ARM Releases ARMv8-A in Machine Readable Architecture Specification

Understanding how a processor works and what will happen if it is configured in a particular way is key to being able to write software or firmware that will function properly on the processor.

Usually the specifications for processor architecture is defined in (often extremely large) books in pdf format. For example the ARM Architecture Reference Manual contains thousands of pages and you need to be very keen to learn everything you need to know about a particular processor from this and to make use of that information. Keeping up with changes, fixes and new additions can be a full-time job!

ARM has now released version 8.2 of the ARM v8-A processor specification in machine readable form, with the intention of making implementation much easier for engineers.

For more details of why this is a good thing, Alastair Reid, one of ARM’s Senior Principal Research Engineers, has written a blog detailing some of the things you can do by downloading the XML files.

Architecture ARMv8-A Machine Readable

  • ... and accurately auto-generate header files for assembly, C and other languages.

  • This is awesome; especially for those working on open-source emulator implementation, but it will also help understanding exactly what is going on and why, when writing firmware.

    Having more and/or better emulators will also speed up development of ARM-based firmware and software.

    Thus the quality of the firmware/software will be improved and also there will be more firmware/software available.

    In the end ARM will benefit greatly from releasing this information.

    Excellent decision! :)

  • Is the ASL public? At least I did not find it on (searching assembly and ASL give a lot of hits :-) )

    Anyway, having the ISA as HTML is great.

  • I think this is great. It is basically the same idea as Knuth's Literate programming - but with the added benefit that the programming language was able to be developed at the same time and be better integrated into the documents.