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February 23rd, 2009 ~ by admin

New tiny ARM Cortex-M0 Core – Return of the 80186?

ARM today announced their new embedded microcontroller core.  The next in the Cortex line.  The M0 implements the standard ARM7 instruction set architecture, but manages to do so in only 12,000 gates.  They did so by sacrificing performance for a smaller foot print and power savings.  This certainly isn’t the first RISC CPU with such a small foot print. The XAP-RISC processor also manages to do so in 12,000 or so gates.

12,000 gates translates into around 50,000 transistors, which is about the footprint of the Intel 80186 processor. In today’s world of multi-million transistor ASIC’s you’ll see this ARM core everywhere (likely you wont even know its there) . To drop in a 12,000 gate block into a modern ASIC design is nothing, and the benefits can be amazing giving the 32 bit code base available for the ARM.

Source: EE Times

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