DesignStart provides instant access to Arm processor IP and subsystems so you can design a custom SoC, and prototype on an FPGA.

With DesignStart Eval you can instantly design and prototype your SoC with no upfront license fee. DesignStart Pro is designed for companies looking to build a commercial SoC.

Access the proven, trusted and widely-deployed  Arm Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3.

Cortex-M0 Cortex-M3




The Cortex-M0 processor

The smallest Arm processor available, enabling developers to achieve 32-bit performance at an 8-bit price point.

  • Minimal code footprint of the processor
  • Exceptionally small silicon area
  • Lowest power for the most constrained applications

The Cortex-M3 processor

Industry-leading 32-bit processor for deterministic, real-time applications, specifically developed for high-performance, low-cost platforms.

  • Outstanding computational performance
  • Exceptional system response to events
  • Highly configurable, enabling a wide range of implementations

Cortex-M0 vs. Cortex-M3 - a specification comparison

Not sure which processor is right for you? The Cortex-M0 or the Cortex-M3? See our features and specification comparison below.


Cortex-M0  Cortex-M3 
 Instruction set architecture







DMIPS/MHz range 0.87*-1.27** 1.25*-1.89**
CoreMark/MHz 2.33 3.34
Memory Protection Unit (MPU) No Yes (option) 
Systick Timer Yes (option)  Yes
CMSIS Support Yes Yes
Built-in caches No


*Abides by all of the ‘ground rules’ laid out in the Dhrystone documentation
**Using simultaneous (‘multi-file’) compilation

Dynamic power and area

Cortex-M0 Cortex-M3
(7-track, typical 1.8v, 25°C)
64.3µW/MHz 141µW/MHz
0.109 mm2 0.35 mm2
(7-track, typical 1.2v, 25°C)
12.5µW/MHz 31 µW/MHz
0.030 mm2 0.09 mm2
(9-track, typical 1.1v, 25°C)
5.1µW/MHz 11 µW/MHz
0.007mm2 0.02 mm2

Cortex-M0 example system

Cortex-M0 users have access to CMSDK, which includes: example system, a selection of AMBA AHB and APB infrastructure components and other essential peripherals., plus many other key system IP components.

Cortex-M3 subsystem

Cortex-M3 users have access to the new CoreLink SDK-100 System Design Kit, including the efficient and expandable Corelink SSE-050 Subsystem. The CoreLink System Design Kits help you reduce risk and effort for the implementation of custom SoCs. The kit includes a validated, customizable subsystem, plus many other key system IP components.

Cortex-M Prototyping System

The Cortex-M Prototyping System is an FPGA platform built specifically for the Cortex-M processors - the platform of choice for DesignStart.

The platform supports both the Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3 DesignStart Eval, offering you the possibility to easily prototype your embedded design. It’s an impressive, low-cost, feature-rich, development platform.

Cortex-M0 FPGA system

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Cortex-M3 FPGA system

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Access documentation and videos for SoC design with DesignStart Eval                  Explore resources

  • Hero chip - Cortex-M0
  • Cortex-M0 DesignStart Eval 

    • Design with a fixed-configuration, synthesizable Cortex-M0 RTL
    • Use the Cortex-M0 System Design Kit (CMSDK) and example system to quickly get started
    • Prototype with Cortex-M Prototyping System, including out-of-the-box support
    • Develop software with a 90-day time-limited license of Keil MDK Essential or IAR Embedded Workbench

  • Hero chip - Cortex-M3
  • Cortex-M3 DesignStart Eval

    • Design with a fixed-configuration, synthesizable Cortex-M3 RTL
    • Customize your design with your own IP, or use the CoreLink SDK-100 that includes a fully-verified subsystem
    • Prototype with Cortex-M Prototyping System, including out-of-the-box support, or on any FPGA
    • Connect IoT devices with mbed OS
    • Simulate with a 1-year license of Cortex-M3 Cycle Model
    • Develop software with a 90-day time-limited license of Keil MDK Essential or IAR Embedded Workbench


Commercialize with DesignStart Pro

Start developing your production chip by upgrading to a free, fast-access license with no upfront fee.

  • Cortex-M0 and Cortex M0 System Design Kit
  • Cortex-M3 and subsystem with CoreLink SDK-100 
  • Range of services and support options available

Learn more