From the feedback of some Asian ODMs, I learned that ARM’s Cortex-M4 was not favored in Asia for audio applications even though we see a slow trend from our customers here in the US and Europe to replace traditional low cost DSPs with ARM’s Cortex-M4 for its easy USB connectivity capabilities. The Chinese market has not yet embraced this because of the very low cost so called “SOC” in China that come as low as $0.20/piece. The “SOC” are in fact non-programmable ASICs that come with the mp3 decoder and one or two built-in audio functions.
In fact, saving money this way only produces cheap bad sounding audio products. Audio needs to be the last thing to be tuned in the product. Form factor determines the final outcome if it seems like you can simply apply a standard algorithm. When will the Chinese learn that for better quality audio, they can’t just buy a chip with all the built solution and drop it into the plastic forms? Mind you, nothing against the Chinese (I’m one), but their consumers have yet to catch up to the more demanding discerning ears of the more technologically advanced nations. In fact, it’s the consumer demand that will drive the product makers to improve for their market. It’s just a matter of time for the Chinese consumers to catch up. Then 1.3 billion of them will want to demand higher quality products.
That is why a tool like our Audio Weaver® is so effective. Audio Weaver® can be used in all its power through developing custom Matlab API so that it can be used at the research stage to development stage to producing optimized code for a target processor all in one swoop. Moreover, the same tool can be used to tune up algorithms at production at the final stage. There is built in regression test to ensure that any change is accurately reflected and not to mess up previous codes.
Then, the design which R&D had invested in can be saved and easily ported to another target processor. For a product maker, not being tied to just one kind of target processor is an advantage. Portability is an advantage. This requires long-term vision planning which sometimes it’s hard to come by in our short term minded workforce.