TI DSP Predictions

Jeff BrowerSeptember 19, 20075 comments

I think it might be interesting to blog a couple of "Texas Instruments DSP predictions". The following are just my opinion, they do not result in any way from inside / confidential information to which I'm privy in working closely with TI for many years. Of course I could be dead wrong, but at least I can say, "if they should occur, it would have a huge impact on the TI DSP developer community".

1) TI will offer real-time Linux running on their DSPs.

With Linux legal issues now apparently resolved (http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070815-novell-we-have-no-plans-to-sue-anyone-over-unix.html, http://www.geek.com/linux-world-breathes-sigh-of-relief-wont-be-sued/) I predict TI will soon announce a home-grown real-time Linux for their C6x DSPs, maybe Linux running as a DSP/BIOS thread or something along those lines. My feeling is that TI has been wary for many years now to touch Linux as long as the likes of IBM, Novell, Daimler-Chrysler, etc. were being sued by SCO-Caldera. TI is an extremely conservative company from a potential litigation standpoint. They have only gone so far as to offer Linux on ARM cores inside their OMAP and DaVinci devices, but not on their actual bread-and-butter DSP cores -- leaving that to after-market, third-party offerings. With the legal obstacle removed, TI can potentially introduce a powerful weapon in their perpetual battle with Intel x86 for the embedded systems "high performance, low power consumption" market space, by offering Linux with full commitment and tech support backing.

2) TI will acquire an FPGA company.

Let me tell you a story I heard on the street in Dallas a few years back. When Tom Engibous took over as TI CEO in 1996, he made a series of major changes and did a number of things to "take stock". As you may know, under Tom's guidance TI soon sold business segments not having to do with DSP (defense electronics, memory chips, etc). To further focus the DSP business, one thing that Tom did (or so goes the Dallas urban myth!) is call his product execs into his office to gather around one of their latest EVM boards sitting on the table, containing the hot new C6201 device. He started asking "why is this Crystal Semiconductor part on our board? Why is this AMCC chip on here? That thing is bigger than our DSP. And what about these voltage regulator modules -- there's TWO of them! Who the hell makes those?" The audio product big cahuna answers "well sir, we don't make an A/D converter that has more than 8 kHz bandwidth!". Another one says "but sir, we don't make *any* voltage regulators or PCI interface chips!". And Tom looks his lieutenants in the eye and declares, "well Gentlemen, we do now.". Not long after, TI acquired Burr-Brown, PowerTrends, Telogy, introduced the PCI2040 PCI-to-HPI bridge chip, etc. Clearly Tom's strategy was to 'own' the board real-estate around the DSP chip. I think that philosophy continues to flourish inside TI, which makes FPGAs a logical next target. By the same reasoning, network switch devices also might be on TI's acquisition shopping list.


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Comment by Seth BOctober 2, 2007
Well, it looks like TI is taking a somewhat more active role in Linux. Below is a one sentence summary of an ARM announcement that crossed the wire today. "ARM is announcing a collaboration with industry leaders for the development of a Linux-based open source platform for next generation mobile applications. Joining ARM in this collaboration are Marvell, MontaVista, Movial, Mozilla, Samsung and Texas Instruments."
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Comment by Andrew ElderOctober 3, 2007
I for one would like TI to get on board with Linux running on their DSPs. I would hope they would buy one of the Third Party companies that offer it so they get a running start at the process. Of course one of the difficulties will be that users will most likely still need to use a TI compiler back end to produce a binary image for a TI DSP. I can't imagine TI implementing a C6000 optimizing compiler for GCC.
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Comment by virtuallogixOctober 17, 2007
Jeff and Andrew - you are both spot on. Inside TI's development kits for the DM643x and C642x, you will find free Linux BSP software for use on those boards. However, as in their support for all other TI processors, TI is not providing the Linux directly. Instead, they rely on a third party to provide that software and support to DSP users. That Linux solution does, as Andrew guessed, rely on TI's optimized CGTools compiler. It uses a combination of GCC, wrapper, and TI's compiler to make the fact that a non-GCC compiler is doing the heavy lifting all but transparent to the developer. -Dave
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Comment by qf6877January 10, 2010
Great, your pridictions almost have been got
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Comment by fenglifrancisFebruary 10, 2011

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