Arm CPU Architecture: A Foundation for Computing Everywhere

Architecture Layer Diagram

The Arm architecture is a family of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors. It is the most pervasive processor architecture in the world, with more than 280 billion Arm-based chips shipped by our partners over the past three decades in products ranging from sensors, wearables and smartphones to supercomputers. Benefits of the Arm CPU architecture include:

  • Integrated security
  • High performance and energy efficiency
  • Large ecosystem for global support
  • Pervasive across markets and locations

The Arm CPU architecture is implemented by a wide range of microarchitectures to deliver software compatibility across a broad range of power, performance, and area points.


  • The CPU architecture defines the basic instruction set, and the exception and memory models that are relied on by the operating system and hypervisor.
  • The CPU microarchitecture determines how an implementation meets the architectural contract by defining the design of the processor and covering such things as: power, performance, area, pipeline length, and levels of cache.

Latest Versions of the Arm Architecture

Arm works with its partners to evolve its architecture and meet future needs. Armv9-A is a set of extensions to the Armv8-A architecture, and part of a rolling program of substantial enhancements to the architecture to be deployed over the next few years. The goal of these enhancements is to help increase the computing capability in areas such as digital signal processing (DSP) and machine learning (ML), and to continually improve the security and robustness of our systems.


The latest architectures for the R-profile and M-profile are Armv8-R and Armv8-M.

Read Reference Manuals

Armv9 – The Next Generation of Arm Architecture

The new Armv9 architecture will form the leading edge of the next 315 billion Arm-based chips. Armv9-A, the latest version of the A-profile architecture, delivers even greater performance than ever, and enhanced security. Key Features include:


  • Advanced SIMD and Scalable Vector Extension 2 (SVE2)
  • AArch32 and AArch 64
  • Realm Management Extension

A Flexible and Scalable Approach

Although Arm offers its own implementation of the Arm architecture with the Cortex and Neoverse range of processor IP, many companies within its global ecosystem develop their own implementations.


There are three architecture profiles:

CPU architecture profiles
A-profile (Application)
Offers highest performance of all architecture profiles

R-profile (Real-Time)
Optimized for systems with real-time requirements

M-profile (Microcontroller)
Designed for small, low power, highly energy-efficient devices

Implementations Arm Processor IP range:
, Neoverse, and Cortex-X
Arm Processor IP range:
Arm Processor IP range:
  • Offers highest performance of all architecture profiles
  • Highly energy efficient
  • Optimized to run rich operating systems
  • Optimized for systems with real-time requirements
  • Designed for small, low power, highly energy-efficient devices
Latest Versions Armv9-A and Armv8-A Armv8-R Armv8-M
Use Cases Complex compute application areas, such as PCs, laptops, smart TVs, servers, networking equipment, smartphones and automotive head units, cloud storage, and supercomputers. Real-time response requirements in safety critical applications or applications needing a deterministic response, such as medical equipment, vehicle steering, braking and signalling, networking and storage equipment, and embedded control systems. Energy efficiency, power consumption, and size priorities. Security processors, IoT and embedded devices, such as wearables, small sensors, communication modules and smart home products.


Each profile means the architecture can be optimized for different environments and use cases. System on chips (SoCs) are often designed to power a specific class of product and include multiple processors that implement different architecture profiles to meet a product’s energy, performance and security needs.

Discover Learn the architecture – our library of introductory technical guides can help you learn more about the Arm architecture.

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