Today, more and more products&#151in areas as diverse as telecom, mass storage, audio, and motor control&#151depend on digital signal processing. Processor vendors have responded with a dizzying array of processor designs. DSP processor manufacturers continue to add new architectures to their product lines every year. Meanwhile, nearly every microcontroller vendor has announced DSP extensions to its architectures. Highperformance CPUs with SIMD instruction-set extensions are yet another possibility.

In this paper, we explore essential processor selection criteria for DSP applications. We discuss the distinctive features of five types of processors and use these selection criteria to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each type of processor. We also examine example processors in each category, and evaluate their capabilities and performance.