Enhanced ARM DesignStart eliminates upfront license fees for ARM Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3 processors


Jun 20, 2017

News highlights

  • ARM DesignStart program expanded to include ARM Cortex-M3 processor
  • Zero upfront license fees for designing production SoCs based on Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3, two of the world’s most popular processor cores (with more than a combined 20 billion units shipped)
  • Provides the fastest, simplest way to both evaluate and commercialize proven processors, paving the way to 1 trillion connected devices
  • Accelerates Cortex-M3 based SoC designs with complete IP subsystem and verified support for ARM mbed OS

ARM DesignStart has been providing fast access to ARM IP since before 2010. Two years ago, we announced availability of the enhanced Cortex-M0 system in DesignStart, which kick-started a new wave of ultra-efficient, custom system-on-chip (SoC) development. Thanks to DesignStart, several hundred more embedded designers, startups and OEMs are now participating in the collaborative ARM ecosystem. Their resulting custom SoCs designs are enabling embedded intelligence in a diverse range of IoT and connected devices. We have been listening to feedback and consistently focusing on improving our offering. So today, we are enhancing DesignStart to further pave the way to success for developers looking to design custom SoCs with confidence, and for innovators who want to bring new ideas to market rapidly and with minimal risk.

Building on a strong foundation for an enhanced DesignStart

Enhanced DesignStart: Quickest, cheapest, lowest-risk route to success in embedded solutions

In our quest to make embedded processing technology more accessible for IoT and intelligent, connected solution development, we have made several enhancements to the DesignStart program, providing the fastest path forward for evaluating, designing and bringing custom SoCs to market.

The enhanced DesignStart program offers:

  • The addition of Cortex-M3 , the most successful ARM Cortex-M processor
  • Ongoing access to Cortex-M0 to address the broadest range of smart embedded applications
  • Elimination of up-front license or evaluation fees , enabling a low-risk, success-based royalty model
  • Instant access with free download, for evaluation and prototype development. CPUs available to start commercial development with a straightforward downloadable licence
  • Reduced time-to-production through online access to ARM CoreLink SDK-100, a proven subsystem and system IP solution
  • 10x developer productivity gains with CoreLink SSE-050 Subsystem and verified support for mbed OS, to further ensure the most managed, scalable and secure IoT products
  • Design assistance services from ARM and ARM Approved design house partners, so even companies that simply ‘just want a chip’ can benefit from a custom SoC
  • Ongoing access to thousands of physical IP libraries for fastest and most efficient silicon implementation

It's amazing when one thinks about the fact that more than 20 billion chips have shipped with Cortex-M0 or Cortex-M3 processors in them, and half of those shipped in just the last couple of years. The popularity of these processors is driven by their versatility and extremely small size and power characteristics, which can enable even battery-less, energy-harvesting applications. The Cortex-M0 for example can fit on the cross section of a human hair. You can find some examples of the innovation that's enabled by these processors on ARM's Innovation Hub.

Unlocking intelligence and differentiation for 1 trillion IoT devices

At ARM Techcon last fall, SoftBank Chairman and President, Masayoshi Son, provided insights on why SoftBank acquired ARM and the role it plays in his vision of 1 trillion connected devices globally. To achieve this vision, embedded intelligence must be highly accessible and cost-efficient, across a common platform.

To fully unlock this vision, you need custom SoCs. They can reduce complexity and cost, increase differentiation and efficiency as well as simplify the supply chain. A new whitepaper by Tirias Research highlights both the top-line growth and bottom-line profit benefits a custom SoC brings to an OEM, stating :

“An ASIC may be able to add more features to the product for an up sell. The bottom line is improved by reducing board size and reducing expensive discrete components”

DesignStart: The fastest route to silicon

We’re already seeing a number of partners reaping the benefits of custom SoCs – for example, S3 Group has developed an ARM-based custom SoC for an industrial control application that reduced power requirements by 70 percent, cost of parts by 80 percent and PCB size by 75 percent.

Custom SoCs enhance industrial control

But what truly unlocks the potential of these custom SoCs and accelerates them to market is the extensive amount of software and middleware that's available for ARM-based platforms already. In addition to this there is readily available open source support, tooling and a thriving ecosystem to build further value into the solution.

Making it happen

ARM is aggressively working to deliver on Son-san's bold vision. With the enhanced DesignStart program, we have expanded the possibilities for silicon design teams to innovate on two of the world’s most popular processor cores - the Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3 processors – which are shipped in a half of a million SoCs every hour . This will enable more opportunities to customize designs that scale from the tiniest of sensors to highly-integrated SoCs that power everyday intelligence.

With instant access to start development, a full system platform to enable a very low-risk design, tested software and no upfront costs for ARM or subsystem IP, the risks in getting to market quickly are substantially lowered, truly enabling new ideas to take shape. Prototype and initial samples are royalty free. Even when you've shipped millions of devices, the total royalty is less than an engineer's salary in most tech locations, but by then you're already on your way to changing the world.

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