ARM updates chip architecture with more code density

Chip designer ARM Ltd. introduced a new instruction set for its ARM architecture Monday, saying it will give consumers longer battery life, better performance and lower memory costs from their mobile devices.

The company’s Thumb-2 core technology offers a blend of 16-bit and 32-bit chip instructions which provide both code density for embedded software applications and more efficient use of memory, ARM said.

By offering higher code density, Thumb-2 will allow ARM’s partners to build and support more feature-rich applications for cell phones, PDAs and other embedded systems, ARM said.

The new Thumb-2 technology uses 26 per cent less memory than pure 32-bit code to reduce systems costs and offers 25 per cent better performance than 16-bit code alone, allowing designers to save power by reducing clock speed, ARM said.

ARM doesn’t manufacture chips itself. Instead, it designs chip architectures which are licensed to third party manufacturers including IBM Corp., Motorola Inc. and Intel Corp. Those chips are widely used in mobile phones and PDAs.

The new technology is built on the foundation of ARM’s Thumb-2 code compression technology, protecting existing software investments and development efforts, according to ARM, in Cambridge, England.

The technology is being unveiled Monday at the Embedded Processor Forum in San Jose, and will be a component of future ARM cores currently in development, the company said.