Something that shouldn’t be underestimated when creating embedded machines is the need for a strong processor. There are a whole suite of components that a developer or OEM needs to concentrate on, but most are not as important as the CPU. Understanding what power demands are allotted for the overall product and what it has to accomplish guides the component types that can be utilized. For many industrial machines, the main requirements of good design are:
- fast processor
- low power/battery consumption
Finding the right embedded CPU to fulfill all of these demands has been made pretty darn easy, thanks to the ARM architecture. Created in the 80’s, these lines of smaller and smarter processors have taken the commercial world by storm, and have concrete applications for embedded systems. The constant reiteration of its product line ensures great strides in making the ARM architecture more efficient and powerful. They become even more relevant for the industrial market by being extremely compatible across old and new platforms. Their versatility in embedded CPU usage cannot be overlooked by companies and OEMs that are designing small, single board machines.
What is the ARM Architecture?
ARM, which stands for Advanced RISC Machines, operate differently than standard CPU structures. In the most basic sense, a CPU is fed an instruction set by a program and is handled in one of the two ways:
- Complex Instruction Set Architecture (CISC): Works to complete an instruction set in the fewest lines of assembly as possible, necessitating multiple instructions being dealt with simultaneously.
- Reduced Instruction Set Architecture (RISC): Essentially commits to the opposite of CISC. Instead of focusing on fewer lines of assembly, it focuses on smaller instructions. This necessitates fewer transistors from the CPU, making it more compact, as well as drawing less power.
An ARM based embedded CPU is a RISC type processor, which is why it is ideal when a smaller footprint is needed within the machine.
Why Use ARM Processors for an Embedded CPU?
This question is easy to answer, as the ARM architecture solves many issues for embedded CPU and machine designers. These companies need a small yet powerful CPU that is compatible with various OS platforms and can scale to be used in a variety of different machines, ranging from 32 to 64 bit architectures. An ARM CPU fills all of these criteria, while being cost effective for design. Processors with the ARM architecture are currently used in major smart phones and commercial netbooks, among other devices, and their use for industrial machines has been steadily on the rise.
Brian Luckman is the President of New Era Electronics. He has worked in the industrial OEM market for over 25 years, serving a variety of different industries, gaining a strong reputation for his expertise and a thorough understanding of how to properly service OEM customers. In 2000 he began New Era Electronics and the company continues to grow. He’s a husband and father and enjoys exploring the outdoors.
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