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ARM, Intrinsity boost performance of Cortex-R4

Posted: 27 Jul 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:processor? ARM Cortex? embedded systems?

Intrinsity Inc. and ARM plc are partnering to produce high-performance implementations of the ARM Cortex family of processors. The first of these solutions will be implementations of the Cortex-R4 processor operating at around twice the frequency achievable using standard synthesis techniques on the same silicon process.

The processor implementations incorporate Intrinsity's Fast14 1-of-N Domino Logic (NDL) technology, which enables faster circuit speeds while minimizing power consumption and area. With its ultrafast processing speeds, the ARM Cortex-R4X processor implementations enable higher capacity and data rates without increasing unit costs for very high-volume, deeply embedded applications such as hard disk drives, printers and networking equipment.

"Mass storage, printing and networking applications need ever increasing levels of performance to handle higher data rates, more media services and new functionality such as encryption," said Graham Budd, executive VP and general manager, processor division, ARM. "Through this relationship we can extend the performance range of the Cortex-R4 processor to meet these requirements and those of new market domains."

The Cortex-R4X processor implementations incorporate all of the advanced features of the Cortex-R4 processor. These enable the execution of complex control algorithms and real-time workloads in next-generation embedded systems, while maximizing power efficiency. The extremely flexible local memory architecture enables the tightly coupled memory (TCM) to be unified into a single logical address space while providing the same performance as cache memory.

Straightforward DMA support for the TCM extends the use of this memory for shared buffers and streaming data. Moreover, all versions of the Cortex-R4 processor offer embedded ECC technology, which monitors memory accesses to detect and correct errors, providing very high reliability and availability. The advanced AMBA 3 AXI compliant bus interfaces allow high performance memory backplanes to be implemented using the ARM PrimeCell portfolio.

Various configurations of the Cortex-R4 processor will be available as Cortex-R4X implementations, on a range of silicon processes. The first implementation will operate at 600MHz under worst-case operating conditions on the TSMC 65LP process. As a cycle-accurate implementation of the Cortex-R4 processor, it executes all the same software binaries and is fully supported by the RealView Development Suite. Standard Cortex-R4 processor models can be used for cycle accurate modelling of the Cortex-R4X processor implementation with RealView SoC Designer, offering rapid prototyping and architectural exploration.

"Intrinsity FastCores incorporate Fast14 technology, and we use this to enable breakthrough embedded processor performance with very low power consumption," said Bob Russo, CEO, Intrinsity. "By working closely with ARM on the development of the Cortex-R4X processor implementations, together we will be able to reach a much broader base of designers who are looking for ways to achieve higher performance without sacrificing power efficiency and bring new SoCs to market quickly."

The Cortex-R4X processor implementation is available for licensing from ARM immediately, with delivery expected in Q1 2008. ARM Partners will be able to choose among a range of off-the-shelf fixed configurations, with the option to order custom configurations as needed.

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