Configurable Application-Specific Signal Processors Speed Design and Development

By: Scott Kurtz
Adaptive Digital Technologies

As digital signal processing applications continue to grow in complexity, it becomes increasingly important to find ways to reduce a new product's time to market. Indeed, managing complexity is imperative in the product design and development cycle.

Configurable application-specific signal processors (ASSPs) provide an excellent way to reduce the complexity of DSP-based product design and development. They enable equipment designers to leverage the computing power and flexibility of today's DSP chips without spending the time and resources that are typical of custom DSP programming. By ASSP, I mean the combination of a general-purpose DSP and an executable DSP software image that is created for a specific application (rather than an application-specific standard product). By configurable, I mean an ASSP in which the software image is easily and quickly configured and built to the designer's specification.

In designing a DSP application, you can use either fixed-function chips, DSP chips with custom software (ASSPs), or configurable ASSPs. The choice involves multiple tradeoffs among cost (both recurring and nonrecurring expenses), flexibility, and efficiency (Figure 1).

Figure 1

ASSP efficienct vs cost

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