ARM says 64-bit is key to low power and IoT security

ARM is putting the 64-bit squeeze on Intel and all the other embedded processor suppliers.

64-bit Cortex-A32 block diagram

Cortex-A32 block diagram

The Cambridge-based processor firm has gone one better than its frugal Cortex- A7 low power core with its latest processor, the Cortex-A32.

ARM has recognised that a 64-bit processor architecture can be more power efficient than a 32-bit architecture.  In this ARM seems to be ahead of the rest of processor industry.

The new Cortex-A32 processor core is built on the 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture which is where its power efficiency comes from. But it runs 32-bit instructions and so retains its compatibility with the established embedded software and tools.

A single core running at 100MHz draws 4mW we are told. If true this is significantly less than the 32-bit Cortex-A7. A quarter of the power, says ARM.

And 64-bit processors do not have to be physically big. The Cortex-A32 is squeezed into no more than 0.25 square mm of silicon area on a 28nm process.

So this could be used in wearable devices, as small as wrist-straps, and tiny Raspberry Pi Zero-style modules.

But really a processor like this will be used for any embedded application, along with the low power and small size it can be scaled up to four cores and so has the performance for encryption and other security of design functions.

It does what ARM has wanted to do for some time. It brings its TrustZone security to lower cost designs.

ARM has shown that a 64-bit processor architecture are not just good for number-crunching server and mobile processors, but can be a game-changer in the lowest power embedded processor designs.

And so ARM has changed the landscape in processor design.




  1. SecretEuroPatentAgentMan

    > ARM says 64-bit is key to low power and IoT security

    I bet. Now that Andes Tech is attacking their low end market I guess they had to respond. Their arguments are very much lacking in comparable quantitative figures. Also WDC sells IP for 100’s of millions of 6502 cores every year.

    • I really do not think that what Andes Technology is offering by way of 32-bit cores which run a combo of 16- and 32-bit instructions is influencing ARM’s 64-bit processor strategy.

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