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ARM tips hat to ARM1 on birthday

By Chris Williams. Published: 28th Apr 2005, 21:49:56 | Permalink | Printable

Rewind to 1985

ARM logoOur sources in Cambridge have revealed that even the boffins at ARM know how to party. On Tuesday April 26, the global corporation celebrated the 20th birthday of the ARM processor core, marking two decades of development in embedded RISC architecture. On April 26, 1985, Acorn received the test silicon of the first ever ARM core, and as folkore goes, the chip worked first time.

Back then, the ARM1 ran at 6MHz with 25,000 transistor gates. It was a simple device because, at the time, Acorn were only just dipping their toes into the processor design waters - although now, the minimalist RISC nature of the ARM core families is what makes them so attractive to embedded engineers. The ARM1 development team included Sophie Wilson, who designed the instruction set and is otherwise famous for being a genius at Acorn, and Steve Furber, now a professor at the University of Manchester's Department of Computer Science. The ARM1 was used internally at Acorn to improve the performance of the CAD software its engineers used, in order to design the next ARM processor: the 8MHz ARM2 for the Archimedes, which represented Acorn's leap into the 32 bit world in 1987.

Fast forward 18 years, and the ARM7TDMI - the closest descendant of the ARM1, we're told - runs at around 133MHz using 100,000 gates. Now, millions of chips featuring ARM processor cores ship every year, ARM employs 1,179 people and in Q1 2005, saw 55 million in revenues. Perhaps, it's nice to see ARM raising a glass, privately, to the ARM1 in the modern times of 2005.


The early history of ARM - corporate spin free

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When we privately bemoan the lack of commercial acumen that led to Acorn's demise as a computer manufacturer, it's worth remembering ARM. Whilst the computers we cherish never succeeded in conquering the world, Acorn's very own processor has done exactly that.

It's probably in your mobile phone and it even runs Windows*, well done ARM!

*Natively, that is. Windows CE, of course.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 28/4/05 10:48PM
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Well done ARM!

I gather they expect 1,000,000,000+ ARM chips to ship this year.

How long before there is an ARM chip for everyone alive?

 is a RISC OS UserCJE on 29/4/05 11:21AM
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& if you had the ARM1 box for the beeb you had the (then) frightening site of a beeb booting with 1024MB :-D

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 29/4/05 12:19PM
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Surely some mistake? I don't believe the BBC Tube processor had 1GB. 1024K seems more likely.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 29/4/05 12:35PM
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:blush: :smash: fingers

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 29/4/05 1:49PM
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I had one of the original A%00 prototype boxes with an ARM1 which was clocked at 8MHz not 6. The box was later upgraded to ARM2, then dual-clock, then 12MHz ARM3. I used it as my main machine for about three years, developing the BrouHaHa Smalltalk port that was then used for the Active Book. I still have it in my garage somewhere.

The original announcement on usenet is readable here:- [link] - assuming the line folding doesn't screw you.

 is a RISC OS Userrowledge on 29/4/05 4:47PM
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How much, if anything, is there from ARM that is relevant to RISC OS desktop machines nowadays? Is it just the XScale from Intel? Also isn't that highly related to the original ARM in some ways?

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 29/4/05 7:24PM
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native RISC OS machines use ARM based processors - Xscale included

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 29/4/05 7:42PM
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ARMs are manufactured by everyone and his dog these days. Intel are merely one of the crowd (which I understand from friends that work in intel, really rankles) and XScale is I think no more than a name intended to somewhat hide the connection to ARM.

I'm a bit puzzled by the assertion of the ARM7 being the closest relative to the ARM1 still in production though. Maybe if one asserts that the SA, ARM9/10/11 & XScale have some radical departure in the implementation it would be reasonable.

 is a RISC OS Userrowledge on 29/4/05 8:57PM
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I mean are the processors that ARM are designing these days workable theoretically into the Iyonix?

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 30/4/05 1:38AM
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No, because the Iyonix' CPU can not be changed easily. However RISC OS can easily be made to work on any ARM chip with a MMU (memory management unit) with only minor modifications.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 30/4/05 9:21AM
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The ARM7 was (I think) the last version to use the original architecture - the SA has a "Harvard" architecture, with separate on-board caches for data and code, and the others are presumably also different in significant ways. (The X-Scale is SA mk2; I don't know whether the ARM9+ have separate caches or not, but....)

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 30/4/05 11:17AM
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Yeah - I believe that the Arm 9 is Harvard architecture too.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 30/4/05 6:05PM
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Good to know RISC OS is still in with a shot wrt employing the latest ARMs!

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 2/5/05 12:45AM
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Strictly speaking, the StrongARM isn't an ARM - it was 100% designed by DEC, and as such, it has none of the heritage of the ARM1 in it. ARM7 is essentially ARM3 with go faster stripes, and ARM3 is essentially ARM1 with go faster stripes, where the ARM8 never worked, and the ARM9 and ARM10 are very different indeed. Yes, this does actually mean ARM have finally designed a CPU that worked! All their others were either tweaks to ones Acorn designed, bought off somebody else (see the NEC synthesisable ARM that was found in 3DO machines), or just has their name thrown on it for marketing purposes (StrongARM, XScale).

It's a good milestone though - I hope they go for another 20.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 2/5/05 11:27AM
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Did anyone visit the ARM site and read the PDF on the 20th anniversary? Very interesting reading, even if it's a bit PR friendly...

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 4/5/05 2:50AM
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