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DSP improves battery life, user experience for next-gen hearables

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By Rich Pell

The Cadence Tensilica HiFi 1 DSP is offered as the smallest and lowest power member of the HiFi DSP family, developed for battery-constrained applications, such as mobile, hearables, wearables, laptop, automotive, and IoT. The DSP’s ultra-low energy consumption extends the duration of voice communication and music playback, allowing always listening to voice commands with minimal impact to battery life.

This enables small form factor, low-cost consumer and mobile devices, as well as automotive and industrial devices, to offer increased functionality with low energy consumption.

“HiFi DSPs enjoy wide adoption in current-generation TWS earbuds and Bluetooth headsets,” says David Glasco, vice president of research and development for Tensilica IP at Cadence. “The advent of LC3 and wider market trends set the stage for next-generation hearables to offer a superior user experience and longer battery life. With many speech and voice algorithms migrating towards AI, we’re also seeing vastly expanding use cases for analytics and better sound quality in TWS earbuds. The compact HiFi 1 DSP enables these new use cases with ultra-low energy consumption, bringing to the mass market always-on and always-listening capabilities that were until now the privilege of premium products.”

The HiFi 1 DSP delivers ultra-low energy encoding and playback of LC3 and other Bluetooth codecs and ultra-low energy keyword spotting for voice wake-up, all in the smallest footprint HiFi DSP. Compared to the HiFi 3 DSP, the most popular audio DSP in the industry for the target applications, the HiFi 1 DSP offers:

  • 11 to 16% lower area
  • 60 to 73% greater cycle and energy efficiency for ML-based “OK Google” keyword spotting and person detect applications
  • Greater than 18% cycle efficiency and 14% energy efficiency for LC3 decoding

HiFi 1 DSP features and benefits include the following:

  • Special instructions including arithmetic coding for LC3 encode and decode make the HiFi 1 DSP the most energy-efficient DSP for Bluetooth LE Audio
  • Instructions for ITU-T3GPP-standardized 2019 BASOPs accelerate speech codecs and run them with high energy efficiency, increasing talk time
  • Neural network ISA and load/store accelerate keyword spotting and other machine learning workloads for reduced energy consumption, while memory access-optimized ISA reduces improves performance with small cache sizes
  • Efficient signal processing reduces energy and cycles for audio and speech pre- and post-processing
  • Optional, low-latency vector floating point unit (VFPU) delivers higher FP throughput with lower energy consumption.
  • Vector bool register improves energy efficiency for conditional code

The HiFi 1 DSP is In general availability now.

Cadence Design Systems


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