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ARM, Freescale launch lowest power 32bit mcu yet

ARM, Freescale launch lowest power 32bit mcu yet
ARM, Freescale launch lowest power 32bit mcu yet

ARM has gone back to the drawing board and created a 32bit microcontroller core with the lowest power consumption yet.

Richard York, director of product marketing for the processor division, said: "When we looked at the Cortex-M0 core, we said it was good, but we could do better."

According to York, the M0+ core – previously known within ARM as Flycatcher – is not fundamentally different to the M0. "But we've looked at things which the M0 didn't address," he continued. "We have developed a core which is 50% more energy efficient than the M0, but which has an almost identical gate count."

It has a dual stage pipeline; the first time an ARM core has had less than three. York explained: "It saves silicon and power. And, by adding some logic to spot when you don't need to access flash, there's a 10% increase in performance at the same clock speed."

The M0+ core is rated at 1.77CoreMark/MHz, with an energy efficiency of 42.14CoreMark/nA – both values significantly better than the nearest 8 and 16bit competitors.

Freescale will be the lead customer for the M0+, which features in the new Kinetis-L range. Geoff Lees, vp of Freescale's industrial and multimarket mcu business, said the M0+ core is 'strategically important'. "We're looking at giving our 8 and 16bit customers a worthwhile step into the 32bit market. And cost is a 'must have' to convince them to start evaluation."

The launch of Kinetis L spells the end of 8 and 16bit mcu development at Freescale, although existing parts will be available for many years. "Unless a customer can make a huge business case to stay with 8bit, we'll be recommending M0+ based mcus in the future," Lees concluded.

Author
Graham Pitcher

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