A case study is presented which involves the implementation of the discrete cosine transform; a commonly encountered algorithm in image data compression coding. Two commercially available digital signal processing devices are considered. The use of a more highly integrated component, despite offering the potential for greater processing power, does not necessarily result in the most suitable solution. This is because the internal architecture of the component imposes a particular structure on a solution, which can lead to extra complexities if this structure does not closely match that of the algorithm. In addition, it is shown that manipulation of the basic algorithm to suit the hardware is an important consideration when designing for real time solution.