Processor is suited for deeply embedded systems.

Press Release Summary:

Cortex(TM)-R4 processor employs microarchitecture with dual instruction issue capability to deliver more than 600 Dhrystone MIPS in performance-optimized 90 nm implementation based on ARM Artisan® Advantage(TM) library. Suited for mobile phones, HDDs, printers, and automotive designs, configurability enables optimization for different embedded applications through memory protection unit, caches, and tightly coupled memory. Unit occupies less than 1 mm² and consumes less than 0.27 mW/MHz.

Original Press Release:

ARM Launches Next-Generation Processor for Deeply Embedded Systems

CAMBRIDGE, England, May 15 --- New Cortex Processor Delivers Performance and Configurability for Embedded Markets

ARM (LSE: ARM); (Nasdaq: ARMHY) today announced at the Spring Processor Forum, in San Jose, California, the new Cortex(TM)-R4 processor for the next generation of mobile phones, hard-disk drives, printers and automotive designs, targeting more than one billion units in the embedded market. The Cortex-R4 processor delivers exceptional performance and efficiency to execute the complex control algorithms and real-time workloads in next-generation embedded products.

The Cortex-R4 processor enables configurability during synthesis to optimise the processor for different embedded applications through the memory protection unit, caches and tightly coupled memory (TCM). It does this without compromising the underlying ARM(R) instruction set compatibility, maximising the reuse of existing software investments by application developers and third parties.

"For many years the low power, low cost ARM processor has been the architecture of choice for embedded microprocessor applications," said Will Strauss, president and principal analyst, Forward Concepts. "With the Cortex-R4 processor, ARM has listened to its customers and produced the product needed for the next generation of design challenges, continuing the ARM tradition of finding the market sweet spot and providing appropriate solutions to serve that market."

The enhanced configurability of the Cortex-R4 processor provides specific benefits for key markets including:

- For 3G smartphone designs, the boost in performance from the Thumb(R)-2 instruction set allows the Cortex-R4 processor to be used in place of the two separate processors that would traditionally be used in 3G baseband modems. This saves cost and complexity while still running all of the same code.

- For the hard-disk drive (HDD) market, alongside reduced cost benefits, tightly coupled memory (TCM) capabilities offer smaller and more efficient integration with rapid response times.

- For the printer market, the Cortex-R4 processor provides increased performance at reduced costs within the same power budget enabling vendors to add new features and functions at the same price point.

- For automotive applications, the Cortex-R4 processor includes fault tolerance for critical safety applications as well as memory protection that supports the latest version of the OSEK real time operating system. This is important for building system-on-chip (SoC) devices for engine management systems that have to run in real-time with a wide range of peripherals.

"The embedded market is evolving rapidly as systems become more sophisticated and software workloads increase in computational size and complexity." said John Cornish, VP, Marketing, Processor Division, ARM. "The new Cortex-R4 processor meets the needs of next-generation embedded products by delivering exceptional performance, efficiency, and configurability. This latest member of our Cortex processor family gives chip designers unparalleled capabilities for the development of 3G phones, hard-disk drives, imaging and automotive systems."

The Cortex-R4 processor provides the increased performance essential to address the diverse needs of the embedded market. The processor features an advanced microarchitecture with dual instruction issue capability to deliver more than 600 Dhrystone MIPS in a performance optimised 90nm implementation, based upon the ARM Artisan(R) Advantage(TM) library. The processor also provides key savings in cost and power consumption for system developers, occupying less than 1mm2 and consuming less than 0.27mW/MHz in an area optimised 90nm implementation.

ARM has already secured three lead licensees for the Cortex-R4 including Broadcom, and the processor has received support from major EDA, RTOS and tools vendors.

"Broadcom's design teams have been working with ARM to accelerate our leadership position in a number of markets, including next-generation storage, networking, and mobile devices," said Ed Frank, VP of Research & Development, Broadcom. "The new Cortex-R4 processor from ARM will bring significant performance and functionality benefits to our products and enhance the end user's experience."

