ARM launches safety-centric Cortex-R52 processor
September 20, 2016 // 9:45 a.m.
Cambridge-based and Japanese-owned chip designer ARM has announced the launch of its first ARMv8-R architecture IP, the ARM Cortex-R52, designed specifically to address functional safety in autonomous vehicle and other safety-critical applications.
Based around an extension of the ARMv8 microarchitecture but in a 32-bit address space rather than 64, ARMv8-R introduces extensions for one simple purpose: to improve safety. The design introduces a hardware-enforced separation of software tasks, whereby a software hypervisor polices the execution and resource allocation to ensure that safety-critical code is run in a completely isolated environment away from any other code. The result, ARM claims, is a significant boost in security, a reduction in the amount of code that needs to go through safety certification, and the ability to run complex software without losing support for deterministic real-time operating system (RTOS) operation.
'The Cortex-R52 is the first processor built on the ARMv8-R architecture and it was designed from the ground up to address functional safety,' explained James McNiven, ARM's general manager for CPU and media processing groups, of the launch. 'We are helping partners to meet particular market opportunities, especially in fully autonomous vehicles and robotics systems where specific functionality is required for safety-critical tasks. By documenting the strict development process, fault modelling and supporting software isolation, ARM is enabling a faster route to market for partners addressing these applications.'
The first licensee for the Cortex-R52 design is STMicroelectronics, which is to build the part for its customers as a replacement for the older safety-centric Cortex-R5. Those looking to upgrade will, the company has claimed, see a 35 percent increase in performance as a result. 'The Cortex-R52 supports our Smart Driving vision by enabling a new range of high-performance, power-efficient SoCs for any in-vehicle application demanding real-time operation and the highest levels of functional safety, including powertrain, chassis and ADAS,' claimed Fabio Marchiò at STMicroelectronics. 'The Cortex-R52's ability to compartmentalise software provides our users with the best solution for safety without loss of determinism. Its virtualisation support simplifies the consolidation of applications and functions into a single processor, delivering a shorter integration time.'
Thus far, no company has stepped forward to suggest when the first devices based around the Cortex-R52 design will hit the open market.