Arm has announced at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), San Jose, California, a significant upgrade to the widely-licensed Cortex-M3 processor, which is utilised in a wide range of high-performance, low-cost applications.
The new 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.
The Cortex-M3 processor is now also supported by the Arm Power Management Kit (PMK) and is tightly integrated with, and optimised for, low-power physical IP standard cell libraries and memories from the Arm Artisan 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 low-power standby operation, the Cortex-M3 processor has a new integrated Wake-Up Interrupt Controller that, when utilised 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 low leakage retention mode, returning to fully active mode almost instantaneously on critical events.
When combined with Partners’ insight into power-efficient design techniques, the WIC will be a good power-efficient microcontroller solution.
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 low leakage manufacturing processes for major power-saving benefits with 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 good support as demonstrated by the adoption of the technology by some of Arm’s Partners:
The advanced low-power functionality of the enhanced feature set of the Cortex-M3 processor has been recognised 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 Førre, CEO of Energy Micro.
“The EnergetIC 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 now has 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 minimising area cost overhead and adding key benefits at system level.”
Other new benefits of the new release of the Cortex-M3 processor include:
- Significantly extended configurability of debug and trace capabilities to enable the creation of cost-sensitive, high-volume 32-bit devices such as electronic toys and consumer electronics systems
- Improved operating frequency for high performance embedded applications
- Enhanced signalling to power management controllers
Enhanced support features for the Cortex-M3 processor will be available in Q2 2008.
The Cortex-M3 processor is available from Cutter Electronics .