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ARM Cortex-M7

History

 

The Cortex-M7 is a Cortex-M microcontroller architecture developed by ARM Holdings. It was announced in 2014 and is the highest performance Cortex-M processor available. The Cortex-M7 builds upon the Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4 architectures, adding a floating point unit (FPU) and increasing the clock frequency up to 300 MHz. It is designed for use in a wide range of embedded applications, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart home appliances, and industrial control systems.

 

The Cortex-M family of microcontrollers is widely used in embedded applications due to their low cost, low power consumption, and ease of use. The Cortex-M7 expands upon these strengths by offering high performance and advanced features such as a floating point unit and a memory protection unit.

 

Architecture

 

The Cortex-M7 has a Harvard architecture with a single instruction pipeline. It supports both 32-bit and 16-bit instructions and has a variable length instruction set. The Cortex-M7 also has a memory protection unit (MPU) for enhanced security and a nested vectored interrupt controller (NVIC) for efficient handling of interrupts.

 

The Harvard architecture separates the program memory and data memory, allowing the processor to fetch instructions and data simultaneously. This can improve performance by allowing the processor to efficiently access instructions and data without waiting for one to be retrieved before the other.

 

The Cortex-M7 also has a single instruction pipeline, which allows it to execute instructions continuously without the need for multiple stages of instruction decoding. This can further improve performance and make the processor more efficient.

 

Features

 

  • Up to 300 MHz clock frequency
  • 32-bit and 16-bit instruction support
  • Floating point unit (FPU) for single and double precision arithmetic
  • Memory protection unit (MPU) for enhanced security
  • Nested vectored interrupt controller (NVIC) for efficient interrupt handling
  • Low power consumption
  • Advanced debug features

 

The Cortex-M7 has a number of features that make it well-suited for use in a wide range of embedded applications. Its high clock frequency of up to 300 MHz allows it to handle demanding tasks and provide fast response times. It also supports both 32-bit and 16-bit instructions, which can be useful for applications that require a mix of high performance and small code size.

 

One of the key features of the Cortex-M7 is its floating point unit (FPU), which allows it to perform single and double precision arithmetic. This is important for applications that require advanced mathematical calculations, such as scientific simulations, signal processing, and control systems.

 

The Cortex-M7 also has a memory protection unit (MPU), which can be used to define memory regions and set permissions for access. This helps to prevent unauthorized access to memory and protect against security threats.

 

The nested vectored interrupt controller (NVIC) in the Cortex-M7 allows for efficient handling of interrupts, ensuring that important tasks can be prioritized and completed in a timely manner. This is important for real-time applications that need to respond quickly to external events.

 

The Cortex-M7 also has a number of advanced debug features, including support for trace data capture and analysis. This can be useful for debugging and performance optimization.

 

Benefits

 

  • High performance: The Cortex-M7 has a clock frequency of up to 300 MHz, making it the highest performance Cortex-M processor available. This allows it to handle demanding tasks and provide fast response times.
  • Floating point support: The Cortex-M7 has a built-in FPU, allowing it to perform single and double precision arithmetic. This is important for applications that require advanced mathematical calculations.
  • Enhanced security: The Cortex-M7 has an MPU, which can be used to define memory regions and set permissions for access. This helps to prevent unauthorized access to memory and protect against security threats.
  • Efficient interrupt handling: The NVIC in the Cortex-M7 allows for efficient handling of interrupts, ensuring that important tasks can be prioritized and completed in a timely manner.
  • Low power consumption: The Cortex-M7 is designed for low power consumption, making it suitable for use in battery-powered devices.

 

Benchmarks

 

The Cortex-M7 has a clock frequency of up to 300 MHz and can execute up to 1.25 DMIPS/MHz (Dhrystone MIPS per MHz). This makes it one of the highest performing Cortex-M processors available.

 

Description of block diagram The Cortex-M7 has a Harvard architecture with a single instruction pipeline. It has a program memory and data memory, as well as a floating point unit (FPU) and a memory protection unit (MPU). It also has a nested vectored interrupt controller (NVIC) and a debug interface.

 

Add-ons

 

There are several add-ons available for the Cortex-M7, including:

 

  • Cortex-M7 Trace Port Interface Unit (TPIU): This allows for trace data to be captured and analyzed for debugging and performance optimization.
  • Cortex-M7 Embedded Trace Macrocell (ETM): This provides detailed instruction-level trace data for debugging and performance analysis.
  • Cortex-M7 Instrumentation Trace Macrocell (ITM): This allows for real-time trace data to be printed out or sent to a debugger for analysis.

 

Usage

 

The Cortex-M7 was first used in 2015 in a variety of embedded applications. Today, it is used in a wide range of products, including IoT devices, smart home appliances, and industrial control systems. Some specific examples of products that use the Cortex-M7 include the STMicroelectronics STM32H7 microcontroller and the NXP S32K148 automotive microcontroller.

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