ARM Holdings (London, UK) is preparing a new processor core based on the ARM7 as part of its strategic push into the microcontroller market.
Although several ARM licensees have already built 16/32-bit microcontrollers around the established ARM7TDMI core, Warren East, ARM's chief executive officer, said the company has been talking to partners about an improved variant of the ARM7 core.
East said the microcontroller market would soon be ready to drop the 4- and 8-bit microcontrollers that have remained in the market in favor of 16- and 32-bit devices. He said ARM's intention was to benefit from the migration to 16- and 32-bit MCUs.
The new core is likely to be part of that strategic thrust.
"It's an ARM7 core better suited to microcontrol than the ARM7TDMI," East said in an interview with CMP Media's Silicon Strategies.
The 'T' suffix in ARM7TDMI refers to the Thumb instruction set extension that allows a 16-bit instruction set to be used with the 32-bit processor. This in turn allows 16-bit wide memory to be used, which can provide power supply savings. The 'I' suffix refers to in-circuit debug support, and the 'M' to multiply accumulate support; features that have proved useful to microcontroller makers such as Atmel, Oki, Philips and Sharp.
On Tuesday (Jan. 27) ARM announced it had agreed to acquire Triscend Corp. (Mountain View, Calif.), a developer of microcontroller platforms that can be customized for field programmable logic on the same die.
Triscend is a licensee of the ARM7TDMI, having dropped an association with Super-H cores in favor of ARM.