Death of the DSP

OK, so that title is intentionally provocative. The DSP is not dead yet. But as I learn about Atmel’s ARM processors, I ask myself why I would ever use a DSP chip. The Atmel Cortex M4 has single-cycle multiply accumulate. It’s got floating-point math. Its pin-to-pin compatibility with Atmel SAM7S, SAM3N and SAM3S microcontrollers. The CPU has DSP extensions. And Atmel parts sip power compared to traditional DSPs. One of the coolest features in parts like the SAM4L is how you can set up the peripherals to operate and even write to memory without waking up the core CPU. So all these features plus the appeal of ARM compatibility is putting a lot of pressure on those older DSP chips. When you look at the power of the AVR and ARM chips Atmel makes, most all of them have the power of the old DSP chips, and they get the job done using less current.

4 thoughts on “Death of the DSP

  1. Pingback: How low is low voltage? | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

  2. namoseley

    “When you look at the power of the AVR and ARM chips Atmel makes, most all of them have the power of the old DSP chips, and they get the job done using less current” — to which DSP chips are you referring?

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  3. Paul Bruner

    I hate to say it but I was thinking the same thing. But on the other hand you look at something like the TMS320DM365 that TI has. Armed with a 400mhz ARM core and a DSP, it can do real-time H.264 encoding of a video feed. Heck multiple video feeds with audio.

    I just don’t know why TI makes it SO hard to develop for though. It needs 3 separate voltages and its start-up procedure is like starting up a 8080 back in the da and they offer NO cheap development platforms.

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  4. jdabbs003

    ARM needs hardware loops and less overhead to get data in and out of the FPU. It would be *nice* to simplify, but right now we still have to add (e.g.) a SHARC core to do high bandwidth heavy lifting for a lot of audio, RF, and motor control chores.

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