Matlab add-on aids DSP design

Matlab add-on aids DSP designRoy Rubenstein
DSP developers have long been the poor relations of their microprocessor counterparts when it comes to development tools.
The DSP semiconductor vendors have taken this on-board. However, if the Mathworks’ latest algorithmic development environment – Simulink 3.0 – is anything to go by, help is now at hand from another source.
The Mathworks is renown for its Matlab general engineering and scientific simulation software tool. Simulink is an accompanying block diagram tool which sits on top of Matlab. The tool has traditionally been used to model continuous-time control systems. More recent enhancements have taken it down the DSP systems and communications route, a trend continued with the release of Simulink 3.0.
The tool’s main enhancements are to its simulation speed and its modelling functionality, said Ken Karnofsky, Mathworks’ DSP and Communications marketing manager.
To more efficiently tackle such tasks as comms and audio, Simulink’s DSP Workshop toolbox can now process frames of data to aid real-time processing. You can now simulate multiple audio channels in a surround sound system, or for baseband communications you can process real-time speech, said Karnofsky.
The tool’s fixed-point blockset has also been enhanced. Instead of handling 8,16 or 32-bit precisions, the user can define arithmetic, logic and filtering operations using any word length up to 128 bits. This can then be used as the source for ‘bit-true’ code generation.
To date, mapping an algorithm onto a programmable DSP has involved converting a Matlab model into C code. Now the system development can remain within the Simulink environment, said Karnofsky. The result is a much closer simulation of the way systems really work.
An additional benefit, claimed Karnofsky, is that using Simulink’s continuous-time analysis RF engineers can work closely with the DSP designers when undertaking a commus chipset design, for example.
So what will be included in future revisions of Simulink? As well as further functional blocks, system add-ons for specific wireless communications standards will be added, said Karnofsky.
The tighter integration of Simulink with the DSP vendors’ own development tools is another area being addressed. While not naming names Karnofsky effectively admitted that Texas Instruments and Analog Devices are the likely candidates.
The main advantage is to simplify the streamlining and verification of code, said Karnofsky. The tighter integration of Simulink with the DSP vendor’s own development environment will help eliminate the comms gap between algorithmic developers and the implementation people, he added.

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