I don't want to read too much into this, as it's part of the natural way of things given recent processing trends, but this job opening does did stop me in my tracks: Intel Ireland seeking senior DSP software developer.
The ad headline and body induce a state of cognitive dissonance given the history of Intel and general-purpose processors (GPPs), as well as that of Texas Instruments, Analog Devices with digital signal processors (DSPs). I know we've been moving away from the notion of the standalone DSP as a category. TI showed that with its OMAP and ADI with its Blackfin, ARM has its DSP extensions and so on. But Intel advertising for DSP programmers? How contradictory is that?
In a recent report industry analyst Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts, pointed out that discrete DSP chips themselves are only a small part of the DSP silicon universe, at only 11% of the $27 billion 2008 worldwide market for DSP silicon. Clearly, DSP functionality is now, more than ever, part of a system on chip (SoC).
I know there's a tendency to absorb facts that feed into our own view of the world, but there's more to this trend than just greater integration. A year ago I blogged about the Irrelevance of Silicon and now, more than ever, I believe that is the case.
It's not the silicon, it's the solution.
Don't get me wrong, it's the debates over DSP vs. GPP vs. FPGA that are irrelevant. It's now all about the optimization of silicon and software around a chosen end application. Let's face it, designers don't want to mess around with silicon choices and implementation woes. They need their app' up and running. Today. And the closer a vendor can bring them to that end game, regardless of the specifics of the underlying silicon, the better off they'll be. Hence, RISC/CISC/DSP/FPGA etc.. don't matter.
To see Intel, the quintessential GPP purveyor, and the historical antithesis of Texas Instruments, so vocally knee deep in that philosophy says volumes about its veracity. Also, that they're looking for experience not only with Intel, but also TI, ADI and ARM architectures is particularly telling.
If you apply for the position, good luck! And if you get an interview, let me know. It's near my old stomping ground and I can fill you in on some 'interesting' sights and sounds in the vicinity. I'll be there in July/August by the way.
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