Developers Turning to Target Software Components from Texas Instruments to Speed Complex Products to Market

9/24/2002 - As system complexity increases exponentially and there is a need to write more and more lines of code, customers are demanding proven off-the-shelf software to help alleviate their design pressures. Texas Instruments (TI) has answered this demand with a comprehensive software strategy that delivers robust target software components, software written for its target TMS320TM digital signal processors (DSP), to its customers. TI is finding that a new trend in make-versus-buy decisions is being uncovered and that customers are rapidly adopting this strategy of outsourcing more of their code development. Today, 80 percent of TI's customer designs are using TI's DSP/BIOSTM real-time operating system (RTOS), more than 450 designs are using eXpressDSPTM-compliant algorithms from more than 100 third parties and more than 1,800 developers have downloaded the free Reference Framework (RF) source code in less than five months since the product was announced to market. The time where customers write all their code in-house has passed, and customers are now integrating code provided by TI or TI's third parties to help them get started quickly on their design and to get their product finished on time.

In less than 10 years, the performance of DSPs have gone from about 1 million instructions per second (MIPS) to almost 5,000 MIPS. As DSP performance has increased so have the applications that can be run on them. DSP programs have grown from a few thousand lines of code to hundreds of thousands of lines of code, with some designs requiring up to one million lines of code. It is easy to see why original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are turning to silicon vendors for help. They need access to easy-to-use, reusable software components that simplify the design process and free them to spend valuable time and development dollars writing code that adds value to their final products.

DSP/BIOS - 80 percent adoption rate and 10 years of field-proven robustness
DSP/BIOS is used in thousands of projects to speed development while improving real-time performance and portability. It is highly optimized and designed specifically for the TI's TMS320 family of DSPs. Today, 80 percent of new TI customer designs include TI's field-proven, robust, compact, easy-to-use and royalty-free DSP/BIOS RTOS. DSP/BIOS consists of three main components, a scaleable, real-time, multithreading kernel, real-time analysis tools and peripheral configuration libraries. Offered royalty free with the purchase of TI's Code Composer StudioTM (CCStudio) integrated development environment, DSP/BIOS enables OEMs to develop and deploy sophisticated products more quickly than with traditional DSP software methodologies. It eliminates the need for them to develop and maintain their own custom operating systems or control loops.

Reference Frameworks early adoption exceeds 1800 downloads in less than five months
Building upon the now widely adopted DSP/BIOS RTOS, TI introduced eXpressDSP Reference Frameworks in April 2002. TI's design-ready RFs are getting-started solutions for designers in the early stages of application development, featuring easy-to-use source code that is common to many applications. In less than five months since the product's debut, more than 1800 customers have downloaded the RF source code from TI's web site. Following a survey done by TI on the usage of this product, more than 53 percent of those surveyed indicated that they have plans to use the code in their final designs. With TI's RFs, much of the initial low-level design decisions have been implemented allowing developers more time to focus on the code that distinguishes their products from competitors. Designers can choose the specific RF that best meets their system needs and then populate it with algorithms from more than 600 eXpressDSP-compliant TI third party algorithms or their own algorithms, creating specific applications for a range of end equipments such as broadband, voice, video imaging, biometrics and wireless infrastructure.

"We were a little nervous about using other people's code, especially in the form of libraries, but we were pleased to find out that TI provided source code for everything and that it had been very well tested," said Steve Poulsen, director of engineering, Imagine Technology. "In fact, using the Reference Framework slashed the development time of a production solution by 75 percent."

Customers quickly adopting eXpressDSP-compliant algorithms for their designs
TI's third party program is the most extensive in the DSP industry, with more than 600 unique vendors participating. Recently, Softier became the 100th TI third party to join the ranks of those offering eXpressDSP-compliant algorithms. This eXpressDSP compliance program identifies for TI's customers software algorithms that have been tested by TI for compliance with their TMS320TM DSP Algorithm Standard, established in the marketplace since 1999. With the TMS320 DSP Algorithm Standard that encourages third parties to adhere to sound software programming techniques, TI is able to promise their customers that eXpressDSP-compliant algorithms can be reused and seamlessly integrated into their design, cutting much of the time it would take for them to do it themselves. Today, more than 450 end-customer designs are being developed with eXpressDSP-compliant algorithms purchased from TI third parties, a practice that was nearly non-existent two years ago when customers did most of their code in-house.

"If we continue to alleviate the customers' design pressures by delivering more off-the-shelf code, then I feel we will be doing our job as silicon providers," said John Schanzenbach, eXpressDSP platform manager, TI. "We realize that customers need to spend time on the code that truly differentiates their application, and we will continue to find ways to help them meet these goals by providing more and more target software components from TI and our network partners."

With the adoption of TI's target software components, it is evident that customers are writing less of the undifferentiated code themselves and are focusing on that code that truly makes their products different than their competitors. TI has made a huge investment in software in the past five years and has more than a thousand internal TI developers working to enhance its target software component initiative. TI's software strategy will continue to evolve and answer the needs of their customers.

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