Analog Devices optimizes processors for image processing

March 28, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Advanced Driver Assistant Systems (ADAS), industrial machine vision applications and surveillance cameras have one thing in common: They have to process large amounts of image data in real-time. Analog Devices has developed a new series of its Blackfin processor family that has the capability to greatly speed up these processing steps.

The new dual-core processor types BF608 and BF609 are equipped with a powerful image processing accelerator, the Pipelined Vision Processor (PVP). This device enables the processor to run up to five concurrent vision algorithms. In an ADAS application, these could be, for instance, pedestrian detection, collision warning, lane detection, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beam / low beam switching. In addition, the device can estimate the distance of other objects - not by measuring it but by applying plausibility algorithms to moving objects.

This high data processing capability along with the extended operating temperature range of up to 105°C required for automotive applications and hardware-based functional safety according to ISO 26262 makes the two new chips ideal for automotive deployment, explains Peter Voss, ADAS products marketing manager for Analog Devices GmbH. The market environment seems to be favorable: While currently ADAS are sold as optional equipment and in relatively moderate numbers, this is likely to change in the midterm. The reason is that the EuroNCAP car safety performance assessment program has significantly increased its requirements for pedestrian protection. Cars that do not meet these requirements cannot achieve the best rating anymore.

One of the most popular measures to improve active pedestrian protection are camera-based warning systems. However, to achieve the best EuroNCAP rating, these systems need to be part of the basic configuration of the vehicle. This will significantly push the market penetration of such systems, believes Voss. 

In order to enable small packages and high packaging density, the new processors are optimized for low power dissipation. At room temperature, the devices get along with just 400mW; at maximum operation temperature of 105°C they still do not exceed a moderate value of 1.3W. Other features include a powerful switched-fabric based data transfer infrastructure inside the chips and a rich selection of interfaces. The two processor cores can access up to 4.3 MBit on-chip SRAM. 

Both the BF608 and the