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HiFi 3z Handles Advanced Audio

August 8, 2017

Author: Linley Gwennap

Cadence announced its newest audio DSP, called HiFi 3z, at the recent Linley IoT Hardware Conference. This new intellectual-property (IP) core can perform eight 16x16-bit MACs per cycle, doubling the compute capability of its predecessor, HiFi 3. It increases the 16-bit MAC performance rather than 24 or 32 bit, making it particularly useful for EVS and other 16-bit codecs. To feed more data into the compute units, particularly for EVS and other data-intensive codecs, the company added a second 64-bit path from the local data memory into the core. The three-way VLIW architecture now supports a load operation in the second slot in addition to the load/store unit in the first slot.

Whereas object-based audio codecs don’t benefit from 16-bit MACs, they require more control code to properly place each sound in 3D space. To better handle these and similar algorithms, HiFi 3z adds a scalar unit to the second slot. Thus, scalar-heavy portions of the code can now execute two operations per cycle, whereas the inner loops can shift to more vector (SIMD) operations.

The new design is well suited to the latest audio codecs such as EVS for cellular voice, Dolby AC-4 and MPEG-H for home entertainment, and voice processing in smart speakers. Cadence measured performance improvements of 1.3x for EVS and 1.4x for both Dolby AC-4 and MPEG-H. These gains come with only a minor die-area increase over HiFi 3. Production RTL is now available for licensing, and the first chips using the new IP should enter production around mid-2018.

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