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ARM processor suits cost-sensitive embedded apps

Posted: 03 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:arm? cortex-m3? processor?

ARM recently launched its Cortex-M3 processor, which promises to meet the requirement for high system performance in extremely cost-sensitive embedded applications, such as microcontrollers (MCUs), automotive body systems, white goods and networking devices.

This processor is the first member of the new Cortex family of CPU cores that enables chip manufacturers and OEMs to standardize around a single architecture from low-end MCUs to high-performance applications processors with Thumb-2 technology, significantly reducing development costs and increasing enterprise efficiency, said the press release.

ARM added that the Cortex-M3 processor combines multiple breakthrough technologies that will enable chip vendors to deliver devices at extremely low costs, while achieving outstanding performance of up to 1.2DMIPS/MHz with a core of only 33,000 gates. This design also integrates a number of tightly-coupled system peripherals to achieve the exceptional system response needed to manage future generations of critical control tasks, said the company.

"The ARM Cortex-M3 processor significantly extends the reach of the ARM architecture, and advances our goal of providing processor solutions for the entire digital world," commented Mike Inglis, EVP Marketing for ARM. "By providing our partners with a design that delivers high performance at low cost, we are enabling them to accelerate the delivery of highly competitive 32bit products into the volume automotive and microcontroller markets, and speed the migration from legacy technology."

In addition to reduced memory requirements, the new processor also introduces a new standard debug technology based on a single wire, which can eradicate the multi-pin overhead associated with JTAG debug. Additionally, the device integrates an efficient 32bit Harvard microarchitecture executing Thumb-2 instruction with other close system peripherals, including a Nested Vectored Interrupt Controller and a Bus Arbiter. It also implements interrupt Tail-Chaining technology, a fully hardware-based interrupt handling mechanism which reduces interrupts overhead to a maximum of 12 clock cycles, which is, according to ARM, a reduction of as much as 70 percent in real-world applications.

The company added that its new product delivers a performance increase of 60 percent, a size reduction of 33 percent, and a power consumption reduction of 75 percent over comparable processors. Full tools support for the Cortex-M3 processor, including RealView Compiler and RealView Debug products, is being developed in parallel to the core.

The Cortex-M3 processor is already available to license with optional Embedded Trace Macrocell (ETM) technology. Completed deliverables including models, compatible RealView development tools and synthesizable RTL will be released to ARM partners by Q3 2005.

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