Cortex-R4 Processor-based System Benefits

ARM has developed a full range of supporting technology around the new processor to reduce design time and accelerate time-to-market. This complete system solution includes development and debug tools, modelling technology and physical cell libraries.

- The Cortex-R4 processor is supported by the ARM RealView(R) DEVELOP family of software development tools, the RealView CREATE family of ESL tools and models, and CoreSight(TM) debug and trace technology for developing embedded systems quickly.

- The efficient design enables higher performance at lower clock frequencies than previous ARM processors and the optimised Artisan(R) Metro(TM) memories can provide a further reduction in the size and cost of embedded systems.

- The AMBA(R) Designer design automation tool provides a design flow for advanced AMBA interconnect sub-systems, further reducing implementation costs and time-to-market. Additionally, the AMBA(R) 3 AXI(TM) protocol-compliant ARM PrimeCell(R) peripherals including the AMBA 3 AXI Interconnect (PL301), Configurable Dynamic Memory Controller (PL340), Static Memory Controller Family (PL350) and L2 Cache (L220) further improve the performance of the processor.

The Cortex-R4 processor runs the ARMv7 ISA making it fully backwards compatible with existing ARM code that powers billions of systems around the world, and is optimised for the Thumb-2 instruction set. This allows numerous benefits including lower clock speed, bringing power-saving advantages; higher performance, which offers feature-rich additions to mobile phones and automotive designs; and more complex algorithms for higher performance digital imaging and hard-disk drive systems.

Using the Thumb-2 instruction set, together with the ARM RealView Development Suite, allows on-chip memory sizes to be reduced by up to 30 per cent, saving significant cost in the system. In addition it can produce a 40 per cent performance improvement over the previous Thumb instruction set running on an ARM946E-S(TM) processor. As memory is an increasingly large proportion of a chip, this provides a significant saving in area and cost to chip makers using the processor for SoC devices.


The ARM Cortex-R4 processor is available for licensing now, along with the majority of the supporting technology. The Instruction Set Simulator (ISS) and RealView Development Suite tools environment for the Cortex-R4 processor is available today to lead and existing licensees, and for general release on request.

The complementary technologies for implementing full SoC solutions such as the AMBA 3 AXI Interconnect (PL301), Configurable Dynamic Memory Controller (PL340), Static Memory Controller Family (PL350) and L2 Cache (L220) are all available now.

About ARM

ARM designs the technology that lies at the heart of advanced digital products, from mobile, home and enterprise solutions to embedded and emerging applications. ARM's comprehensive product offering includes 16/32-bit RISC microprocessors, data engines, 3D processors, digital libraries, embedded memories, peripherals, software and development tools, as well as analogue functions and high-speed connectivity products. Combined with the company's broad Partner community, they provide a total system solution that offers a fast, reliable path to market for leading electronics companies. More information on ARM is available at

ARM, Thumb, AMBA and RealView are registered trademarks of ARM Limited.
ARM946E-S, ARM1156T2-S, Cortex, Metro, AXI and CoreSight are trademarks of ARM Limited. Artisan and Artisan Components are registered trademarks of ARM Physical IP, Inc. All other brands or product names are the property of their respective holders. "ARM" is used to represent ARM Holdings plc; its operating company ARM Limited; and the regional subsidiaries ARM INC.; ARM KK; ARM Korea Ltd.; ARM Taiwan; ARM France SAS; ARM Consulting (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.; ARM Belgium N.V.; AXYS Design Automation Inc.; AXYS GmbH; ARM Embedded Technologies Pvt. Ltd.; and ARM Physical IP, Inc.

Partner Quotes

"Pressure on the silicon design chain to do more in less time naturally affects system quality, which is why the flexibility of the Cortex-R4 processor is so important," said Larry A Traylor, CEO, American Arium. "Our Partnership with ARM will maximise the advantages of the Cortex-R4 processor's configurability by offering JTAG emulators with advanced Linux debug features, and high-speed ETM trace port analysers tailor-made to the Cortex-R4."

