As broadband and mobile phone technologies evolve, digital signal processors are carving out a niche in media gateways and wireless base stations.
The need for better and faster DSPs in those applications is growing because of two trends: Makers of media gateways are moving toward wide-band codecs, which boost the quality of voice and video; and wireless base station manufacturers are scrambling to meet the needs of broadband access in mobile applications.
In both cases, high-performance DSPs offer a solution.
“In voice and audio, there's a transition going on from narrow-band to wide-band codecs,” says Kevin Hoch, product line manager for media gateway DSPs at LSI Corp. “And the processing resources required to transition from narrow-band to wide-band typically go up.”
Similarly, makers of 3G LTE (long-term evolution) equipment and WiMAX-based (worldwide interoperability for microwave access) telecommunications systems need certain levels of processor performance. DSP makers are trying to hit the “sweet spot” for such applications.
“We knew we had to hit the performance targets for those future wireless standards,” says Randy Clark, portfolio manager for Freescale Semiconductor's Infrastructure DSP Group. “But we also had to make sure that our chip could be used for pre-existing wireless standards.”
Here, we present two new DSPs — from LSI and Freescale — aimed at media gateways and wireless base stations. They should provide a good start for future broadband and telecom projects.
LSI's Media Gateway System-On-Chip
LSI Corp.'s media gateway System-on-Chip solutions are said to offer lower power consumption per voice channel and video transcoding for new mobile video and enterprise collaboration services. Known as the SP2603 and the SP2612, the two new devices are part of the company's StarPro™ Media Processor family. LSI's media gateway architecture is targeted at high-density voice and video applications. The solution is scalable up to 12 DSP cores per chip, thus providing a single platform for applications ranging from entry-level, multi-service business gateways to wireless carrier class media gateways. In December, LSI also announced a broad portfolio of voice, audio and video codecs for the processor family.
Freescale's DSP for Next-Generation Wireless Standards
Freescale Semiconductor's six-core MSC8156 processor delivers 6-GHz performance and integrates the company's StarCore® technology using 45-nm process technology. Targeted at networks based on LTE and other next-generation wireless services, the new integrated device is said to replace multiple discrete parts required by other solutions. When deployed in base stations, it delivers twice the performance than Freescale's MSC8144 offering, which was said to be the industry's highest-performing programmable DSP. As such, the MSC8156 supports the high data rates specified by the latest OFDMA standards and enables high throughput and low latency for next-generation base stations.