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ARMv8 instruction set to comply with future processors

Posted: 08 Oct 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ARM core? processor? design?

ARM Holdings plc is developing a better instruction set architecture that will serve as the basis for the next set of processor cores.

When this design will be launched, along with its capabilities and extensions to the current architecture ARMv7, this will be driven by applications and partners, according to a senior company executive. However, it remains uncertain whether the instruction set will be introduced in the 32nm or 28nm process node for which ARM is developing a SoC design platform.

"I don't think it is necessary for us to move to ARMv8," said Simon Segars, general manager, physical IP division, ARM. He added that there are many scopes for the current generation of ARM processor cores with increased performance and reduced power use provided by the 28nm nodes being developed by both the IBM Common Platform group and foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Many of the current generation of processor designs, under the name Cortex, are patterned from the ARMv7 instruction set. The only exception is the Cortex-M1, a streamlined three-stage 32bit RISC processor created for implementation in FPGAs.

"The next instruction set design will be application-driven. We examine the applications and the required performance as ARM collaborates with its partners," said Segars. However, he claimed that moving to new manufacturing nodes was initially about applying the benefits of such developments as high-k metal-gate and high-performance transistors to the existing products.

He added that ARM has performed its second tape-out of some the early cells in the common platform 32nm process and was developing a Cortex-M3 processor core. "We're using it as a test core because it has a simple memory system with no cache," he noted. "Next time, we'll try an ARM11 core and then the Cortex-A9, while others work on the next-generation of processor cores," he stressed.

Segars refused to comment on the next-generation processors or whether they would implement the ARMv8 architecture. "There's always a bunch of R&D people thinking about what comes next," he said.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times Europe

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