Analog Devices' Blackfin Brings 20:20 Vision to Portable X-Ray System
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Analog Devices, Inc.
1 Technology Way, P.O. Box 9106
Norwood, MA, 02062-9106
Press release date: March 20, 2006
Blackfin's flexibility, price and performance drive Innov-X portable x-ray system design; system used to examine hull of first Civil War submarine
Analog Devices, Norwood, MA -Analog Devices, Inc. (NYSE: ADI), a global leader in high-performance semiconductors for signal processing applications, announced that its ADSP-BF533 Blackfin® processor is providing core control and signal processing capabilities to the Innov-X portable x-ray system, a breakthrough instrument used to examine the recovered hull of the S.S. Hunley, the first combat submarine of the American Civil War.
The portable device, which houses an HP iPAQ for instrument calibrations, employs an X-ray method called X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to determine the composition of solid materials. Blackfin enables this method by processing "pulse" data gathered by the Innov-X system, measuring energy or wavelength emissions that can be matched to specific elements on the periodic table. In addition, Blackfin delivers Innov-X multiple, independent DMA controllers that support automated data transfers with minimal overhead for the processor core.
In sum, Innov-X, replaced a field programmable gate array (FPGA) with the Blackfin processor for its best-in-class programmability, integration and cost effectiveness. That integration, which Innov-X found eliminated the need for separate digital signal and control processors, greatly reduced bill of material (BOM) costs and simplified hardware and software design tasks.
"Other processors offered similar performance, but none came close to matching the flexibility of Blackfin to handle the array of complex processing tasks inherent in elemental analysis," said Alan Peevers, the Innov-X consultant who designed the portable X-ray unit. "Simply put, no other processor on the market provides the combination of signal processing and performance at such low cost."
In Blackfin, Innov-X found all the features it was looking for on a single chip: a high-speed parallel peripheral interface (PPI); direct memory access (DMA) controllers to transfer high-speed data to on-chip memory; general purpose I/O (GPIO) pins to communicate with its I²C bus (a control bus that provides the communications link between integrated circuits); a universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter (UART) port to interface with peripherals; and several timers, including a watchdog timer.
It was not only the hardware that separated Blackfin from the competition: its superior toolset helped Innov-X cut development time down to three weeks. Using VisualDSP+++, an integrated software development and debugging environment (IDDE), enabled the Innov-X design team to manage projects from beginning to end on one single interface. The design team combined the tool's edit/compile/download cycle functionality with the EZ-Kit Lite, an evaluation board that facilitates architecture evaluations via PC-hosted toolsets.
"The combination of signal and control processing capabilities offered by the Blackfin processor makes it ideal for demanding processing requirements, such as those needed by Innov-X," said John Croteau, General Manager, Convergent Platforms and Services Group, Analog Devices, Inc. "For portable applications, Blackfin cannot be beat - not only is it fully integrated and ideal for applications that are space constrained, but its enhanced Dynamic Power Management (DPM) capabilities enable device operation to 0.8V and extend battery life in portable applications. Once again, where there is design innovation, there is Blackfin."
A Convergent Future Demands Blackfin-Class Processing
Analog Devices' Blackfin embodies a new breed of 16/32-bit embedded processor with the industry's highest performance and power efficiency for applications where a convergence of capabilities - multi-format audio, video, voice and image processing; multi-mode baseband and packet processing; and real-time security and control processing - are critical. It is this powerful combination of software flexibility and scalability that has gained Blackfin widespread adoption in convergent applications such as digital home entertainment; networked and streaming media; automotive telematics and infotainment; and digital radio and mobile TV.
About Analog Devices
Innovation, performance, and excellence are the cultural pillars on which Analog Devices has built one of the longest standing, highest growth companies within the technology sector. Acknowledged industry-wide as the world leader in data conversion and signal conditioning technology, Analog Devices serves over 60,000 customers, representing virtually all types of electronic equipment. Celebrating 40 years as a leading global manufacturer of high-performance integrated circuits used in analog and digital signal processing applications, Analog Devices is headquartered in Norwood, Massachusetts, with design and manufacturing facilities throughout the world. Analog Devices' common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "ADI" and is included in the S&P 500 Index. www.analog.com
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