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**posted on**

December 24, 2003, 8:47 am

Does anyone have any idea how AVR and MSP430 compare in terms of floating

point and integer math? We need to do some computational number crunching

(preprocessing) in our devices but aren't sure which of the above to pick.

The MSP430 is 16 bits so it should be faster in math it seems to me, but are

there other aspects which are important? The computations are 'DSP like'

(lots of adding amd multiplication).

point and integer math? We need to do some computational number crunching

(preprocessing) in our devices but aren't sure which of the above to pick.

The MSP430 is 16 bits so it should be faster in math it seems to me, but are

there other aspects which are important? The computations are 'DSP like'

(lots of adding amd multiplication).

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

The first thing you have to quantify is HOW MUCH adding and multiplication you

have to do.

How wide are the operands? How many per second do you have to process?

If you are doing multiply-and-accumulate kinds of things at DSP rates, you

probably need a real DSP.

My understanding is that neither AVR nor MSP430 have hardware floating point,

which means that floating point operations will be

***S***L

***O***W*.

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

floating

crunching

pick.

are

you

point,

The original AVRs do not have hardware multipliers, but the Mega ones do.

The mps430f13x family does not have hardware multipliers, but the msp430f14x

family does.

If you are looking to do heavy maths with these chips, however, it is

important to know exactly what you are looking for and try to find

short-cuts. For example, if you are only going to be working with a number

of fixed constants, you could be faster with look-up tables (the mega128 has

a fair amount of flash space for tables). For floating point, think about

the accuracy you need.

In general, however, the msp430 is likely to have the edge by being 16-bit,

even though the avr has a faster clock and instruction-per-clock rate.

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

That is true. On the other hand, it does not hurt knowing what really

happens during the calculations. Real-world data very seldom has more

than 16 significant bits, and the dynamic range is also rather limited,

so 16 bits of fixed point is usually enough. But, again, there are

applications where this is not true.

Neither of the two little chips is a real DSP. At the same clock AVR is

faster in bit-banging, as it consumes fewer clocks per instruction.

However, in maths MSP430 may be faster, as it has a 16x16 multiplication

(vs. AVR's 8x8). And then, is the most important facter the same clock

frequency, power consumption, or dollarage?

If the device is spending over 90% of its time crunching numbers, then

you might just write the core code for both and count the clocks.

If you are using C this should be quite quick.

Even if the price is the limiting factor, you might still consider using

a DSP. They are not that expensive compared to AVR/MSP430 with HW

multiplications. Even the power consumption should be reasonable at

a low clock frequency (yes, you can run a 100 MHz device at 2 MHz,

and get a low power consumption). Many ARM cores have a MAC instruction,

and the power consumption is rather reasonable. There are also some

DSP/uC combinations, such as TI C2000-series, which might be interesting.

- Ville

--

Ville Voipio, Dr.Tech., M.Sc. (EE)

Ville Voipio, Dr.Tech., M.Sc. (EE)

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

The application where I found that to be untrue most recently was

GPS navigation. The GPS delivered Earth-centered, Earth-Fixed data

in meters that required about 24 bits and had a noise level of about 2

to 3 bits.

Converting the ECEF to Latitude and longitude was certainly easier

in floating point, and was not too great a processing burden as

I only received data once per second. I did manage to optimize the

code by pre-computing some relevant sines and cosines.

A key factor is whether the standard C math libraries take advantage

of the hardware multiply.

Do most of the DSPs now come with built-in flash and a JTAG port? For

small-volume products, the system complexity and ease of programming

are important issues.

Mark Borgerson

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

Time-based calculations are really an exception. It is very easy to

measure time to more than 16 bits. With GPS the absolute accuracy is

extremely high as the time sources are locked to the standard time.

And this is also a property of time measurements; if you have very large

dynamic range, you are not in a hurry. Of course, this is an over-

simplification, but still this seems to apply to time-based measurements

in general.

---

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Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

It's not only the time values -- the range values are quite large

when measured in meters (>2e6). The mathematics of satellite

navigation are not the best conditioned and can get very tricky

to avoid loss of accuracy.

I don't see a correlation between precision of time values and

computational speed or load. Most time processing consists of

computing the difference between "now" and some previous time

which probably isn't that far in the past. Even using the

VAX/VMS microseconds since some date long ago time format

ain't no big deal computationally.

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

snipped-for-privacy@iwvisp.com says...

That's all very true until you want to convert those seconds and

microseconds into "21:30:44.20 12/18/2003" when possible I

try to have that conversion done on the PC displaying the data,

rather than on the 16-bit, 8MHz processor in the data acquisition

system.

