ARM Enhances Feature Set of Popular Cortex-M3 Processor for Extreme Low-Power Functionality

ARM Builds on Successful Adoption of its Cortex-M3 Processor, Extending Reach Across Ultra Low-Power Embedded Applications, Cost-Sensitive Devices and Safety-Critical Solutions

CAMBRIDGE, England, April 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ARM today announced at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), San Jose, California, a significant upgrade to the widely-licensed Cortex(tm)-M3 processor which is utilized in a wide range of high-performance, low-cost applications. The latest release includes a new Wake-Up Interrupt (WIC) controller which allows almost instantaneous return to fully active mode from an Ultra-Low Leakage (ULL) retention state and introduces enhanced power management features that address the ongoing need in the embedded market for increased performance and longer battery life in next-generation designs. The Cortex-M3 processor is now also supported by the ARM(R) Power Management Kit(tm) (PMK) and is tightly integrated with, and optimized for, low-power physical IP standard cell libraries and memories from the ARM Artisan(R) physical IP family. Additional enhancements include the ability to integrate solutions for safety-critical and fault-robust applications in industrial, medical, and automotive applications.

To enable ultra low-power standby operation, the processor has a new integrated Wake-Up Interrupt Controller that, when utilized with low-power cells such as the ARM Power Management Kit (PMK) and standard cell libraries and memories, enables the core and the interrupt controller to be rapidly placed in an ultra-low leakage retention mode, returning to fully active mode almost instantaneously on critical events. When combined with Partners' unique insight into power-efficient design techniques, the WIC will lead to a new wave of extremely power-efficient microcontroller solutions.

By combining the ARM PMK, memories and standard cell libraries with the Cortex-M3 processor, Partners can also gain significant time-to-market savings when targeting ultra-low leakage manufacturing processes for major power-saving benefits with very low area impact. The Physical IP memories feature byte-write capability and allow multiple power-down (with retention) modes when coupled to the PMK.

"This release builds upon the strong reputation of the Cortex-M3 processor and stands as a testament to ARM's continued innovation and commitment within the global MCU market," said Eric Schorn, VP Marketing, Processor Division, ARM. "Many ARM Partners have built extremely successful products using the Cortex-M3 processor and our latest release with integrated ARM physical IP, will help users achieve even better levels of performance, power and cost savings."

The Cortex-M3 processor has received industry-wide support as demonstrated by the adoption of the technology by some of our leading Partners:

The advanced low-power functionality of the enhanced feature set of the Cortex-M3 processor has been recognized by Energy Micro, the Oslo based semiconductor start-up which recently signed a license agreement with ARM. "Energy Micro's mission is to make the world's most energy friendly microcontrollers and this enhanced Cortex-M3 processor will enable us to fulfill this mission," says Geir F0rre, CEO of Energy Micro. "The EnergetIC(tm) microcontroller family from Energy Micro will have energy consumption at a level that is far below today's solutions, thus enabling significant improvements in battery life, and longer lifetime of electronic products."

"We welcome the additional low-power features and configurability provided by the new Cortex-M3 processor release," said Jean Anne Booth, CMO of Luminary Micro. "Luminary Micro already ships the largest line card of ARM technology-based microcontrollers in the market and these new capabilities will enable us to further extend the reach of our award-winning Stellaris family of microcontrollers in our next-generation products." In recognition of their achievements in the microcontroller market, Luminary Micro was recently awarded the 2008 Global Frost & Sullivan Entrepreneurial Company Award.

"NXP continues to strengthen its line of microcontroller solutions for end products in the consumer, industrial, medical and automotive markets," said Geoff Lees, vice president and general manager, microcontroller product line at NXP Semiconductors. "As 32-bit microcontroller technology continues to advance, NXP looks forward to combining its market-leading low-power technologies with the new WIC functionality of the Cortex-M3 processor to further extend its reach into the low-power handheld, metering and medical application spaces."

