Audio Processing on ARM Cortex -M4 for Automotive Applications

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1 Audio Processing on ARM Cortex -M4 for Automotive Applications Introduction By Pradeep D, Ittiam Systems Pvt. Ltd. Automotive infotainment systems have become an integral part of the in-car experience. These include an array of features ranging from multimedia playback and telematics to Internet browsing and complex human-machine interfaces turning the automobiles into connectivity and entertainment destinations. Music has been the most preferred form of entertainment in automobiles due to its non intrusive nature. Satellite radio, live news, weather feeds, streaming from mobile devices, rear-seat entertainment and multiple such features have become a necessity for automobile manufacturers to differentiate their offering from their competitors. In this whitepaper, we discuss the automotive audio system, elaborating on the functions and processing requirements for audio, followed by analysis of the Cortex-M4 core, the newly announced ARM core in the Cortex-M series for automotive audio system. In-Car Audio Audio entertainment undeniably plays a large role in automobiles. Over the years the audio systems have changed from simple car radio to an integrated entertainment system supporting multimedia, next generation digital radio, connectivity to personal devices like the mobile phones, and voice activated or touch based User Interface (UI). The customer s expectation has also changed significantly, demanding personalized, high fidelity audio. Digital Radio, a necessity - The advent of digital broadcast brings in wider coverage and better quality radio. Radio has been the preferred form of entertainment in-car as it brings in an unlimited supply of music with the element of surprise as well as the latest news. A wide variety of standards such DAB, DAB+, DVB-T, DRM, HD-radio, ISDB-T etc are in use in different parts of the world to transmit digital radio. Most of these standards use MPEG audio format for encoding and transmission. Compression formats involved - The media player needs to support a variety of compressed audio formats like MP3, AAC, WMA and Vorbis in different file/container formats. The media player should be capable of playback from a multitude of storage media ranging from CD/DVD drives, USB sticks, Hard Disk, SD card and also from a range of personal devices like mobile phones, portable media players like Apple ipod, Microsoft Zune etc. Audio rendering challenges - The acoustic sound stage, the listening environment coupled with the demand for hi-fi sound quality in the car poses a significant challenge in the acoustics design and audio processing. Additionally, the environment noise, both due to the engine and the surrounding, results in 1 P a g e

2 listening fatigue. To correct these limitations caused due to fixed positions of the speakers and listeners apart from the reverberant and noisy environment, additional audio processing such as equalization, bass enhancement and stereo imaging are necessary. Differentiating system features - The audio system also needs to support Digital Rights Management (DRM) along with features like playlists, support for metadata, trick plays, content browsing and shuffle mode. CD ripping, Gracenote lookup, Streaming over Bluetooth, connectivity and streaming from other mobile devices with DLNA, pausing live radio are offered as differentiated features in some of the in-car systems. To summarize, today s in-car audio system needs to support a wide variety of compressed music formats, trick plays and audio effects and post processing. Audio Components for Automotive Solution The components required for an automotive audio solution and its features are discussed in this section. A vast majority of compressed audio content are available as MPEG 1 Layer 3, MPEG-AAC or Windows Media Audio format. Digital Radio Systems demand MPEG Audio decoders which are compliant with the broadcast standard requirements. Features like pause live radio can be efficiently implemented using an audio encoder like MP3, enabling sufficient record duration with transparent audio quality. Audio post processing components are needed to address the acoustic challenges in automobiles. A constant-q implementation of Parametric Equalizer can ensure cabin equalization is accurately achieved. A channel fader can be used to correct the sound stage to a certain extent. Dynamic Range Compressor (DRC) and Loudness Compensation work in tandem to ensure the audibility of softer sections of audio, eliminating listening fatigue. Audio Components for Automotive System Components Need Media Player Audio Decoders MP3, AAC, WMA Compressed music files support Digital Radio Audio Post Processing Audio Decoders MP3, AAC-LC Audio Encoder MP3 Parametric Equalizer Dynamic Range Control Loudness Compensation Decode compressed audio on digital radio Play-pause radio feature Cabin Equalization, User presets for music To reduce listening fatigue To reduce listening fatigue Channel Fader Sound stage correction Table 1 Components for Automotive audio solution, need and features 2 P a g e

