ARM968 Processor

ARM968 Processor Image
The ARM968E-S™ is a fully synthesizable 32-bit RISC processor aimed specifically at embedded real-time applications, and is the smallest, lowest power ARM9™ family processor.


The ARM968E-S is a small footprint core for low power, data intensive applications

The ARM968E-S processor is designed for hard real time applications, and provides highly deterministic performance. Within the ARM9™ processor family, the ARM968E-S processor provides the smallest footprint and highest power efficiency.

Some of the features offered by the ARM968E-S are:

  • Separate directly connected instruction and data tightly coupled memory (TCM), which have flexible sizes.
  • Dedicated AMBA® AHB-lite slave Direct Memory Access (DMA) port and dual banked data TCM to enable the processor and a DMA controller to share access to TCM
  • Binary compatibility with the ARM7TDMI® processor

Industry standard

Over 5 Billion ARM9 processors have been shipped so far

The ARM968E-S processor is a very popular processor within the ARM9 family, and continues to be successfully deployed across a wide range of products and applications which demand highly deterministic behavior and have tight area and power budgets.

By offering stable and proven performance, it provides designers a low risk solution, with very fast time to market.

Range of applications

The ARM968E-S processor is used in a wide range of advanced digital products

Product Type Application


Smartphones, PDA, Set top box, PMP, Electronic toys, Digital still cameras, Digital video cameras, etc


Wireless LAN, 802.11, Bluetooth, Firewire, SCSI, 2.5G/3G Baseband, etc


Power train, ABS, Body systems, Navigation, Infotainment, etc


USB controllers, bluetooth controllers, medical scanners, etc


HDD controllers, solid state drives, etc


Customizable for feature-rich and cost-sensitive applications

  • Highly configurable TCM plus bus interface
  • Flexible debug and trace infrastructure
  • Optional Floating Point Unit (IEE754)

Rich ecosystem of OS, RTOS, and tools support

Over 650 members in the Connected Community supporting ARM968E-S processors

  • Broadest ecosystem of compilers, debuggers and RTOS tools in the industry
  • Plentiful design services partners to aid in design task
  • Large variety of third party IP available to integrate with processors.


 ARM968E-S Performance, Power & Area  

 TSMC 130nm G 

 TSMC 90nm G 

Optimization type

 Speed Optimized

 Area Optimized

 Speed Optimized 

 Area Optimized 

Standard Cell Library





Performance (Total DMIPS)





Performance (DMIPS/MHz)





Max Frequency* (MHz)





Cache Size





Area (mm2)





Power (mW/MHz)





Power Efficiency† (DMIPS/mW)





Core area, frequency range and power consumption are dependent on process, libraries and optimizations. The numbers quoted above are illustrative of synthesized cores using general purpose TSMC process technologies and ARM Physical IP standard cell libraries and RAMs.

The speed optimized implementations refer to the library choices and synthesis flow decisions and tradeoffs made in order to achieve the target frequency performance. The area optimized implementations refer to the library choices and synthesis flow decisions and tradeoffs made in order to achieve a target area density.

* Worst case conditions  –   90nm process - 0.9V, 125C, slow silicon

†  Typical case conditions– 90nm process - 1V, 25C, typical silicon



Architecture  ARMv5TE (Harvard)
ISA Support
Pipeline  5-Stage
Dhrystone Performance  1.1 DMIPS/MHz (ARM)
Interrupts  FIQ / IRQ
Memory System Main / TCM Interface

 2x AMBA® AHB Interfaces

  • AHB-lite Master for regular use
  • AHB-lite slave for DMA TCM access
Debug and Trace  EmbeddedICE-RT real-time debug unit
 JTAG interface unit
 Interface for direct connection to Embedded Trace Macrocell (CoreSight™ ETM9)
Availability     Synthesizable


 ARM968E-S Key Features 

Feature Description
ARM and Thumb ISA

The ARM 32-bit instruction set is used in applications requiring high performance. ARM instructions are 32-bits wide, and are aligned on 4-byte boundaries. All ARM instructions can also be "conditionalised" to only execute when previous instructions have set a particular condition code.

Thumb is an extension to the 32-bit ARM architecture. The Thumb instruction set features a subset of the most commonly used 32-bit ARM instructions which have been compressed into 16-bit wide opcodes. On execution, these 16-bit instructions are decompressed transparently to full 32-bit ARM instructions in real time without performance loss.

Designers can use both 16-bit Thumb and 32-bit ARM instructions sets and therefore have the flexibility to emphasize performance or code size on a sub-routine level as their applications require.

Configurable Instruction and Data TCMs

The ARM968E-S processor supports highly configurable instruction and data TCMs. TCMs are typically used for applications that may not respond well to caching, such as highly deterministic or low-latency applications with finite closed-loop control. TCM accesses are deterministic and do not access the AHB. Therefore, you can use the DTCM and ITCM to store real-time, performance-critical code.

The Instruction TCM typically handles interrupts or exceptions, and the Data TCM handles data intensive tasks, such as audio or video processing. The second interface can have two memory ports to increase bandwidth and enable interleaving against incoming DMA-based data streams 

The features of the TCM interface include: 

  • Independent ITCM and DTCM sizes of 0KB or 1KB-4MB in power-of-two increments 
  • Alternately accessed DTCM ports, D0TCM and D1TCM, for simultaneous, interleaved DMA and processor access to DTCM at 32-bit (word) granularity
  • Software visibility and programmability of TCM size and enable
  • Boot control for ITCM
  • Data access to the ITCM for literal pool generation in code
  • Simple SRAM-style interface supporting both reads and writes
  • Variable TCM wait state control for ITCM and DTCM
  • Separate AHB-Lite slave interface for DMA engine

The TCM is located in the TCM address space of the memory map.

