Saturday 29 March 2014

How Fast Are Our Digital Signal Processors ?

Since I started using DSPs in 1985 I been interested in how the clock speeds have been increasing. The very first DSPs appeared in the mid 1970s but I tracked the figures back to slightly pre-DSP days. This graph shows the Fixed-point DSP Mutiply Accumulate (MAC) Times (ns).

General Purpose Fixed-point DSP MAC Times (ns)
It is interesting to notice two particular elements of the graph :
    1/ The reduction in cycle times around the turn of the century as we moved to modern VLIW/SIMD architectures.
    2/ The squeeze on cycle times that has happened since the mid 2000s, in fact, if we were to put in 2014s figure it would be little different to the 0.8 of 2011.

Going forward it will be interesting to see if what technology, if anything, will come along that will allow future clock speed upgrades so that the DSP manufacturers don't just have to rely on parallel processing to provide increased performance.

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