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ARM Extends Cortex Family with First Processor Optimized for FPGA

19 March 2007

The ARM Cortex-M1 processor enables OEMs to reduce development costs through standardization on a single architecture across FPGA, ASIC and ASSP

CAMBRIDGE, UK – Mar. 19, 2007 —ARM [(LSE:ARM); (Nasdaq: ARMHY)] today announced the availability of the ARM® Cortex™-M1 processor – the first ARM processor designed specifically for implementation on   FPGAs. The ARM Cortex-M1 processor extends the range of the ARM Cortex processor family and enables OEMs to standardize around a common architecture across the performance spectrum. Actel has worked with ARM as lead Partner and is the first licensee of the Cortex-M1 processor for use by their FPGA customers.

ARM and Actel will both be demonstrating the Cortex-M1 processor at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, Calif., April 2-5.

The Cortex-M1 processor enables OEMs to achieve significant cost savings through rationalization of software and tools investments across multiple projects spanning FPGA, ASIC and ASSP, plus greater vendor independence through use of an industry-standard processor. The Cortex-M1 processor is supported by leading FPGA synthesis vendors, software development tools, and real-time operating systems, giving FPGA designers unprecedented choice and flexibility. 

“Gartner Dataquest maintains that FPGAs/PLDs have a very bright future,” said Bryan Lewis, research vice president, Gartner Dataquest.  “We expect solid growth (15.7 percent) to resume in 2008 and forecast the FPGA/PLD market to outperform semiconductors from 2008 onward.”1

“The Cortex-M1 processor extends the reach of the ARM architecture in the FPGA domain, and advances our goal of providing processor solutions for the entire digital world,” said Graham Budd, EVP and general manager, Processor Division, ARM. “By leveraging ARM’s vast installed user base in the ASIC/ASSP and microcontroller markets, along with support from our own RealView® family of tools as well as product support from the ARM Connected Community, the Cortex-M1 processor will deliver significant savings to OEMs in terms of software development resources, tools, and training.”

Actel has licensed the Cortex-M1 processor and will make it available at no additional cost to their customers. The FPGA-optimized Cortex-M1 processor offers users of Actel’s flash-based M1-enabled Actel Fusion Programmable System Chips and ProASIC3 FPGAs a compact and efficient processor satisfying the requirements of a wide range of end applications. Actel will support the Cortex-M1 processor with its CoreConsole IP Deployment Platform, its SoftConsole program development environment and Actel Libero Integrated Design Environment – all available for free download from Actel’s website.

“Following the success of our ARM7™ family-based solutions, Actel worked closely with ARM to optimize its Cortex-M1 processor for FPGA implementation from the ground up, making it an extremely valuable addition to our growing processor library,” said Rich Brossart, vice president, product marketing, Actel.  “Free of the contract negotiations and fees typically associated with industry-standard processor cores, Actel will make the Cortex-M1 processor available to those companies who desire highly programmable solutions regardless of application or volume.”

Tools and Peripherals Support
The Cortex-M1 processor will be fully supported by forthcoming releases of the ARM RealView® Development Suite and RealView Microcontroller Development Kit. The RealView Development Suite will include a complete instruction set system model (ISSM) allowing developers to create and test applications for the Cortex-M1 processor out of the box. Developers can easily customize the RealView Development Suite’s debugger to visualize and interact with peripherals added around a Cortex-M1 processor, and will also be able to connect and debug applications running on Cortex-M1 silicon using ARM’s high-performance RealView ICE and ULINK®2 run control units.

System performance and design turn around time are boosted further with ARM AMBA® compliant PrimeCell® peripheral IP, including ARM’s latest ultra-efficient microDMA (PL230).

ARM Connected Community Partners, including CodeSourcery, Express Logic, IAR Systems, Mentor Graphics Inc., Micrium and Synplicity will all support the Cortex-M1 processor.   For improved flow integration, the Cortex-M1 processor deliverables will include an IP description conforming to the IP-XACT standard from The SPIRIT Consortium.

Low area, high frequency and ease of use
The ARM Cortex-M1 processor is a streamlined three-stage 32-bit RISC processor that implements a subset of the popular, high density Thumb®-2 instruction set. This enables both the processor and software footprint to meet the area budget of the smallest FPGA devices, while retaining compatibility with Thumb code for any ARM processor from the ARM7TDMI® processor upwards. The Cortex-M1 processor is capable of more than 170 MHz, whilst occupying less than 15 percent area of popular low-cost FPGA devices. Despite being the smallest processor in the Cortex family, the Cortex-M1 processor can deliver 0.8 DMIPS/MHz. Typical applications for the Cortex-M1 processor on FPGAs include embedded control, communications, networking and aerospace.

