ADI mixes multicore DSP and ARM cores for audio, industrial designs

June 16, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Analog Devices has added eight SHARC processors in a lower-power, real-time-focussed introduction, that enables processing throughput vs power gains of as much as five times, over prior family devices.

The eight chips contain varying amounts of DSP capability together with an ARM Cortex-A5 core, which is tightly integrated into the architecture. The intention, and ADI spokesman commented is to meet the needs of application where advanced DSP is a part of the overall task. This series of devices is intended to meet growing real-time processing demands, and to support transitions from fixed- to floating-point operation all within a power budget such that devices will be thermally stable with package-cooling alone – that is, no fans and limited or no heatsinking – and at 105C. Accordingly, ADI builds the chips in a CMOS process optimised for low leakage, and for limited rise of leakage current (and hence power) as temperatures reach their upper specified limits.

The eight SHARC processors deliver peak performance greater than 24 giga-floating-point operations per second using two enhanced SHARC+ cores and advanced DSP accelerators (FFT, FIR, IIR). The ADSP-SC58x and ADSP-2158x series consume less than 2W at high temperature, making the new processor line-up more than five times more power efficient than previous SHARC products and a claimed twice as power-efficient as competitive processors. Their DSP power can be used where thermal management sets the limit for power consumption, or where the higher costs and lower reliability of fans cannot be tolerated; automotive, consumer and professional audio, multi-axis motor control, and energy distribution systems. The 24 Gflops comes with 5.4 Gflops directly from the DSP cores, and the balance from the various accelerators, especially the FFT/iFFT block. Other attributes that ADI calls attention to include the twin DDR ports; and the amoount of on-chip – especially L1 cache – memory.

The added ARM Cortex-A5 processor, with FPU and Neon DSP extensions can handle additional real-time processing tasks and manage peripherals used to interface to time-critical data in audio, industrial closed-loop control, and industrial sensing applications. These interfaces include, ADI proposes, Gigabit Ethernet (with AVB and IEEE-1588 support), USB High-Speed, mobile storage (including SD/SDIO), PCI Express and a rich variety of other connectivity options for a flexible and simplified system design. ARM TrustZone security and an onboard crypto hardware accelerators are included. For applications where reliability is a critical requirement, memory parity and error-correction hardware provide higher data integrity.