ARM architecture is marketed nowadays by ARM Limited (Advanced Risc Machines). ARM Limited does not offer any semiconductor modules of its own; the company simply licenses the ARM cores to different semiconductor manufacturers. The properties of ARM cores are spread wide. There are now cores for very simple tasks, as well as for very power-hungry applications. What they all have in common is the 32-bit architecture, while there are in fact also 64Bit versions already available. ARM has succeeded in developing cores with low energy requirements and high performance capacities. This has led to a triumphant campaign conducted right across all the sectors concerned, and ARM architecture, in whatever format, is nowadays an essential part of any development, being applied in a vast range of contexts.
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At the present time, almost all smartphones and tablet computers now use one or more licensed ARM processors as the main processor resource. The ARM core is a RISC architecture with a very large number of registers. There are 15 “general-purpose” registers available. There are also different modes, where switching takes place back and forth between different register sets. This does away with the constant backing up of the register contents. The architecture is very well-suited for high languages like C. There are a large number of compiler manufacturers, and, of course, there are also GNU compilers for ARM, which many semiconductor manufacturers offer as integrated into their IDE completely free of charge. Operating systems for ARM cores are available in any conceptualisation.
Typical modern ARM cores for the embedded market: ARM Cortex M0 and M0+
This core is used today for extremely low cost MCUs. These are available from almost every manufacturer. Operating systems are in most cases still not being used.
ARM Cortex M3/M4
If somewhat more computing power is needed for embedded products, then these cores are in most cases the answer. Here too, low power applications are also possible. In this context, the use of a range of operating systems is slowly getting under way.
ARM Cortex M7
This is an extremely powerful ARM core, which is already breaking into the sector of applications where microprocessors use operating systems such as Linux and Android.