In recent years, embedded applications have placed steadily increasing demands on the data and signal processing ability of embedded designs. This need has traditionally been handled by augmenting a central processor with a DSP or custom logic. Recently, though, there has been a growing need to reduce system design complexity and create flexible, standardized solutions. One result has been new generations of embedded processors, sometimes called media processors, that are capable of handling ever more signal processing tasks without the need for external assistance. However, the limited power and cost budget in mobile and embedded designs means that a more powerful media processor will not always be the best solution. Some type of flexible external signal processor may be needed. The solution must be studied carefully.

ARM offers two complementary technologies for media acceleration: ARM OptimoDE data engine technology, and the recently announced NEON technology. This article seeks to explore the different advantages of each solution, and when each might be more appropriate.

Reprinted in its entirety from ARM IQ Vol. 4, No. 2, 2005