More information on ARM solutions in FPGA is available from www.arm.com/fpga.

Availability
Free of license and royalty fees, Actel’s implementation of the Cortex-M1 processor will be available for early access in April via the Actel website www.actel.com. The M1-enabled ProASIC3 and Actel Fusion PSC devices will sample in Q3 2007.

The ARM Cortex-M1 processor RTL and associated EDA views optimized for a range of FPGA vendor devices including Actel, Altera, Lattice and Xilinx will be available for license by OEMs in 2Q’07.

About the ARM Cortex Family of Processors
The three series in the ARM Cortex family enable chip manufacturers and OEMs to standardize around a single architecture from low-end microcontrollers to high-performance applications processors. Featuring Thumb-2 technology, the ARM Cortex family significantly reduces development costs and increases enterprise efficiency.

  • ARM Cortex-A Series: Applications processors for complex OS and user applications
  • ARM Cortex-R Series: Embedded processors for real-time systems
  • ARM Cortex-M Series: Deeply embedded processors optimized for microcontroller and low-cost applications

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, graphics 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

1.  Gartner, Inc., “Forecast: ASIC/ASSP, FPGA/PLD and SLI/SOC Applications, Worldwide, 2002-2010 (4Q06 Update)”, by John Barber and Bryan Lewis, December 4, 2006.

ARM, Thumb, RealView, PrimeCell and ARM7TDMI are registered trademarks of ARM Limited. Cortex and ARM7 are trademarks of ARM Limited. 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.

Contact Details:

ARM PRESS OFFICE: +44 208 846 0797

Niall O’Malley
Text 100
+44 208 846 0740
londonarm@text100.co.uk 

Claudia Natalia
ARM
+1 408 548 3172
claudia.natalia@arm.com
Michelle Spencer
ARM
+44 1628 427780
michelle.spencer@arm.com

The following ARM Connected Community members welcome the introduction of the Cortex-M1 processor:

“ARM and CodeSourcery have worked in partnership to provide full support for the Cortex-M1 processor in the GNU toolchain, said Mark Mitchell, chief sourcerer, CodeSourcery.  “The combination of a cost-effective FPGA-based ARM processor and CodeSourcery’s quality open-source tools solution will be compelling for system designers.”

“The arrival of Cortex-M1 processor will open up the ARM architecture to FPGA users,” said William Lamie, CEO, Express Logic. “The ThreadX RTOS powers more than 450 million units worldwide and we have worked closely with ARM during development of the Cortex-M1 processor to ensure that ThreadX users have a smooth migration path to this exciting new processor technology.”

“We welcome the addition of the Cortex-M1 processor to the Cortex family of processors from ARM,” said Mats Ullström, product director, IAR Systems.  “IAR’s Embedded Workbench for ARM has long supported ARM technology-based microcontrollers, combining advanced optimizations with an intelligent workflow, and we are pleased to continue the relationship with ARM, by adding support for the Cortex-M1 processor.”

“Mentor Graphics' long-term strategic relationship with ARM has enabled us to support the launch of the Cortex-M1 processor with several plug-and-play design solutions, including design assembly, embedded software toolsets, and most recently Precision Synthesis for FPGA devices,” said Simon Bloch, general manager, Design Creation and Synthesis Division, Mentor Graphics. “With these vendor-independent offerings from Mentor, designers are free to select any FPGA device to implement their designs based on the ARM Cortex-M1 processor.”

“Micrium’s uC/OS-II RTOS was the first RTOS to support the ARM Cortex-M3 processor,” said Jean Labrosse, president and CEO, Micrium.  “The Cortex-M1 processor provides FPGA users with access to the power of the ARM architecture running the royalty-free, highly reliable and robust uC/OS-II RTOS.”

The Cortex-M1 processor benefits from the broad software development environment, operating systems and applications available for the ARM Cortex family of intelligent processors. We believe this new solution will provide a powerful alternative architecture for today’s FPGA designers,” said Andy Haines, sr. VP of marketing at Synplicity. “ARM and Synplicity have worked closely together since the inception of the Cortex-M1 processor to ensure that Synplicity’s broad range of FPGA implementation products will provide the best possible results for designers using the new processor.”





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