ARM Holdings plc (ARM Holdings), a UK-based designer of RISC microprocessors, has signed a licensing agreement with Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe GmbH (Fujitsu) for the ARM Cortex-R4F processor. The new processor is for use in automotive applications including safety and chassis. The agreement is a significant endorsement of the ARM architecture in the automotive market as manufacturers endeavor to consolidate their automotive functions into a reduced number of more capable processors.

It has been predicted that automotive semiconductor revenue will grow by an annual compound rate of 7.7% between 2007 and 2012 as new and potential applications for the deployment of electronics in current and next generation vehicles increases. Benefits such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning systems and monitoring driver fatigue and inattention are examples of driver-assistance safety enhancements that are expected to be widely deployed in future vehicles. Furthermore, numerous applications are emerging in the industrial space where the Cortex-R4F processor could prove to be an ideal fit.

Combined with its high performance and low power capabilities, the Cortex-R4F processor includes a strong focus on safety. The processor features pre-integrated embedded error correction (ECC) and a synthesis option to implement lock step architectures simplifying implementation and aiding IEC61508 and ISO26262 and ISO26262 certification. It features high-resolution memory protection facilities to enable tight control over independent software tasks. These functions are all critical to automotive applications based on the AutoSAR runtime environment and the JasPar Automotive software platform architecture.

In addition to the Cortex-R4F processor, the agreement includes the ARM AMBA Designer tool and ARM CoreSight technology for advanced on-chip debug and real-time trace.

The CoreSight debug and trace technology provides on-chip resources that enable the development of more reliable and higher performance products. Real-time and safety critical applications such as automotive, benefit from the CoreSight technology as it provides software engineers with exhaustive real time data monitoring, code coverage or software performance optimization capabilities, making ARM processor-based system on chip (SoC) the easiest to debug and optimize.

The AMBA Designer tool simplifies the process of achieving optimal configuration of ARM interconnect and memory controller peripherals for greatly increased system performance and power savings.

“This licensing agreement enables us to continue to build on our position in the automotive market by optimizing development costs across a common core platform,” said Dirk Weinsziehr, vice president of marketing and development, Fujitsu Microelectronics Europe. “By developing new products around the proven ARM architecture, we are well positioned to deliver high-performance automotive solutions for the next generation of vehicles”

“As vehicle manufacturers strive to consolidate their microprocessor requirements, we are seeing an increasing demand from licensees to develop devices based on ARM technology. This latest agreement with a recognized market leader demonstrates the continued adoption of ARM as the architecture of choice in the automotive industry,” said Wayne Lyons, global director of Automotive Solutions, ARM. “By leveraging the performance and power benefits of the Cortex family of processors along with the other advanced ARM technology, Fujitsu can offer highly-optimized, future proof solutions for the automotive market.”