“They are very simple VLIW processors,” Geoffrey Burns, director of product management at Silicon Hive told Electronics Weekly. “The compiler generates microcode understood by the particular processor, and the processors can be simple because the compiler is able to handle complexity in advance.”
The first core is the firm’s Bresca baseband processor which performs mixing, sample rate conversion, channel filtering, AGC and a numerically-controlled oscillator. “It is 40Msample/s complex zero-IF tuner in this case, but it can also be programmed to handle low-IF with no change in the silicon,” said Burns.
Next in line is a programmable frequency-domain processor which the firm has had for a while. Dubbed Avispa CH-1 it handles OFDM decoding. “It is basically a complex maths engine,” said Burns. “Here it is digital television, but it could also be used for wireless LANs and WiMAX.”
CH1 achieves two sustained complex multiply-accumulates per cycle, two sustained FFT butterflies per cycle, and four sustained semi-complex FIR taps per cycle, and superceeds an earlier IP block: Avispar OFDM.
The third processor, ‘FEC’ de-maps the constellation, and handles Viterbi and Reed-Solomon decoding.
In view of the state of flux of some DVB standards, this is a fully programmable all-singing all-dancing chip, made for an un-named customer, and Silicon Hive is not saying how much more silicon area and power is required compared with a non-programmable Asic doing the same job.
However, Burns would say that a second version of the chip where “you have removed flexibility where you do not need it”, could be made with around ten per cent overheads in area and power compared with a non-programmable Asic.
“All the cores are offered with programming tools, application libraries, and reference designs for common DTV terrestrial, cable, and satellite standards, such as: DVB-T, DVB-H, ISDB-T, DVB-C, DVB-S, and T-DMB,” said Silicon Hive.
Applications are seen in mobile phones, digital television, personal computers, DVD recorders and players, and set-top boxes.