Latest Blackfins Score High On Berkeley Benchmark Analysis

Analog Devices (ADI) has released the latest members of its Blackfin family of processors for converged digital-signal and control-processing applications. ADI claims its new Blackfin BF50x series devices can deliver more performance than similar priced processors with integrated analog-to-digital converters (ADC) and flash memory. Customers are currently sampling the product (Fig. 1).

BF50x series processors will enable designers to achieve gains in signal conversion and computational precision, and apply advanced power-control techniques in industrial applications, says ADI. To accompany the BF50x series, ADI has also introduced a low-cost EZ-KIT Lite evaluation platform for the Blackfin processors (Fig 2).

These new processors can deliver up to 400MHz of performance at a price point where 150-200MHz clock speeds have been the typical performance point. This will extend high-performance digital-signal-processing capabilities to a wider range of applications including those that were previously the domain of high-end microcontrollers.

It’s a given that additional performance is useful to designers because of the increased functionality that can be achieved via the use of increasingly complex algorithms. Consequently, the performance headroom provided by Blackfin BF50x series processors should enable modern control theory and mathematics to be used in advanced system modeling. This, says ADI, should result in optimal power and control efficiency for real-time systems.

Additionally, a further design advantage is that engineers will be able to use more advanced software tools and libraries for code generation, which in turn will provide faster development and reduced time to market.

BF50x processors combine industry-standard interfaces with a high-performance signal-processing core. Customers have an optional choice of integrated dual SAR 12-bit ADI ADCs. The Blackfin BF50x also introduces a new peripheral to the Blackfin portfolio—the ADC Control Module (ACM)—which provides a low overhead and, of particular importance, a precise means to synchronize ADC sampling with external events.

All of this sounds good, but what about an independent view of the new series?

Berkeley Design Technology’s benchmark analysis of the Blackfin BF504 confirmed its placement ahead of all other competing, BTDI-benchmarked, digital signal processors in terms of speed-per-dollar ratio for fixed-point processors, with a BDTIsimMark2000/$ score of 498.

Okay, what’s it going to cost? The BF50x family includes the BF504 starting at $4.50, the BF504F with integrated flash memory starting at $6.50, and the BF506F with integrated flash memory and ADC starting at $10.60. All prices are based on 10,000-unit quantities. EZ-KIT Lite evaluation kits for Blackfin BF50x processors are available from ADI’s authorized distributors and are priced at $199.

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