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Optimization of Audio Processing Algorithms (Reverb) on ARMv6 Family of Processors

Audio processing algorithms are increasingly used in cell phones and today’s customers are placing more demands on cell phones. Feature phones, once the advent of mobile phone technology, nowadays do more than just providing the user with MP3 play back or advanced audio effects. These features have become an integral part of medium as well as low-end phones. On the other hand, there is also an endeavor to include as improved quality as possible into products to compete in market and satisfy users’ needs.

Tackling the above requirements has been partly satisfied by the advance in hardware design and manufacturing technology. However, as new hardware emerges into market the need for competence to write efficient software and exploit the new features thoroughly and effectively arises. Even though compilers are also keeping up with the new tide space for hand optimized code still exist.

Wrapped in the above goal, an effort was made in this thesis to partly cover the competence requirement at Multimedia Section (part of Ericsson Mobile Platforms) to develope optimized code for new processors. Forging persistently ahead with new products, EMP has always incorporated the latest technology into its products among which ARMv6 family of processors has the main central processing role in a number of upcoming products.

To fully exploit latest features provided by ARMv6, it was required to probe its new instruction set among which new media processing instructions are of outmost importance. In order to execute DSP-intensive algorithms (e.g. Audio Processing algorithms) efficiently, the implementation should be done in low-level code applying available instruction set. Meanwhile, ARMv6 comes with a number of new features in comparison with its predecessors. SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) and VFP (Vector Floating Point) are the most prominent media processing improvements in ARMv6.

Aligned with thesis goals and guidelines, Reverb algorithm which is among one of the most complicated audio features on a hand-held devices was probed. Consequently, its kernel parts were identified and implementation was done both in fixed-point and floating-point using the available resources on hardware. Besides execution time and amount of code memory for each part were measured and provided in tables and charts for comparison purposes.

Conclusions were finally drawn based on developed code’s efficiency over ARM compiler’s as well as existing code already developed and tailored to ARMv5 processors. The main criteria for optimization was the execution time. Moreover, quantization effect due to limited precision fixed-point arithmetic was formulated and its effect on quality was elaborated.

The outcomes, clearly indicate that hand optimization of kernel parts are superior to Compiler optimized alternative both from the point of code memory as well as execution time. The results also confirmed the presumption that hand optimized code using new instruction set can improve efficiency by an average 25%-50% depending on the algorithm structure and its interaction with other parts of audio effect. Despite its many draw backs, fixed-point implementation remains yet to be the dominant implementation for majority of DSP algorithms on low-power devices.
Source: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Author: Abari, Farzad Foroughi

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