June 1, 2009 -- Microcontrollers based on the ARM Cortex-M3 processor are becoming very popular in the industry. The recent introduction of the Cortex-M0 processor allows for more power- and cost-effective devices. Cortex-M processors are software compatible, and together with the Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS), simplify porting of software.
The general-purpose MCU segment is one of the most fragmented markets in the electronics industry. The many microcontroller architectures frequently have a long history — most 8- and 16-bit architectures were invented more than 20 years ago. Over the years, these architectures have been reshaped several times to meet the needs of today’s demanding applications. To aid CPU performance, a math accelerator or a hardware CORDIC (cordinate rotation digital computer) are sometimes added.
Since no peripheral and interface standards exist, programmers must invent solutions over and over again for the same basic problems and adopt existing software algorithms to new hardware. In such environments object-oriented programming rarely can be used. Generic software components that are common in the PC world are not available, and the lack of programming standards limits software reuse.
Instead, silicon vendors must provide free software frameworks for new devices tailored toward specific applications. This slows the introduction of new devices and significantly increases development costs.
By Reinhard Keil. (Keil is with ARM in Plano, TX)
This brief introduction has been excerpted from the original copyrighted article.
View the entire article on the Electronic Products Magazine website.
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