DSP Extensions

The ARM9 family benefits from powerful DSP extensions that enable low-power, high-performance ARM9 based solutions for a broad range of software applications such as servo motor control, Voice over IP and video & audio codecs. 

The ARM DSP extensions enable increased DSP performance without the need for very high clock frequencies. This performance is achieved with almost no increase in power consumption on a typical implementation. In many applications including smartphones and similar embedded systems requiring considerable signal processing, the DSP extensions can often eliminate the need for additional hardware accelerators.

  • Single-cycle 16x16 and 32x16 MAC implementations
  • 2-3 x DSP performance improvement over ARM7™-based CPU products
  • Zero overhead saturation extension support
  • Instructions to load and store pairs of registers, with enhanced addressing modes
  • CLZ instruction improves normalization in arithmetic operations and improves divide performance

Compilers targeting the ARM architecture can use these DSP extensions to improve code-generation for standard C and C++ software, or allow software developers to explicitly request use of these extension via intrinsics or inline assembly code.

Optional VFP9-S Floating Point Unit

The VFP9-S coprocessor provides IEEE 754 standard-compatible operations. Designed specifically for the ARM9 processor family, the VFP9-S coprocessor provides full support of single-precision and double-precision add, subtract, multiply, divide, and multiply with accumulate operations. Conversions between floating-point data formats and ARM integer word format are provided, with special operations to perform the conversion in round-toward-zero mode for high-level language support.

The VFP9-S coprocessor provides a performance-power-area solution for embedded applications and high performance for general-purpose applications, such as Java.

The VFP9-S coprocessor is optimized for: 

  • High data transfer bandwidth through 32-bit split load and store buses 
  • Fast hardware execution of a high percentage of operations on normalized data resulting in higher overall performance while providing full IEEE 754 standard support when required 
  • Divide and square root operations in parallel with other arithmetic operations to reduce the impact of long-latency operations
  • Near IEEE 754 standard compatibility in RunFast mode without support code assistance, providing determinable run-time calculations for all input data
  • Low power consumption, small die size, and reduced kernel code
DMA Dual AHB-Lite interface The ARM968E-S DMA implements the AHB-Lite bus slave interface. It is tightly integrated with the TCM interface to prevent access contention with the processor. A dedicated AHB-lite slave DMA port and dual banked data TCM enables the processor and a DMA controller to share access to TCM. Transfer of data and code to and from the TCM is possible even while the processor is in the low-power wait-for-interrupt state.
Debug Interface

The ARM968E-S processor contains hardware extensions for advanced debugging features to facilitate application software and operating system development.  

The debug extensions enable halted system debug to examine the internal state of the processor and the external state of the AHB while all other system activity continues as normal.  

Monitor debug-mode operation is also supported which enables users to debug the ARM968E-S processor while critical interrupt service routines are executing.

The debug monitor program typically communicates with the debug host over the debug communications channel.

ETM Interface CoreSight ETM9 provides non intrusive, cycle accurate instruction trace and data trace for the ARM968 processor.

System Development

Connect to standard System IP - AMBA® interconnect compatibility for fast and efficient system design with peripherals and memories.


System IP

System IP components are essential for building complex system on chips and by utilizing ARM System IP components developers can significantly reduce development and validation cycles, saving cost and reducing time to market



System IP Components

Enable fast configuration of embedded systems with an AMBA AHB interface


AMBA Design Kit (ADK)

AHB Memory Controllers (Dynamic, static and hybrid memory controllers)


PL24X family

Synthesisable UART



Synthesisable Single-wire Peripheral Interface (SPI) controller



Synthesisable keyboard or mouse interface complying with IBM-defined PS/2 interface standard



Synthesisable GPIO controller supporting 8 bits with interrupt control.




Media Processors

The Mali™ family of products combine to provide the complete graphics stack for all embedded graphics needs, enabling device manufacturers and content developers to deliver the highest quality, cutting edge graphics solutions across the broadest range of consumer devices.

Mali-55 GPU

The Mali-55 GPU is the world’s smallest OpenGL ES 1.1 compliant GPU using the Mali tile-based rendering architecture to maximize the efficiency of energy usage in displaying graphical images and to minimize the bandwidth demands on the system.


Physical IP

ARM® Physical IP Platforms deliver process optimized IP, for best-in-class implementations of ARM processors.

Standard Cell Logic Libraries

Available in a variety of different architectures ARM Standard Cell Libraries support a wide performance range for all types of SoC designs. Designers can choose between different libraries and optimize their designs for speed, power and/or area

Memory Compilers and Registers

A broad array of silicon proven SRAMRegister File and ROM memory compilers for all types of SoC designs ranging from performance critical to cost sensitive and low power applications.

Interface Libraires

A broad portfolio of silicon-proven Interface IP designed to meet varying system architectures and standards. General Purpose I/O, Specialty I/O, High Speed DDR and Serial Interfaces are optimized to deliver high data throughput performance with low pin counts.


Tools Ecosystem

All ARM processors are supported by the ARM RealView® portfolio of development tools, as well as a wide range of third party tools, operating system and EDA vendors. ARM RealView tools are unique in their ability to provide solutions that span the complete development process from concept to final product deployment.


ARM968 Powered Products
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