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Product category: Intellectual Property Cores
News Release from: Actel Europe | Subject: Cortex-M1 processor
Edited by the Electronicstalk Editorial Team on 20 March 2007

Licence-free ARM Cortex
is made for FPGAs

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Actel's implementation of the ARM Cortex-M1 processor is a small high-performance 32bit soft core developed for optimal use in field-programmable gate arrays

Disclosing further details of its industry-standard processor portfolio, Actel has announced the availability of its implementation of the ARM Cortex-M1 processor, a small, high-performance, 32bit soft core codeveloped by the companies for optimal use in field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

Removing the licence and royalty fees typically associated with licensing models for industry-leading processor cores, Actel offers free access to advanced ARM processor technology to the broad marketplace.

The free delivery of the Cortex-M1 processor for use in Actel's Flash-based, M1-enabled Actel Fusion and ProASIC3 FPGAs provides system designers programmable flexibility and system-level integration, enabling the development of low-cost, high-performance systems.

'With the significant increase in the use of FPGAs as flexible, cost-effective platforms for the rapid design of high-quality embedded systems, the introduction of an FPGA-optimised ARM processor enables us to serve the growing needs of companies who require highly programmable solutions', said John Cornish, Vice President, Marketing, Processors Division, ARM.

'The unprecedented security benefits and advanced features offered by Actel's Flash-based FPGAs make these devices an ideal vehicle for our high-performance processor technology'.

Rich Brossart, Vice President, Product Marketing at Actel, added: 'Evidenced by the success of our soft ARM7 family processor core, designers continue to show great interest in implementing industry-standard 32bit processor technologies in FPGAs'.

'With the addition of the FPGA-optimised ARM Cortex-M1 processor, free of licence and royalty fees, to our broad processor portfolio, system designers can select the solution that best meets their design requirements regardless of application or volume'.

Derived from ARM's three-stage Cortex-M3 processor pipeline, the highly configurable Cortex-M1 processor operates at up to 72MHz in Actel's M1-enabled Fusion Programmable System Chip (PSC) or ProASIC3 FPGAs.

Providing a good balance between sise and speed for embedded applications, the core is able to be implemented in as few as 4300 tiles, roughly 20% of an M1A3P1000 ProASIC3 device or 30% of a mixed-signal M1AFS600 Actel Fusion PSC.

The Cortex-M1 processor solution also connects to the industry-standard AHB bus, allowing designers to build a subsystem and easily add peripheral functionality to the processor.

With the increasing costs of application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design, designers can benefit from a Cortex-M1 processor-based implementation in an FPGA due to reduced design time and a lower cost of entry into system-on-chip design, particularly for lower volume applications.

However, for designs that scale to ultrahigh volumes, the 32bit Cortex-M1 processor runs the industry-standard Thumb instruction set and is upward compatible with the Cortex-M3 processor, providing an easy migration path to ASIC implementation.

Actel's Flash-based FPGAs, the mixed-signal M1 Actel Fusion PSCs and low-cost M1 ProASIC3 devices, are virtually immune to tampering, assuring users that valuable IP will not be compromised or copied.

The single-chip devices also provide the low power, firm-error immunity and live at power-up capabilities that are inherent to all Actel FPGAs.

The Cortex-M1 processor is supported by the comprehensive tools and knowledge that currently exists for the ARM architecture, far surpassing the level of support offered for proprietary processors.

Actel will support the Cortex-M1 processor with its CoreConsole IP deployment platform, its SoftConsole program development environment, and Actel Libero integrated design environment all available for free download from Actel's website.

Actel's implementation of the Cortex-M1 processor is fully supported by the ARM RealView development suite and RealView microcontroller development kit.

Third-party vendors, such as Aldec, CriticalBlue, CodeSourcery, IAR, ImpulseC and Keil will also support the new processor with a host of tools from compilers and debuggers to RTOS support.

Actel's implementation of the Cortex-M1 processor will be available for early access in April.

The M1A3P1000 ProASIC3 device and M1AFS600 Fusion PSC device will sample in Q3 2007 with production quantities in Q4 2007.

Pricing for the M1 devices starts at US $3.95.

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