Custom architecture for multicore audio Beamforming systems
Journal article, 2013
The audio Beamforming (BF) technique utilizes microphone arrays to extract acoustic sources recorded in a noisy environment. In this article, we propose a new approach for rapid development of multicore BF systems. Research on literature reveals that the majority of such experimental and commercial audio systems are based on desktop PCs, due to their high-level programming support and potential of rapid system development. However, these approaches introduce performance bottlenecks, excessive power consumption, and increased overall cost. Systems based on DSPs require very low power, but their performance is still limited. Custom hardware solutions alleviate the aforementioned drawbacks, however, designers primarily focus on performance optimization without providing a high-level interface for system control and test. In order to address the aforementioned problems, we propose a custom platform-independent architecture for reconfigurable audio BF systems. To evaluate our proposal, we implement our architecture as a heterogeneous multicore reconfigurable processor and map it onto FPGAs. Our approach combines the software flexibility of General-Purpose Processors (GPPs) with the computational power of multicore platforms. In order to evaluate our system we compare it against a BF software application implemented to a low-power Atom 330, amiddle-ranged Core2 Duo, and a high-end Core i3. Experimental results suggest that our proposed solution can extract up to 16 audio sources in real time under a 16-microphone setup. In contrast, under the same setup, the Atom 330 cannot extract any audio sources in real time, while the Core2 Duo and the Core i3 can process in real time only up to 4 and 6 sources respectively. Furthermore, a Virtex4-based BF system consumes more than an order less energy compared to the aforementioned GPP-based approaches. © 2013 ACM.