Atmel Rolls Out GFLOPS Dual Processor Floating-point DSP

3/31/2004 - Atmel introduced its AT572D740 DiopsisTM a dual processor system-on-chip, with an ARM7, peripherals and a complex domain, 40-bit precision, VLIW, floating point DSP. The high-end processor executes 15 operations per cycle, Diopsis enables hands-free phones with speech quality comparable to face-to-face conversations, radar-based automobile collision avoidance, acoustic diagnosis of mechanical equipment, software-based ultrasound scanners, and professional quality audio for moderately priced home entertainment systems, among others.

Diopsis has achieved significant early market acceptance, having been designed into an ultrasound scanner and a high-end audio processing medical system.

Extended Precision Enables Professional Quality Audio - "Diopsis cost-effectively provides the floating-point, 40-bit extended precision required for the analysis and production of professional quality sound," Dr. Pier Stanislao Paolucci, Atmel's Director of Marketing for DSP noted. "High quality sound displays 132 dB (22-bit) transient impulses embedded in a 16 bit (96dB) signal. A 32-bit mantissa accommodates guard bits to keep the processing noise low enough. An additional, 8-bit exponent is needed for automatic dynamic management. Any data word smaller than 40-bits or fixed-point arithmetic substantially degrades the sound quality. Diopsis is the first processor to offer a complete RISC plus floating-point DSP platform at a price that makes professional quality affordable in moderately priced systems."

Hands-free phones - "High-quality hands free phones have similar processing requirements," Dr. Paolucci explained. "The echos and reverberation in most conference rooms result in sound quality that is barely acceptable, even using a $500 speakerphone, Diopsis floating-point processing throughput and 40-bit precision support adaptive echo cancellation from up to eight microphones. The goal is to provide speakerphone sound quality that is as good as, or better than, a person in the same room. And with Diopsis the retail price of the speakerphone will be $150 to $200, instead of $500."

Anti-Collision Radar - The floating-point arithmetic executed by Diopsis' mAgic DSP is also useful for cost sensitive radar applications, such as automotive collision avoidance systems. These types of adaptive beam-forming applications are impractical using a fixed-point DSP, because they rely on floating-point arithmetic and matrix inversion. Diopsis is expected to accelerate the adoption of these emerging technologies by providing a high performance solution at a moderate cost.

Heterogeneous Cores Optimize Performance - According to chip architect, Dr. Pier Stanislao Paolucci said, "The heterogeneous dual core structure of Diopsis allows optimization of task partitioning and mapping on the two different cores with respect to both performance and code density requirements. Diopsis exploits the 16-bit code density and efficiency of the ARM Thumb processor for control tasks, and the GFLOPS complex arithmetic performance of Atmel's mAgic VLIW mAgic DSP. mAgic has a program memory density of 4-bits per arithmetic operation on numerical kernels, thanks to our VLIW compression system. Either processor may act as the master or slave, or both processors may operate simultaneously and independently." A 128 KB program memory holds 24,000 cycles of compressed program cycles. The DSP has a 16K by 40-bit Dual port data memories, and 256 pairs of 40-bit registers. At 100 MHz, mAgic VLIW DSP throughput is 1.5 billion operations per second (GOPS), one billion of which are floating-point. The ARM7 executes at 50MHz. Peripherals includes two SPI serial ports, two USARTS, a timer counter, watchdog, parallel I/O port (PIO), peripheral data controller, 8 ADC and 8 DAC interfaces, clock generator and interrupt controller. Power dissipation is 750 mW per GFLOP, typical, 20% less power consumption than competing 32-bit, stand-alone, floating-point DSPs.

Reduces Time-to-Market From Months to Days - DSP algorithms are written using floating-point arithmetic and must be translated to a less robust and less precise fixed-point format to be used with the fixed-point DSPs that dominate the market. This process takes months. Diopsis floating-point DSP offers a direct "algorithm-to-code" capability that reduces code development time to a few weeks and enables efficient implementation of modern signal processing algorithms that make intensive usage of complex domain arithmetic. Such algorithms include signal analysis algorithms based on the short time Fourier transform or complex wavelets used in audio and speech processing, spectrum analysis / surveillance, and vibration analysis for structure diagnostics.

Pricing and Availability - The Diopsis AT572D740 is available now in 352-ball PBGA package and is priced at $30 in quantities of 1000 (industrial temperature range), about the same price as stand-alone, floating-point DSPs.

Diopsis can also be used as platform for custom ASIC development.

About Atmel
Founded in 1984, Atmel Corporation is headquartered in San Jose, California with manufacturing facilities in North America and Europe. Atmel designs, manufactures and markets worldwide, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and RF semiconductors. Atmel is also a leading provider of system-level integration semiconductor solutions using CMOS, BiCMOS, SiGe, and high-voltage BCDMOS process technologies.

Atmel, the Atmel logo and AVR are registered trademarks and Diopsis is the trademarks of Atmel Corporation or its subsidiaries.

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