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Audio/voice DSPs speed smartphone algorithms

Posted: 11 Jan 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:HiFi 3  audio  voice  DSP  IP core 

Tensilica Inc. launches the HiFi 3 audio/voice DSP IP core for SoC designs targeting home entertainment systems and smartphones. The fourth-generation audio DSP expands the company's HiFi architecture to quad 24/32bits and claims improved performance using less power.

The HiFi 3 DSP is software compatible with the HiFi 2 and HiFi EP audio/voice DSPs, so the entire existing library of over 90 HiFi-optimised audio and voice codecs, and audio enhancement software packages will run on HiFi 3 cores. Also, Tensilica has optimised multi-channel audio software packages to run efficiently on the HiFi 3. For example, HiFi 3 can support DTS-HD Master Audio for Blu-ray Disc in only 233MHz. HiFi 3 carries over the assets of HiFi 2 to enable easy programmability for companies wanting to port their own proprietary audio software packages and builds on this to add improved code porting productivity from a further simplified programming model.

Audio post processing uses algorithms such as volume levelling, dialogue clarity, volume boost, spatial expansion, equalisation, and gaming, with requirements to support 32 or more simultaneous audio streams and VoIP for interactive game play. These algorithms are being designed into smartphones, home entertainment systems, and gaming consoles.

Need for speed
However, voice requirements in smartphones are significantly outpacing Moore's Law and battery technology. While narrow band voice codecs and basic noise suppression can be satisfied with about 200MHz of audio DSP horsepower, these requirements will exceed 600MHz in a few years with the widespread deployment of the adaptive multi-rate wide band voice codec, the Skype SILK super wideband codec for VoIP, improved noise suppression, and other pre-processing functions such as noise-dependent volume control.

The HiFi 3 audio/voice DSP claims to address these requirements, offering an 80 per cent increase in performance for the FFT, FIR and IIR algorithms commonly used in post processing. This results in, for example, a 1.8x performance improvement on DTS-HD Master Audio post processing compared to HiFi EP. For speech it offers direct support for common ITU operations enabling greater than 50 per cent performance improvement on many voice codecs, with significantly reduced porting effort.

The HiFi 3 audio/voice DSP is a 3-way VLIW style DSP based on Tensilica's Xtensa Dataplane Processor (DPU) architecture with four MACs, a 64bit load/store unit, and a unified 16-entry 64bit audio register file.

Tensilica has already licensed the HiFi 3 DSP IP core to a tier one smartphone OEM and to a tier one semiconductor manufacturer.

HiFi 3 has already been delivered to lead customers and will be available to the general public in March 2012.

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