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A Multiprocessing Digital Sound Generator for High-Polyphony Wavetable Music Synthesis

The wavetable synthesis process for generating musical instrument sounds involves the digital processing of small segments of sampled instrument sounds. Current applications for wavetable synthesizers require high polyphony, which means that the synthesis signal processing engine must run a large number of simultaneous independent synthesis processes in real time. Modern general purpose Digital Signal Processors (DSPs) can be used for wavetable synthesis. However, low-cost systems implemented using a single general purpose DSP as a synthesis engine are generally not capable of producing the 24 or more simultaneous voices required by today's applications. This paper begins with an overview of the wavetable synthesis algorithm and processing requirements. A Digital Sound Generator integrated circuit with specialized circuitry and control mechanisms to allow the real-time execution of 16 to 32 simultaneous wavetable synthesis processes is then presented. Finally, a complete low-cost wavetable synthesis system is described to illustrate the use of this integrated circuit for applications such as consumer-level musical instruments, multimedia personal computers, or karaoke equipment.

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