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ARM Launches Fault-Tolerant Processor To Cut Cost Of Future Car Development

09 October 2006

New ARM Cortex-R4F processor accelerates next-generation automotive design with floating-point support for faster processing

CAMBRIDGE, UK – Oct. 9, 2006 – ARM [(LSE: ARM); (NASDAQ: ARMHY)] today announced at the Fall Processor Forum in San Jose, California, the new ARM® Cortex™-R4F processor to reduce the cost and design-time of future automotive electronic technology. The Cortex-R4F processor will enable ARM Partners to meet the stringent error-free safety standards and high performance requirements of automotive applications including next-generation Anti-lock Braking (ABS) and vehicle stability systems.

The advanced features of the Cortex-R4F processor specialized for the automotive market include support for Error-Correcting Code (ECC) memory, the extension of error detection into the interconnect and a synthesis-optional Floating-Point Unit (FPU).  

“Vehicle OEMs need to continually innovate in order to meet tightening emissions and safety legislation, while adapting to changing consumer expectations,” said Chris Webber, vice president, Automotive Practice, Strategy Analytics. “The ARM announcement of the Cortex-R4F processor is extremely timely as designers of next-generation automotive control systems look for highly robust floating-point processor solutions that are needed for the innately intelligent backbone which will be part of even the most affordable car.”

“Automotive systems require high performance at the very highest levels of reliability to maintain our stringent safety standards,” said Berthold Fehrenbacher, engineering manager, of Robert Bosch GmbH.  “The Cortex-R4F processor enables Bosch to provide this through extensive features that are closely aligned to our product requirements.”

The Cortex-R4F processor builds upon the advanced features of the Cortex-R4 processor.  These features include configurability during synthesis to optimize the processor for different applications through a high-resolution memory protection unit, caches, tightly-coupled memory, DMA and debug facilities. This configurability is provided without compromising the underlying ARM instruction set compatibility, maximizing the reuse of existing software investments by application developers and third parties.

In addition, the Cortex-R4F processor brings a strong focus on safety with high resolution memory protection facilities to allow tight control over independent software tasks This is critical to applications based on the OSEK standard for an open-ended architecture, the JasPar Automotive software platform architecture, and the AutoSAR runtime environment.  ARM is a premium member of AutoSAR which has wide industry support with members such as BMW, Bosch, Continental, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, GM, Siemens and VW.  ARM is also a member of JasPar, whose board members include Toyota, Nissan and Honda.

“The automotive industry is going though a transformation, with the emergence of 32-bit processors as the catalyst for new standards of functionality, intelligence and performance in future car technology,” said Mike Inglis, executive vice president, Marketing and Business Development, ARM. “The new Cortex-R4F processor joins the Cortex-M3 processor as the next step in the evolution of ARM automotive technology, building on the heritage of the ARM7TDMI® and ARM9E™ processors which have been driving this industry over the last ten years.”

“Sophia Systems’ EJ-Debug and EJ-Extreme debug solutions enable design engineers to develop their next generation devices quickly and easily based on the ARM Cortex family,” said Tasuku Kashihira, CEO and COO, Sophia Systems. “To maintain safety standards in increasingly complex automotive systems, good visibility into all parts of the system is vital.  The incorporation of CoreSight™ debug infrastructure with the Cortex-R4F processor provides this, and is an example of the way ARM have matched the processor’s feature set to the needs of this market.”

Features for Automotive Advancement
The Cortex-R4F processor is designed to enable ARM Partners to meet error-free automotive safety standards through seamless support for error detection from the processor, through the interconnect and into peripherals, providing true system-wide protection.

ECC technology monitors memory accesses to detect and correct errors. If a memory error occurs the ECC logic will correct it, rather than just communicating the error and stopping the system. With embedded error correction in the Cortex-R4F processor, ARM Partners do not need to design external ECC logic, simplifying implementation and aiding IEC61508 certification. Careful integration of ECC within the processor pipeline allows this to be achieved without the performance penalty which is normally associated with this level of protection.

With the increasing volumes of data transmitted throughout next-generation SoCs, it is critical that system designers can offer system-wide error detection to increase the fault tolerance of automotive applications. The Cortex-R4F processor extends the traditional processor feature of error detection throughout the SoC, meaning that previously erratically checked data can be scanned continuously for errors to increase reliability throughout the system.

Cortex-R4F Processor-based System Benefits
The Cortex-R4F processor also provides significant benefits for other applications. In networking, for example, it is critical that unplanned outages are minimized as they can contribute to lost sales, increased overtime and loss of employee productivity. According to an Infonet Report Service report titled “The Consequences of Network Downtime,” the average cost of enterprise application downtime is $10,000 per minute. The Cortex-R4F processor’s embedded ECC memory helps to reduce the possible causes of system failure to increase network resiliency and avoid these effects.

