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. Atmel has been named one of the early lead licensees of the Cortex-M7 processor, enabling us to deliver exciting new products to the market in the forthcoming months.
“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,” explained Noel Hurley, General Manager of ARM’s CPU Group. “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/MHz. 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 — including next-generation vehicles, connected devices and smart homes — while keeping development costs low. System designers can therefore take advantage of extensive code reuse which in turn offers lower development and maintenance costs. Through these products, the benefits delivered by the Cortex-M7 processor will be evident in our increasingly connected world.
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 offers simple migration from any existing Cortex-M core to the new Cortex-M7.
“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, Atmel Senior Vice President and General Manager, MCU Business Unit. “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.”
In today’s connected world, future devices will be getting smarter in order to operate more efficiently using minimal energy and resources. As ARM notes in its blog, these next generation products are moving to more sophisticated displays, advanced touchscreen panels, and advanced control motors to include field-oriented control algorithms in their motor driver control in order to operate more efficiently. Some of these also need to run communications software stacks to interface with other appliances and interface with the outside world to provide billing information, power usage and maintenance information.
All of these requirements demand more performance from a microcontroller, which lies at the heart of the appliance… and Cortex-M7 based MCUs will deliver that performance.
“The day the refrigerator talks to the milk carton, that’s in a gimmicky category. But to have the dishwasher and refrigerator coordinate their cycles to reduce the electricity load — that becomes useful,” ARM CEO Simon Segars told Reuters.
Key features of the ARM Cortex-M7 core include:
- 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.
From building automation to smart metering to wearables and other Internet of Things (IoT) applications, a new generation of connected products are increasingly powering our lifestyle. Internet and wireless enabled devices embedded with processors give these once-ordinary “things” new powers. Atmel continues to make it easy for designers to create a more intelligent, more connected world through its Atmel | SMART family. This lineup of ARM-based MCUs drive smart, connected devices in the era of IoT, wireless, and energy efficiency. These solutions include embedded processing and connectivity — as well as software and tools — designed to make it faster and more cost-effective to bring smart products to market. Atmel | SMART MCUs combine powerful 32-bit ARM cores with industry-leading low-power technology and intelligent peripherals.
To learn more about the newly-unveiled, high-performance processor, you can read ARM’s entire press release here.