ARM Holdings does not manufacture nor sell CPU devices based on its own designs, but rather, licenses the processor architecture to interested parties. ARM offers a variety of licensing terms, varying in cost and deliverables. To all licensees, ARM provides an integratable hardware description of the ARM core, as well as complete software development toolset, and the right to sell manufactured silicon containing the ARM CPU.
Integrated device manufacturers (IDM) receive the ARM Processor IP as synthesizable RTL (written in Verilog). In this form, they have the ability to perform architectural level optimizations and extensions. This allows the manufacturer to achieve custom design goals, such as higher clock speed, very low power consumption, instruction set extensions, optimizations for size, debug support, etc. To determine which components have been included in an ARM IC chip, consult the manufacturer datasheet and related documentation.
The Cortex-R4 / R5 / R7 cores implement the ARMv7-R architecture.
The amount of documentation for all ARM chips is daunting, especially for newcomers. The documentation for microcontrollers from past decades would easily be inclusive in a single document, but as chips have evolved so has the documentation grown. The total documentation is especially hard to grasp for all ARM chips since it consists of documents from the IC manufacturer and documents from CPU core vendor (ARM Holdings).
A typical top-down documentation tree is: high-level marketing slides, datasheet for the exact physical chip, a detailed reference manual that describes common peripherals and other aspects of physical chips within the same series, reference manual for the exact ARM core processor within the chip, reference manual for the ARM architecture of the core which includes detailed description of all instruction sets.
- Documentation Tree (top to bottom)
- IC Manufacturer Marketing Slides.
- IC Manufacturer Datasheets.
- IC Manufacturer Reference Manuals.
- ARM Core Reference Manuals.
- ARM Architecture Reference Manuals.
IC Manufacturers usually have additional documents, including: evaluation board user manuals, application notes, getting started with development software, software library documents, errata, and more.
- ARM architecture, List of ARM microprocessor cores
- Microcontroller, List of common microcontrollers
- Embedded system, Single-board microcontroller
- JTAG, SWD
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- Quick Reference Cards
- Instructions: Thumb (1), ARM and Thumb-2 (2), Vector Floating-Point (3), arm.com
- Opcodes: Thumb (1, 2), ARM (3, 4), GNU Assembler Directives (5).