New Sharc DSPs celebrate Analog Devices' success with audio applications - Embedded.com

New Sharc DSPs celebrate Analog Devices’ success with audio applications

Norwood, Mass. — Continuing the rich audio tradition of its SHARC Processor family, Analog Devices, Inc. announced two new audio processors that deliver the audio industry's highest performance and integration. With performance to 400MHz, the SHARC Processors ADSP-21367 and ADSP-21368 easily implement an increasing array of features required for consumer and premium audio products. These high-end third-generation SHARC processors are designed to simplify product development, speed time to market and reduce product costs for a variety of audio applications including A/V receivers (AVRs), professional mixing consoles and digital synthesizers. With the new SHARC Processors, manufacturers can create competitively differentiated products for their high-end customers more quickly, easily and cost-effectively than ever before.

“Manufacturers of premium audio systems are continually challenged to develop higher-performance, feature-rich products as rapidly as possible,” said Brian McAloon, group vice president and general manager, Digital Signal Processing Systems division, Analog Devices, Inc. “The SHARC Processor architecture, with its 32- and 40-bit floating-point capability, already offers the highest-quality audio possible. These two new SHARC Processors extend ADI's industry-leading audio capabilities to a new pinnacle of performance, memory and peripheral integration, and ease of use, so that manufacturers of mid- and high-end audio/video receivers (AVRs) and professional audio products can rapidly introduce differentiated products that satisfy the cravings of their high-end customers.”

Already, SHARC Processors are included in products marketed by Bose, Denon, Kenwood, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, Yamaha and many other leading consumer electronics makers; by pro audio product manufacturers such as Crown, Harrison, Mackie, Studer and Tascam; and in automobiles from Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Lexus and Toyota. The high-end third-generation SHARC Processors offer significant value to premium audio systems developers.

“SRS Labs' portfolio of technologies covers everything from single speaker stereo enhancement to advanced 6.1 surround sound decoding. We are very impressed with the performance of ADI's SHARC processors because they seamlessly support our audio technologies to deliver the best available audio experience for consumers in a wide variety of product applications,” said Alan Kraemer, executive vice president of SRS Labs' Technology & Business Development Group.

“DTS is dedicated to delivering the ultimate entertainment experience, and as such we are excited about the third generation SHARC processors and the performance they provide. These latest SHARC processors will provide our customers greater selection in implementing the various DTS technologies,” said Brian Towne, vice president, Consumer & Pro Audio Division at DTS.

Designed for audio applications requiring the highest possible performance, the ADSP-21367 and ADSP-21368 integrate a 400MHz core with large (2Mb RAM, 6Mb ROM) on-chip memory arrays and sophisticated audio-centric peripherals. These capabilities enable the new SHARC Processors to support today's consumer and premium audio products' requirement for features such as multi-channel decoders including lossless formats, multi-zone support, 192KHz processing and sophisticated auto-setup routines.

“When they arrive, these new parts will make the SHARC family significantly faster than its main competitor, the Texas Instruments TMS320C67x,” said BDTI. “The '21367 and '21368 are expected to achieve a BDTIsimMark2000 score of 2050 at 400 MHz, compared to a BDTImark2000 score of 1470 for the 300 MHz 'C6713.”

The processors' 400MHz performance leads the industry and is a four-fold increase over the second-generation SHARC Processors ADSP-2116x. With this performance, the new processors easily implement all currently available industry-standard audio decoder and post-processing algorithms, with sufficient processing headroom remaining for customer-specific post-processing and future features.The ADSP-21367 and ADSP-21368 also are the most highly integrated members of the third-generation SHARC family. Their 6Mb of on-chip ROM is factory-programmed with industry-standard audio decoder and post-processor algorithms, which will enable manufacturers to implement many audio systems using a single chip.

ADI's SHARC Processor offerings include the CROSSCORE family of development tools, which encompasses the VisualDSP++ integrated software development environment, EZ-KIT Lite evaluation systems and emulators for rapid on-chip debugging.

In addition, the new SHARC Processors include eight full-duplex, high-bandwidth serial ports; an S/PDIF transmitter/receiver; two signal routing units for peripheral-to-pin configuration; two UARTS; four precision clock generators; up to 34 GPIO pins; 10 hardware interrupts; two serial peripheral interface (SPI) ports; three timers; a two wire interface (TWI); an input data port for parallel data or additional I2S serial channels; and an 8-channel hardware asynchronous sample-rate converter, which significantly reduce the number of required external components in a product design and, ultimately, the end-system costs. The ADSP-21368 also includes support for shared memory systems, a feature particularly useful in multi-processor professional audio system such as recording studio mixing consoles.

The processors' high-bandwidth, highly efficient, 32-bit external memory interface simplifies software and hardware development by speeding algorithm development, ensuring that ADI is the first to market with the newest audio algorithms. The “glue”-less interface to SRAM, FLASH and SDRAM allows embedded audio designers to take advantage of the most cost-effective memory technology, again resulting in lower overall system costs. As a result, the new SHARC Processors help makers of audio products to reach the market with new, validated and tested, high-performance products with unprecedented speed.

The ADSP-21367 is aimed at the mid- to high-end AVR market. The ADSP-21368 adds shared memory capabilities that make it ideal for professional audio applications. With both processors, manufacturers can frequently replace multiple DSPs in a design with a single SHARC Processor.

