The prevalence of signal-processing workloads has motivated processor vendors of all stripes to add DSP-oriented features. For example, the latest ARM and MIPS architectures have remarkable similarities to DSP architectures.
Processor architecture is also less of a differentiator because processor vendors' solutions are more complex. Ten years ago, a typical solution consisted of a DSP and basic software tools. The main value was the power of the DSP architecture. Today, a typical solution consists of a highly integrated system-on-chip, sophisticated tools, operating systems and more. With such a solution, the processor architecture is often hidden from the user under layers of hardware and software.
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