Arm will offer support for custom instructions for their ARMv8-M embedded CPUs targeted at embedded and IoT applications. (Image credit: Arm)


During this year’s TechCon event in Santa Fe, Arm announced it would start supporting custom instructions for their ARMv8-M series of CPUs, beginning with their Arm Cortex-M33 cores. The announcement means that customers will be able to write their own custom instructions to optimize specific cases for embedded and IoT applications.


According to VP and general manager (Arm Automotive and IoT Business) Dipti Vachani, “A world of a trillion secure, intelligent devices will be built on a diversity of complex use cases requiring increased synergy between hardware and software design. We have engineered Arm Custom Instructions to fuel closer hardware and software co-design efforts toward achieving application-specific acceleration while unlocking greater device differentiation.”


The custom instructions function for the ARMv8-M series adds a customized module inside the processor that shares the same interface as the standard ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) in the CPU. What this does is add reserve-coding space that designers can use for custom datapath extensions, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of existing software. Arm goes on to state, “This feature, together with the existing co-processor interface, enables Cortex-M33 CPUs to be extended with various types of accelerators optimized for edge compute use cases including machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).”


For now, only the Cortex-M33 core processor will take advantage of custom instructions, which is slated to begin in the first half of 2020 and will not require additional costs or licenses for Arm customers. The company has already lined up several customers that will take advantage of the custom instructions package, including STMicroelectronics, Silicon Labs, and IAR Systems, so we can probably expect a few new MCUs to come out next year.  


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