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Digital Signal Processors in Embedded Systems

A Digital Signal Processor (DSP) is a specialised microprocessor with its architecture optimised the function of digital signal processing. Digital signal processing algorithms typically require a large number of mathematical operations to be performed quickly and repeatedly on a series of data samples, and because of this special memory architectures are used that support multiple data/instructions to be performed at the same time. Many different types of DSP are available, all optimised for a particular application (such as filtering, or data compression). As with microcontrollers the software to control the DSP is written in a high level computer language such as C or C++.

Generally, DSPs are dedicated integrated circuits, however DSP functionality can also be produced by using Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) devices.

The ADSP-BF531 shown on the right hand side is one of the Blackfin Processor family. Manufactured by Analog Devices, it offers an optimal balance between performance (up to 400MHz), peripheral integration, and price.