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Anupama KR & Meetha.V.


An Introduction to ARM
The ARM architecture describes a family of RISC-based computer processors designed and
licensed by British company ARM Holdings. It was first developed in the 1980s by Acorn
Computers Ltd to power their desktop machines and subsequently spun off as a separate
company, now ARM Holdings. Globally as of 2013 it is the most widely used 32-bit instruction
set architecture in terms of quantity produced. According to ARM Holdings, in 2010 alone,
producers of chips based on ARM architectures reported shipments of 6.1 billion ARM-based
processors, representing 95% of smartphones, 35% of digital televisions and set-top boxes,
and 10% of mobile computers. The most successful implementation has been the ARM7TDMI
with hundreds of millions sold.
As an IP core business, ARM Holdings itself does not manufacture its own electronic chips,
but licenses its designs to other semiconductor manufacturers. ARM-based processors and
systems on a chip include the Qualcomm Snapdragon, nVidia Tegra, Marvell Xscale and Texas
Instruments OMAP, as well as ARM's Cortex series and Apple System on Chips (used in its
iPhones). The name was originally an acronym for Acorn RISC Machine and subsequently,
after the name Acorn was dropped, Advanced RISC Machine.
Using a RISC based approach to computer design, ARM processors require significantly fewer
transistors than processors that would typically be found in a traditional computer. The
benefits of this approach are lower costs, less heat, and less power usage, traits that are
desirable for use in light, portable, battery-powered devices such as smart phones and tablet
computers. The reduced complexity and simpler design allows companies to build a low-
energy system on a chip for an embedded system incorporating memory, interfaces, radios,
etc. The earliest example was the Apple Newton tablet but this same approach is still used in
the Apple A4 and A5 chips in the iPad.
ARM periodically releases updates to its corecurrently ARMv7 and ARMv8which chip
manufacturers can then license and use for their own devices. Variants are available for each
of these to include or exclude optional capabilities. Current versions use 32-bit instructions
with 32-bit address space, but accommodates 16-bit instructions for economy and can also
handle Java Bytecodes which use 32-bit addresses. More recently, ARM architecture has
included 64-bit versions. In 2012, AMD announced that it will produce systems on a chip
based on the 64-bit ARM core for servers by 2014.
ARM Processor Architecture
ARM architecture forms the basis for every ARM processor. Over time, the ARM architecture
has evolved to include architectural features to meet the growing demand for new
functionality, high performance and the needs of new and emerging markets.
The ARM architecture supports implementations across a wide range of performance points,
establishing it as the leading architecture in many market segments. The ARM architecture
supports a very broad range of performance points leading to very small implementations of
ARM processors, and very efficient implementations of advanced designs using state of the
art micro-architecture techniques. Implementation size, performance, and low power
consumption are key attributes of the ARM architecture.
ARM developed architecture extensions to provide support for Java acceleration (Jazelle),
security (TrustZone), SIMD, and Advanced SIMD (NEON) technologies. The ARMv8-
architecture adds a Cryptographic extension as an optional feature.
The ARM architecture is similar to a Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) architecture, as
it incorporates these typical RISC architecture features:
A uniform register file load/store architecture, where data processing operates only
on register contents, not directly on memory contents.
Simple addressing modes, with all load/store addresses determined from register
contents and instruction fields only.
Enhancements to a basic RISC architecture enable ARM processors to achieve a good
balance of high performance, small code size, low power consumption and small
silicon area.

ARM Cores

ARM based Microcontroller

Important Tips for Self Study
Remember your aim is to understand the working of the proceesor
Start with ARM Generic Reference Manual
o Operation States
o Mode of Operation
ARM7TDMI manual an be read next so that you undestand atleast the working of
the simplest core
o Addressing Modes & Instruction Set
o Exception Handling