LONDON ARM plc has extended its Cortex-M3 processor range to make it more accessible for ultra low-power embedded applications, cost-sensitive devices and safety-critical designs.
The latest release includes a Wake-Up Interrupt (WIC) controller that allows almost instantaneous return to fully active mode from an Ultra-Low Leakage (ULL) retention state and introduces enhanced power management features that address the increasing need in the embedded market for extra performance and longer battery life.
The enhanced Cortex-M3 processor will be available for licensing during the second quarter of the year. It was announced at this week's Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, California.
The Cortex-M3 processor is also being supported now by a power management kit (PMK) and is tightly integrated with, and optimized for, low-power physical IP standard cell libraries and memories from the ARM Artisan physical IP family.
Additional enhancements include the ability to integrate solutions for safety-critical and fault-robust applications in industrial, medical, and automotive applications.
The company says the Wake-Up Interrupt Controller, when used with low-power cells such as the ARM Power Management Kit and standard cell libraries and memories, enables the core and the interrupt controller to be rapidly placed in an ultra-low leakage retention mode, returning to fully active mode almost instantaneously on critical events.
"This release builds upon the strong reputation of the Cortex-M3 processor and stands as a testament to ARM's continued innovation and commitment within the global MCU market, said Eric Schorn, VP Marketing, Processor Division, ARM, in a statement.
ARM (Cambridge, England) also said the low-power functionality of the enhanced feature set of the Cortex-M3 processor has already been licensed by Oslo, Norway-based start-up Energy Micro.
"Energy Micro's mission is to make the world’s most energy friendly microcontrollers and this enhanced Cortex-M3 processor will enable us to fulfill this mission," said Geir Førre, CEO of Energy Micro.
ST Microelectronics, Luminary Micro, Toshiba Semiconductor, Yogitech and NXP Semiconductors have also indicated they intend to use the enhanced version of the Cortex-M3 processor.
In addition to the lower-power benefits, the Cortex-M3 processor can now boast a path to IEC61508 standard SIL3 certification, enabling its use in a variety of safety-critical applications in automotive, medical and military markets where fault robustness is essential.
Other enhancements include significantly extended configurability of debug and trace capabilities to enable the creation of extremely cost-sensitive, high-volume 32-bit devices, such as electronic toys and consumer electronics systems; improved operating frequency for highest performance embedded applications; and enhanced signaling to power management controllers.