3 Processor Requirements for Audio Processing In this section, we will analyze the processor requirements for efficient audio processing. The audio processing modules can be broadly classified into 3 categories MAC (Multiply and accumulate) intensive code, control code, mix of MAC and control code. Each category has specific traits and different processor capabilities for efficient audio processing. The table below lists the traits and processor requirements for audio processing discussed in the earlier section. Audio Processing Modules Category Example Traits Processor Requirement Signal Processing module High precision multiply High precision MAC MAC intensive Filtering modules Repetitive operations SIMD capability E.g. FIR, IIR Filters Different bit-widths for the input data Mixed bit-width arithmetic Windowing modules Saturate arithmetic Saturation logic Control code Entropy decoding Code flow data dependent Bit manipulation operations E.g. Huffman, Run length Input data treated unsigned Unsigned operations Bit stream processing Bit stream operations Compact code size Mix of control and MAC 3 P a g e Transform modules MAC, MSU operations DSP instructions E.g. FFT, MLT, Filter bank Operations on twiddles Packed data processing Table 2 Audio processing modules and their processor requirements for efficient processing From the table, the processor requirements for audio processing can be summarized as high precision MAC, DSP instructions, SIMD capability, mixed bit-width arithmetic, packed data processing and saturated arithmetic. ARM Cortex-M4 In this section, we will explore the features of the Cortex-M4, the latest processor core from ARM. The Cortex-M4 core, in the Cortex-M series of microcontrollers, is a successor to the much successful Cortex-M3 processor. Inheriting all the features of Cortex-M3, like high code density advantage due to Thumb -2, Cortex-M4 scores over other microcontrollers with new features additions like DSP instruction set and floating point unit (FPU). The Cortex-M4 features along with sample instructions and corresponding cycles are listed in Table 3. Features: In audio processing, since the bit-width of operands depends on factors like filter stability and input data precision, mixed bit-width arithmetic operations which allow operands of different bit-

4 widths become essential. The packed data operations allow operands to be packed in registers alleviating any register crunch in kernel loops of complex modules like FFT. DSP instructions with SIMD capability perfectly exploits the repetitive nature of signal processing modules. The high precision multiply and accumulate (MAC) unit takes just 1 cycle for multiplying up to 32 bit data with another 32 bit data giving 64 bit accumulated result. These features of Cortex-M4 are advantageous for audio processing, where high precision is required to maintain perceptually transparent audio quality. ARM Cortex -M4 Processor features Processor Feature Cycles Instructions Explanation High precision MAC unit 1 SMULL, SMLAL DSP Instructions 1 SMUAD, SMLAD 64 bit result from 32 bit multiplied with 32 bit data, with or without accumulation 32 bit result from addition of dual packed 16 bit multiply, with or without accumulation Mixed bit-width arithmetic 1 SMULWB, SWLAWT 32 bit result from 32 bit multiply with packed 16 bit data, with or without accumulation Packed data processing 1 SMULBB, SMLATB 32 bit result from packed 16 bit multiply, with or without accumulation SIMD capability 1 SHASX, SADD16 Dual 16 bit arithmetic operations Saturated arithmetic 1 QADD, SSAT Addition with saturation, Signed Saturate Table 3 Cortex-M4 features and example instructions and cycles With new features like DSP instructions with SIMD capability, high precision MAC unit, Cortex-M4 is a microcontroller with DSP capabilities, a Digital Signal Controller (DSC). Traditionally audio processing is implemented on a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) while General Purpose Processor (GPP) takes care of the system features. With the introduction of M4, audio processing can be efficiently implemented on Cortex-M4 since it is ideally suited for audio processing application, like automotive audio solution. Ittiam Audio Solution on Cortex-M4 Ittiam s audio solution on Cortex-M4 processor comprises of low power audio codecs and high quality post processing components. The typical performance for few of the audio components on Cortex-M4 processor is given in Table 4. The audio codecs have been optimized by making the best use of the DSP instructions and SIMD capability that Cortex-M4 processor offers. The performance optimized audio solution enables efficient use of processor MHz resulting in a significant amount of free processor time. This would enable the processor to be used for other applications alongside. Similarly, the post processing components achieve high quality without overhead in performance by efficiently utilizing the high precision single cycle MAC 4 P a g e

5 unit. These features of Cortex-M4 together with high code density due to Thumb-2, enables Ittiam s audio solution to achieve high quality at low power. ITTIAM Audio Solution Typical MHz on Cortex-M4 Audio Decoders MP3 Decode AAC Decode WMA Decode 7 10 MHz Audio Encoder MP3 Encode MHz Loudness Compensation Audio Post Processing Parametric Equalizer (5 bands) Dynamic Range Control 4 12 MHz Channel Fader Table 4: Processor resource utilization for audio codecs and post processing on Cortex-M4 All the above performance numbers are assuming zero-wait state memory configuration. The performance on hardware will vary with actual memory configuration. These typical performance numbers are for stereo mode and 44.1 khz sampling frequency configuration. Summary In this whitepaper, we discussed about a typical In-Car audio infotainment application, a few key systems and their requirements. Later, we analyzed the processor requirements for performing efficient audio processing. The features and capabilities of ARM Cortex-M4 processor for audio processing were explored. We saw that Cortex-M4 is well suited for audio processing given its low power and superior performance. 5 P a g e

6 References: 1. The Future of Audio Entertainment in the Car part 1, part 2 2. ARM Cortex-M4 datasheet, literature and other marketing collaterals Disclaimer: This white paper is for informational purposes only. Ittiam makes no warranties, express, implied or statutory, as to the information in this document. The information contained herein represents the current view of Ittiam Systems on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. It should not be interpreted to be a commitment from Ittiam, and Ittiam cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication. Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Ittiam Systems. Ittiam Systems may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Ittiam Systems, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property Ittiam Systems Pvt. Ltd. All rights reserved. All other copyrights, brands, trademarks and product names are the property of their respective holders. 6 P a g e

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