| LONDON European chip maker STMicroelectronics NV has become the second licensee for the Cortex-M3, a low-cost 32-bit microcontroller otherwise known as “Sandcat” from ARM Holdings plc. |
ARM’s chief executive officer revealed that ST had licensed the Cortex-M3 during an analysts conference held to discuss the company’s second quarter results. He added that ARM has not revealed the name of the first Sandcat licensee.
ARM (Cambridge, England) also announced that Renesas Technology Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) had signed up to use the ARM9 and ARM11 in future system-chip designs.
Cortex processors are designed around the around the ARMv7 instruction set architecture and all support the Thumb-2 instruction set, which itself is a superset of the original Thumb instruction set. However, the unlike the A and R series the M3 does not support the original ARM 32-bit instruction set architecture, making it the first ARM processor range to break with full backwards compatibility.
The Sandcat is expected to offer a performance level somewhere behind the ARM7TDMI but with good power efficiency. ARM was predicting a performance of up to 1.2 dhrystone MIPS per megahertz from a core with only 33,000 gates and consuming about 90-microwatts per megahertz. Licensees are expected to differentiate their Cortex-M3 offerings through the choice of peripheral cores and application-specific cores.
When asked how quickly ST could be expected to bring out a 32-bit ARM microcontroller range, Warren East, ARM’s chief executive officer said: “We are at the very early stages of providing Cortex-M3 deliverables to lead partners. It will take some time.”