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DSP duo supports multiple HD audio

Posted: 16 Feb 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Freescale? 90nm? DSP? HD audio? Symphony?

Promising performance, cost and board space advantages, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. launched a pair of dual-core 90nm DSPs that support multiple high-definition (HD) audio standards, including DTS-HD, Dolby Digital+ and Dolby TrueHD. The Symphony DSP56720 and DSP56721 represent the first offerings in a new Freescale family of 24bit audio processors targeting consumer home entertainment, automotive and professional-audio applications.

While many high-performance audio products rely on multichip DSP implementations, Freescale is billing the Symphony devices as single-chip solutions. They incorporate DSP56300 24bit cores, which handle the latest decoding standards and advanced postprocessing on the same chip. Each core completes 200MIPS with a 200MHz clock, enabling the devices to meet the performance requirements of HD audio standards.

The DSPs are targeted at applications that require high performance for audio processing. These include HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc next-generation DVD players, home A/V receivers, car amplifiers and infotainment systems, professional audio-recording equipment, and musical instruments and amplifiers.

The DSP56720 and DSP56721 feature integrated memory, including on-chip 608k-by-24bit words of ROM and 248k-by-24bit words of RAM. With a large amount of built-in memory, the DSP56721 eliminates the need for external memory for most consumer applications, according to Freescale. The DSP56720 adds an external memory interface for audio applications that use external memory to accommodate long delays.

Both devices integrate an SPD/IF transceiver and a 10-channel asynchronous sample rate converter to reduce component cost, and a DMAC that can support up to eight DMA channels per core.

Flexible option
The new DSPs are code-compatible with Freescale's existing 24bit DSP solutions, simplifying the migration path for existing customers. Both devices incorporate the same plug-and-play software architecture found in the Freescale DSP563xx family and support standard audio decoders, providing the flexibility for designers to customize postprocessing algorithms. That's key, said Todd Benson, manager of Freescale's home consumer and distribution segment. "There are several customers out there who are doing that," Benson said, "and it's beneficial to both them and us."

Freescale said it is working on a new software development tool suite to support both the multicore DSP567xx family and the single-core DSP563xx family. The tool suite, projected to be available in 2Q, includes an IDE and a single debugger to target a hardware or software simulator. It also supports parallel-port and USB command converters, according to the company.

Backed by experience
Starting from its days as Motorola Inc.'s semiconductor unit prior to a 2004 spinoff, Freescale has a long history of providing audio DSPs. Symphony products have been around since 1987, when they hit the market as the first 24bit DSPs.

The Freescale architecture is capable of supporting 48bit calculations, Benson said, which is necessary only for a small percentage of the time in the targeted audio applications. Benson acknowledged that there are arguments in favor of both 24bit and 32bit architectures for audio DSPs, and said that consumers are likely to assume that 32bit is better. But audiophiles like the Freescale-based solutions, he said.

"If you look at the people in the markets that really care about fidelity, they go with our architecture," Benson said. "People that are most concerned about audio fidelity, such as those doing $15,000 home theater systems, are using our DSPs."

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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