The push for lower power, battery-operated, higher performance systems is undeniable. In terms of battery power, consumers want their portable electronics to “do more with less,” and industrial products are moving toward battery operation as well.

Digital signal processors (DSPs) are frequently used in applications that require high performance, leading to higher clock speeds Over the past decade, architectural innovations and power-saving strategies have pushed DSP processing power to increase in millions of instructions per second (MIPS) and other performance metrics at a dizzying pace. Consequently, the battery life of DSP-based systems such as cell phones and ultra-portable music players has steadily risen in large part because of these higher performance DSPs. This paper explains how teaming an ultra-low power MCU with a performance-optimized DSP can give systems designers a competitive edge.