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An application specific programmable processor (ASIP) suitable for the real-time implementation of matrix computations such as singular value and QR decomposition is presented. The processor incorporates facilities for the issue of parallel instructions and a dual-bus architecture that are designed to achieve high performance. Internally, it uses a CORDIC module to perform arithmetic operations, with pipelining of the internal recursive loop exploited to multiplex the two independent microrotations onto a single piece of hardware. The net result is a flexible processing element whose functionality can be changed under program control, which combines high performance with efficient silicon implementation. This is illustrated through the results of a detailed silicon design study and the applications of the techniques to a combined SVD/QRD system.