In many respects, we are still employing dumb technology, such as using passive infrared (PIR) sensors to determine when someone has entered a room. If the people in a room stop moving for a while, the lights go out, causing the occupants to wave their arms around frantically to turn the lights on again.
We are entering an age of sensors. Even simplistic next-generation devices will boast one or more of them. Well-known sensors like accelerometers, magnetometers, and gyroscopes are being augmented with proximity sensors, gesture-detection sensors, and a host of environmental sensors for things like ambient light, temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure.
Accompanying this trend to deploy sensors is a corresponding trend to move intelligence out to the edge of the network. As opposed to gathering and processing all the sensor information at a central location, applications are demanding higher accuracy and more local intelligence.
Consider the case where a small CMOS imaging sensor is used to replace a PIR sensor. The imaging sensor may need to be augmented with its own local digital signal processor (DSP) that can look at the scene, determine what's in the background and what's in the foreground, perform tasks like edge detection, and make an accurate evaluation as to whether there are people in the room (turn the lights on) and how many people are in the room (vary the heating or air conditioning in anticipation of a temperature change).
To address this, Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) has introduced an ADSP-BF70x family of high-performance Blackfin DSPs. The devices come with up to 1 MB of internal SRAM, which eliminates the need for external memory in many cases. (An optional DDR memory interface is available on some devices.) The ADSP-BF70x family offers up to 800 MMACS of processing power at less than 100 mW, which ADI claims to be "Double the performance or half the power of competing devices."
ADI also says on its website: "The combination of performance, power efficiency, integration and value allows designers to incorporate 16- and 32-bit processing in a range of new embedded vision use cases, including industrial imaging and building controls as well as portable and automotive audio."
Click here to download ADSP-BF70x data sheets, reference designs, and other technical documents.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting