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Advance Embedded Processors

Rimit S. Shah

Institute of Technology, Nirma University

Ahmedabad India

[email protected]

Abstract: This Paper gives Brief Study of Embedded Processors, how they come up? Its actual use. Our daily life consists of embedded systems. Embedded Systems are the systems which are built for a specific dedicated work. It is a combination of hardware and software. Whereas software is embedded in hardware. Though this looks like a simple and user-friendly concept but it needs huge analysis at the backend. I am going to summarise all kind of embedded processors and their comparative study. So that one can select appropriate processor for betterment of his product.

Keywords: Embedded Processors, ARM, ARM Cortex, PIC, Power management issues.

I. Introduction

 In recent world emerging technology plays vital role in development of any embedded system. The main difference in electronic products and embedded products is that embedded products are dedicated to a fix task which will not be going to change at all we can call it as application specific integrated circuit(ASIC). Today’s scenario in the world is that, any product which is cheap and reliable that would be hugely acceptable by the customers. An embedded system consists of a embedded processor, i/o devices, interfacing is available in many variant like 8-bit,32-bit,64-bit,128-bit. Depending upon individual’s application. An embedded system used in home appliances, automated industry, military equipment etc. following chart shows in 1997 the trend of embedded processors is equals to the pc processors change of trend from pc processors to embedded processors

Following chart will give us exact scenario that in which of the year embedded processors emerged. In this paper I discuss about embedded systems and focus on the processors used in such system. Whole paper divided into sections. Section-1 gives actual need of such processors, Section-2 describes characteristics of such high end processors, Section- 4 Classification and its Types, Section-5 Comparative study of all the processors.


Market Demand: according to TechNavio There report consists of current and future trend in the market. Customer needs integrated device to perform variety of functions and support multiple standard. Furthermore, processor has to improve their performance and issues related to power consumptions. That is why processor come up with different facilities.[1][2]

1980- 1st RISC processor named IBM 801

1983-MIPS architecture                       

 2010- Open Source ISA

II. Characteristics of an Embedded Processors

The 1st and probably the most important characteristic is that these are application specific processors. embedded processors are not general purpose processor. Description of service or task that already be provided with processor and it programmed in such way that it will work accordingly. Job characteristics are known before hardware is design it leads to concurrent design of software

Static structure is one of characteristic of EP. The end user has very limited access to programming. Whole system programmed by the developer. End user can only do is it can perform sequence of basic action

Another characteristic of EP is mass production. As need of market is huge, developer has to coop up with requirements. High production volume, low time to market window, cost effectiveness all these are the issues considered at the time of designing an application specific Processor.

Real time is the another issue. The processors which are dependent on various deadlines called real time processors[2]

III. Arm Processors:

ARM has manufactured huge no of processors. All are having different cores and dedicated features.  Generalized Features of ARM Processors:

1. RISC Design

2. AMBA Bus Design makes ARM more effective

3. Introducing Cache memory and Memory Management unit(MMU)

4. Vectored interrupt controller (VIC)

5. On chip peripheral support. Different types of serial interfaces present on chip

6. Low CPU operating Voltage

ARM’s 1st version is ARM1 to latest ARM11. Staring from ARM1, ARM2, ARM3, ARM4, ARM5, ARM6, ARM7, ARM8, Strong ARM, ARM9, ARM10, ARM11 these are the product families of ARM. ARM introduced Thumb, Jazelle like extensions afterwards.

• Architecture of ARM Processors:

Architecture is of ARM7 based microcontroller LPC2148. It consists of 16/32 bit ARM7TDMI-S Processor. 8 to 40K on chip SRAM available. 32 to 512KB on chip flash program memory. In System programmer via on chip boot loader software. ICE available

If we look for on chip peripherals like USB 2.0(8KB of on chip RAM available for USB to have DMA access. 2 32bit timer/counter having CCP facility and WDT. Low power RTC operated on 32KHz input clock. Serial interfaces: 2 UARTs, 2 Fast I2Cs, SPI and SSP

On chip oscillator: External Oscillator 1MHz- 30MHz. 2 Power saving modes: Idle and Power down mode