"In June 2007, we launched the now famous Cortex-M3 processor-based STM32 family, recognized as the best ever microcontroller concept addressing the convergence of 16-bit and 32-bit market needs," said Jim Nicholas, general manager of the Microcontroller Division at ST Micro. "One significant success factor of the STM32 family has been our outstanding low-power implementation, which has set the new benchmark for power consumption in this area. Integrating the new release of the Cortex-M3 processor will extend the market leadership of the STM32 family further."

In addition to the lower-power benefits, the Cortex-M3 processor can now boast a path to IEC61508 standard SIL3 certification, enabling its use in a variety of safety-critical applications in automotive, medical and military markets where Fault Robustness is essential. "Future automotive embedded systems demand increasing levels of performance without compromising the system integrity and safety," said Yutaka Murao, senior fellow of Toshiba Semiconductor Company. "Products based on the latest release of the Cortex-M3 processor can now be combined with specific system level fault tolerance components to meet these demands."

"The new release of the Cortex-M3 processor delivers an excellent, and proven, path for devices to achieve SIL3 certification when implemented in partnership with the FMEA methodology and IP developed by Yogitech," said Silvano Motto, CEO Yogitech. "This solution delivers the exceptional fault robust behaviour required by the IEC61508 standard while minimizing area cost overhead and adding key benefits at system level."

Other new benefits of the latest release of the Cortex-M3 processor include:

- Significantly extended configurability of debug and trace capabilities to enable the creation of extremely cost-sensitive, high-volume 32-bit devices, such as electronic toys and consumer electronics systems

- Improved operating frequency for highest performance embedded applications

- Enhanced signaling to power management controllers

Availability

Enhanced support features for the Cortex-M3 processor will be available in Q2 2008.

About the ARM Cortex-M3 Processor

The Cortex-M3 is a processor focused on cost-sensitive and deterministic applications, including microcontroller, automotive, medical electronics, and a wide range of co-processor applications in complex consumer and mobile handset applications. The processor consists of a three-stage pipelined central core surrounded by a set of configurable system peripherals, including a nested vectored interrupt controller (NVIC), bus matrix and a broad set of debug and trace components. The NVIC is highly configurable to enable up to 240 physical interrupts and up to 256 levels of priority, with unlimited nesting, priority boosting, and integrated non-maskable interrupt for critical events.

The Cortex-M3 processor is proven in market to be highly reliable and robust with in excess of 100 devices currently available. The processor is broadly licensed with more than 20 organizations developing devices and the microcontroller industry rapidly consolidating on it for next generation 32-bit devices.

Public licensees currently include: Actel, Broadcom, Energy Micro, Luminary Micro, NXP, Renesas, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Toshiba.

About the ARM Cortex Family of Processors The three series in the ARM Cortex family enable chip manufacturers and OEMs to standardize around a single architecture from low-end microcontrollers to high-performance applications processors. Featuring Thumb(R)-2 technology, the ARM Cortex family significantly reduces development costs and increases enterprise efficiency.

- ARM Cortex-A Series: Applications processors for complex OS and user applications

- ARM Cortex-R Series: Embedded processors for real-time systems

- ARM Cortex-M Series: Deeply embedded processors optimized for microcontroller and low-cost applications

The ARM Cortex family includes the ARM Cortex-A8, ARM Cortex-M3, ARM Cortex-R4(F), ARM Cortex-M1 and ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore(tm) and Single Core Processors.

About ARM Artisan Physical IP

The ARM product family of Artisan Physical IP solutions provides ARM Partners with the building blocks to create highly optimized system-on-chip (SoC) designs. The products, offered in three platform solutions include; Advantage(tm) platform for performance, Metro(tm) platform for high density (minimum area) and Velocity(tm) high-speed PHYs, offers a wide range of high-performance and high-density, digital and analog products, to design and manufacture advanced SoCs.

About ARM

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