Designing a SoC with an Arm Cortex-M Processor

Have you ever wondered what it takes to create a small system-on-chip (SoC) based on a Arm Cortex-M processor? In this blog, we explain typically what IP components are required and what other things you might need to put the whole system together.

Cortex-M in SoC designs: A history and a future

Since the Cortex-M0 processor was released a few years ago, the number of silicon designs based on Cortex-M processors has increased substantially. By the end of 2016, it was reported that there were over 400 Cortex-M licensees, with most of these licensees using Cortex-M processors in non-MCU products.

In fact, Cortex-M processors are finding their ways into new SoC designs whose previous generations did not include a Cortex-M, let alone a digital processor core. As a result, many SoC design engineers have taken the exciting journey of integrating a Cortex-M processor core for the first time without previous experience or any knowledge of important considerations required.

Arm Cortex-M processor SoC

Integrating Cortex-M FAQs: A white paper

This white paper seeks to answer some of the frequently asked questions SoC designers face when integrating a Cortex-M processor for the first time. At the end of this white paper you will find a host of links to other resources and information that will be of use.

Since this is a big topic to cover, I am sure there is some information I missed. If you have additional information which can be useful to other chip designers, or if you spot any error in this document, please contact me and I will update this document from time to time.

Download Cortex-M white paper

A big thank you to various people who have been helping me in the preparation of this article:

  • Tim Menasveta (Senior Product Manager, Arm)
  • Diya Soubra (Director of Business Development and Solutions, Arm)
  • Leah Schuth (Technical Marketing Director, Arm)
  • Faisal Goriawalla (Senior Platform Marketing Manager, Arm)
  • Sam Geha (V.P. Technology and IP Business Unit, Cypress Semiconductor)
  • James Davey (Director Strategic Alliances, Cadence) and his team
  • Mayank Sharma (Product Manager, Arm)
  • Alexis Ogborn (Senior Marketing Manager, Arm)

Good luck with your next Cortex-M based design!



P.S. An older version of this paper is attached in this page below.

Designing a SoC with ARM Cortex-M (2.0b).pdf