TCP/IP Network Protocol Stack for Embedded DSP Systems

Network connectivity gains more and more importance in industrial applications. Data-base connectivity, browser frontends for configuration and setup, and remote maintainance are but a few features requiring a network interface. Such a network interface must however under no circumstances delay or block the DSP's main task: real-time signal processing.
Some applications might tolerate delays, e.g. biometric access control, but if the DSP is a part of the production environment, any violation of real-time constraints will inevitably cause system malfunction.

Network protocol stacks

Using a preemptive operating system is always a good choice on high-performance processors, but smaller, mostly application-specific, processors like the Texas Instruments C2000 family, do not provide the memory and computation resources required by such an operating system. These smaller processors use a cooperative multitasking OS, if any. Cooperative systems however do require the cooperation of all tasks. Standard network protocol stacks need extensive adaptations and verifications to be usable in a cooperative multitasking environment.

Network co-processor

On first sight a co-processor seems to be an ideal solution. Processors like the Texas Instruments OMAP family combine an ARM and a DSP core on a single chip and seem predestined for these applications. Especially the large software base of the ARM core and Linux support makes them particularly attractive.
But not all problems are solved: ARM and DSP share all on-chip resources, external memories, peripherals, and interfaces. Memory-extensive operations running on the ARM core might still stall and delay the DSP execution and cause real-time violations. In-depth knowledge of the processor architecture is required to avoid or at least minimize such resource conflicts.

For many smaller DSP systems this solution is not practicable because no on-chip co-processors are available and no suitable host interface exists to add an external co-processor.
If large amounts of data are transferred via the network, a co-processor might not be able to significantly reduce the DSP computation load: Data moves to a co-processor will consume as much time as direct access to a network interface chip. Many network controllers now offer features like checksum offloading, which reduces the DSP protocol overhead anyway.

Optimized network stack

D.SignT concluded to develop its own TCP/IP network stack, specifically optimized for DSP systems. This stack can operate as a background process using only the remaining processing time after all other tasks are completed, thereby not influencing the real-time performance of the DSP system. The D.SignT TCP/IP stack does not require an underlying operating system, but may as well be used in a preemptive or cooperative RTOS environment. All functions are non-blocking and interruptable at any time.

Resource consumption has been minimized too. Copy operations are mostly replaced by callback functions to inform the application layer if new data is available. The receive and transmit functions can directly access the application data buffers.

Existing Ports

The D.SignT TCP/IP stack has been ported to the Texas Instruments C2000, C5000 and C6000 families, the TMS320CV33 and to the Analog Devices ADSP-21065 processor.

ZeroConf/Auto-IP automatic client configuration (IP address assignment)
ARP Address Resolution Protocol, resolves the IP address to a hardware MAC address. No user action is required. If an address is unknown, an ARP request is generated automatically.
IP Internet Protocol. All data transferred by DNS, DHCP, ICMP, UDP and TCP is automatically packed into IP packets.
ICMP Internet Control Message Protocol. The D.SignT.TCP/IP protocol stack responds to "ping" requests to test a connection
UDP User Datagram Protocol, provides a one-to-one or one-to-many connectionless data path. Data transmitted via UDP is not guaranteed to reach its destination. This protocol has very low overhead and is especially useful for transmitting non-critical data like audio and video streams, or any other realtime data where retransmissions cannot be tolerated.
TCP Transmission Control Protocol, provides reliable, connection-oriented, one-to-one connections. All data is acknowledged by the receiver and retransmitted automatically if required. This protocol should be used for critical data like software uploads, commands, etc.
DHCP Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. This protocol has been developed to ease maintenance of a TCP/IP network. A DHCP server manages the allocation of IP addresses and provides additional network configuration data like gateways, DNS servers etc. The TCP/IP stack integrates the client functions required to obtain an IP address, DNS server, and gateway.
DNS Domain Name System. This protocol allows to use symbolic host names instead of numerical IP addresses. The TCP/IP stack integrates the client functions to query a DNS server to resolve a host name.
HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol, based on TCP. We do provide a HTTP server framework, which passes GET and POST parameters to a user-defined callback function, hence providing the required flexibility for dynamic data. The DSP can send static HTML pages and images as well as inserting the current value of variables, generate images from data acquisition buffers, etc. on demand.
TELNET Terminal-based communications for maintenance and updates
SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Send and Email message or notification
SNTP Simple Network Time Protocol. Obtain the current time from a network/Internet server

The following table shows the typical resource consumption vs. processor platform, based on an implementation using ARP, IP, ICMP, UDP, TCP, DHCP, and DNS. Slimmer configurations reduce the resource consumption even more, e.g. by 25% if TCP and DHCP can be omitted.

DSP Code Size Data Size
TMS320F2812/28335 27.4K bytes 5.6K bytes + 604 bytes per socket
TMS320C5500 35K bytes 8K bytes + 640 bytes per socket
TMS320C6000 72K bytes 7.2K bytes + 604 bytes per socket
TMS320VC33 15K words 2.7K words + 151 words per socket
ADSP-21065 12.4K words 1.9K words + 224 words per socket
Test Systems

Besides the D.Module DSP board family, the D.SignT TCP/IP stack can be evaluated on the following low-cost eZdsp and Starter Kits:

  • TMS320F2812 eZdsp + eZdsk.91C111
  • TMS320F28335 eZdsp + eZdsk.91C111
  • TMS320C5502 eZdsp USB Stick
  • TMS320VC5509A DSP Starter Kit + DSK.91C111
  • TMS320VC5510 DSP Starter Kit + DSK.91C111
  • OMAP-L137/TMS320C6747 Floating Point Starter Kit
  • TMS320C6416 DSK + DSK.91C111
  • TMS320C6713 DSK + DSK.91C111
  • TMS320DM6437 DSK
  • TMS320DM6455 DSK

D.SignT offers the following license models, tailored to your requirements:

  • Test- and Evaluation License
  • Quantity-based License
  • unlimited OEM License

A quantity-based or OEM license includes free consultancy in integrating a network controller into your target circuit.

Order Information
DS.TCP/IP-xxxx Test and Evaluation
OL.TCP/IP-xxxx unlimited OEM license
QL.TCP/IP-xxxx-10 volume-based license, 10 systems
QL.TCP/IP-xxxx-100 volume-based license, 100 systems

xxxx = DSP module or processor name