Intel Corp is making its long-awaited move into digital signal processing through a partnership with one of the established players in the market – Analog Devices Inc of Norwood, Massachusetts. The two signed a joint development agreement to design a DSP core architecture yesterday, aimed at video, image, voice and data processing applications in the embedded systems marketplace, and in general purpose communications and computing devices. In an agreement which closely mirrors last year’s partnership between Motorola Inc and Lucent Technologies Inc (CI No 3,423), Intel and ADI will combine design engineering teams into a new group, to be located primarily in Austin, Texas. They will work on the DSP core, programmers’ tools and algorithms needed to boost third party development and OEM adoption of DSPs in vertical and general purpose markets. Such third party adoption has been held up in the past because DSPs did not support high-level programming tools, making software development slow and costly. The joint group is to be formed immediately, and the first core design should be completed by the second half of 2000. Like Motorola and Lucent, the two will take the jointly developed core and separately market and sell products based on the design. Texas Instruments Inc is the dominant company in the programmable DSP market, with something like a 45% share, while Lucent is second with 28%. Motorola and ADI have around 12% each, according to figures from market research firm Forward Concepts Inc. ADI needed a strong partner following the Motorola/Lucent tie-up, and Intel, with no DSP products at all, was faced with an increasing encroachment by DSP vendors into its general purpose processor marketplace. DSPs typically use many of the techniques that Intel is utilizing in its 64-bit Merced processor project, particularly very long instruction worked techniques. At the Microprocessor Forum last year, ADI launched the third generation of its Sharc DSP architecture, TigerSharc (CI No 3,517) using CLIW instruction set scheduling. Forward Concepts characterized DSP sales as one of the few bright spots in a depressed marketplace in a report last year which predicted growth of 20% picking up to 32% this year, and $3.9bn in revenues during 1998 rising to $13.4bn by 2002, clearly too large a market for Intel to ignore.
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