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M7 punch: ARM partners brainstorm use cases

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:M7? ARM? Cortex?

ARM partners put their heads together to come up with use cases for the recently announced Cortex M7, which claims to deliver 5CoreMark/MHz and 2.14DMIPs/MHz performance. Early licensees of the processor include Atmel, STMicroelectronics and Freescale, which will deploy the in its SoCs.

"The types of products that roll out around these processor cores are going to be significantly different, and it's going to be pretty clear when you would use an M4 versus an M7 product," Freescale global product marketing manager Steve Tateosian said during a panel discussion at ARM TechCon.

"With that performance, it allows the users of the devices to focus on value-added applications rather than fine-tuning their code. You're able to spend more time in a rich design environment designing features into your application rather than worrying about performance," said Ian Johnson, senior product manager at ARM.

Johnson cited industrial control as a use case that requires high performance able to respond to real-time events, in such ways as the automation of servos. Vehicles could also benefit from the M7 with voice and character recognition, as well as general dashboard processing.

Atmel's Pat Sullivan, VP of MCU marketing, said he also sees the Cortex M7 succeeding in networking and gateway arenas, as well as midrange wearables and healthcare devices.

"We see it addressing a lot of the system integration, performance issues, and power issues that we have," Sullivan said. "We also see it working in networking, Internet of Things... and smart energy. We think this particular core is well suited for the areas where we see the highest growth rate."

The Cortex M7 also jumped out to these partners for its memory interface and cost efficient memory expansion with high DSP performance that is optimal for audio applications.

"Entry-level audio applications that were traditionally done on DSP could then be done on microcontroller," Paul Beckmann, founder and CEO of DSP Concepts, said of the M4. "With M7, ARM is getting very close to achieving the performance of the DSP."

Tateosian said he believes migration will continue from mainstream M4 applications as Cortex-M7 proliferates. At the same time, the industry will see a migration up for Cortex-M products in what has traditionally been a Cortex A space, with the M7 architecture driving the future.

"Those systems that consume a lot of power relative to the Cortex M product or that have a high [bill of materials] cost are going to change going forward," he said. "That's going to have implications for the power, for the system cost... There's going to be less chips on the board."

It may be a race to the finish line, Tateosian concluded, as companies that engage in the ecosystem early on will "have the opportunity to gain some share in terms of the availability of different software support and tools."

- Jessica Lipsky
??EE Times





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