ARM launches its new 32-bit Cortex-M7 processor
Share on Twitter.
Get the most reliable SMTP service for your business. You wished you got it sooner!
September 24, 2014
Earlier today, ARM has revealed its new 32-bit Cortex-M7 processor, which will sit at the top
of its microcontroller-grade family of cores in terms of performance.
ARM's previous top-of-the-line processor was the Cortex-M4. The M7 has twice the DSP power
of the M4 by executing twice as many instructions simultaneously, and it also helps that the M7
can operate at a higher clock frequency than the M4.
"The Cortex M7 has a superscalar pipeline which can execute two instructions simultaneously," an
ARM source told us today.
"The Cortex-M4 can execute just one instruction at a time. This is where most of the speed-up
comes from. The Cortex-M7 can run at a higher clock frequency than the Cortex M4.
Together these give on average two-times uplift in DSP performance for Cortex-M7 over the Cortex-M4."
DSP (digital signal processing) is particularly useful for efficiently juggling incoming
streams of audio and video data, and performing fast motor control-– better than a generic CPU
core can manage.
By doubling the performance, ARM says that appliances and gadgets using the M7 can more quickly
perform the complex math required to finely control motor movement in robots, analyze microphone,
touchscreen, and other sensor data, and then encrypt the telemetry before it's sent over the air.
That means ovens with better voice-recognition software when you speak to them, drones with
tighter flight control, tiny sensor networks in walls sensing humidity earlier, and so on.
To be sure, all of this depends on the system-on-chips the M7 cores end up in, and the software
running on them.
Manufacturers can set the clock speed, and enable and disable various features as they desire. Hardware
and software engineers may have other ideas for products and bottlenecks in mind to stuff up ARM's
dream of pumping more intelligence into our every day lives.
More intelligent SoCs means less data flying back to base, since the microcontrollers can
make more of their own decisions, which will result in simpler networks and less information to
intercept, but it'll also make the code on the cores more complex, and that means more bugs.
The M7 has a six-stage superscalar pipeline, with branch prediction, compared to the M4's three-stage,
and runs the usual 32-bit ARMv7 instruction set.
It's backed by the Keli CMSIS DSP library, and includes a single and double precision FPU.
At least the DSP functionality is within the instruction set, albeit as an extension, rather
than discrete DSP silicon.
The M7 aims for realtime determinism with tightly coupled memories and a 12-cycle interrupt
latency. You can also use two M7 cores in lock step running the same code – one following two cycles
behind the other – so that potential glitches can be detected by external electronics if the two CPUs
suddenly behave slightly differently.
Atmel, Freescale and ST Micro Electronics have already snapped up licenses to pump out chips
with M7 cores in the 90 nanometer to 40 nm process range. Each core taking up a 0.1mm square of silicon,
before the manufacturer whacks peripherals, the control logic and the power management into a chip package.
Source: ARM Inc.
Get the most dependable SMTP server for your company. You will congratulate yourself!
Share on Twitter.