Make Magazine’s Matt Richardson has used a $25 Arduino processor board with a $25 Nootropic Design Video Experimenter mezzanine board (a “shield” in Arduino speak) to build a device aptly called “Enough Already!” that parses the closed-caption information in the broadcast video stream and then mutes the TV when designated words are spoken (Trump, Palin, Kardashian, Sheen). Thus you can stop hearing about over-exposed celebrities or turn off the audio when the local public TV station goes into beg-a-thon mode (just listen for the name of one of the hosts of the PBS station’s membership drive).
The reason for covering this development here is to point out the immense firepower being used to handle such a simple task. We see Richardson using about $50 worth of off-the shelf hardware to do what perhaps $5 in custom hardware might do. But for this project, the time saved by using off-the-shelf components is substantial. Take a look at the result:
The same sort of idea is valid for SoC design. While 32-bit processors might be overkill for some SoC blocks, and while 8- or 16-bit processors might be overkill for other blocks that could just as well be serviced with state machines, the programmability of processors gives SoC designers more flexibility and therefore processor cores reduce design risks.
Think about it.
Yet another tip of the hat to SparkFun Electronics (www.sparkfun.com) for yet another terrific blog post idea.