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The Personal Computer (PC) technology has seen an enormous growth in the last two years. Although increasingly viewed as a major productivity tool, the PC is likely to be limited for computation-intensive tasks such as telecommunications and improved human-factors I/O. At the same time, there has been another evolving technology—VLSI realization of general-purpose signal processor (SP) engines which are capable of boosting the performance levels of standard PCs by almost two orders of magnitude. With SPs in PCs, we now see tremendous opportunities for distributing computation-intensive tasks away from high-performance mainframe computers; previously formidable tasks such as speech coding and recognition, pattern and scene analysis, spectral analysis, high bit-rate communication, and the like are now all computable by utilizing a single VLSI module embedded in any standard personal computer. This combination of a general-purpose CPU and superfast real-time coprocessor is likely to be key to the future functions and success of advanced workstations. A signal processing subsystem with real-time data acquisition and control capabilities has been developed for the IBM PC at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Laboratory and is the topic of this paper.
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