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November 5, 2012

Tech Focus

Hardware/software design on ARM processors

Benchmarking an ARM-based SoC using Dhrystone: A VFT perspective

Building small footprint embedded GUIs for ARM Cortex-M designs using Java

ARM-based Android hardware-software design using virtual prototypes - Part 1: Why virtualize?

Improve Cortex M4 MCU interrupt responses with an intelligent Peripheral Event System

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor
Read his blog

The cornucopia of technology and product news that emerged from the 2012 ARM TechCon last week is testament to the powerful attraction of the architecture to both embedded hardware and software developers. Some of the late-breaking news and product stories that caught my eye include IS2T's 1.5 KB RAM JVM for Cortex M MCUs, Cadence's 14 nm FinFET ARM test chip, and the ARM emulation of the X86 from Elbrus.

The ARM architecture is the focus of so much attention for two reasons. First, ARM Ltd. and its licensees continue to push the limits of where the architecture can be used. Second, they continue to develop the necessary techniques and tools to use them with exactly the right mix of power versus performance and flexibility versus usability. Four new Editor's Top Picks that illustrate these trends are:

"Building small footprint GUIs for ARM Cortex-M using Java" details how to use new small footprint Java implementations to build GUIs for ARM designs more compact than using either C or C++.

"ARM-based Android hardware-software design using virtual prototypes" is a three-part series describing how to use of high-level virtual prototyping for integrating hardware and software development.

"Improve Cortex M4 interrupts with an intelligent Peripheral Event System" demonstrates how Atmel's 32-bit Cortex M4 MCU interrupt response times were improved by means of an intelligent Peripheral Event System previously used on its 8- and 16-bit MCUs.

"Benchmarking an ARM-based SoC using Dhrystone," describes a self-checking, result-signaling test-pattern version of the popular Dhrystone benchmark that provides performance numbers from an ARM-based SoC. You can compare those numbers to those predicted by architectural analysis and RTL simulations.

Also included are recent ARM-related design and development how-to articles, technical papers, webinars, conference papers, and journal articles, as well as commentary and analysis blogs. Of the latter, I recommend re-reading "Is 8-bits dead?", Jack Ganssle's recent "pre-mortem" analysis of the future of 8-bit MCUs in the world of 32-bit ARM MCUs. Do his arguments in favor of a continued future for non-ARM MCUs still hold true? Or are Michael Barr's arguments in "Trends in embedded software design," favoring the 32-bit ARM more realistic?

Editor's Note: Planning is underway for the program of events and classes at the Embedded Systems Conference at DESIGN West in April 2013. If you are interested in teaching a class at the conference, submit an abstract by November 9. We are also looking for ideas for the keynote, so go to "Design your own keynote," and leave your suggestions about topics and speakers.


Power aware verification of ARM-based designs

How to deal with the challenges of power aware verification in SoCs and use IEEE 1801-2009 Unified Power Format to define power management architecture for verifying a power-managed ARM-based design.

Implement an MP3 audio decoder with the ARM Neon Multimedia extensions

How the ARM Cortex-A8's NEON multimedia instruction extensions can be used to implement the MP3 audio algorithms on Freescale's i.MX51 mobile media processor platform.

Get control of ARM system cache coherency with ACE verification

In this Product How-Two article, the Cadence authors describe how to use the company's Verification IP solutions framework to implement ARM's AMBA 4 Coherency Extensions (ACE) in embedded SoCs

Decompiling the ARM architecture code

At UBM TechInsights we are often tasked with proving patent infringement of a software algorithm as part of our IP Management Services. Our example algorithm is based on the ARM architecture.

Basics of porting C-code to and between ARM CPUs: ARM7TDMI and Cortex-M0

In this three part series, Joseph Yiu, author of "The definitive guide to the ARM Cortex-M0," provides some basic guidelines for porting your code base from other 8/16 bit MCUs to ARM and between various ARM processors. Part 1: ARM 7TDMI and Cortex-M0.

Building Bare-Metal ARM Systems with GNU: Part 1 - Getting Started

In this first part in an on-going series of ten articles, Miro Samek of Quantum Leaps details developing apps on the ARM processor using QNU, complete with source code in C and C++. First up, laying the ground work

Energy efficient C code for ARM devices

Here is an overview of some of the techniques for optimizing C-code for use on the ARM architecture.

Reliable programming in ARM assembly language

Sometimes it's necessary to use both assembly and high-level programming languages when working in the ARM architecture. This paper from ARM TechCon explains why and how.


IS2T's JVM boots in 2 ms at 120 MHz, uses less than 1.5 KB RAM

IS2T today announced MicroEJ, which the company claims is the industry's first Java platform to support the development and integration of Java-based functionality for low-cost, memory-constrained, C and C++ applications running on Cortex M-based microcontrollers.

New versions of Mentor Sourcery tools ease development of multicore Linux-based embedded systems

The newest generation of Mentor Graphics' Embedded Sourcery CodeBench and Sourcery Analyzer products accelerates system debugging, including multiple Linux applications concurrently

ThreadX RTOS supports ARM and TI DSP processors on Critical Link's MityDSP-L138F

Express Logic Inc.'s ThreadX RTOS now supports Critical Link's MityDSP-L138 board. The MityDSP-L138F system-on-module (SoM) combines a TI C674x floating point DSP, an ARM9 processor, and an optional FPGA.

TRACE32 debuggers now support ARMv8 architecture

The ARMv8 Embedded Trace Macrocell (Ev4) from Lauterbach provides non-intrusive program-flow trace and data trace capabilities for any of the ARMv8 architecture-based processors.

