ARM tips hat to ARM1 on birthdayBy Chris Williams. Published: 28th Apr 2005, 21:49:56 | Permalink | Printable
Rewind to 1985Our 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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