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I’ll buy that for $1!

ARM’s Cortex-M3 core gets its first outing in a $1 microcontroller. By Paul Dempsey.

For Jean Anne Booth, chief marketing officer of Austin based start up Luminary Micro, it was the proverbial ‘no brainer’.
“I’ve known the ARM guys for a long time. We had talked about various projects, but I was at a company that didn’t want to evolve in that particular way. Still, I knew what ARM had in development and, in 2004, I was looking at what I wanted to do next,” she says.
“When I looked closely at the technology and the options, I realised we could build (an) ARM (based micro) for $1 profitably. I said, ‘we have to do this’.”
In March, Luminary released its Stellaris microcontroller, the first based on ARM’s Cortex-M3 processor. It now has 19 parts available and the $1 entry price highlights that the M3 is ARM’s 32bit bid for the low cost, deeply embedded 8bit and 16bit mcu business.
ARM arranged the silicon debut for its latest core by working with a start up – not an IDM nor with an established fabless player. The parts will also go through distribution (Alpha Micro Components in the UK), although ARM once had concerns over the channel’s ability to provide sufficient technical support.
There were good reasons for this choice of a start up lead partner, according to Hadyn Povey, ARM’s cpu product manager with responsibility for the M3. His company had confidence in Luminary’s founders – Booth and ceo Jim Reinhart had been key members of the embedded computing team at Cirrus Logic. But the decision had more to do with the disruptive nature of the new core and the target market.
“The 16bit and high end 8bit microcontroller is entrenched inside a number of our traditional partners and why would they want to upset that business? Luminary is a hungry and focused organisation and, for the M3, we can go out there with them and start creating the turbulence, accelerating the migration to 32bit,” says Povey.

Author
Paul Dempsey

Related Downloads
7814\car_demo.wmv
7814\Ill Buy That Micro for 1.pdf

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