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November 11, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

In its new ARM700 low-power RISC (CI No 2,280), rather than try to achieve the best possible raw performance, Advanced RISC Machines Ltd, Cambridge has has concentrated on improving the MIPS-per-Watt figure – important for the Personal Digital Assistant market. There are three offerings for the embedded application market – the straight ARM7 core, the ARM7D, which includes support for Advanced RISCs new BlackICE and ICEbreaker debugging software and the ARM7DM with adds a signal processor multiplier onto the package. BlackICE and ICEbreaker are development tools designed to remove the need for in-circuit emulators conventionally used to test boards. Instead, the ARM7D core implements de-bugging circuitry in silicon which enables the programmer to set break-points and capture specified activity without altering the application at all. The ICEbreaker register could, for example be used to halt programme execution whenever a disk-controller was accessed, so that the state of the processor could be probed – a boon to embedded system developers, says the company, since a conventional in-circuit emulator won’t work. The debugging technology adds only about 15% to the 6mm square core so Advanced RISC expects this implementation to be the most popular. The additional signal processor multiplier in the ARM7DM will give the system good enough performance to act as a middle range digital signal processor, says the company – but it is not pitching it as a specialised signal processor chip. Advanced RISC’s various partners were on hand at the announcement to lend support Texas Instruments Inc is busily building the ARM7 core into its signal processors and also its microcontrollers, which have a healthy presence in the automotive market. Other areas it is targeting is telecommunications and smart cards. GEC Plessey Semiconductors Ltd is looking at all of these markets, and in addition is working on an embedded, global positioning system implementation; there is, for example, no commitment from Apple Computer Inc or Sharp Corp to switch to the new processor in their Newton products. Instead Advanced RISC suggests that the new chips are likely to appear in future Newton variants.

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