Analog Devices Inc. plans to take its Sharc processor family-a key in allowing the company to become the fastest-growing DSP supplier-to new highs and lows.
The company this week will reveal details of its 32-bit Sharc road map, which targets performance of 10 billion floating-point operations per second (Gflops) at the high-end and providing a 600-Mflops device for $5 at the low end within the next three to four years.
Analog Devices will also introduce its latest Sharc offering, the ADSL-21161, which provides 600-Mflops performance and is priced at $35 in quantities of 1,000.
"We're targeting a 15X performance increase, as well as improving the price/ performance metric to enable Sharc to move rapidly into consumer applications," said Colin Duggan, product marketing manager at the, Norwood, Mass. , company. "Sharc, as an architecture, is focused on balance, not just providing a very high-performance core. ... It gives a huge time-to-market advantage for our customers, as we make their design challenge easier."
In the general-purpose DSP market, Analog Devices grew 42% in 1999, with Texas Instruments Inc. its closest growth-rate competitor at 28%, according to Forward Concepts Co., Tempe, Ariz. Despite its rapid progress, however, Analog Devices remained fourth in a four-horse race in the $4.4 billion market. The company garnered a 10% share, but trailed TI, Lucent Technologies, and Motorola.
"Analog Devices is doing very well," said Will Strauss, an analyst at Forward Concepts. "If they keep up that growth this year-and they just might-they will eat more into the market share."
The Sharc architecture is one of only two successful floating-point families currently in the market, Strauss said, and is probably more successful than the other: TI's TMS32C67x.
While floating-point DSPs represent about 10% of the market, their average selling price is four times that of fixed-point devices, and floating-point DSPs are finding increased use, Strauss said.
"They are opening up new markets by providing more on-chip memory and horsepower and by cutting the price for entry," he said. "Analog Devices is continuing to show new emphasis on the DSP market, and clearly showing they're in for the long haul and are going to be very aggressive."
The Sharc architecture is based on a 32-bit single-instruction multiple-data (SIMD)-style architecture that provides floating-point and fixed-point capabilities. The Sharc family has more than 50 code-compatible members, with the lowest-priced Sharc, the ADSP-21160L, selling for $10.
"Because of the low price and level of performance offered by the '160, we've made a name for ourselves in such markets as professional audio and high-end consumer audio," Duggan said. "We've worked hard to integrate the peripherals our customers need to enable them to not spend time designing external circuitry."
The ADSP-21161 has 1 Mbit of dual-ported SRAM, which lets the user customize the mix between the percentage of memory dedicated to instruction and the percentage dedicated to application-specific data, Duggan said.
The device has 14 direct-memory-access (DMA) channels to help ensure that data transfers don't impede clock-cycle performance. It has two 128-channel synchronous TDM and four I2S serial ports, a 32-bit parallel port that includes a 32-bit SDRAM controller, and a SPI interface.
Up to six Sharcs and a host processor can be clustered using on-chip multiprocessing interfaces requiring no external circuitry, Duggan said. The ADSP-21161 is manufactured on a 0.18-micron process. The device is expected to sample in the fourth quarter, with production slated for mid-2001.