DSP processors are microprocessors designed to per-form digital signal processing—the mathematical ma-nipulation of digitally represented signals. Digital signalprocessing is one of the core technologies in rapidlygrowing application areas such as wireless communica-tions, audio and video processing, and industrial control.Along with the rising popularity of DSP applications, thevariety of DSP-capable processors has expanded greatlysince the introduction of the first commercially success-ful DSP chips in the early 1980s. Market research firmForward Concepts projects that sales of DSP processorswill total U.S. $6.2 billion in 2000, a growth of 40 per-cent over 1999. With semiconductor manufacturers vy-ing for bigger shares of this booming market, designers’choices will broaden even further in the next few years.Today’s DSP processors (or “DSPs”) are sophisticat-ed devices with impressive capabilities. In this paper, weintroduce the features common to modern commercialDSP processors, explain some of the important differ-ences among these devices, and focus on features that asystem designer should examine to find the processorthat best fits his or her application.