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Copyright Ó 2001 Microcontroller.com. All Rights Reserved.
March 2001
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programming models is called a Microcontroller Signal Processor, or MSP. The design
target of these processors is to build a core that has the following characteristics:
ü
Register-based programming model of a microcontroller,
ü
Multiple MAC operations in a cycle, with extensibility for more MACs,
ü
Multi-level interrupt priorities for programmable management of critical tasks,
ü
Instructions and architectural enhancements to improve C compiler efficiency
These are cores built to serve both serious DSP and microcontroller functions in a
single instruction stream. Both streams are closely related. (This does not include
processors with instruction set enhancements such as Intel's Pentium with MMX
instructions or Motorola's PowerPC with AltiVec extensions.)
Dual-core implementations of a microcontroller & a separate DSP on the same die is a
less than optimal development solution. Dual-core architectures can suffer from the
vagaries of inter-processor communications and pipeline interlocks. As to development
tools, it is difficult using conventional debugging techniques to simulate such an
architecture, to say nothing of the cost of a special in-circuit emulator.
The simplicity of merging the microcontroller and DSP architectures into a single
instruction stream seemed the natural step. By implementing parallel execution units,
high clock speeds, and glueless interfaces for common memories, deterministic real-
time signal processing performance for DSP can exist simultaneously with the multilevel
interrupt hierarchy and rapid context switching required for the controller needs of the
system. MSPs also have wide data paths, on-chip cache, and 100MHz+ clock speeds.
Development tools for MSPs are more complex than for microcontrollers, but the
instruction sets and architectures lend themselves to easier implementations of C
compilers compared to a DSP.
Precision
Product
Processor Configuration
Data
Instruction
Development
Tools
Target Applications
Infineon
TriCore
Single core MCU/DSP
w/configurable memory &
I/O
8/16/32
16/32
Excellent
ü
Disk Drives
ü
Powertrain
ü
Digital Camera
Hitachi
SH-DSP
Single core MCU/DSP with
configurable memory & I/O
16/32
16/32
Very Good
ü
Communications
ST-
Microelectronics
ST100
Single Core MCU/DSP
8/16/32
/40
16/32
Excellent
ü
Disk Drives
ü
Powertrain
ü
Telecom
ü
Multimedia
TI
320C27x
Single core MCU/DSP
16
16
Very Good
ü
Disk Drives
Motorola
DSP56800
Single core MCU/DSP
16
16
Good
ü
Feature Phone
ü
Two-Way Pagers
ü
Motor Control
Table 4 - Microcontroller Signal Processors (MSP)
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