ARM provides low power route to connectivity

23 April 2009

ARM unveiled the latest processor in their Cortex series, the Cortex-M0 processor, which is aimed at extending the ARM roadmap to low power and low-cost microcontrollers. Claiming to be the smallest, lowest power ARM processor ever, with 12k gates in an 8/16-bit footprint, the unit is expected to have a power consumption of 85 µW/MHz for a 180ULL process. “The Cortex-M0 is built on the momentum from our flagship product, the Cortex-M3, the M0 provides low-power, is streamlined and simpler but upwards compatible with the M3”, said Dominic Pajak, product manager at ARM.

The Cortex-M0 has been developed for high connectivity applications that use Zigbee, Bluetooth, USB, Ethernet etc such as e-metering, consumer products and smartphones in addition to sensor devices. “Current 8/16-bit architectures are struggling to cope with the requirements of new consumer devices, our interest is to help people using 8/16-bit architectures, we are giving them an alternative that will not cost them in terms of silicon or power,” Dr. Pajak went on to say.

ARM claims the advantage of using the Cortex-M0 is the energy-efficiency of their design, i.e. compared to an 8/16-bit processor, the Cortex-M0 consumes “up to 2 to 4 times less energy and reduces the need for frequent battery changes”. The small gate count allows for the processor to be used in analogue and mixed signal devices.

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

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