Are DSPs Dead?

March 7th, 2013 by

By Andy The

DSPs have had their day in the sun. As a long-time DSP guy that makes me sad, but the innovation that is sure to result from the Intel and ARM war is exciting.

Just a decade ago, DSPs’ performance and power made the go-to processor (MIPS vs.  Milliwatt). Many designs had specific processing requirements and strict power budgets. DSPs were the only processors that could fill the bill.

Not so today. Proprietary architectures are in rapid decline. Standardized architectures like ARM and x86 are pre-eminent. Moore’s Law has enabled GPPs (ARM and Intel) to double their performance every 2 years. Add in architectural advances and it’s clear why GPPs have surpassed their proprietary counterparts.

Today’s developers want standardized platforms, not only to insure code reuse and portability, but also to use standardized development tools. The desire for software standardization is why ARM has become so popular in embedded systems. Companies don’t want to be – won’t be – dependent on a single semiconductor manufacturer. They’ll use the device that suits today’s price and performance needs. If a company doesn’t like what TI is doing with their ARM devices, they can easily move to NVidia’s ARM device.  Unless there is a specific need that only can be served by a proprietary architecture, building a code bases with non-standard tooling is not only costly but also a liability.

The raging processor battle is on between ARM and Intel.  It’ll be a fierce and brutal fight. For sure, exciting, breakthrough technological advances will result.

Here’s a short excerpt talking about the explosive ARM growth in the embedded space:

What are your thoughts?


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