Wake up strategies for ARM: Via External interrupt, BOD, RTC, Reset.[3]

• Comparative study of ARM Family:


 The requirements of higher performance controller have been driven globally by industries changing needs. Microcontrollers are required to handle more work without increasing their frequency and power. Furthermore, every microcontroller has several user interfacing circuitries to connect itself with world, interfaces like USB, Ethernet, CAN. The 1st of Cortex generation released in 2006 and was designed to acquire 32bit microcontroller market

• Cortex Processor Types:

Cortex A-Family: Cortex-A Series Application processors deliver exceptional 32-bit performance with combined 32-bit and 64-bit performance, enabling the next generation of mobile internet devices. Application: Smart phones, eBook readers, Digital TVs, Home Gateways.

Cortex R-Family: Cortex Real-time processors have been developed for deeply embedded real-time applications where the need for low power and good interrupt behaviour are balanced with exceptional performance and strong compatibility with existing platforms. Application: Automotive Breaking System, Mass storage controllers, Networking Printing.

Cortex M-Family: Cortex-M series processor have been developed primarily for the microcontroller domain where the need for fast, highly deterministic, interrupt management is coupled with the desire for extremely low gate count and lowest possible power consumption. Application: Mixed signal devices, Smart sensors, Automotive electronics.[3]

Architecture of Cortex M3 processor:

Greater performance efficiency, low power consumption, Enhanced Determinism.

Highly Technological difference in ARM and ARM Cortex embedded processors. There are two special function registers is ARM whereas in Cortex three PSR’s are there in Service via. Application PSR, Interrupt PSR, Execution PSR. Each Registers have their respective bit so called field format. It consists of various flag bits.

CMSIS concept: Cortex microcontroller software interface standard supports developers and vendors in creating reusable software for ARM cortex M3 based system  

It Improve software portability and reusability. It Enable software solution suppliers to develop products that can work seamlessly with device. Libraries from various silicon vendors allow embedded developers to develop software quicker with an easy-to-use and standardized. It creates Software interface allow embedded software to be used on multiple compiler products

It Improve software portability and reusability. It Enable software solution suppliers to develop products that can work seamlessly with device. Libraries from various silicon vendors allow embedded developers to develop software quicker with an easy-to-use and standardized. It creates Software interface allow embedded software to be used on multiple compiler products

V. Different Embedded Processors:

PIC Family:

Peripheral interface controller. This is the family of controller which replaced EPROM memory with flash type memory. It is made by Microchip Technology. Bifurcated according to cores present in it.

1. Baseline core devices (12 bits)

PIC10, PIC12, PIC16 devices are comes under this category

12bit instruction word, 2 level stack

2. Midrange devices (14 bits)

PIC16, PIC12 comes under this.

14bit instruction word, 8 level stack, it also supports ‘C’ programming language optimisation

3. High range devices (16 bits)

PIC17, PIC18 family

16bit instruction word, external program memory interface, 21bit

VI. Future Trends:

• The requirement of EP increasing widely. Though they have made everything very easy, power management issue continued dominating the overall performance of system. Somewhere researchers have come up with solution to introduced MRAM (Magnetoresistive RAM) in place of SRAM, DRAM and rest of memories available in EP. Special issue raised embedded processors with computational intelligence solution. CI is subset of Artificial intelligence. CI is based on soft computing techniques. In case of architecture pipeline stages getting long where as Intel is come up with smart processor called XScale having improved performance than existing processors.

• The advantages of programmability in embedded processors are evident, but the danger exists that functions performed by such embedded processors are too generic and thus decreasing performance. We envision a third trend that entails the definition of complex functions specialized for the application and their incorporation into embedded processors [1]


[1] Gurvinder Singh, Aditi Trivedi, Govind Singh, Shweta Karnik “Emerging trends in embedded processors”, Gurvinder Singh et al Int. Journal of Engineering Research and Applications, ISSN: 2248-9622, Vol. 4, Issue 5( Version 5), May 2014, pp.77-80

[2] Stephan Wong, Stamatis Vassiliadis, “Embedded Processors: Characteristics and Trends”


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