Increased use of multichannel audio content and higher sampling rates in audio applications adds to the complexity of many of today’s consumer-targeted SoCs. On top of that, new audio specifications require more signal processing and bandwidth to deliver high-quality sound reproduction across a wider range of audio formats. Dedicated audio subsystems offload audio processing from the host processor, reducing design complexity and improving SoC performance and efficiency.
On that front, Synopsys claims it has developed the industry’s first complete audio IP subsystem. Called DesignWare SoundWave Audio Subsystem, it’s an integrated hardware and software audio IP subsystem for system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs.
According to the company, the SoundWave Audio Subsystem is fully configurable and supports 2.0 to 7.1 audio streams with 24-bit precision. Thus, it meets the requirements of a range of audio applications, from digital TVs, set-top boxes, and Blu-ray discs to portable audio devices and tablets.
Components within the SoundWave Audio Subsystem include DesignWare ARC 32-bit audio processors, standard digital interfaces, analogue codecs, a library of software audio codecs supporting the latest formats from Dolby, DTS and SRS, and a complete software environment (including an integrated media streaming framework).
The SoundWave Audio Subsystem also incorporates both virtual and FPGA-based prototypes to help engineering teams accelerate system software development and validation. By integrating multiple IP blocks together with software as a pre-verified audio subsystem, it delivers an SoC-ready audio solution that can shrink SoC design and integration time.
The SoundWave Audio Subsystem features the choice of an ARC single- or dual-core, power-efficient, 32-bit audio processor optimised for processing multiple high-definition, multichannel audio streams in parallel. The subsystem includes digital I2S and S/PDIF interfaces for off-chip audio connections, as well as high-bandwidth on-chip connections to interfaces such as HDMI. ARM AMBA 3 AXI/AHB protocol system interfaces ease integration into the SoC infrastructure.
Analogue audio codecs provide high-quality audio connections for line inputs and outputs, microphones, loudspeakers, and headphones. Thanks to an easy-to-use configuration tool, designers are able to quickly select options such as number of channels and number of audio interfaces. As a result, a complete audio subsystem can be configured in hours instead of weeks if done manually. Synopsys also offers SoC integration services to help customers integrate the subsystem into their chip or customise it to meet unique application requirements.
A complete, ready-to-use software environment includes audio codecs that support the latest multichannel audio formats from Dolby Laboratories (e.g., Dolby Digital Plus and TrueHD), DTS (e.g., DTS HD Master Audio), SRS Labs (e.g., TruSurround HD4 and TruVolume), and Microsoft (e.g., WMA 10 Pro), as well as popular open-source formats like Ogg Vorbis and FLAC.
The SoundWave Audio Subsystem’s integrated media-streaming framework embeds decoders, encoders, and audio post-processing functions like volume control, equalization, and surround balance. The framework allows for easy instantiation of software codecs and post-processing software into the subsystem. Audio plug-ins based on standard GStreamer multimedia software enable developers to quickly integrate audio subsystem software into host application software.
Virtual and Hardware Prototypes
Developers of software-rich electronic devices, particularly those for the mobile and consumer markets, must address the escalating amount of software content in their designs as well as the challenge of software development and its integration into hardware.
To ease those challenges, a Synopsys Virtualizer-based virtual prototype of the SoundWave Audio Subsystem enables early integration of the audio software stack with the application software—months before silicon becomes available. Utilising the audio subsystem’s HAPS FPGA-based prototyping solution, software development is immediate, and ultimately provides a scalable platform for system integration and validation.