ARM's new Cortex cores deliver big punch in small chip

Chip designer Arm's new Cortex family of processor cores will help designers of mobile and embedded devices build powerful systems that use less memory, the company said Tuesday at its developer conference.

The Cortex M3 will be the first processor core released to Arm's partners from the new family, said Mike Muller, chief technology officer at the Cambridge, England, company. The M3 core is designed for the automotive and microcontroller markets, where extremely small and low-power chips are required, he said. It will be available to Arm's partners in the third quarter of 2005, he said.

Arm is a fabless semiconductor design company. It doesn't actually make processors, rather it designs processor cores that other companies use to create silicon chips. Arm's cores are for chips that are found in a wide number of mobile phones, personal digital assistants, and embedded devices.

Cortex processor cores will incorporate a new instruction set called Thumb-2. Current Arm cores use either the Thumb instruction set, for applications that require densely packed code, or the ARM instruction set, for performance needs, but Thumb-2 will allow chip designers to get the best of both worlds, he said.

For some applications in the embedded world, code density is a priority, said John Cornish, director of product marketing at Arm. If application code is not densely packaged, it can require additional amounts of memory. This adds cost and size to mobile or embedded devices, two factors that product designers and end users want to avoid, he said.

Arm's Thumb instruction set allowed product designers to use dense blocks of code, but system performance was affected by that decision. Thumb-2 allows those designers to get the same code density benefits from the Thumb instruction set with performance that comes very close to the raw performance enabled by the ARM instruction set, Cornish said.

Cortex processors will still include the ARM instruction set for applications that require that small extra bit of performance. The two instruction sets, Thumb-2 and ARM, can exist alongside each other without any compatibility problems, Cornish said.

Overall, users should see better performance out of smaller phones with the Cortex processor cores, Cornish said. Arm will make announcements about Cortex processor cores for mobile phone and handheld devices next year, he said.

The Cortex cores will be the first to include Arm's recently unveiled Neon technology for multimedia applications, Cornish said. Embedded processor cores such as the M3 won't ship with the Neon technology, but Neon is expected to allow handheld devices to run multiple video streams or three-dimensional graphics.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?