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

Processor is first
specifically for FPGAs

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The ARM Cortex-M1 processor is the first ARM processor designed specifically for implementation on FPGAs

The ARM Cortex-M1 processor extends the range of the ARM Cortex processor family and enables OEMs to standardise around a common architecture across the performance spectrum. Actel has worked with ARM as lead partner and is the first licensee of the Cortex-M1 processor for use by their FPGA customers.

ARM and Actel will both be demonstrating the Cortex-M1 processor at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, California, from 2nd to 5th April 2007.

The Cortex-M1 processor enables OEMs to achieve significant cost savings through rationalisation of software and tools investments across multiple projects spanning FPGA, ASIC and ASSP, plus greater vendor independence through use of an industry-standard processor.

The Cortex-M1 processor is supported by leading FPGA synthesis vendors, software development tools, and real-time operating systems, giving FPGA designers unprecedented choice and flexibility.

'Gartner Dataquest maintains that FPGAs/PLDs have a very bright future', said Bryan Lewis, Research Vice President, Gartner Dataquest.

'We expect solid growth (15.7%) to resume in 2008 and forecast the FPGA/PLD market to outperform semiconductors from 2008 onward'.

'The Cortex-M1 processor extends the reach of the ARM architecture in the FPGA domain, and advances our goal of providing processor solutions for the entire digital world', said Graham Budd, EVP and General Manager, Processor Division, ARM.

'By leveraging ARM's vast installed user base in the ASIC/ASSP and microcontroller markets, along with support from our own RealView family of tools as well as product support from the ARM Connected Community, the Cortex-M1 processor will deliver significant savings to OEMs in terms of software development resources, tools, and training'.

Actel has licensed the Cortex-M1 processor and will make it available at no additional cost to its customers.

The FPGA-optimised Cortex-M1 processor offers users of Actel's Flash-based M1-enabled Actel Fusion Programmable System Chips and ProASIC3 FPGAs a compact and efficient processor satisfying the requirements of a wide range of end applications.

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.

'Following the success of our ARM7 family-based solutions, Actel worked closely with ARM to optimise its Cortex-M1 processor for FPGA implementation from the ground up, making it an extremely valuable addition to our growing processor library', said Rich Brossart, Vice President, Product Marketing, Actel.

'Free of the contract negotiations and fees typically associated with industry-standard processor cores, Actel will make the Cortex-M1 processor available to those companies who desire highly programmable solutions regardless of application or volume'.

The Cortex-M1 processor will be fully supported by forthcoming releases of the ARM RealView development suite and RealView microcontroller development kit.

The RealView development suite will include a complete instruction set system model (ISSM) allowing developers to create and test applications for the Cortex-M1 processor out of the box.

Developers can easily customise the RealView development suite's debugger to visualise and interact with peripherals added around a Cortex-M1 processor, and will also be able to connect and debug applications running on Cortex-M1 silicon using ARM's high-performance RealView ICE and Ulink2 run control units.

System performance and design turn around time are boosted further with ARM amba compliant PrimeCell peripheral IP, including ARM's latest ultra-efficient microDMA (PL230).

ARM Connected Community Partners, including CodeSourcery, Express Logic, IAR Systems, Mentor Graphics, Micrium and Synplicity will all support the Cortex-M1 processor.

For improved flow integration, the Cortex-M1 processor deliverables will include an IP description conforming to the IP-XACT standard from the SPIRIT Consortium.

The ARM Cortex-M1 processor is a streamlined three-stage 32bit RISC processor that implements a subset of the popular, high density Thumb-2 instruction set.

This enables both the processor and software footprint to meet the area budget of the smallest FPGA devices, while retaining compatibility with Thumb code for any ARM processor from the ARM7TDMI processor upwards.

The Cortex-M1 processor is capable of more than 170MHz, whilst occupying less than 15% area of popular low-cost FPGA devices.

Despite being the smallest processor in the Cortex family, the Cortex-M1 processor can deliver 0.8DMIPS/MHz.

Typical applications for the Cortex-M1 processor on FPGAs include embedded control, communications, networking and aerospace.

The ARM Cortex-M1 processor RTL and associated EDA views optimised for a range of FPGA vendor devices including Actel, Altera, Lattice and Xilinx will be available for license by OEMs in Q2 2007.

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