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DSC apps become more demanding

Posted: 02 Dec 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:real-time control  digital signal controller  digital signal processor 

An increasing number of real-time control applications present designers with a dilemma. These applications demand the convenience and interrupt response of a microcontroller yet require the substantial computational abilities of a digital signal processor (DSP).

Servo-mechanisms, power factor correction and variable-load motion control all demand the computational power of a DSP married with the fast interrupt response and digital output of a microcontroller, so the original solution was to use one of each of these devices.

But rising integration capacity allowed development of the digital signal controller (DSC), a microcontroller with DSP structures that enhance computational ability, creating a hybrid whose range of performance and peripheral offerings has exploded.

"The DSC space was a niche market at first, but now more than a few applications need real-time control and the DSC and microcontroller markets are starting to merge," said Keith Ogboenyiya, marketing manager for Texas Instruments' C2000 series. DSCs are starting to replace microcontrollers and analogue control systems in applications such as power supplies, Ogboenyiya added.

Steve Marsh, strategic marketing manager for DSCs at Microchip Technology, concurs. "Some domains, such as digital power, are shifting from traditional microcontrollers to DSCs, and others, like battery management, soon will be," Marsh said. "Microcontroller users are growing into using the DSP features of a DSC."

At the same time, Marsh noted, the conventional applications for DSCs are becoming more demanding. "Things like motor control are transitioning to more advanced algorithms to reduce sensor and motor costs, as well as to handle unique load requirements, such as variable loads," he said.

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