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DSPs May Become Component of Choice in Consumer Electronics
Aug 20, 2004
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According to a new study from ABI Research, programmable Digital Signal Processor (DSP) could become the component of choice in audio, video, and graphics signal processing. The research firm attributes this to the new codecs, standards, and applications in consumer electronics (CE) that will require programmability and flexibility to meet customer requirements and time-to-market goals.

As a result, the stakes are high for signal processing stalwarts such as Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, Freescale, and Agere, ABI reports. They need to position themselves intelligently in this hotly contested, rapidly changing market.

Alan Varghese, ABI senior director of semiconductor research, points to several developments in the CE space that are creating a drive toward programmable solutions. "In video," he says, "it is high definition television (HDTV) with its associated high bandwidth requirements. The considerable changes in the compression and modulation techniques used require flexible programmable solutions."

Another trend is the advent of the IP set-top-box, according to ABI. Since content comes to this device from the Internet, it can arrive in different formats, so multiple audio and video types must be supported.

ABI also notes the seamless connectivity in the home, which involves the interconnection of CE devices. "There are debates around technologies such as Ethernet, Media-over-coax, 802.11, and Ultrawideband," Mr. Varghese notes, "which all require flexible solutions."

Even so, ABI says a major move toward programmable DSP solutions may never happen. CE companies are used to specifying and designing their own custom chips and ASICs. ABI questions whether or not they will they be comfortable allowing microprocessor vendors to encroach on their world.

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