Analog engineers are in short supply. Yet IC makers prudent enough to have substantially invested in analog EEs, particularly those who can straddle the digital and analog domains, are using their talents to win business with consumer-products OEMs and to lock out competitors.
More and more, these efforts are making themselves evident in chips that require a minimum of experience in analog layout and interfacing coupled with accompanying reference designs that more or less guarantee first-pass success. Along these lines, Texas Instruments has introduced an audio processor and a beta version of a reference design for portable audio applications.
The dual-core (ARM and DSP) TMS320DA295 digital audio processor integrates a headphone amplifier and stereo digital-to-analog converter (DAC) along with a host of interfaces (see the figure). TI's DA295 reference design supports the TMS320DA295 with an emphasis on audio-playback battery life. It has the potential for up to 24 hours of continuous play on a single charge of the built-in lithium-ion battery or more than two days of audio playback from a single AA battery in a flash-based audio player.
The reference design provides optimized implementations of all widely used audio codecs (both decode and encode), line-in encoding, and the latest Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies. For data interconnect, it uses USB 2.0 high-speed On-The-Go (OTG) so the portable audio player can upload to and download from another device, such as a digital camera, without a host controller.
Additionally, the reference design includes a dedicated hard-disk-drive (HDD) controller for the embedded HDD, color LCD and NTSC interfaces, FM tuner, headphone amplifier, stereo DAC, rechargeable battery-based subsystem, and support for flash-based storage. A companion development environment with a simulator and emulation system permits PC-based application-software-based development.
Later this year, TI will add 2D gaming, personal information management capabilities, and other digital audio enhancements to the standard reference design code build. The reference design's full release will incorporate features such as deejay effects, Time Scale Modification, instant-on boot time, rich user interfaces, gaming, and MPEG-4 video playback.
In 100,000-unit quantities, the IC costs $11.95. Pricing for the DA295 reference design starts at $20,000.