ARMv8-A Architecture

The ARMv8 architecture introduces 64-bit support to the ARM architecture with a focus on power-efficient implementation while maintaining compatibility with existing 32-bit software. By adopting a clean approach ARMv8-A processors extend the performance range available while maintaining the low power consumption characteristics of the ARM processors that will power tomorrow's most innovative and efficient devices. ARM has 3 different product tiers supporting the ARMv8-A architecture: High Performance, High Efficiency, and Ultra-High Efficiency.

Increased availability of larger registers for general purpose and media instructions, a greater addressing range and cryptography instructions enable new categories of applications for superphone and tablet computing, while bringing the ARM benefits of efficient design and low power consumption to applications where 64-bit computing is already established, such as servers and network infrastructure, promising to revolutionize the data center.

The ARMv8 architecture maintains compatibility with the comprehensive software ecosystem for 32-bit components. This enables a wealth of software optimized for existing ARM processors to benefit from the enhanced performance of processors based on the ARMv8 architecture, while the addition of 32-bit cryptographic instructions further enables optimization for emerging requirements.

Developing the software to make best use of the new 64-bit capabilities requires the availability of excellent tools, test platforms and key open source components. While developing the architecture and the processors based on ARMv8-A, ARM has also ensured that the essential tools for development are available to software developers today, enabling the ARM software ecosystem to continue to innovate around the Architecture for the Digital World.

ARM DS-5 Development Studio

A comprehensive suite of development tools for all ARM processors, DS-5 Ultimate Edition features the LLVM-based ARM Compiler 6 and ARMv8 Fixed Virtual Platform for world-class software development on the ARMv8-A architecture.


For GNU tools and linux kernel support, pre-built versions are available through the Linaro website www.linaro.org/engineering/ARMv8

ARM Fast Models

Used in conjunction with DS-5 for ARMv8, ARM Fast Models can help developers debug, analyse, and optimize their applications throughout the development cycle, providing a flexible platform for software testing prior to the availability of silicon.

ARMv8 Foundation Model

To enable a broad community of developers, ARM is making available the ARMv8 Foundation Model, based on ARM Fast Model technology. This provides the essentials needed to prove software prior to readily available silicon platforms.

ARM Juno Development Platform

The Juno ARM Development Platform (ADP) is a software development platform for ARMv8-A. It includes the Juno Versatile Express board and an ARMv8-A reference software port available through Linaro. The Juno hardware provides software developers with an open, vendor neutral ARMv8 development platform with Cortex® A57 and A53 MPCore™ for ARMv8 big.LITTLE Mali™-T624 for 3D Graphics Acceleration and GP-GPU compute, and SoC architecture aligned with Level 1 (Server) Base System Architecture.


ARMv8-A introduces 64-bit architecture support to the ARM architecture and includes:
  • 64-bit general purpose registers, SP (stack pointer)  and PC (program counter)
  • 64-bit data processing and extended virtual addressing 
  • Two main execution states:
    • AArch64 - The 64-bit execution state including exception model, memory model, programmers' model and instruction set support for that state
    • AArch32 - The 32-bit execution state including exception model, memory model, programmers' model and instruction set support for that state

The execution states support three key instruction sets:

  • A32 (or ARM): a 32-bit fixed length instruction set, enhanced through the different architecture variants. Part of the 32-bit architecture execution environment now referred to as AArch32.
  • T32 (Thumb) introduced as a 16-bit fixed-length instruction set, subsequently enhanced to a mixed-length 16- and 32-bit instruction set on the introduction of Thumb-2 technology. Part of the 32-bit architecture execution environment now referred to as AArch32. 
  • A64 is a 64-bit fixed-length instruction set that offers similar functionality to the ARM and Thumb instruction sets. Introduced with ARMv8-A, it is the AArch64 instruction set. 

ARM ISAs are constantly improving to meet the increasing demands of leading edge applications developers, while retaining the backwards compatibility necessary to protect investment in software development. In ARMv8-A there are some additions to A32 and T32 to maintain alignment with the A64 instruction set.

The ARM software development tools are used extensively throughout the processor design cycle and set the standard for the ecosystem, providing comprehensive code generation and debug support for all ARM processors.

The latest generation of tools, developed alongside the ARMv8 architecture, consists of virtual platforms, code generation tools, debug solutions and performance analysis tools.

More information on ARM tools support for ARMv8 covering ARM DS-5 Ultimate Edition, ARM Fast Models for ARMv8 and the ARM Foundation Model can be found on the DS-5 website.

Open source components are key to many of today's innovative products and Linaro is dedicated to the timely availability of robust and well optimized open source components for the next generation of innovative products and beyond.

To begin the process for ARMv8, early versions of the tools and kernel components are available for download at http://www.linaro.org/engineering/ARMv8 along with instructions on how to use the ARMv8 Foundation Model to execute and debug code prior to the widespread availability of silicon based development platforms.

ARM and Qualcomm: Enabling the Next Mobile Computing Revolution with Highly Integrated ARMv8-A based SoCs

>ARMv8 Architecture Technical Preview (300Kb PDF White Paper)

>ARMv8 Architecture Technical Preview (300Kb PDF Presentation)

Application Binary Interface (ABI) for the ARM Architecture (log-in required)

ARMv8 Instruction Set Overview (log-in required)


ARMv8-A Software Development

Investor Presentation on the ARMv8-A Architecture

Nandan Nayampally, VP Marketing CPU Group, discusses the features and use-cases of ARMv8-A, the architecture behind ARM’s latest CPU products.

Click here to view the webcast
>Click here to download the slides (PDF)
Click here to listen to the Q&A call (mp3)



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