The very idea of set-top box boxes is to avoid the need for the performance and price of a genuine hardcore computer processor. TV apps just don't need the horsepower, and the chip gurus are now working hard to come up with application-specific silicon to make the gadgets work. Analog Devices and Intel just announced the Blackfin family of 16-bit digital signal processors (DSPs) for video-enabled Internet applications that include video telephones, gaming devices, web terminals, NetTVs, and smart handheld devices. ADI also let us know that it is turning loose a companion power management chip that it says can vary the core voltage of the DSP and reduce power consumption in Blackfin DSP-based designs by more than 60 percent. The ADSP-21535 Blackfin DSP operates at 300MHz, delivering up to 600 million multiply accumulate instructions per second (MMACs) with a power consumption as low as 42 milliwatts at 0.9 volts. With video arithmetic logic units processing up to four 8-bit math operations in a clock cycle, software can efficiently support video compression, motion estimation and Huffman coding algorithms that are used by video and image processing standards like MPEG2, MPEG4 and JPEG. The 200 MHz ADSP-21535PKCA-200 has an MSRP of $27 in quantities of 10,000 units. The 300 MHz ADSP-21535PKCA-300 is priced at $34 per unit in quantities of 10,000 units.
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