‘Consumer Digitization accelerating DSP applications’

By : |January 11, 2002 0

BANGALORE: "Consumer Digitization is rapidly accelerating the growth and
development of DSP applications, thereby rapidly increasing the design
challenges in VLSI", said Texas Instruments India managing director Dr.
Biswadip Mitra. He was delivering the keynote address,

"Consumer Digitization: Accelerating DSP Applications, Mounting VLSI
Design Challenges" at the annual VLSI Conference.

During the course of his presentation Dr. Mitra went on to say,
"Increasing VLSI Design, Challenges’ greatest opportunity for growth in
the Internet Age will come from combining broadband and mobility".
Bandwidth explosion, personalized bandwidth and multimedia convergence are
beginning to change the landscape of how we live, work, connect and entertain.
And two new technologies have emerged to lead this Internet Age: Digital Signal
Processors (DSPs) and Analog semiconductors.

DSPs are doing for communications what the microprocessor did for computing.
DSP and Analog technologies bridge the gap between the digital world and analog
world. And they do it in real-time. In addition, because one can program the
DSPs, manufacturers and network service providers can quickly integrate new
features and evolving standards into existing equipment. This reduces long-term
infrastructure costs and facilitates rapid service rollouts.

Today, DSP applications range from cellular handsets, Basestations, Cable
Modems and DSLs, IP Telephony to MP3 players, Digital Still Cameras, Digital
Motor Control Systems and many more. These applications are all characterized by
the need to have a combination of DSP and high performance Analog functions.

Worldwide, programmable DSP chip shipments for the year 2000 were over US $ 6.1
billion according to World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS). Despite the
cyclical nature of the semiconductor industry, has witnessed in 2001, a compound
annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent is predicted for DSP shipments through

One of the key challenges of this dramatic growth and widespread application of
DSPs is in terms of the increasing complexities of VLSI design. The challenge of
integrating more transistors, but using less power, has led to a dramatic
evolution of semiconductors and CAD


In 1980, a typical DSP chip had 50,000 transistors and could process 5
million instructions per second (MIPS). These chips sold for about $150 each and
consumed 250 milliwatts of power per MIPS. Today, it is routine to have more
than 10 million transistors on a chip – delivering 5 billion instructions per
second at just one-tenth of a milliwatt per MIPS. Such chips sell for about $5
today. That’s less than a penny per MIPS compared to $30 per MIPS twenty years
ago. And power consumption is a tiny sliver of what it once was.

By 2010, we anticipate that DSPs can process 3 trillion instructions per
second with a chip about the size of a thumbtack.

Functional integration is another new twist. This implies taking analog and
digital functions that had been handled earlier by separate chips, and combining
these onto a single chip. This analog integration challenge (with minimal cost
delta due to additional masks), the need to miniaturize, the need for high
performance at the lowest possible power makes it a very interesting challenge
for VLSI designers.

At the same time, success in these very attributes by VLSI designers
worldwide has led to the explosion in DSP applications in the past few years.
And indeed, we are sure that there are many more innovations in VLSI design that
are yet to come and there are many applications of DSP that have not been
invented yet – an area for future developers and entrepreneurs to exploit."

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