An Introduction to Embedded Arm Processors and How They Work

June 21, 2013

Tech Info

The embedded ARM processor is the processor of choice in the computing world. This type of technology is best known for its use in processors or central processing units (CPUs). The attractive quality of this type of processor is low energy consumption and, simultaneously, high-energy efficiency. The aim of its design is something called RISC, which is an acronym that stands for the concept of reduced instruction set computing. This indicates that it aims to improve processor performance via the simplification of instructions for a more efficient execution.

The History Of the Embedded ARM Processor

The history of this processor covers a relatively recent period of time. In the 1980s, it all started when Acorn Computers wished to move forward from merely basic CMOS processors to something a lot stronger and to something that could compete with IBM’s machines of the same decade. Steve Furber and Sophie Wilson of Acorn made their own processors. In 1983, the ARM project was given the green light, with silicon company VLSI Technology on board too. From the mid-1980s on, various ARM processors were released, such as the ARM1 and the ARM Archimedes. Soon, ACORN established Advanced RISC Machines Ltd., dedicated to developing the ARM core.

Use In Low Power Applications

The big attraction factor with the embedded ARM processor is its use in low power applications. Examples of low power applications are small microprocessors, microcontroller applications, embedded applications, a fanless box PC, and mobile devices. As a result, manufacturers feel that this type of technology is a lucrative bet. Since the straightforward manipulation of memory is not allowed through this architecture, it’s instead performed by way of registers. The main objective of the instruction set is to lessen the quantity of cycles for every instruction. This features mainly single cycle operations.

Instructions In ARM Architecture

All of the instructions present in an ARM ISA are just conditional. This means that even the normal execution instructions are also taking place at the same time as condition AL. If you exclude AL, there will still be 14 executions that are available. As a result of this type of processor, the instruction set was able to do more. Additionally, the transistor count has also gone up quite substantially: ARM2 featured a transistor count of around 30,000 while the Cortex-A9 ARM has approximately 26 million in its transistor count. Interestingly, a further thumb architecture was devised in order to help 16-bit instruction models on the usually 32-bit ARM machines.

The embedded ARM processor is favored by some manufacturers because of its cost-saving nature. It is used somewhat widely in low power applications that range from mobile devices, fanless box PCs, and microprocessor applications to small microprocessors and even microcontroller applications. This type of technology only started in the 1980s, mainly as a way of competing with IBM’s machines back then. Instruction-wise, the embedded ARM processor supports only conditional instructions. At the same time, the transistor count of this processor has risen dramatically over the years.

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