ARM details roadmap, next gen silicon by end-2002

Good endians and bad endians

MPF Microprocessor Forum ARM gave details of its next generation instruction set today, Architecture v6, and said that silicon using the instructions should be available towards the end of next year.

ARM has two parallel roadmaps, one for the instruction set and one for the actual core, and it was only the former that got publically updated today. The successor to ARM10 hasn't yet been named. Two of ARM's biggest licensees - Intel and Texas Instruments - actually got their dibs on the information back in the summer.

But the two roadmaps move roughly in parallel, of course, and the instruction set sees the addition of SIMD instructions for streaming media and hardware support for big and little endian architectures.

"PCs have always been little endian, but the major protocols particularly TCP/IP are big endian. We've always supported the conversion in software but it costs cycles to do that," John Rayfield, ARM's director of R&D, told us.

ARM Architecture v6 also promises revised cache and memory management in future ARM cores.

The company drops the convention of adding letters on to the main generation, ARMv5 became ARMv5T (for the Thumb instructions), ARMv5TE (for Thumb and DSP), and the addition of Java support.

Rayfield says the latter was included to cater for ARM's set-top box licensees as much as for phones. Phones currently account for 60-70 per cent of ARM's licensees in terms of volume shipped.

ARM also announced specifications for its PrimeXsys platform for phone and PDA manufacturers at MPF.

On Monday ARM reported higher quarterly revenues, at £37.6 million for Q3, 4 per cent higher than the previous quarter, and 42 per cent higher than Q3 last year. Profits of £12.9 million werer 46 per cent higher than last year. ®