"Customers want the flexibility to develop embedded real-time systems quickly and efficiently, with full configurability at the synthesis stage," said Eric Filseth, vice president of Product Marketing at Cadence Design Systems. "Our Optimization Methodology Kit for ARM processors, including the expanded Reference Methodology, will offer full support for the Cortex-R4 processor. Offering system developers a smaller, more powerful and highly configurable solution, this latest Cortex processor once again demonstrates ARM as a consistent, industry-leading innovator."

"ARM has always pioneered new industry trends and the Cortex-R4 processor represents an opportunity for every part of the electronics design chain," said William E Lamie, CEO and President, Express Logic, Inc. "Our ThreadX RTOS, which is already deployed in over 300 million devices, will offer Cortex-R4 processor designers an intuitive and highly functional platform for development with a small memory footprint, which is vital for next-generation consumer technology. The Cortex R4 processor offers incredible flexibility which will easily be accessible through ThreadX."

"The ARM Cortex processor family with its ARMv7 ISA provides an impressive performance to footprint ratio," said David Kleidermacher, vice president of engineering at Green Hills Software. "The combination of these processors with the Green Hills' ARM/Thumb-2 compilers, MULTI IDE, and INTEGRITY family of RTOSes that are already ported and running on Cortex family processors provide a compelling solution for developers and OEMs."

"Silicon designers have long been faced with a balancing act with demands for smaller and more powerful designs in less time. Configurability of design is the key in meeting this challenge," said Stephan Lauterbach, General Manager, Lauterbach Datentechnik. "We are working closely with ARM to offer our PowerDebug and PowerTrace development tools compatible with the Cortex-R4 processor that meet the evolving needs of system developers."

"Design engineers are seeking innovative and integrated systems solutions that deliver high-performance, low-power SoC architectures. Our work with ARM enables this through a complete RTL-to-GDSII implementation," said Michael Ma, vice president, Foundry and IP Relationships, Design Implementation Business Unit, Magma. "The highly configurable nature of the Cortex-R4 processor perfectly complements the existing ARM-Magma reference methodology, ensuring the success of our mutual customers and continuing our drive to provide industry-leading processor and proven design methodologies that accelerate SoC design."

"Consumer electronics design continues to drive the need for higher performance, lower power processors delivered to market in the shortest possible time," said Neil Henderson, General Manager, Embedded Systems Division, Mentor Graphics. "Mentor is working closely with ARM to address these design requirements. Our collaboration with ARM, including the Nucleus(R) RTOS and EDGE Tools(TM) support for the ARMv7 architecture and the Cortex family of processors, demonstrates our on-going commitment to enable our mutual customers to achieve their product goals in more efficient ways."

"Sophia Systems' EJ-Debug and EJ-Extreme debug solutions enable design engineers to develop their next generation handheld devices quickly and easily based on the ARM Cortex family," said Tasuku Kashihira, CEO and COO, Sophia Systems. "As the Cortex-R4 processor can be configured for different applications at the synthesis stage, the design community will now have the choice it needs to create more innovative designs."

"The constant pressure on designers to introduce challenging designs in shorter time is driving the need for predictable design flows," said Antun Domic, senior vice president and general manager, Implementation Group, Synopsys. "ARM and Synopsys long standing, successful relationship has delivered many collaborative solutions addressing exactly these challenges, including the Verification Reference Manual (VMM), DesignWare(R) Library AMBA(R) 3 AXI(TM) IP, ARM Artisan(R) Physical IP and Reference Methodology (RM). Continuing the trend, the new ARM-Synopsys Galaxy RM for the Cortex(TM)-R4 processor utilises Design Compiler's Topographical technology and delivers the next level of design flexibility in a predictable design flow enabling Partners to meet stringent market demands quickly and efficiently."

Claudia Natalia, ARM, +1-408-548-3172, Michelle Spencer, ARM, +44-1628-427780,

More from Electrical Equipment & Systems

All Topics