The Nucleus real-time operating system (RTOS) will now support ParthusCeva's Teak digital signal processor (DSP) core. This coincides with the release of a joint specification by ARM and ParthusCeva for an architecture covering the integration of ARM cores with ParthusCeva DSP cores.
The specification may signal the beginning of an expanded role for Teak, a low-power 16-bit fixed-point general-purpose licensable DSP core. Nucleus RTOS will support both the ParthusCeva and ARM processor cores, enabling developers of digital media-processing products to use the RTOS API on both a DSP and ARM core embedded in the same design.
“It's unusual to see an operating system for DSPs,” says Jim Turley, microprocessor analyst and editor of Silicon-Insider, when asked about the Nucleus RTOS/Teak DSP combo. “Operating systems such as ATI's Nucleus are usually associated with 32-bit microprocessors, not DSPs. The fact that Nucleus is now available for DSPs should encourage some DSP-phobic programmers to consider this option. It's also evidence that DSPs and CPUs are edging ever closer together.”
The joint ARM/ParthusCeva specification defines a standard method for connecting DSPs with an ARM core and has been in the works for some time. “On one hand, it's inevitable that the #1 RISC core vendor (ARM) should team up with the #1 DSP core vendor (ParthusCeva),” says Turley. “Now engineers who were using both cores can enjoy the official blessing of both companies. On the other hand, ARM has developed its own DSP extensions”twice”and theoretically has no need for ParthusCeva's DSP.
ARM's first attempt at DSP, called Piccolo, failed miserably in the market. ARM's second DSP add-on, the ARM9E, was somewhat more successful but evidently isn't satisfying all its customers, or there'd be no need for the ParthusCeva partnership.” Nucleus RTOS allows multiple applications running at differing frame rates to co-exist on a single DSP. Teak, a dual MAC architecture with parallelism capabilities, is a synthesizable soft core.
The low power Teak DSP is suitable to battery-powered portable applications, including speech and audio processing, multimedia and wireless communications (2/2.5 and 3G), high-speed modems, and various embedded control applications. Royalty-free licenses for the Nucleus RTOS are available now and start at $12,495. A limited version of the Nucleus PLUS kernel for Teak is available for download from at Accelerated Technology's web site.