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ARM system-on-chip architecture

ARM system-on-chip architecture

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Published by: api-3758036 on Oct 15, 2008
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This book introduces the concepts and methodologies employed in designing asystem-on-chip (SoC) based around a microprocessor core and in designing themicroprocessor core itself. The principles of microprocessor design are made con-crete by extensive illustrations based upon the ARM.
The aim of the book is to assist the reader in understanding how SoCs and micro- processors are designed and used, and why a modern processor is designed the waythat it is. The reader who wishes to know only the general principles should find thatthe ARM illustrations add substance to issues which can otherwise appear somewhatethereal; the reader who wishes to understand the design of the ARM should find thatthe general principles illuminate the rationale for the ARM being as it is.
Other microprocessor architectures are not described in this book. The reader whowishes to make a comparative study of architectures will find the required informa-tion on the ARM here but must look elsewhere for information on other designs.
The book is intended to be of use to two distinct groups of readers:
Professional hardware and software engineers who are tasked with designing anSoC product which incorporates an ARM processor, or who are evaluating theARM for a product, should find the book helpful in their duties. Although thereis considerable overlap with ARM technical publications, this book provides a broader context with more background. It is not a substitute for the manufacturer's data, since much detail has had to be omitted, but it should be useful as anintroductory overview and adjunct to that data.
Students of computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineeringshould find the material of value at several stages in their courses. Some chaptersare closely based on course material previously used in undergraduate teaching;some other material is drawn from a postgraduate course.Prerequisite This book is not intended to be an introductory text on computer architecture or 
knowledge computer logic design. Readers are assumed to have a level of familiarity with these
subjects equivalent to that of a second year undergraduate student in computer sci-ence or computer engineering. Some first year material is presented, but this is more by way of a refresher than as a first introduction to this material. No prior familiarity with the ARM processor is assumed.
On 26 April 1985, the first ARM prototypes arrived at Acorn Computers Limited inCambridge, England, having been fabricated by VLSI Technology, Inc., in San Jose,
iv Preface
California. A few hours later they were running code, and a bottle
of Moet &Chan-don
was opened in celebration. For the remainder of the 1980s the ARM wasquietly developed to underpin Acorn's desktop products which form the basis of educational computing in the UK; over the 1990s, in the care of ARM Limited, theARM has sprung onto the world stage and has established a market-leading positionin high-performance low-power and low-cost embedded applications.
This prominent market position has increased ARM's resources and accelerated therate at which new ARM-based developments appear.
The highlights of the last decade of ARM development include:
the introduction of the novel compressed instruction format called 'Thumb'which reduces cost and power dissipation in small systems;
significant steps upwards in performance with the ARM9, ARM 10 and 'Strong-ARM' processor families;
a state-of-the-art software development and debugging environment;
a very wide range of embedded applications based around ARM processor cores.Most of the principles of modern SoC and processor design are illustrated some-where in the ARM family, and ARM has led the way in the introduction of some con-cepts (such as dynamically decompressing the instruction stream). The inherentsimplicity of the basic 3-stage pipeline ARM core makes it a good pedagogical intro-ductory example to real processor design, whereas the debugging of a system basedaround an ARM core deeply embedded into a complex system chip represents thecutting-edge of technological development today.
Book Structure Chapter 1 starts with a refresher on first year undergraduate processor design mate-rial. It illustrates the principle of abstraction in hardware design by reviewing theroles of logic and gate-level representations. It then introduces the important con-cept of the
 Reduced Instruction Set Computer 
(RISC) as background for what fol-lows, and closes with some comments on design for low power.
Chapter 2 describes the ARM processor architecture in terms of the concepts intro-duced in the previous chapter, and Chapter 3 is a gentle introduction to user-levelassembly language programming and could be used in first year undergraduate teach-ing for this purpose.
Chapter 4 describes the organization and implementation of the 3- and 5-stage pipeline ARM processor cores at a level suitable for second year undergraduate teach-ing, and covers some implementation issues.
Chapters 5 and 6 go into the ARM instruction set architecture in increasing depth.Chapter 5 goes back over the instruction set in more detail than was presented inChapter 3, including the binary representation of each instruction, and it penetratesmore deeply into the comers of the instruction set. It is probably best read once andthen used for reference. Chapter 6 backs off a bit to consider what a high-level lan-guage (in this case, C) really needs and how those needs are met by the ARM instruc-tion set. This chapter is based on second year undergraduate material.

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