Clients of Benden Technology benefit from years of industry experience in a broad
range of design techniques.
A common misconception is that design consultancies are inclined to “overdesign”,
using expensive or complex technology by default. At Benden Technology, our philosophy
of elegant design means that appropriate technology is chosen, according to the exact
requirements of your project. This may indeed include cutting-edge techniques, or
well-established material used in an innovative way.
Also, different projects have different priorities – for example, low cost, rapid
delivery or out-and-out performance – and we have the experience to deliver the right
Listed below is a selection of key technologies used in many of our projects, with
a brief introduction. If any of them would enhance your next project, please contact
• Microcontrollers are effectively a complete, self-contained computer on a single
• Used to add “intelligence” to products.
• Enable complex yet intuitive displays and user interfaces.
• Allow multiple versions of products simply by installing different program firmware.
• Can be updated with enhanced features at a later date.
• May incorporate rewriteable, non-volatile storage for user options and other data.
• Now very inexpensive (starting at less than £1) and hence becoming ubiquitous even
in simple products.
• Preparation of firmware (program code) for microcontrollers can be as significant
a part of the project as hardware design.
• DSPs are microcontrollers optimised for fast, real-time processing of streams of
data, e.g. audio, video, sensor data.
• Higher performance than general purpose microcontrollers.
• Applications include filtering, signal synthesis and signal analysis.
• Offer functionality impossible to replicate in the analogue domain.
• May also perform control functions simultaneously with data processing.
• FPGAs are large, user-reconfigurable digital logic devices.
• While complex to develop, when tuned for a particular application they offer extremely
high levels of performance through a combination of high speed and the ability
to perform many tasks simultaneously.
• Can address many of the same application areas as DSPs – choice between the two
technologies is often not clear cut and will depend on the individual application.
• A single FPGA can replace whole boards full of small-scale logic devices.
• High-level functions such as microcontrollers and DSPs are available as IP blocks
for implementation on FPGAs.
• Commonly encountered as the S/PDIF (consumer) and AES/EBU (professional) formats.
• Offers the ability to store, recall and extensively process audio signals with
little or no degradation in quality.
• Often used in conjunction with DSP (see above).
• Another common application is streaming of audio over USB to a host computer.
• Inexpensive modules allow playback of audio stored on memory cards or USB hard
drives - the addition of a customiised interface leads to a world of interactive
• Despite reports to the contrary, not yet entirely usurped by digital technology.
• Analogue circuitry frequently offers the simplest solution with the lowest power,
cost and noise.
• Popular for high-fidelity audio and musical applications.
• Used for pre-processing of signals even in otherwise fully-digital systems.
• Physical layout of the components and circuit board can be as important as the
circuitry itself in achieving high performance.
• Standard protocols for communication between pieces of equipment.
• Low-cost and well-understood thanks to widespread use in PCs.
• Straightforward to incorporate in other types of equipment, instantly adding PC
and/or Internet connectivity.
• USB Host functionality allows use of commodity storage devices.
• Expanding choice of wireless protocols now available, including low-power, high-speed
and streaming audio.
• Closed systems can use simple proprietary protocols for minimum cost.
• Components soldered directly to a circuit board rather than inserted through holes.
• Far smaller than conventional Through-Hole components, leading to smaller products.
• Cheaper to purchase and to manufacture with.
• Many components are now only available in surface-mount format and this situation
will only intensify with time.
• SMT is ubiquitous in medium-high volume applications but is also increasingly attractive
for low-volume products.
• Low-cost SMT prototyping services are now available.
• SMT should be the default technology for all new projects unless there are clear
reasons for retaining Through-Hole parts.
• The standard protocol for communication between items of musical equipment (and
• May be transported over USB.
• Low performance by modern technical standards, but extremely well-established.
• More capable alternatives such as Open Sound Control exist but have, as yet, failed
to become ubiquitous.