ARM Custom Instructions
AnandTech

ARM Holdings, the popular British company whose chip designs are deployed by most of the smartphones these days, has announced a new feature for its embedded CPUs. At its annual TechCon event, the company said it is bringing custom instructions to Armv8-M architecture for increased performance as well as their penetration in IoT applications.

It is one of the biggest announcements in the history of the company as the feature will allow IoT device manufacturers to optimize ARM-based processors for specific use cases.

What Are Custom Instructions?

As per ARM’s blog post, Custom Instructions allow developers to add a customizable module dubbed “configuration space” in the embedded processor. The module contains pre-decoded instructions that can be added by silicon architects for workload-specific compute.

Consider it as a reserve encoding space in CPUs where chip designers could add custom instructions without meddling with the software ecosystem.

What Are The Benefits of ARM’s Custom Instructions Feature?

ARM has tightly coupled the Custom Instructions feature to the processor pipeline, which improves performance, latency and brings the best out of power-sensitive applications. The feature is supported in hardware as well as software to ensure that respective teams can co-develop applications based on the feature.

Custom Instructions could prove to be of great help in areas like ML, self-driving cars, 5G, AI, and IoT devices.

ARM said that custom instructions will be available for Cortex-M33 CPUs for now, and chip designers can expect the feature by the first half of 2020.

The company will enable this feature by default in future Cortex processors.

ARM also announced the list of partners that will support Custom Instructions. The list includes NXP, IAR Systems, STMicroelectronics, and Silicon Labs. ARM’s customers can avail of this feature without paying any additional cost for licensing.

With the announcement, ARM has increased flexibility for developers to add customized data processing operations without compromising security, ease-of-usage, and efficiency.

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