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ARM adds Cortex-M3 to DesignStart programme

In a move which it claims will 'open the path to 1trillion devices', ARM has expanded its DesignStart programme with the addition of the Cortex-M3 core. Previously, those signed up to DesignStart – which supports the development of custom SoCs for a range of applications – only had access to the Cortex-M0 core.

Two variants of the programme are available. DesignStart Eval is said to enable ‘instant and free’ access, allowing engineers to evaluate, design and prototype. Meanwhile, DesignStart Pro offers web based access to full IP, along with a ‘success based’ royalty model.

According to senior product manager Phil Burr, DesignStart requires no upfront fee, with royalties paid only on the number of units products. A company shipping 5million Cortex-M3 based SoCs could expect to pay around $200,000. A flexible licensing model is available for those with high volume products.

Citing an example of an SoC developed using DesignStart, ARM said S3 Group had developed a custom SoC for an industrial control application which reduced power requirements by 70%, the cost of parts by 80% and PCB size by 75%.

The Eval option starts with a ready to run evaluation system, including a Cortex-M3 cycle model. This leads to FPGA prototyping, with out of the box support for the mbed OS.

The Pro route starts with a verified subsystem, which can be customised by the user to meet their particular needs, including the addition of peripherals. Once finalised, the design can move to production.

Design assistance is available from ARM and its approved design house partners, including Sondrel. According to the company, even those who 'just want a chip' can benefit from a custom SoC.

Graham Pitcher

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