Analog Devices releases SHARC development tool

By John McHale

NORWOOD, Mass.-Experts at Analog Devices Inc. in Norwood, Mass., recently developed software support for their SHARC signal processor (DSP) that they intend not only to speed development time, but also to enable DSP systems designers to work with software tools from several different vendors.

The software tool, called VisualDSP, is a response to demands from DSP integrators for robust software support for the SHARC. Users of this DSP, until now, have considered SHARC to be a superior floating-point DSP, but with weak software tools relative to Analog Devices`s primary competitor in the DSP market, Texas Instruments of Houston.

"We are thrilled these tools are available," says Jeff Milrod, president of Ixthos, in Leesburg, Va., a supplier of SHARC-based single-board DSPs. "It [VisualDSP] has the type of integrated development environment features that developers expect, such as the capability to go from code development to applications debugging at the click of a button."

VisualDSP works with third-party tools, with Analog Devices tools, and with the designer`s own custom tools through its common application programming interfaces (API), says Greg Yukna, engineering manger at Analog Devices. The APIs work with Analog Devices`s simulator, lab board, or in-circuit emulator.

An integrated development environment and debugger, make up VisualDSP, enabling designers to define a DSP system, edit source files, debug a project, and complete it within a easy-to-use graphical framework, Analog Devices officials claim.

Two-thirds of the money spent in the DSP industry is for software, says Tom Smith, strategic marketing manager at the military products group of the Texas Instruments Semiconductor Division in Midland, Texas. Analog Devices executives are following an industry trend to create a single development environment to support all third-party tools, he says.

Smith notes that Texas Instruments still leads in the software area, but acknowledges that Analog Devices has come a long way. VisualDSP is similar to what Texas Instruments software engineers are doing with the GO DSP Code Composer, Smith says. Texas Instruments purchased GO DSP last year.

Three years ago Texas Instruments purchased DSP software specialist Tartan Inc. of Monroeville, Pa., as that software company was near completion of a SHARC DSP development tool for Analog Devices. As a result, Analog Devices officials had to start over again and the result of their efforts is VisualDSP.

VisualDSP`s open architecture is its main advantage over what Analog Devices engineers were crafting with Tartan before Texas instruments bought and assimilated Tartan, Yukna says.

VisualDSP can do more things than the product Analog Devices was working on with Tartan, says Graeme Harfman, market manager at Spectrum Signal Processing in Burnaby, British Columbia. Spectrum experts are integrating VisualDSP into all their SHARC products, he says.

VisualDSP`s open architecture also enables systems designers to add an API just by choosing a new Dynamic Link Library, Yukna says.

VisualDSP provides "the integration framework that complements our Diamond multiprocessor-RTOS," says Peter Robertson, managing director at 3L Limited in Edinburgh, Scotland. Combining VisualDSP`s flexibility with 3L`s Diamond should simplify system development and reduce time to market, he says.

Its open architecture also enables VisualDSP to work with older products and new versions of the SHARC 2106x family, Yukna says.

"The open and expandable Analog Devices VisualDSP framework is a real project time saver for DSP developers. SHARC programmers feel completely at home with the familiar user interface of the VisualDSP tools," says Leo Mirkin, director of engineering at Alacron in Nashua, N.H.

Analog Devices officials claim Visual-DSP will enable engineers to work with their tools-of-choice and manage projects from start to finish within a single integrated interface, thereby reducing development time.

Instead of taking a long time to build DSP algorithms, designers can manage projects, edit source files, and write executable code within a day of starting, Analog Devices officials claim.

VisualDSP uses seven steps to develop DSP software in DSPs: creating a project file; setting target DSP project options; adding and editing project source files; setting custom build project options; building a debug version of the project; debugging the project; and building a release version of the project.

Analog Devices is marketing VisualDSP towards DSP products for radar/sonar, telecommunications, speech processing, high-performance audio, control systems, image processing, and medical instrumentation applications.

VisualDSP will work with Analog Devices`s SHARC architecture, including multiprocessing, shared memory, and memory overlays. Analog Devices`s SHARC software development tools support the ADSP-2106x family and include C Compiler, C runtime library, DSP and math libraries, assembler, linker, loader, simulator, and splitter. VisualDSP runs on Windows 95 and Windows NT. Support for Analog Devices`s 16-bit DSPs is planned for later this year.

Fifteen companies announced plans to integrate their products with Analog Devices`s VisualDSP development tools. Among them were 3L Limited; Alacron; BittWare, in Concord, N.H.; Eonic Systems, Inc., in Herndon, Va.; Hyperception, in Dallas; Ixthos; Blue Wave Systems in Carrollton, Texas; Mango Computers, in Israel; SKY Computers in Chelmsford, Mass.; Spectrum Signal Processing; and White Mountain DSP in Nashua, N.H.

For more information on VisualDSP contact Analog Devices by phone at 800-262-5643, by fax at 800-446-6212, by mail at Analog Devices, Inc., Three Technology Way, Norwood, Mass. 02062, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.

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