The Cortex-M3 processor is specifically developed to enable partners to develop high-performance low-cost platforms for a broad range of devices including microcontrollers, automotive body systems, industrial control systems and wireless networking and sensors.
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- Design the most optimal System-On-Chip with a processor that has the perfect balance between area, performance and power with comprehensive system interfaces and integrated debug and trace components.
- Develop solutions for a large variety of markets with a full-featured ARMv7-M instruction set that has been proven across a broad set of embedded applications.
- Capture a worldwide experienced developer base to accelerate adoption of new Cortex-M3 powered products and leverage the available extensive knowledge base to reduce support costs.
- Achieve exceptional 32-bit performance with low dynamic power, delivering leading system energy efficiency due to integrated software controlled sleep modes, extensive clock gating and optional state retention.
||Optional 8 region MPU with sub regions and background region|
|Interrupts||Non-maskable Interrupt (NMI) + 1 to 240 physical interrupts|
|Interrupt Priority Levels||8 to 256 priority levels
|Wake-up Interrupt Controller
||Up to 240 Wake-up Interrupts|
||Integrated WFI and WFE Instructions and Sleep On Exit capability.
Sleep & Deep Sleep Signals.
Optional Retention Mode with ARM Power Management Kit
|Bit Manipulation||Integrated Instructions & Bit Banding
|Enhanced Instructions||Hardware Divide (2-12 Cycles), Single-Cycle (32x32) Multiply, Saturated Math Support
||Optional JTAG & Serial-Wire Debug Ports. Up to 8 Breakpoints and 4 Watchpoints.|
|Optional Instruction and Data Trace (ETM), Data Trace (DWT), and Instrumentation Trace (ITM)|
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The Cortex-M3 has been specifically developed for partners to develop high-performance low-cost devices for a broad range of embedded market segments.
Powerful debug and non-intrusive real-time trace
Comprehensive debug and trace features dramatically improve developer productivity. It is extremely efficient to develop embedded software with proper debug.
Memory Protection Unit (MPU)
Software reliability improves when each module is allowed access only to specific areas of memory required for it to operate. This protection prevents unexpected access that may overwrite critical data.
Integrated nested vectored interrupt controller (NVIC)
There is no need for a standalone external interrupt controller. Interrupt handling is taken care of by the NVIC removing the complexity of managing interrupts manually via the processor.
Thumb-2 code density
On average, the mix between 16bit and 32bit instructions yields a better code density when compared to 8bit and 16bit architectures. This has significant advantages in terms of reduced memory requirements and maximizing the usage of precious on-chip Flash memory.
Performance Efficiency: 3.34 CoreMark/MHz* and 1.25 / 1.50 / 1.89 DMIPS/MHz**
|ARM Cortex-M3 Implementation Data***|
(7-track, typical 1.8v, 25°C)
(7-track, typical 1.2v, 25°C)
(9-track, typical 1.1v, 25°C)
|Dynamic Power||141 µW/MHz||31 µW/MHz||11 µW/MHz|
|Floorplanned Area||0.35 mm2||0.09 mm2||0.02 mm2|
** The first result abides by all of the “ground rules” laid out in the Dhrystone documentation, the second permits inlining of functions, not just the permitted C string libraries, while the third additionally permits simultaneous (”multi-file”) compilation. All are with the original (K&R) v2.1 of Dhrystone
*** Base usable configuration includes 1 IRQ + NMI, excludes ETM, MPU and debug
The Cortex-M3 processor is usually incorporated into a SoC using a broad range of ARM technology including System IP and Physical IP. It is fully supported by ARM development tools. Related IP includes:
Cortex-M3 Technical Reference ManualFor system designers, system integrators, verification engineers and software programmers who are building a Cortex-M3 based SoC.
Technical Reference Manual
White Paper: ARMv8-M ArchitectureThis White Paper compares the features of various Cortex-M processors and describes how to select the right processor for the application.
Get the White Paper
Cortex-M System Design Kit (CMSDK)CMSDK is a comprehensive system solution designed to work seamlessly with Cortex-M processors out-of-the-box.
Software Optimization Guide
Embedded Development Tools for Cortex-M SeriesARM and its ecosystem partners provide a wide range of tools for embedded software development on ARM Cortex-M processors.
Software Tools for Cortex-M
Design support with Active AssistActive Assist on-site design review service gives licensees confidence that their Cortex-M3 CPU is implemented efficiently, to provide maximum system performance, with lowest risk and fastest time-to-market.
Explore design services
Questions? Request more informationLearn more about Cortex-M3, ARM’s industry-leading 32-bit processor for highly deterministic real-time applications. Contact us to speak with our technical team.
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