In the past decade, the ARM® architecture has become one of the most pervasive processor architectures in the industry. In 2004 alone, over 1.2 billion ARM processor-based products were shipped. This success has elevated ARM to the position of the world’s most successful IP company. Already the ARM architecture has made great headway as the leading processor IP for ASIC and custom SoC applications. Most recently it has become a emerging architecture in standard off-the shelf microcontroller (MCU) products. Several major MCU solution providers are offering portfolios of standard off-the-shelf general purpose as well as application specific ARM MCUs. And the list of suppliers is rapidly increasing. This article reviews available tools as well as design advantages and challenges engineers will need to consider when designing MCUs based on the ARM architecture.

Reprinted in its entirety from ARM IQ Vol. 4, No. 4, 2005