Musiland’s Upcoming Audio Processor Chip
Here is an English version of Musiland’s recent press regarding the development of a new processor for Audio:
A famous philosopher once said: “Today’s stillness is for tomorrow’s outburst”.
5 years ago, the release of Musiland’s first FPGA-based product, the LILO V ENJOY USB sound card, marked the beginning of Musiland Audio Labs involvement and mastering of chip-level programming technology.
For the last 5 years, Musiland Audio Labs has continue to invest in chip-level programmable solutions by gradually introducing FPGA-based solutions to its entire product line and by the using larger size FPGAs to implement increasingly more complex capabilities.
Four years ago, Musiland Audio Labs recognized that the advances in embedded 32 bit microprocessors, led by companies such as ARM and MIPs, far surpassed the advancements in desktop processors. At that time, Musiland made the decision to use FPGAs (as a bridge) to develop its own general purpose 32-bit processor.
Three years ago, the MD11 was born, followed by the HP11 and MD30. Musiland Audio Labs started to use early versions of its general purpose processor (implemented in FPGA) to handle other functions such as user interface, LCD control and storage. Adding a good graphical user interface to HIFI equipment was just a small step but demonstrated the continued investment towards a general purpose processor technology
Of course the goal to develop a 32-bit general purpose processor is not to just deal with the user interface and other minor tasks. Our vision is to develop a complex, large-scale processor to do more complex audio processing functions such as decoding FLAC. This requires a plan with a long time horizon to develop a processor that not only meets current audio processing needs, but also keeps up with the advancements of computer technology and meets future needs.
On deciding on the architecture for the processor, Musiland engineers had different views on what to do. The technology camp felt that they could develop the processor from scratch (call it “M-CPU”) and thus not be subject to any external constrains or patent protection; but more seasoned engineers knew that a development from scratch was a long and sky-high expensive proposition. After exploring different proposals and after much discussion among the different teams, a rational, consistent and scientific decision was reached: Use ARM+DSP dual-core architecture.
Industry leaders had same strategy. At the same time Musiland Audio Labs decided to create a 32-bit processor based on ARM+DSP dual core, we learned that Creative Technology set up Zii Labs for the research and development of multimedia processors. This was a great encouragement for our Musiland team and allowed us to understand the competitive environment with more clarity and also to strategize on how and where to differentiate our products. We decided to abandon complex video functions and to focus instead on the field of audio.
Later on we lamented the divesture and selling of Zii Labs but realized that our decision to focus on audio was the right decision. We at Musiland Audio Labs will always respect the people at Creative, and would like to take this opportunity to appreciate Creative’s contribution to the industry and in making multimedia and audio applications and products so pervasive. We must always remember the name Zii Labs for their truly innovative processors.
For the past two years, Musiland Audio Labs engineers worked night and day to integrate the ARM core and audio DSP functions and developed an ARM-based 32-bit processor with 32-bit floating point DSP with an internal unique data bus, the “MP-Bus”. We will call this new processor “SuperDSP” and will produce a family of products: SuperDSP100, SuperDSP200, etc.
A family of devices will be produced to meet different applications. The different versions will differ on the size of on-board and external memory, the type of packaging (QFP and QFN). The chips will support USB 2.0 high-speed and optionally USB 3.0, external mass storage support (SD, MMC), external bus support (PCI) and other communication options such as SPI, I2C UART, etc.
It is worth mentioning that the 32Bit floating point audio DSP unit can handle up to 64Bit/768kHz sampling rate of the audio data, support multichannel or DSD decoding.
According to our product roadmap, the first SuperDSP processors will be implemented for the personal multimedia sound card/integrated player market and will be released towards the middle of this year and will provide unprecedented audio capabilities and sound experience. Soon after, we will focus on the HIFI and audiophile products. So stay tuned!
If you have any questions, requirements or expectations about this new product, please use our forum (bbs.musiland.cn– look for SuperDSP) to post your queries. Meeting your requirements is our responsibility; be sure to let us know!
The SuperDSP interface, decoding algorithms and Library API will be open to third party developers. We welcome industry colleagues to discuss OEM/ODM arrangements with us. Musiland Audio Labs looks forward to this cooperation and is prepared to help you innovate your products