Something's afoot in the DSP world

Something’s afoot in the DSP worldWhen companies renowned for their digital signal processing (DSP) hardware start talking about their software focus, something is afoot, writes Roy Rubenstein.  
 
“It’s the direction customers are pushing us,” explains Phil Radtke, software marketing manager at Spectrum Signal Processing.
The reason for this, says Radtke, is simple: DSP development environments have not kept pace with DSP hardware. Engineers need to exploit the latest high-end DSPs from the likes of Texas Instruments (TI) and Analog Devices while contending with ever shorter product design cycles. The result is that DSP designers want sophisticated development tools similar to those the embedded systems community have enjoyed for a while.
TI and Analog Devices have recognised this shortfall and have produced the development environments Code Composer Studio and VisualDSP, respectively. Now, says Radtke, Spectrum is adding its own capabilities and tools to these chip-specific environments to aid the engineer with overall system-level design.
So what will Spectrum add that is not being provided by the DSP chip vendors? Radtke highlights the company’s support for multi-processing, making use of the parallel C expertise it gained with its acquisition of Edinburgh software company 3L in 1997.
To detail further what the company has in mind, Radtke shows a typical computer screen a designer will encounter using Spectrum’s tool.
As well as disassembled C code and memory dumps, it will include a block representation of the software. This can be used for code generation to “get some blocks for free”, says Radtke. There will also be a hardware topology window which will allow connections to the underlying hardware to be made. Lastly a ‘performance meter’ will show the processing load experienced by each of the DSPs during code execution.
The design environment can also be used to download and execute The MathWork’s Matlab simulations on the underlying hardware. Spectrum will unveil the system level development tool in May. It will support both TI’s C6000 and Analog Devices’ Sharc family of DSPs.


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