A high speed, digitally based, signal processing system which accepts input data from a detector-preamplifier and produces a spectral analysis of the x-rays illuminating the detector. The system achieves high throughputs at low cost by dividing the required digital processing steps between a "hardwired" processor implemented in combinatorial digital logic, which detects the presence of the x-ray signals in the digitized data stream and extracts filtered estimates of their amplitudes, and a programmable digital signal processing computer, which refines the filtered amplitude estimates and bins them to produce the desired spectral analysis. One set of algorithms allow this hybrid system to match the resolution of analog systems while operating at much higher data rates. A second set of algorithms implemented in the processor allow the system to be self calibrating as well. The same processor also handles the interface to an external control computer.