About the Arm architecture

The Arm architecture is one of the most popular processor architectures in the world today, with several billion Arm-based devices shipped every year.

There are three architecture profiles: A, R and M.

A-Profile (Applications)

R-Profile (Real-Time)

M-Profile (Microcontroller)

  • High performance.

  • Designed to run a complex operating system, such as Linux or Windows.

  • Targeted at systems with real-time requirements.

  • Commonly found in networking equipment, and embedded control systems.

  • Smallest/lowest power. Small, highly power-efficient devices.

  • Found at the heart of many IoT devices.

These three profiles allow Arm architecture to be tailored to the needs of different use cases, while still sharing several base features.

Note: Arm Cortex is the brand name used for Arm’s processor IP offerings. Our partners offer other processor brands using the Arm architecture.

It is often the case that one end device uses multiple Arm processors, and that those processors implement different architecture profiles. For example, the figure below shows what you might find in a modern smartphone:

Use of different Arm architecture profiles in one device.

This example smartphone has an A-profile processor, running a rich OS such as Android. The phone would also need a cellular modem to provide connectivity. This type of modem is commonly based on R-profile Arm processors. The phone also includes several M-profile processors in the phone, handling operations such as system power management.

In this guide, we will only look at the A-profile architecture and its latest version, Armv8-A.

Note: The figure above also shows a SecurCore, an M-profile processor with additional security features. SecurCore processors are commonly used in smart cards.


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