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Ceva’s DSP development platform helps deploy smart, connected devices

Steve Rogerson
October 27, 2015
 
Digital signal processing (DSP) licensing company Ceva hasintroduced a silicon-based DSP development platform to accelerate the deployment of smart and connected devices. The platform incorporates processing, connectivity, sensing and application software, which are key building blocks for prototyping IoT devices, targeting a broad range of end markets including mobile, wearables and the smart home.
 
“We are going to see a lot of added intelligence to devices, and that is where DSP plays a big part,” Richard Kingston, Ceva’s vice president of marketing, told journalists in Munich last week. “When people talk about the IoT, it is pretty amazing to see all the end markets where these things end up.”
 
Ceva grew from separate companies in Ireland and Israel and has its headquarters in California. More than half of its revenue comes from China and the company is demonstrating the platform at technology symposiums this week in China and Taiwan.
 
The platform is built around a power-optimised DSP and subsystem implemented in silicon through a collaboration with SMIC. Running at 500MHz, the DSP provides designers with a way to add smart and connected capabilities to these devices, including always-on sensing, local processing, intelligence and connectivity. The platform also provides real-time power measurement that allows developers to optimise and power-tune their DSP software.
 
“Many of the devices that are connected will need some type of intelligence,” said Kingston. “We are adding connectivity and intelligence. We don’t do the CPU because we don’t want to compete with ARM so we provide the connectivity and intelligence that ARM doesn’t provide.”
 
The platform incorporates the 500MHz Ceva-TeakLite-4DSP development chip and subsystem of integrated peripherals. The host CPU has Linux running on board an ARM Cortex-A9 core to provide complete CPU and DSP system prototyping.
 
“DSP is the engine that is going to run this kind of connectivity,” said Kingston. “Our customers tell us they need help in developing these devices, and that was the main driver behind this platform. This really helps customers shorten time to market for these types of applications.”
 
Multiple wireless technologies are available from Ceva and its partners, including Bluetooth Smart and Smart Ready, Wifi, Zigbee and GNSS.
 
“We have a very robust Bluetooth platform,” he said. “We already have customers for Bluetooth 5.0 even though it won’t be ready till midway through next year.”
 
Peripherals and interfaces include on-board digital (MEMS) microphones, I2C I/F for sensors, audio codec with digital and analogue audio in-outs, USB, UART, PCIe, and Ethernet ports, user configurable FPGA, GPIOs, DDR memory, SD card, and LCD.
 
Connectors and drivers allow Arduino shields to be connected to the board, leveraging an ecosystem of Arduino-related products. Also available is the company’s AMF Android multimedia framework for offloading Android tasks from CPU to DSP to enhance always-on functionality and long audio playback time. Multi-tasking real-time operating system and a DSP library help jumpstart system design.
 
In addition, Ceva and its ecosystem of partners offer audio, voice and sensing software and applications that are fully optimised for the DSP, including Sensory’s always-on voice activation and speech recognition, NXP’s multi-microphone noise reduction software, Cypher’s neural-network based voice isolation technology, Cywee Motion sensor-fusion algorithms, and more than 100 other software functions.