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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
New Cortex-M0+ Processor Targets Low-Cost MCU, Sensor and Control Markets

ARM today announced the ARM Cortex-M0+ processor, describing it as the world's most energy-efficient microprocessor designed for ultra low-power, low-cost MCUs for intelligent sensors and smart control systems.

Applications include home appliances, white goods, medical monitoring, metering, lighting and power and motor control devices.

The 32-bit Cortex-M0+ processor consumes just 9?A/MHz on a 90nm LP process, around one third of the energy of any 8- or 16-bit processor available today, while delivering higher performance.

The Cortex-M0+ processor features enable the creation of smart, low-power, microcontrollers to provide communication, management and maintenance across a multitude of wirelessly connected devices, a concept known as the 'Internet of Things'.

This low power connectivity has the potential to enable a range of energy-saving and life-enhancing applications from sensors to wirelessly analyze the performance and control of domestic or industrial buildings, to battery-operated body sensors wirelessly connected to health monitoring equipment. Current 8-bit and 16-bit MCUs lack the intelligence and functionality to deliver these applications.

"The Internet of Things will change the world as we know it, improving energy efficiency, safety, and convenience," said Tom R. Halfhill, a senior analyst with The Linley Group and senior editor of Microprocessor Report. "Ubiquitous network connectivity is useful for almost everything - from adaptive room lighting and online video gaming to smart sensors and motor control. But it requires extremely low-cost, low-power processors that still can deliver good performance. The ARM Cortex-M0+ processor brings 32-bit horsepower to flyweight chips, and it will be suitable for a broad range of industrial and consumer applications."

The new processor builds on the low-power Cortex-M0 processor which has been licensed more than 50 times by silicon vendors, and has been redesigned from the ground up to add a number of new features. These include single-cycle IO to speed access to GPIO and peripherals, improved debug and trace capability and a 2-stage pipeline to reduce the number of cycles per instruction (CPI) and improve Flash accesses, further reducing power consumption.

The Cortex-M0+ processor takes advantage of the same C programmer's model, and is binary compatible with existing Cortex-M0 processor tools and RTOS. Along with all Cortex-M series processors it enjoys full support from the ARM Cortex-M ecosystem and software compatibility enables simple migration to the higher-performance Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4 processors.

Early licensees of the Cortex-M0+ processor include Freescale and NXP Semiconductor.

The Cortex-M0+ processor is supported from launch by the ARM Keil Microcontroller Development Kit, which integrates the ARM compilation tools with the Keil ?Vision IDE and debugger. MDK together with the ULINK family of debug adapters now supports the new trace features available in the Cortex-M0+ processor.

The processor is also supported by third-party tool and RTOS vendors including CodeSourcery, Code Red, Express Logic, IAR Systems, Mentor Graphics, Micrium and SEGGER.

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