ARM Launches Cortex-M7 Processor Architecture For The IoT

ARM has been a dominant force in mobile for quite some time, and clearly, the company would love for that to continue. With its just-released Cortex-M7 processor, ARM is looking to make sure that its chips continue to be found in IoT (Internet of Things) devices all over the world. It's not like the company doesn't already have its feet in the door, though: To date, over 8 billion Cortex-M chips have been shipped. Further, there are over 240 licenses for the series, as well as over 3,000 catalog parts.

As an IoT chip, the Cortex-M7 is designed for more modest products, such as wearables. The press slides show other examples though, such as the Nest smart thermostat, a washing machine, and also an oven. For heavier-duty needs, the Cortex-R could be adopted (eg: routers, auto), whereas for the high-performance we all want from our smartphones and tablets, the Cortex-A is brought in for duty.

ARM Cortex-M7: Overview

ARM Cortex-M7: Target Applications

The Cortex-R series mentioned above is well-suited for automotive use, but so too is the new Cortex-M7, based on the slide above. Further, these new chips would be perfect for sensor hubs in IoT devices, and even industrial control in some cases.

As seen in the slide below, the Cortex-M7 is considerably faster than the -M4, as well as its nearest competitors. This is especially true with the MCU test in CoreMark - it's nearly twice as fast as one of its competitors.

ARM Cortex-M7: Performance

ARM Cortex-M7: Performance Comparison

Thanks to the performance and power-efficiency that the Cortex-M7 brings to the table, we're undoubtedly going to see it pop up everywhere, especially in emerging markets such as wearables and even smart home devices (eg: Nest thermostat). In 2013, ARM shipped 2.9 billion Cortex-M chips, while in the first half of this year, it hit 1.7 billion. The growth is quite obvious here, and there's no sign that things are going to slow down anytime soon.