Choosing a DSP Processor

DSP processors are microprocessors designed to perform digital signal processing the mathematical manipulation of digitally represented signals. Digital signal processing is one of the core technologies in rapidly growing application areas such as wireless communications, audio and video processing, and industrial control. Along with the rising popularity of DSP applications, the variety of DSP-capable processors has expanded greatly since the introduction of the first commercially successful DSP chips in the early 1980s. Market research firm Forward Concepts projects that sales of DSP processors will total U.S. $6.2 billion in 2000, a growth of 40 percent over 1999. With semiconductor manufacturers vying for bigger shares of this booming market, designers' choices will broaden even further in the next few years.

Today's DSP processors (or "DSPs") are sophisticated devices with impressive capabilities. In this paper, we introduce the features common to modern commercial DSP processors, explain some of the important differences among these devices, and focus on features that a system designer should examine to find the processor that best fits his or her application.

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