In addition, the Cortex-R4F processor’s FPU performs floating-point calculations that allow a greater dynamic range and accuracy than fixed-point calculations. The FPU is backward compatible with earlier ARM FPUs and is optimized for the single precision processing most commonly used in automotive applications. By using single precision values to represent data instead of converting to double precision, it is possible to process data twice as quickly while maintaining the required accuracy to increase the efficiency of the SoC design.  The FPU is particularly useful in sophisticated control applications, where algorithms are often modelled in an environment such as Simulink or ASCET-SD, and code auto-generated using tools such as Real Time Workshop Embedded Coder, ASCET-SE or dSPACE Targetlink.

“Optimized technologies in the Cortex-R4F processor such as fast floating-point processing are important for advanced system designs, and platforms that offer such capabilities can give designers a clear advantage,” said Jim Tung, MathWorks fellow, The MathWorks. “Companies like ARM and The MathWorks that are committed to helping system designers to address their challenges have long been investing to develop tools that enable those designers to do more in less time. ARM has listened to its customers and has provided a new product that works with Simulink for Model-Based Design to automatically generate highly optimized single precision production code for embedded systems using Real-Time Workshop Embedded Coder.”

The Cortex-R4F processor features an advanced micro-architecture with dual instruction issue capability to deliver more than 800 Dhrystone MIPS in a performance optimized 90nm implementation, based upon an ARM Artisan® Advantage™ library. The processor also provides key savings in cost and power consumption for system developers, occupying less than 1mm² and consuming less than 0.27mW/MHz in an area optimized 90nm implementation.  Relaxed timing on the level 1 memory allows dense, low power RAMs to used, extending the area saving beyond the processor logic to the memory, which may account for a substantial portion of the total cost.

ARM has developed a full range of supporting technology around the new processor to reduce design time and accelerate time-to-market. This complete system solution includes development and debug tools, modelling technology and physical cell libraries.
 The Cortex-R4F processor is supported by the ARM RealView® DEVELOP family of software development tools, the RealView CREATE family of ESL tools and models, and CoreSight debug and trace technology for developing embedded systems quickly.
 The efficient design enables higher performance at lower clock frequencies than previous ARM processors and the optimized Artisan Metro™ memories can provide a further reduction in the size and cost of embedded systems.
 The AMBA® Designer design automation tool provides a design flow for advanced AMBA interconnect sub-systems, further reducing implementation costs and time-to-market. Additionally, the AMBA 3 AXI™ protocol-compliant ARM PrimeCell® peripherals including the AMBA 3 AXI Interconnect (PL301), Configurable Dynamic Memory Controller (PL340), Static Memory Controller Family (PL350) and L2 Cache (L220) further improve the performance of the processor.

The Cortex-R4F processor runs the ARMv7 ISA making it fully backwards compatible with existing ARM code that powers billions of systems around the world, and is optimized for the Thumb®-2 instruction set. Using the Thumb-2 instruction set, together with the ARM RealView Development Suite, allows on-chip memory sizes to be reduced by up to 30 percent, saving significant cost in the system. In addition it can produce a 40 percent performance improvement over the previous Thumb instruction set running on an ARM946E-S™ processor. As memory is an increasingly large proportion of a chip, this provides a significant saving in area and cost to chip makers using the processor for automotive designs.

Availability
The ARM Cortex-R4F processor is available for licensing now, along with the majority of the supporting technology. The Instruction Set Simulator and RealView Development Suite tools environment for the Cortex-R4F processor are available today to lead and existing licensees, and for general release on request. The complementary technologies for implementing full SoC solutions such as the AMBA 3 AXI Interconnect (PL301), Configurable Dynamic Memory Controller (PL340), Static Memory Controller Family (PL350) and L2 Cache (L220) are all available now.

About ARM
ARM designs the technology that lies at the heart of advanced digital products, from mobile, home and enterprise solutions to embedded and emerging applications. ARM’s comprehensive product offering includes 16/32-bit RISC microprocessors, data engines, 3D processors, digital libraries, embedded memories, peripherals, software and development tools, as well as analog functions and high-speed connectivity products. Combined with the company’s broad Partner community, they provide a total system solution that offers a fast, reliable path to market for leading electronics companies. More information on ARM is available at http://www.arm.com/.

About the ARM Connected Community
The ARM Connected Community is a global network of companies aligned to provide a complete solution, from design to manufacture and end use, for products based on the ARM architecture. ARM offers a variety of resources to Community members, including promotional programs and peer-networking opportunities that enable a variety of ARM Partners to come together to provide end-to-end customer solutions. For more information, please visit http://www.arm.com/community.

ENDS

ARM, AMBA, Thumb, ARM7TDMI, PrimeCell and RealView are registered trademarks of ARM Limited. ARM9E, ARM946E-S, AXI, Cortex, Advantage, Metro and CoreSight are trademarks of ARM Limited. Artisan Components and Artisan are registered trademarks of ARM Physical IP, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of ARM. All other brands or product names are the property of their respective holders. “ARM” is used to represent ARM Holdings plc; its operating company ARM Limited; and the regional subsidiaries ARM INC.; ARM KK; ARM Korea Ltd.; ARM Taiwan; ARM France SAS; ARM Consulting (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.; ARM Belgium N.V.; AXYS Design Automation Inc.; AXYS GmbH; ARM Embedded Solutions Pvt. Ltd.; and ARM Physical IP, Inc.; and ARM Norway AS.