ARM raises the IoT processor bar with Cortex-M7

Low-power silicon designer ARM has unveiled a 32-bit chip designed specifically with the Internet of Things in mind. The company has already signed up several licensees for the offering including Atmel, Freescale and ST Microelectronics.

The ARM Cortex-M7 is a 32-bit processor for high-end embedded applications used in next generation vehicles, connected devices, and smart homes and factories. A high performance and digital signal control functionality will enable silicon manufacturers to target highly demanding embedded applications while keeping development costs low, ARM said.

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 IoT uses.

The core also provides C-friendly programming and is binary compatible with existing Cortex-M processors, enabling migration from any existing Cortex-M core to the Cortex-M7.

Geoff Lees, senior vice president and general manager, MCU group, Freescale, said that the new technology 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.”

Daniel Colonna, microcontrollers marketing director, STMicroelectronics, said: “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.”

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ARM broadly categorises its processor designs according to their power. The A series are used in application processors typically found in smartphones, the R series are typically found in real-time settlings such as baseband processors and network devices. The M series are the lowest-powered and are generally embedded, such as microcontrollers. The M7 is now at the top end of the M range and will be positioned as raising the performance bar for embedded processors.

Here’s what happens under the hood. Some of the acronyms will be explained on ARM’s M7 page.

ARM Cortex M7

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