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ARM unveils low-power Cortex-M0 processor

Posted on Monday, February 23 2009 @ 21:19:14 CET by

ARM has introduced the Cortex-M0 processor, this energy efficient 50MHz chip has a power consumption of just 85 microwatts per MHz and promises to be the smallest, lowest power, and most energy-efficient ARM chip available. The new ARM chip is compatible with Cortex-M3 processor code, and according to the firm it delivers 32-bit performance at an 8-bit price point. It's made on a 180nm process and has just 12,000 logic gates.

The ARM Cortex-M0 was designed for applications such as medical devices, e-metering, lighting, smart control, gaming accessories, compact power supply, power and motor control, precision analog and IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee) and Z-Wave systems.
The exceptional low power, small gate count and code footprint of the processor enables MCU developers to achieve 32-bit performance at an 8-bit price point. The ultra low gate count also enables it to be deployed in analog and mixed signal devices as well as MCU applications, and promises substantial savings in system cost while retaining tool and binary compatibility with the feature-rich Cortex-M3 processor.

The Cortex-M0 processor, which consumes as little as 85 microwatts/MHz (0.085 milliwatts) in an area of under 12K gates when using the ARM 180ULL (Ultra Low Leakage) physical IP, builds on the unrivalled expertise of ARM as a leader in low-power technology and a key enabler for the creation of ultra low-power devices. The new processor extends the company?s MCU roadmap into ultra low-power MCU and SoC applications such as medical devices, e-metering, lighting, smart control, gaming accessories, compact power supply, power and motor control, precision analog and IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee) and Z-Wave systems. The Cortex-M0 processor is also suitable for the programmable mixed signal market with applications such as intelligent sensors and actuators which have traditionally required separate analog and digital devices.

The low-power operation of the Cortex-M0 processor is enhanced by the ARM Ultra High Density Standard Cell Library for the 180ULL process, the ARM Power Management Kit (PMK), low power memory instances built specially for Cortex-M0, and the Keil? Microcontroller Development Kit. The ARM low power libraries are optimized to enable low dynamic and static power consumption and minimize chip area. The PMK features dynamic and leakage power management functions and the low power memory instances support external power gating for extreme leakage reduction.

Early licensees of the Cortex-M0 processor include NXP Semiconductors and mixed signal ASIC provider, Triad Semiconductor.

  • 32-bit performance in a 16-bit footprint resulting in more power efficiency and longer battery life, plus performance headroom for product enhancements
  • Small size enables the processor and analog circuits to be implemented on single die
  • Lower cost devices through a smaller processing core, system and memories
  • Ultra low power consumption and integrated sleep modes resulting in longer battery life
  • Thumb instruction set for maximum code density
  • Fast interrupt handling for critical control applications
  • Wake-up Interrupt Controller enables ultra low leakage retention mode with instantaneous fully active mode for critical events
  • Enhanced system debug for faster development
  • 100 per cent C coding including interrupt handlers, and boot code to ease system development. Zero assembler code required
  • Wide application envelope encompassing ultra low cost microcontrollers and analog mixed signal applications



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