ARM today announced a new member of the Cortex-M processor core family, the Cortex-M4. It is advertised as a “DSC (digital signal controller)”, a hybrid between microcontroller and DSP (digital signal processor). In features the M-series’ Thumb-2 instruction set, and DSP extensions like single-cycle MAC (multiply-accumulate), a hardware divider, and an optional single precision FPU (floating point unit). The target clock speed is 150 MHz.
From the available information it seems that the Cortex-M4 will be competing with TI’s C2000 family, which includes devices at similar clock speeds and optional FPUs, and Microchip’s slightly lower-end dsPIC. Applications cited by ARM range from motor control to audio processing.
According to the press release, five semiconductor companies, including NXP, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments have already licensed the Cortex-M4.