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MIMO pushing floating points into DSP cores

Posted: 12 Nov 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DSP? floating point? base station? MIMO?

Still, Freescale faces an uphill battle against TI, which has its formidable presence in legacy 3G cellular networks. With the upcoming communications SoC, Freescale plans not only to add fuller 3G capabilities to its portfolio but also to beef up its performance for emerging cellular networks including LTE and upcoming LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) standards.

As the growing data traffic swamps cellular networks, operators are demanding that equipment suppliers deliver "significant reduction in cost per megabit" and a semiconductor solution that "runs on a common platform" that can handle both 3G and 4G/LTE networks, noted Su.

Comparing floating and fixed points
TI's new C667x DSP family is based on "KeyStone multicore architecture." Under the architecture, a multicore navigator ensures that the DSP core can maximize the throughput of on-chip data flows and eliminates the possibility of bottlenecks.

Bier noted that TI's new DSP core "slightly accelerates the clock speed, while it significantly improves parallelism."

BDTI's independent benchmark results showed that TI's new 1.25GHz C66x core is 30 percent faster than TI's previous generation DSP. (The C66x core delivered a fixed-point BDTImark2000 score of 16,690 C beating the 13,170 score of TI's C64x+ core.) TI's C66x also proved 10 percent faster than Freescale's SC3850 core which previously achieved a best of 15,420.

On floating-point performance, the C66x sets a new bar for DSP processors with a BDTImark2000 score of 10,720, according to Bier.

The advantage of incorporating full-blown floating point math in every C66x DSP core is clear, said Glinsman. "Developers can use the natural math language (in floating point) to run applications' algorithm. They don't have to convert everything to fixed point operations."

Focus on MIMO
A case in point is MIMO multiple antenna applications. With floating point in each DSP core, developers can "leave complex numeric algorithms such as MIMO applications to floating point," explained Bier. For something like MIMO application, which is "super touchy" and requires "high accuracy," Bier said that not having to do matrix inversion is a huge win for developers.

Historically, floating point has been "an unloved step child" in the DSP family, said Bier. "It didn't get much investment, because companies always looked for high volume applications for their DSPs." Such high volume applications almost always demand highly optimized cost, power consumption and performance, all best served by fixed point operations.

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