Case Study: Choose Your Desert Island Companion Wisely

Submitted by BDTI on Tue, 06/29/2010 - 15:00

Remember that childhood game where you try to decide which famous person—or which book, or whatever—you’d like to have with you, if you were to be stranded on a desert island?

Well, choosing a processor is kind of like that.  Except, with a processor, it’s not a game.  Once you’ve chosen a processor, and designed your hardware and software around that processor, it becomes very expensive—and very time-consuming—to switch to another processor.  So, you’re likely to be stuck with whatever choice you’ve made for a good long time: five years, easily; maybe more.
So, when choosing a processor, you want to choose very carefully.  You want to consider not only technical factors, like performance, I/O interfaces, and tools, but also “soft” factors, such as whether the vendor has a viable roadmap for enhancing the processor in the future, and whether the vendor is fully committed to doing so.
These days, selecting a processor is harder than ever.  Systems have become much more complex, and so have processors.  This makes it more difficult to assess whether a candidate processor meets the needs of the system.  In addition, there is a more diverse array of processor options these days, often including DSPs, MCUs, CPUs, FPGAs, and GPUs.
If you had six months to identify and evaluate options, life would be good.  But you don’t.  You may not even have six weeks.  Given the vast number of options, and the difficulty in thoroughly evaluating them, how can you quickly find the best match?
You can engage BDTI to help you.  BDTI focuses on processors and associated technology full-time, and has for nearly 20 years.  We have benchmarked and evaluated countless processors.  And we’ve built numerous real-world applications on dozens of processors and FPGAs for our clients.
Recently an audio equipment company engaged BDTI to help it select a processor for a demanding professional audio application.  The company needed a processor that would meet its tough performance requirements, but also one that would enable quick product development.  And it wanted to have confidence that the vendor would continue to improve and support the processor for many years to come.
With its comprehensive knowledge of processor options and industry trends, BDTI was able to quickly narrow the field to a handful of candidate processors.  And because BDTI is often briefed by processor suppliers on future products, BDTI was aware of an unannounced forthcoming chip that looked like a great match.  BDTI contacted the processor supplier to ask permission to discuss the unannounced processor with the audio equipment company; the chip company agreed.  BDTI then performed a careful analysis to ensure that the chip would meet the application requirements.  A major aspect of this was evaluating whether the chip would meet performance requirements of the application, including taking into account the need to use external DRAM for large buffers.
In just a few weeks, BDTI was able to make a confident processor recommendation to the audio equipment company, supported by detailed analysis.  The delivered analysis included a spreadsheet showing how the computation and memory access operations of the application would perform on the processor.  The spreadsheet was parameter-based, enabling the user to see how modifying characteristics of the application (such as sample rates) would impact the processor load.  Within days, the company adopted BDTI’s recommendation.  It was then able to immediately start design of its new product, enabling it to meet an aggressive product launch target date.
Find out how BDTI can help you choose the right processor, quickly.  Contact Jeremy Giddings at +1 (925) 954 1411 or

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