Both reduced-instruction-set computer (RISC) microcontrollers (MCUs) and digital signal processors (DSPs) have traditionally served in media-rich embedded applications such as medical electronics. They are not used interchangeably; rather, they work in concert. MCU architectures are well suited for efficient asynchronous system control code execution while the bread and butter of DSP architectures is synchronous, constant-rate data flow (for example, filtering and transform operations). Because both function sets are necessary in today's media-processing applications, engineers often use separate MCU and DSP chips. This combination constitutes a good processing engine for a wide variety of multimedia applications, but it entails the added complexity of multiprocessing design, multiple development tool sets, and heterogeneous architectures to learn and to debug. Chip vendors have tried to alleviate these problems with several different solutions. Various MCU makers have integrated some signal- processing functionality in their devices, such as instruction-set extensions and multiply-accumulate (MAC) units, but these efforts often lack the essential architectural basis required for advanced signal-processing applications. Similarly, DSP manufacturers have incorporated limited MCU functionality into their processors, but with inevitable compromises in the system control domain. Another option has emerged recently, howeverthe embedded media processor (EMP). This processor presents both MCU and DSP functionality in a unified architecture that allows flexible partitioning between control and signal-processing requirements. As the application may demand, the EMP can act entirely as an MCU
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Digital Signal Processors (DSP)
Digital signal processors (DSPs) are specialized microprocessors designed specifically for digital signal processing, usually in real-time. DSPs can also be used to perform general-purpose computations, but are not optimized for this function.
Network processors handle a wide array of tasks needed to support network systems, including routing, compression, encryption, authentication, and protocol conversion.
Video Processor Boards
Video processor boards are used to process video, medical imaging, automated optical inspection, and other related activities. They can be fitted with between one and a thousand digital signal processing (DSP) units in order to increase the computing power of the board.
RapidIO products use a high-performance, packet-switched architecture to pass data and control information between microprocessors, digital signal processors (DSPs), communication and network processors, system memory, and peripherals within a system.
Biometric Sensor Chips
Biometric sensors are semiconductors with embedded algorithms that are used in security systems or environments for user authentication.
Topics of Interest
Advances in digital signal processors and microcontrollers have increased the opportunities for integrating this technology into medical electronics. Digital technology has made big strides this past...
Hybrid MCU/DSP chips bring connectivity to household appliances. Motorola, DSP Standard Products Div. Hybrid cores, such as the 56800E from Motorola, Tempe, Ariz., combine MCU and DSP functions to...
Modern digital signal processors not only make short work of complex signal-processing jobs, they also are adept at handling general-purpose control. PDAs and MP3 players are just some of the...
The average high-tech consumer probably touches a DSP-enabled product every 10 minutes. Forward Concepts (Tempe, AZ), a market research firm specializing in microprocessors, expects the market for DSP...
The MCP2510 stand-alone CAN controller was originally developed to give CAN system and module designers more flexibility in their design by allowing them to choose the best processor for their...