ARM has introduced the ARM Cortex-M0+, which the company claims to be the world's most energy-efficient microprocessor. The Cortex-M0+ processor has been designed for intelligent sensors and smart control systems in a broad range of applications including home appliances, white goods, medical monitoring, metering, lighting and power and motor control devices.
The 32-bit Cortex-M0+ processor, the latest addition to the ARM Cortex processor family, consumes just 9µA/MHz on a low-cost 90nm LP process, around one third of the energy of any 8- or 16-bit processor available today, while delivering significantly higher performance, according to ARM. The Cortex-M0+ processor features enable the creation of smart, low-power, microcontrollers to provide efficient communication, management and maintenance across a multitude of wirelessly connected devices, a concept known as the 'Internet of Things'.
The new processor builds on the slow-power and silicon-proven Cortex-M0 processor which has been licensed more than 50 times by leading silicon vendors, and has been redesigned from the ground up to add a number of significant new features. These include single-cycle IO to speed access to GPIO and peripherals, improved debug and trace capability and a 2-stage pipeline to reduce the number of cycles per instruction (CPI) and improve Flash accesses, further reducing power consumption.
This industry-leading combination of low power and high performance provides users of legacy 8- and 16-bit architectures with an ideal opportunity to migrate to 32-bit devices, thereby delivering increased intelligence to everyday devices, without sacrificing power consumption or area.
This low power connectivity has the potential to enable a range of energy-saving and life-enhancing applications from sensors to wirelessly analyze the performance and control of domestic or industrial buildings, to battery-operated body sensors wirelessly connected to health monitoring equipment. Current 8-bit and 16-bit MCUs lack the intelligence and functionality to deliver these applications.
"The Internet of Things will change the world as we know it, improving energy efficiency, safety, and convenience. Ubiquitous network connectivity is useful for almost everything - from adaptive room lighting and online video gaming to smart sensors and motor control. But it requires extremely low-cost, low-power processors that still can deliver good performance. The ARM Cortex-M0+ processor brings 32-bit horsepower to flyweight chips, and it will be suitable for a broad range of industrial and consumer applications," said Tom R. Halfhill, a senior analyst with The Linley Group and senior editor of Microprocessor Report.
Early licensees of the Cortex-M0+ processor include Freescale and NXP Semiconductor.