DSP Extensions

The ARM DSP instruction set extensions increase the DSP processing capability of ARM solutions in high-performance applications, while offering the low power consumption required by portable, battery-powered devices. DSP extensions are optimized for a broad range of software applications including servo motor control, Voice over IP (VOIP) and video & audio codecs, where the extensions increase the DSP performance to enable efficient processing of the required tasks.


  • Single-cycle 16x16 and 32x16 MAC implementations
  • 2-3 x DSP performance improvement over ARM7™ processor-based CPU products
  • Zero overhead saturation extension support
  • New instructions to load and store pairs of registers, with enhanced addressing modes
  • New CLZ instruction improves normalization in arithmetic operations and improves divide performance
  • Full support in the ARMv5TE, ARMv6 and ARMv7 architectures


  • Audio encode/decode (MP3: AAC, WMA)
  • Servo motor control (HDD/DVD)
  • MPEG4 decode
  • Voice and handwriting recognition
  • Embedded control
  • Bit exact algorithms (GSM-AMR)

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 request explicit use of these extensions via intrinsic or inline assembly code. 


The ARM DSP extensions enable increased DSP performance without the need for very high clock frequencies. This performance comes 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. The DSP extensions provide complete compatibility with the 32-bit ARM and 16-bit Thumb® instruction set, ensuring that all existing OS and application code is reusable on DSP-enabled, ARM processor-based devices. The extensions are broadly applicable across a wide range of market segments including wireless, mass storage, automotive, consumer entertainment and digital imaging.


SIMD Extensions for Multimedia  

Delivering High Performance Audio & Video Processing to Embedded Applications

Current generations of smartphones and internet appliances must deliver high levels of media and graphics performance to be competitive. SIMD extensions in the ARMv6 and ARMv7 architectures deliver improved performance.

The ARM SIMD media extensions were introduced with the ARMv6 architecture, beginning with ARM1136 and continuing through ARM1176™, ARM11™ MPCore™, Cortex™-A5Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9. These SIMD extensions increase the processing capability of ARM processor-based SoC without materially increasing the power consumption . The SIMD extensions are optimized for a broad range of software applications including video and audio codecs, where the extensions increase performance by up to 75% or more.  

ARMv6 SIMD Features:

  • 75% performance increase for audio and video processing
  • Simultaneous computation of 2x16-bit or 4x8-bit operands
  • Fractional arithmetic
  • User definable saturation modes (arbitrary word-width)
  • Dual 16x16 multiply-add/subtract 32x32 fractional MAC
  • Simultaneous 8/16-bit select operations
  • Performance up to 3.2 GOPS at 800MHz
  • Performance is achieved with a "near zero" increase in power consumption on a typical implementation


  • Media streaming
  • Internet appliance
  • MPEG4 and H264 encode/decode
  • Voice and handwriting recognition
  • FFT processing
  • Complex arithmetic
  • Viterbi processing

SIMD extensions simplify development of application software by offering a single tool-chain and processing device, when compared to architectures with separate programmable DSPs or accelerators. The single tool-chain environment speeds time-to-market as software plays an increasingly important role in product development. The SIMD extensions are completely transparent to the operating system (OS), allowing existing OS ports to be used. New applications running on the OS can be written to explicitly use the SIMD extensions, providing an additional power/performance advantage.

Beyond ARMv6 SIMD:

NEON™ technology builds on the concept of SIMD with a dedicated module to provide 128-bit wide vector operations, compared to the 32bit wide SIMD in the ARMv6 architecture. NEON technology introduced in the ARMv7 architecture is only available with ARM Cortex-A class processors.

More information:




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