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Integrated Circuit Image Gallery

Digital Signal Processor

Moving from the analog age to the digital age, the demand for transforming signals between the two information realms has skyrocketed. Digital signal processors (DSPs) are programmable electronic devices that are dedicated to converting audio, video, or other data into analog and digital formats and improving the information quality of the signals.

View a second image of a digital signal processor chip.

As semiconductor fabrication techniques have advanced, digital signal processors have been miniaturized from several rack-mounted electronic devices linked by cables down to integrated circuit boards, chip sets, and now as part of fully integrated microprocessors with multiple signal acquisition, processing, and restoration functions all on board.

Analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) permit the conversion of real-world information such as images or sounds to digital signals for transmission, storage, or information extraction. Following processing in the digitized form, digital-to-analog converters (DACs) return the processed information into the analog world to which our senses respond. Newer digital signal processors often combine the functions of two types of converter into a single, fast, and powerful microprocessor. Within their category, DSPs are unique devices because they process data in real time. This feature makes digital signal processors well suited for applications where delays would be unacceptable such as digital cellular phones, compact disc players, and missile guidance systems. In the digital cell phone, the digital signal processor compresses the digital signals and removes any background noise, resulting in crystal clear sound without annoying echoes. In video systems, DSPs clean up noise, resulting in sharper images.

Contributing Authors

Omar Alvarado, Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.


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