No longer wallflowers, digital signal controllers (DSCs) are getting much more play these days. This class, which tends to be 16-bit, integer digitial signal processors, initially targeted applications like motor control, soft modems, and power conversion. DSCs can even handle many audio and video applications.
Many newer designs incorporate general-purpose processor features. Therefore, a single chip can handle signal-processing applications as well as conventional embedded applications, such as network communications. One example is Microchip's dsPIC line (see ?One 16-Bit Architecture To Bind Them All,? Oct. 13, 2005, p. 56, ED Online 11142) .
It's not surprising that DSCs are being used in applications that don't necessarily exploit the signal-processing features, given the chip's performance and general-purpose features. Likewise, these same architectures are now showing up as general-pupose processors that may lack features such as hardware multiply or multiply-accumulate instructions. These processors are typically less expensive and use less power, but they provide an upgrade path to a full DSC. They're going to give existing 16-bit architectures a run for their money.