Washington DC trafficAnyone who commutes by car will tell you the same thing: traffic is getting worse out there. And while some companies are open to telecommuting for certain jobs, many still prefer their employees to make it into the office. So most of us end up spending more and more time in our cars. Automobile manufacturers have long recognized the market for cars that improve the driving experience, however long it may be. One area which has received a lot of attention is the reduction of noise from around our cars. Inside the car we’re trying to listen to the radio or maybe think about that big, upcoming presentation, but distractions abound. It could be the rumble of our car’s tires on a rough patch of road or the rattling of the engine from a heap of junk idling next to us in traffic.

Super high-end cars, their bodies built to rigorous specifications, provide some measure of relief, but not all of us can afford such luxury. The solution for the rest of us? High-speed signal processing, a less costly way of reducing noise in just about any automobile. The designers actually call the process “anti-noise.”  Here is how it works: super-sensitive microphones and sensors are placed strategically around the car to pick up noise from all sides. These sensors and microphones feed into a special kind of microprocessor designed specifically for this task. This microprocessor is fast. I mean really fast. It has to be, because it has to almost instantaneously produce a signal (the “anti-noise” signal) which, when pumped into speakers located around the cabin of your car, cancels the offending noise. To ensure that it can keep up with the constant stream of data, every sensor or microphone has its own channel inside the microprocessor. (You might have the same question I had – what about the sound coming from the radio or a conversation with a passenger? The microprocessor is programmed to differentiate unwanted noise.) This speed and built-in “intelligence” allows an automotive system to provide the much-desired “immersive audio experience” for drivers and their passengers.

Analog Devices has not just one but a whole family of real-time audio processors intended for a number of applications, including the automotive industry teleconferencing, home audio systems, and other places where noise cancelling is desired. Imagine being able to negate the sound of your neighbor’s leaf blower or lawnmower while listening to music.

There are six members of this microprocessor family (formally named ADSP-2156x, with the x standing for a different model of microprocessor.) Each model has its own advantages, depending on the place (car, office, or home) where it’s intended to go. And, should it be decided that the initial model is not sufficient, the entire family of ADSP-2156x processors are pin-compatible. That means a designer can replace one family member with another and not have to change anything on the board. (The designers call that “scalability,” and it’s very important because changing the layout on circuit boards takes up a lot of time and resources.)

To help programmers and engineers develop their  products, ADI has developed CrossCore®, a software environment which helps designers speed their design. We also sell evaluation kits and other tools to support their projects, as well. If you’re interested in the details we invite you to visit the ADSP-2156x product page.

Analog Devices cannot make commutes shorter, but products like the ADSP-2156x family can make it more enjoyable.