Software puts DAB on the PC

Software puts DAB on the PC
Steve Bush UK start-up RadioScape has a digital audio broadcast (DAB) software radio which could bring low cost digital reception to PC users. Current DAB receivers use dedicated hardware for both RF front-end and baseband decoding. RadioScape’s software replaces the baseband chip with an x86 PC processor with capacity to spare. “The magic figure is 60Mflop/s,” said Peter Florence, RadioScape’s managing director. “When DAB was announced, DSP chips could offer 60, even 80Mflop/s, but Intel processors, like the 60MHz Pentium, didn’t have enough power. The 133MHz Pentium was the first to break the critical level and now a 300MHz Pentium II can do it with 100Mflop/s to spare.” The radio is written in C++. “We are re-writing parts of it in assembler to reduce the processing overhead further,” said Florence. As C++ compilers are available for many processors, is RadioScape interested in porting the software elsewhere? “We could do it,” he said, “but we are concentrating on the Intel – Microsoft platform.” RF hardware is needed to complete a PC-based DAB receiver. “There are several DAB RF chips on the market, the only other major component needed is an A/D converter. These would easily fit onto a standard PCI bus card,” said Florence. A PC Card front-end is envisaged for notebook use. RadioScape staff totals just two: Florence and Dr Gavin Ferris. Florence has already started two other software companies, including Cambridge Animation Systems. Its cartoon producing software was behind ‘Space Jam’ from Warner Brothers and is the system used at Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio.


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