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Introduction to DSP - DSP processors: characteristics

Although there are many DSP processors, they are mostly designed with the same few basic operations in mind: so they share the same set of basic characteristics. These characteristics fall into three categories:

Typical DSP operations require a few specific operations:

DSP operations

The diagram shows an FIR filter. This illustrates the basic DSP operations:

  • additions and multiplications
  • delays
  • array handling

Each of these operations has its own special set of requirements:


additions and multiplications require us to:

  • fetch two operands
  • perform the addition or multiplication (usually both)
  • store the result or hold it for a repetition

delaysdelays require us to:

  • hold a value for later use

array handlingarray handling requires us to:

  • fetch values from consecutive memory locations
  • copy data from memory to memory

To suit these fundamental operations DSP processors often have:

  • parallel multiply and add
  • multiple memory accesses (to fetch two operands and store the result)
  • lots of registers to hold data temporarily
  • efficient address generation for array handling
  • special features such as delays or circular addressing

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