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Hardware Directory: GPP/DSP Chip Offers Higher Performance Using Less Power

Texas Instruments (TI) has been very successful with its OMAP dual-processor chip in the cellular telephone market. Its latest OMAP incarnation, the OMAP5910, targets other multimedia devices, such as PDAs, set-top boxes, and other embedded devices.

The OMAP5910 combines an ARM925 ( with a TI TMS320C55x DSP core. It tightly wraps this with better interprocessor communications plus shared and private peripherals to minimize the support chips most applications require. The interprocessor communication system employs SDRAM or shared SRAM memory and four dedicated hardware mailboxes to synchronize data exchanges. Software integration varies depending on the operating-system tools for the ARM core. But the DSP support uses TI's Code Composer Studio, which incorporates the eXpressDSP development tools.

Having a consistent system architecture, interprocessor communication, and a good set of software development tools should greatly increase developer productivity. Kernel software for each processor streamlines multiprocessing. The processors can reduce power consumption by powering down peripherals. The processor clocks are synchronized so that the pair must be slowed down together.

The Innovator Development Kit provides an excellent development platform. Three modular boards can be plugged together into one handheld unit. One board contains the OMAP5910 plus an LCD screen.

See associated figure.

Processor speed 150 MHz for both cores
DSP peripherals 24-kbyte cache, 160-kbyte SRAM, 32-kbyte ROM
ARM peripherals 24-kbyte cache, data and instruction MMU
Shared peripherals 192-kbyte SRAM, 9-channel DMA, 18 GPIO, LCD controller, real-time clock, 8 timers, USB 1.1 host/client, keyboard, 3 UARTs, external flash and SDRAM interface
RTOS support Linux, Nucleus, Wind River VxWorks, Windows CE.Net
DSP software support TI DSP/BIOS kernel
Price $32 (10,000-unit quantities)
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