The SHARC Processors ADSP-21367 and ADSP-21368 will be sampling in Q1 2005, and will be available in quantity in the summer of 2005 for $29.95 and $34.95, respectively. For more information on ADI's SHARC Processors, please visit www.analog.com/SHARC

Embracing Home Theater, while transitioning into an apartment dweller, I was delighted to learn about “Midnight Mode,” a DSP filter function that lets you enjoy the sonic special effects of a DVD movie — without disturbing the neighbors! Analog Devices' marketers, in their quest to win acceptance for a floating point processor in this cost-sensitive consumer electronics application, talked up, not just room-expansion techniques or Dolby Digital decoding, but also DTS decoding, EX and ES extensions and full 7.1-channel decoding. Like the microprocessor giant's campaign to create “pull” for personal computers that had “Intel Inside,” ADI may have created a demand for A/V receivers that were capable of duplicating these effects. The company's three-year campaign to generate demand for a 32-bit DSP was largely successful, as evidenced by their use in high end but otherwise affordable products of Bose, Denon, Kenwood, Sony, Samsung and Yamaha.

The latest versions of the Sharc processor offer a choice of hardware price points and programming tools designed to make it easy to match processors and applications. The ADSP21267, for example, is a $9.95-device targeted at car audio applications. The 400-MHz ADSP-21367 (and upgrade to the 333-MHz ADSP21364) is targeted at high-end Home Theater applications, while and 400-MHz ADSP-21368 targets ultra-high performance applications like Pro Audio.

ADI began battling for acceptance of the Sharc at a time when most audio equipment manufacturers were using 24-bit fixed-point DSPs. In terms of audio data converters, a 24-bit analog-to-digital converter would offer a 120-dB dynamic range between loud and soft signals — something equivalent to the ability to distinguish caterpillar footsteps at the foot of an airport runway with a supersonic transport taking off overhead. In terms of audio data converters, a 24-bit dynamic range would be at the very edges of human hearing. But applied to fixed-point DSP operations, ADI technologists worried that a 24-bit filter function — a multiply-accumulate operation — would create carry-over errors, which would show up as subtle distortions and truncations. Why not use a floating point processor, they argued, especially if the price was right.

ADI promotes its Sharc audio DSPs as 32- and 40-bit devices, although the promotional literature does not make it clear whether the 32-40 bits refers to width of the data words multiplied by the filter, or just the width of the accumulator which accepts the result. But even at 30 bits, the Sharc's multiply-accumulate operations effectively expand the fidelity of the audio product.

It is not surprising, then for ADI to cite Sharc design wins in not just home A/V receivers, but also among automotive audio system builders (like Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Lexus and Toyota) and in pro audio realms (among manufacturers like Crown, Harrison, Mackie, Studer and Tascam).

A lot of low-end A/V receivers still use 24-bit fixed point DSPs, acknowledged Ken Wuiren, ADI's audio platform marketing manager. Competitors in the 24-bit audio processor space include Motorola (Freescale) and Cirrus Logic. But the higher-end A/V receivers — those with a larger number of DSP filter functions, and arguably high fidelity, are moving to Sharcs, he believes. A/V receiver functionality will follow a Moore's Law-like curve. As many as14.x channels, with 192 kHz sampling rates will soon be standard, he says.

The highest performing audio DSPs integrate a 400-MHz core with large on-chip memory arrays (2Mbits of RAM and 6Mbits of ROM) — along with a variety of audio-centric peripherals. This device offers built-in DMA decoding, which allows non-volatile memory transfers (essentially instruction decoding) without the need for an external decoder.

The AD1896 asynchronous sample rate converter is fully incorporated onto the 21364. This saves “core MIPs” in the processor —there is no need to do this in software, Wuiren explained. The ADSP21367 and ADSP21368 are similar in that they include high clock rates, a large memory capacity and a variety of peripheral interfaces (include a SPDIF interface, SPI and I2C, and processor UARTs). The ADSP21368, however, is more equipped for professional mixing consoles and recording studio equipment because it allows “DSP farms” (multiple Sharc processors) to access a data from a single memory array.

When unpacking the cartons of a Home Theater system, the consumer shouldn't require the services of an audio engineer to balance sound from 6 or more speakers. The Sharc audio processors have come equipped with Auto Room Tuner (ART) technologies which help obtain an appropriate balance between front and rear speakers, and between parts of a room dampened by draperies.

Even with $300-Home Theater systems (the low end of the price spectrum), a microphone in the remote control unit can be used to sample “pink noise” emitted by the speakers of the Home Theater unit. Pink noise differs from white noise in that it is limited to specialized frequencies and time intervals. The Sharc will use the information it receives from the remote microphone (a surrogate for the listener) to adjust its frequencies and amplitudes. It can thus automatically dampen acoustically “live” areas of a room; or enliven the response in areas with sound-deadening materials like rugs, couches and draperies.

As part of the rollout of the new audio DSPs, Analog Devices is also upgrading its “VisualAudio” development tools. Used more by the A/V receiver manufacturer than the home consumer, these tools are designed to answer time-to-market issues, said Vincent Fung, product marketing manager in the company's platform tools group.

VisualAudio is a “drag and drop” graphical design environment, with over a 100 pre-built filter function modules. The user/programmer simply drags the modules onto the screen with his mouse, makes input/output connections between them, and the personal computer will automatically generate the DSP code and download it into the Sharc target. A handy filter function — like “Midnight Mode” — can be wired into the Sharc without a of dickering with C code. The SHARC Processors ADSP-21367 and ADSP-21368 will be sampling in Q1 2005, and will be available in quantity in the summer of 2005 for $29.95 and $34.95, respectively. For more information on ADI's SHARC Processors, please visit: www.analog.com/SHARC.

The VisualAudio design and development environment is available now for an MSRP of $1,995 per site license. To take a VisualAudio test drive or learn more about VisualAudio and other ADI development tools, visit: www.analog.com/processors/tools.

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