ARM architecture

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The ARM is a 32-bit reduced instruction set computer (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA) developed by ARM Holdings. It was known as the Advanced RISC Machine, and before that as the Acorn RISC Machine. The ARM architecture is the most widely used 32-bit ISA in terms of numbers produced.[1][2] They were originally conceived as a processor for desktop personal computers by Acorn Computers, a market now dominated by the x86 family used by IBM PC compatible and Apple Macintosh computers. The relative simplicity of ARM processors made them suitable for low power applications. This has made them dominant in the mobile and embedded electronics market as relatively low cost and small microprocessors and microcontrollers.

As of 2007, about 98 percent of the more than one billion mobile phones sold each year use at least one ARM processor.[3] As of 2009, ARM processors account for approximately 90% of all embedded 32-bit RISC processors. ARM processors are used extensively in consumer electronics, including PDAs, mobile phones, digital media and music players, hand-held game consoles, calculators and computer peripherals such as hard drives and routers.

The ARM architecture is licensable. Companies that are current or former ARM licensees include Alcatel-Lucent, Apple Inc., Atmel, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Digital Equipment Corporation, Freescale, Intel (through DEC), LG, Marvell Technology Group, Microsoft, NEC, Nuvoton, Nvidia, NXP (previously Philips), Oki, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sharp, STMicroelectronics, Symbios Logic, Texas Instruments, VLSI Technology, Yamaha and ZiiLABS.

ARM processors are developed by ARM and by ARM licensees. Prominent ARM processor families developed by ARM Holdings include the ARM7, ARM9, ARM11 and Cortex. Notable ARM processors developed by licensees include DEC StrongARM, Freescale i.MX, Marvell (formerly Intel) XScale, Nintendo, Nvidia Tegra, ST-Ericsson Nomadik, Qualcomm Snapdragon, the Texas Instruments OMAP product line and the Apple A4.

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