Cortex-M Series

Smallest and lowest power Cortex processors - optimized for discrete processing and microcontrollers

The ARM® Cortex®-M processor family is a range of scalable, energy efficient, and easy to use processors that meet the needs of tomorrow’s smart and connected embedded applications. The processors are supported by the World’s #1 Embedded ecosystem and have already been shipped in many billions of devices. Cortex-M processors help developers deliver more features at a lower cost, with increased connectivity, better code reuse and improved energy efficiency.

ARM offers Cortex-M0 and Cortex M0+ for applications requiring minimal cost, power, and area while Cortex-M3, Cortex-M4, and Cortex-M7 are designed for applications requiring higher performance. The ARM Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M7 integrate Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and accelerated floating point processing capability for fast and power-efficient algorithm processing of digital signal control applications.

Cortex-M processors


Performance efficiency

Maximum performance control and DSP

Mainstream control and DSP

Performance efficiency

Minimal power and area

Highest energy efficiency

Lowest cost, low power


Cortex-M applications

The Cortex-M family is optimized for cost and power sensitive MCU and mixed-signal SoCs for applications including:

Automotive control
Building automation
Connected clothing
Domestic household
Energy grid
Identity & tracking
Industrial control
Internet of Things (IoT)
Medical instrumentation
Sensor fusion
Smart city
Smart lighting

Cortex-M characteristics

The ARM Cortex-M processors utilize ARM Thumb®-2 technology which provides excellent code density. Thumb-2 technology supports a fundamental base of 16-bit Thumb instructions, extended to include more powerful 32-bit instructions. In many cases, a C compiler will use the 16-bit version of the instruction unless the operation can be carried out more efficiently using a 32-bit version.

ARM Cortex-M processors offer superior code density compared to 8-bit,16-bit and fixed 32-bit architectures, reducing the memory requirements and maximizing the usage of precious on-chip Flash memory.

ARM Cortex-M processors provide: 

  • high performance and efficiency
  • easy of software development, as all Cortex-M processors are fully C programmable
  • superior code density
  • compact data footprint, with support for 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit data transfers
  • fast and power efficient algorithm processing with DSP extensions in Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M7

Industry standard

ARM Cortex-M processors are the most popular choice for embedded applications, having been licensed over 200 ARM partners and benefiting from the number one embedded ecosystem with the widest third-party tools, RTOS and middleware support of any architecture. Using a standard processor within a design allows ARM partners to create devices with a consistent base while enabling them to focus on creating superior device implementations.



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