Mark Borgerson

That's all very true until you want to convert those seconds and

microseconds into "21:30:44.20 12/18/2003" when possible I

try to have that conversion done on the PC displaying the data,

rather than on the 16-bit, 8MHz processor in the data acquisition

system.

Mark Borgerson

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

snipped-for-privacy@iwvisp.com (Everett M. Greene) writes:

But still the range values are calculated from time measurements.

As far as I can see, time (frequency, etc.) is the only property

you can measure with such a large dynamic range with the same

device. Most readers of this NG can make a simple device which can

measure time in microseconds and years with the same hardware and

software. As one year is around 32 000 000 000 000 us, this gives

a very large dynamic range (45 bits).

Even the accuracy in time measurements is around 10^-13, IIRC.

So, both the dynamic range and the accuracy are far better than with

voltage, current, angle, distance, etc. (If current could be

measured electron-by-electron it would share the same properties.)

So, the mesurement in satellite navigation is a time measurement and

thus the dynamic range is very large and a lot of numbers is

required.

Not computational speed, but measurement speed. With almost any

measurement you will gain more dynamic range by waiting longer.

Going back to the time measurement: if your measurement time is

in microseconds, you get less dynamic range than if you measure years.

The same applies to many other measurements, as well. If you need

to measure a DC voltage, you're better off using a slow converter.

If you need to dig a faint signal from noise, you'll have to

average it for a longer time (regardless of modulation scheme used).

- Ville

But still the range values are calculated from time measurements.

As far as I can see, time (frequency, etc.) is the only property

you can measure with such a large dynamic range with the same

device. Most readers of this NG can make a simple device which can

measure time in microseconds and years with the same hardware and

software. As one year is around 32 000 000 000 000 us, this gives

a very large dynamic range (45 bits).

Even the accuracy in time measurements is around 10^-13, IIRC.

So, both the dynamic range and the accuracy are far better than with

voltage, current, angle, distance, etc. (If current could be

measured electron-by-electron it would share the same properties.)

So, the mesurement in satellite navigation is a time measurement and

thus the dynamic range is very large and a lot of numbers is

required.

Not computational speed, but measurement speed. With almost any

measurement you will gain more dynamic range by waiting longer.

Going back to the time measurement: if your measurement time is

in microseconds, you get less dynamic range than if you measure years.

The same applies to many other measurements, as well. If you need

to measure a DC voltage, you're better off using a slow converter.

If you need to dig a faint signal from noise, you'll have to

average it for a longer time (regardless of modulation scheme used).

- Ville

--

Ville Voipio, Dr.Tech., M.Sc. (EE)

Ville Voipio, Dr.Tech., M.Sc. (EE)

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

... snip ...

In fact the best accuracy per monetary unit conversions are done

by converting to time in the first place. Two examples are the

(very cheap) dual slope converters in multi-meters, and the (not

so cheap) linear rundown converters in nuclear radiation

analysers. The latter also satisfy stringent differential

linearity requirements.

--

Chuck F ( snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com) ( snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net)

Available for consulting/temporary embedded and systems.

Chuck F ( snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com) ( snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net)

Available for consulting/temporary embedded and systems.

We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

That's right. Time measurements are an area where 32-bit numbers are

often required. If you stay in seconds, it's not too bad and there

isn't much call for multiply and divide. However, as soon as you

decide to change the Unix seconds to time and date, watch out!

Even more complex is the coordination of GPS time (week number and

seconds into the week) with UNIX time. Every time I print a date

and time with some GPS data, I swear that I'm going to write a

routine that operates on an initial time and date string and simply

increments the second, checks for > 9, if needed increments the

tens of seconds, etc... Of course, I've not yet gotten around to

writing that routine. ;-)

Of course, the routine would have much longer run time at 23:59:59,

but the run time is quite variable on routines that divide without

hardware assist in any case.

True. I feel lucky to be working in the small volume, high value-added

part of the market.

Mark Borgerson

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

I still do all my navigational computation on the MSP430, its far faster

than floating point.

Actually most of the popular ones now do. A really good value part at

the moment is the 56F800 from Motorola, Small part, small price, JTAG

and a $30 dev kit.

Al

Re: Computational power AVR vs. MSP430?

The MSP430F149 and other members of the family have a built in hardware

multiplier that handles MAC and MACS.Try to avoid floating point in any

small micro. I've never found a situation yet where I couldn't use fixed

point, which gives better accuracy than floating point. Even in mil spec

navigation systems.

Al

Dr. O wrote:

multiplier that handles MAC and MACS.Try to avoid floating point in any

small micro. I've never found a situation yet where I couldn't use fixed

point, which gives better accuracy than floating point. Even in mil spec

navigation systems.

Al

Dr. O wrote:

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