ARM is a RISC-based architecture designed specifically for low-power computing, mainly because processors based on these architectures use fewer transistors than those found in a traditional processor. As a result, ARM-based processors are extremely popular in portable and battery powered devices, and almost all smartphones and tablets are powered by them.

ARM has now launched a new generation of Cortex-R series of real time processors for automotive and industrial safety and control applications. Featuring some real time capabilities of application (A) profile ARMv8-A and real time (R) profile ARMv7-R architectures, ARMv8-R is built with key architectural developments to focus on requirements of future integrated control and safety applications.

ARMv8-R architecture specification will have high end memory protection capabilities with real time and industrial safety characteristics. The deployment of ARMv8-R architecture will result in cost reduction and improvement in efficiency and performance of the embedded systems to match the needs of the automotive applications such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Hybrid Electric vehicle (HEV) power train control and factory automation.

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What’s special in this version?
One of the key developments in 32-bit ARMv8-R architecture is use of a hypervisor mode in processor hardware and support for hardware virtualization. Combing the two will result in a virtual machine monitor, enabling programmers to combine different operating systems, applications and real-time tasks on a single processor and at the same time ensuring isolation of memory and processing time between those operating systems, applications and real-time tasks. This will facilitate software consolidation and re-use, which will accelerate time-to-market and reduce development costs

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Key Features of ARMv8-R architecture
• Support for ARM’s advanced SMD extensions (ARM NEON Technology) for accelerating multimedia and signal processing algorithms.
• System register mapping of the interrupt control registers and the addition of a System Error Interrupt (SEI) for improvement of interrupt response time and handling of critical errors.
• Support for full Virtual Memory System Architecture (VMSA) for the use of wide range of software assets present in application processor and rich operating system world.
• Instruction sets from ARMv8-A architecture with new instructions for managing memory protection, Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) instructions and enhanced floating point instructions according to the latest IEEE standard.

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A number of operating system products will support ARMv8-R architecture ecosystem including INTEGRITY from Green Hills Software, Nucleus from Mentor Graphics, and T-Kernel from eSOL.

According to David Kleidermacher, chief technology officer at Green Hills Software, “The evolution to support concurrent general-purpose and real-time operating systems is a significant development for ARM architecture and the ARM ecosystem.”

Mentioning about automotive and industrial interoperability and safety standards, he said, “We expect our eT-Kernel real-time OS and its dedicated IDE to be certified for ISO 26262 automotive functional safety standard in the second quarter in 2014.”

Glenn Perry, general manager of Mentor Graphics Embedded Software Division said, “Mentor’s support of the ARMv8-R architecture will enable both ARM licensees and embedded developers to create innovative solutions for automotive, industrial, and safety-critical applications.”

“Our mutual customers can make use of this innovative architecture ahead of silicon availability through virtual prototypes and also when ARMv8-R based devices are available with the small footprint, power-efficient Nucleus RTOS, Mentor Embedded Linux, virtualization technologies, AUTOSAR solutions and SourceryCodeBench tools,” he added.

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