Texas Instruments, Inc. (TI) this week announced four new “DaVinci”-branded processors: the TMS320DM6437, TMS320DM6435, TMS320DM6433 and TMS320DM6431. Priced at $10-23, the media processors target video applications in the car and the home. (All prices in this article are for 10,000 unit quantities.)
The new devices are architecturally similar to the first DaVinci chips, the ‘DM6446 and ‘DM6443. These chips and the new ‘DM643x devices both feature a ‘C64x+ core and varying assortments of specialized coprocessors for video tasks such as resizing, histogram generation, and on-screen display. The main difference in the ‘DM643x devices is the absence of the ARM9E CPU core featured in the earlier DaVinci chips. The newer devices also feature a smaller set of peripherals.
Among the four devices, the relatively high-end ‘DM6437, ‘DM6435 and ‘DM6433 feature a 600 MHz ‘C64x+ core, 80 KB of L1 data cache/SRAM, 32 KB of L1 program cache/SRAM,and 128 KB of L2 cache/SRAM. These processors target IP-based videophones, surveillance equipment, and automotive safety applications. Relative to the other family members, the ‘DM6431 provides lower performance and carries a lower price tag. It features a 300 MHz core, 32 KB L1 data cache/SRAM, 32 KB L1 program cache/SRAM, and 64 KB L2 cache/SRAM,and is mainly intended for low-end video applications. Most of the new devices feature a CAN bus interface for automotive applications.
Devices in TI’s earlier TMS320DM64x family of media processors (‘DM640, ‘DM641, ‘DM642 and ‘DM643) targeting consumer multimedia are priced at $19-53. TI’s more recently introduced ‘DM6446 and ‘DM6443 DaVinci chips target home entertainment and surveillance video applications, and are priced at $30-35. The newly announced devices promise price points more suitable for high-volume consumer applications.
The absence of the ARM core in these new devices means that users will face a different programming model compared to the earlier DaVinci chips. With the ‘DM644x devices, TI has emphasized that most users will focus their software development on the ARM core, accessing DSP and coprocessor capabilities through API calls that invoke TI-provided software. With the newer chips, all software development will target the DSP core.
Chip vendors have recently shown intense interest in video applications, and have fielded many different types of chips for these applications. Media processors and systems-on-chip like the newly announced DaVinci processors typically include a powerful DSP core combined with coprocessors and other specialized features. In this way they are a middle ground between fixed-function hardware, which achieves excellent cost and energy efficiency at the expense of flexibility, and less specialized processors, which excel at flexibility but are less energy- and cost-efficient.
Analog Devices (ADI) takes a more general-purpose approach with its Blackfin family of processors. Four new Blackfin devices announced this week target similar applications and are offered at a comparable price range ($12-19) to the new DaVinci devices. The devices feature a 400-600 MHz Blackfin DSP/CPU processor core and include a “Pixel Compositor” coprocessor to aid with color conversion, alpha blending, and overlays. BDTI estimates that the higher performance of the ‘C64x+ core and the more extensive coprocessor capabilities found in the new TI chips will give the ‘DM643x devices a significant performance edge for typical video applications. Likewise, the ‘DM643x devices will perform better than the ‘C64x-core-based ‘DM64x devices, which do not include coprocessors. Benchmark results for Blackfin-, ‘C64x- and ‘C64x+-based chips are available at http://www.BDTI.com/bdtimark/BDTImark2000.htm.
The new TI devices are sampling now, with full production expected in the second quarter of 2007. TI also expects to release a video application development platform including software and tools in the second quarter of 2007.