By Reinhard Keil, ARM (02/18/08, 12:18:00 PM EST) -- EE Times Europe
Several semiconductor manufacturers now offer microcontrollers which are based on ARM technology. These microcontrollers provide an extensive peripheral mix combined with an outstanding price/performance ratio. For those who have not yet thought about an ARM processor-based MCU, additional factors such as the range of professional development tools, efficient operating systems and middleware coupled with a growing range of attractive device options makes this the right time for serious evaluation.
Development of the ARM architecture by Acorn was begun in 1983 as a cost-effective successor to existing 6502 systems. The ARM architecture had a simple yet efficient instruction set which enabled a compact silicon footprint, fast execution speed and low power. Acorn recognized the potential of this architecture and, in conjunction with a group of funding partners which included Apple and VLSI, created an independent enterprise in 1990 called ARM. With processor shipments to date of over 10 billion units, the ARM architecture has grown to become the most popular RISC architecture on the planet.
ARM processors have been used in numerous designs and ARM technology has become ubiquitous in mobile phones, MP3 players, PDAs, cameras, and navigation devices. ARM processors are also found in automotive products, medical devices and industrial control applications.
Today, more and more leading semiconductor manufacturers have used an ARM processor as the basis for their microcontroller line-up. Using an ARM processor allows a semiconductor company to focus on the most important aspects of the microcontroller, such as the application peripherals, flash memory integration and power consumption rather than trying to maintain pace on a treadmill of CPU development.
ARM has a common instruction set and integrated on-chip debug functionality which enables the reuse of many tool chain components from one design to another. Furthermore, the reuse of software components and tool chain know-how can reduce development times for future projects.
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