ARM Supercharges MCU Market with High Performance Cortex-M7 Processor

ARM® Cortex®-M7 processor brings high performance and efficient digital signal processing to enable devices featuring superior embedded intelligence across the industrial, infrastructure and domestic sectors.

CAMBRIDGE, U.K. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — September 23, 2014 — ARM has unveiled a new 32-bit Cortex-M processor that delivers double the compute and digital signal processing (DSP) capability of today’s most powerful ARM-based MCUs. The ARM Cortex-M7 is targeted at high-end embedded applications used in next generation vehicles, connected devices, and smart homes and factories. Early licensees of the Cortex-M7 processor include Atmel, Freescale and ST Microelectronics.

“The addition of the Cortex-M7 processor to the Cortex-M series allows ARM and its partners to offer the most scalable and software-compatible solutions possible for the connected world,” said Noel Hurley, general manager, CPU group, ARM. “The versatility and new memory features of the Cortex-M7 enable more powerful, smarter and reliable microcontrollers that can be used across a multitude of embedded applications.”

The Cortex-M7 achieves an impressive 5 CoreMark/MHz1. This performance allows the Cortex-M7 to deliver a combination of high performance and digital signal control functionality that will enable MCU silicon manufacturers to target highly demanding embedded applications while keeping development costs low. Expected uses of Cortex-M7 include smart control systems employed in a range of applications such as motor control, industrial automation, advanced audio, image processing, a variety of connected vehicle applications and other Internet of Things (IoT) uses.

Enabling faster processing of audio and image data and voice recognition, the benefits delivered by the Cortex-M7 processor will be immediately apparent to users. The core also provides the same C-friendly programmer's model and is binary compatible with existing Cortex-M processors. Ecosystem and software compatibility enables simple migration from any existing Cortex-M core to the new Cortex-M7. System designers can therefore take advantage of extensive code reuse which in turn offers lower development and maintenance costs.

In 2013, ARM’s partners shipped some 3 billion ARM-based microcontrollers, making it the industry-leader in its class.

ARM Cortex-M7 features:

  • Six stage, superscalar pipeline delivering 2000 Coremarks at 400MHz in a 40LP process
  • AXI interconnect (supports 64-bit transfer) and fully integrated optional caches for instruction and data allowing efficient access to large external memories and powerful peripherals
  • Tightly coupled memory interfaces for rapid, real-time response
  • Extensive implementation configurability to enable a wide range of cost and performance points to be targeted
  • Optional full instruction and data trace via the Embedded Trace Macrocell enabling greater system visibility
  • An optional safety package and built-in fault detection features contribute toward ASIL D and SIL 3 compliance, meaning Cortex-M7 is the perfect choice for companies targeting safety-related markets including automotive, industrial, transport and medical applications
  • Widest third-party tools, RTOS, middleware support of any architecture, provided by the ARM Connected Community of complementary partner companies.

Partner quotes:

“The Cortex-M7 is well positioned between Atmel’s Cortex-M based MCUs and Cortex-A based MPUs enabling Atmel to offer an even greater range of processing solutions,” said Reza Kazerounian, senior vice president and general manager, microcontroller business unit, Atmel. “Customers using the Cortex-M-based MCU will be able to scale up performance and system functionality, while keeping the Cortex-M class ease- of-use and maximizing software reuse. We see the ARM Cortex-M7 addressing high-growth markets like IoT and wearables, as well as automotive and industrial applications that can leverage its performance and power efficiency.”

“Freescale Cortex-M7-based solutions dramatically extend MCU performance, opening new opportunities for our business,” said Geoff Lees, senior vice president and general manager, MCU group, Freescale. “Our solutions will enable significant innovation and system-level efficiency in areas such as motor control, industrial automation and power conversion. These are rapidly growing markets where the high performance of the Cortex-M7 core eliminates the need for additional DSPs and microcontrollers.”

“Offering customers more intelligence and processing power on our STM32 microcontrollers is a major objective for ST, and the Cortex-M7 delivers that impressively,” said Daniel Colonna, microcontrollers marketing director, STMicroelectronics. “The Cortex-M7 core supports upwardly-scalable compatibility with our existing wide range of 500 Cortex-M STM32 microcontrollers, associated tools and software ecosystem, allowing developers to rapidly adopt our next-generation STM32 Cortex-M7-based MCUs.”

Supporting ARM technology:

  • The Cortex-M7 processor is ideally suited for implementation using the ARM Artisan® 7-track SC7 Ultra High Density Standard Cell Library and Power Management Kit (PMK)
  • The Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS) contains core support, optimized DSP library, and RTOS kernel reference implementation for the Cortex-M7 processor. CMSIS-Pack ensures rapid device coverage in tools with a delivery mechanism for software components, device parameters and evaluation boards
  • The Cortex-M7 processor is fully supported from launch by the ARM Keil ® microcontroller development kit (MDK), which integrates the ARM compilation tools with the Keil µVision IDE and debugger. Widely acknowledged as the world's most popular development environment for microcontrollers, MDK together with the ULINK family of debug adapters now supports the new features available in the Cortex-M7 processor
  • Together with CMSIS and MDK, the Versatile Express Cortex-M Prototyping System is an ideal platform for evaluation of Cortex-M7 processor based designs
  • By utilizing these tools, ARM Partners can take advantage of a tightly coupled application development environment to rapidly realize the performance and low-power features of the Cortex-M7 processor
  • The processor is also supported by third-party tool, software and RTOS vendors including Express Logic, FreeRTOS, IAR Systems, Atollic, DSP Concepts, Mentor Graphics, Micrium and SEGGER.

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