To establish its architecture in the growing field of licensable DSP, Improv Systems Inc. today will introduce the second-generation version of its Jazz core. The new core, executives said, will allow Improv to substantially broaden the application space it can address.
For example, the Jazz 2 configurable DSP architecture and associated tools will enable Improv to position itself for entry into the highly competitive 3G cellular handset market, as well as in telecom infrastructure and broadband equipment.
"Our Jazz 1 was really a very-high-performance technology, addressing only the top 5% to 10% of the DSP market," said Steven Brightfield, vice president of marketing at Improv in Beverly, Mass. "But with the new core, we can address 80% to 90%. We believe we can provide a credible product for the 3G space. You can't ignore 3G because it's such a significant portion of the DSP market at this point."
While the Jazz 1 is a 32-bit technology requiring 100,000 or more gates for a complete solution, the Jazz 2 offers 16- as well as 32-bit capabilities. It is being offered initially in four varieties, ranging from a single multiply-accumulate (MAC) engine that can be implemented in 50,000 gates, to a quad-MAC version.
Improv has also created development environments for the Jazz 2 that will allow the DSP to be configured along-side either an ARM- or MIPS-based general-purpose control processor to more easily address embedded systems applications that increasingly rely on dual-processor designs.
Improv has used enhanced code compression, instruction slot assignment, and instruction packing to improve the architecture's code-density features, and has added halt, sleep, and idle-power capabilities. The company plans to add dynamic power management techniques in subsequent releases, Brightfield said.
"With this new version, we're expanding the applicability of the configurable DSP approach to a wider range of design needs without compromising the performance of the core or the efficiency of the methodology," said Cary Ussery, president and chief executive of Improv. "In fact, the enhancements we've made to our tool suite benefit our entire Jazz family and make our solution easier to use."
The new core comes in several versions: a single-MAC 2010 targeted at cellular handsets and disk drives; the dual-Mac 2020 for soft DSL, voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), video, and audio applications; and the quad-MAC 2040 designed for multichannel and multiport equipment. Also offered is the 4240, which contains four Jazz DSP cores, each with four MACs, for media processing and central-office VoIP end equipment.
Improv has about a half-dozen licensees, including Philips Semiconductors and STMicroelectronics. The company expects to announce two additional licensees this month, one a large semiconductor maker and the other a systems company, Brightfield said.
Improv is one of a growing number of companies striving to license their DSP cores; others include BOPS, DSP Group, LSI Logic, and 3DSP.
"We think there will be only a few select companies that are going to be a long-term success in licensing their cores," Brightfield said.
The Jazz 2 and associated tool suite are available. Current customers will receive upgraded releases as part of their original agreements. Design seats for the Jazz 2 standard tool suite begin at $5,000.