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 article, we explain typically what IP components are required and what other things you might need to put the whole system together.

Since the Arm Cortex-M0 processor was released a few years ago, the number of silicon designs based on the Arm 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.

This whitepaper seeks to answer some of the frequently asked questions SoC designers face when integrating an Arm Cortex-M processor for the first time. At the end of this whitepaper 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.

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