Next-gen SmartFusion2 SoC FPGA boasts breakthru security, reliability, and low power

Microsemi Corporation's SmartFusion2 system-on-chip (SoC) field programmable gate array (FPGA) family is designed to address fundamental requirements for advanced security, high reliability, and low power.

ITTIA DB SQL enables accelerated development in ARM-based systems

ITTIA's embedded database is now available for the ARM architecture.


Cortex-M based MCUS use power profiles to optimize performance

With its latest Cortex-based LPC1100L and LPC1300L microcontrollers NXP Semiconductors is aiming to raise the benchmarks in 32-bit active power consumption.

IAR adds ARM compiler optimizations to Embedded Workbench

Version 6.5 of the IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM version 6.50, includes enhancements to the optimization technology in its C/C++ Compiler.

Cadence tapes out 14nm ARM test chip with IBM FinFETs

Effort is part of Cadence and IBM cooperation on SoC process design at 14 nanometers and beyond that combine performance with reductions in power consumption.

Renesas adds ARM processors to its MCU mix

Renesas expands its RX microcontroller line to span from 8 kilobytes to 8 megabytes of scalable embedded flash.

ARM's 64-bit V8 scheduled for 16-nm FinFET CMOS

TSMC is planning within the next 12 months to use ARM Ltd.'s 64-bit V8 processor as the test vehicle for its 16 nm CMOS process.

X86 emulation coming to ARM processors

While initially most useful in ARM's efforts in competing with Intel in servers, new x86 emulation software from Elbrus could also offer new choices to embedded developers.

LSI's first ARM net processor links 16 cores

LSI Corp. has successfully developed an ARM-based network processor SoC capable of linking up to 16 cores.


Move bits, not atoms

In his keynote at the 2012 ARM TechCon, Professor Jonathan Koomey emphasized that when improving processor and design energy efficiency, it is important to take a system-level view of issues.

Microprocessor benchmarks seen as irrelevant

Server design--and by extension microprocessor and component considerations-- render traditional benchmarks useless.

Trends in embedded software design

As the magazine that catered to embedded systems programmers closes, the future lies in less hands-on programming and more auto-generated code.

Is 8 bits dying?

A column by Micheal Barr got readers and Jack Ganssle thinking about the future of 8 bits. Will 32 bitters take over?

Who wins when Cortex-M adds RTOS?

Richard Barry of FreeRTOS.org examines who the winners and losers will be in ARM's decision to add an RTOS to its Cortex-M hardware abstraction layer, through the release of CMSIS 3 (Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard 3).

Intel, Arm, 3D FinFETs & mobile computing's future

Even with its spectacular 3D FinFET surprise, I don't think Intel is likely to do better than continue to be runner-up to Arm Ltd. and its licensees in building the CPUs that will power nextgen mobile and embedded computing devices.

Collections on Embedded.com

Embedded.com now has a series of collections of content by topic. We will continue to add content to our collections and will have a rating system in the near future where you can rate your favorite articles (and help others find them). To suggest new collections or to suggest content to add to a collection, contact Susan Rambo, managing editor.

New collection:

Best practices in embedded systems programming

Browse the collections:

A sampling of topics include:
PID control
Digital signal processing
Agile programming
Watch Dog Timers

TechOnline Library

Tech Papers

Processor Optimization Pack (POP) Solutions: Enabling the Fastest Design Closure of Your ARM Cortex-A9 Processor

Creating and Debugging Linux Applications Using Sourcery CodeBench for ARM GNU/LINUX

Introducing the ARM Cortex-M0+ processor: The Ultimate in Low Power

Top Considerations for Selecting a 32-bit ARM Microcontroller

Webinars & Courses

High Performance, Low Latency Interconnect for AMBA 4 AXI4

Pushing the bounds of efficiency and performance; Introducing ARM 64-bit processing

How to Verify ARM ACE Coherent Interconnects with UVM verification IP

Discover the simplicity and high performance of Dual Core Cortex-M4, with flexible and configurable cores and peripherals


Around the Network Events

Building a Cortex-M3 based wireless sensor mote platform

Building a multicore Cortex M1-based PMDC motor controller

Embedded palmprint recognition system using OMAP 3530

Cortex A8 vs. Intel Atom: Architecture/Benchmark comparisons

Get Connected with the Connecting Edge – A new online community from TE
Join our new community where we will talk about the latest news, insights and opinions regarding electrical connectivity. Share your personal challenges and successes with your colleagues and industry leaders on The Connected Edge. Register today!

Conferences and Events

ESC Silicon Valley Call for Abstracts
Deadline is November 9, 2012:
The Embedded Systems Conference (now part of DESIGN West) is soliciting proposals from speakers with deep technical expertise for the technical conference program and speed-training theater sessions at the ESC Silicon Valley 2013 (April 22 through 25 in San Jose, California). "This year for the first time we're actively soliciting real-world case studies, talks that include demos, and all elements of the design cycle--from concept through to production." says Karen Field, interim conference director.

ESC tracks include:
--Connectivity and networking
--Debugging and test
--Embedded Android
--"Hello World": focused on the latest hardware and software development tools
--Hardware: design, I/O, and interfacing
--Linux kernel and operating systems
--Low-power design
--Processors and programmable devices
--Real-time operating systems
--Safety, security, and hacking embedded systems
--Systems design

For more info on tracks and submitting, click here. Submit proposals by November 9, 2012.

Mark your calendar

Registration is now open for Embedded Systems Conference 2013 (part of DESIGN West), to be held April 22 to 25, 2013 at the McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CA.

For more industry events, visit Embedded.com's event page.

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