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The StrongARM is a family of microprocessors that implemented the ARM V4 instruction set architecture (ISA). It was developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and later sold to Intel, who continued to manufacture it before replacing it with the XScale.



The StrongARM was a collaborative project between DEC and Advanced RISC Machines to create a faster ARM microprocessor. The StrongARM was designed to address the upper-end of the low-power embedded market, where users needed more performance than the ARM could deliver while being able to accept more external support. Targets were devices such as newer personal digital assistants and set-top boxes.[1]

Traditionally, the semiconductor division of DEC was located in Massachusetts. In order to gain access to the design talent in Silicon Valley, DEC opened a design center in Palo Alto, California. This design center was led by Dan Dobberpuhl and was the main design site for the StrongARM project. Another design site which worked on the project was in Austin, Texas that was created by some ex-DEC designers returning from Apple Computer and Motorola. The project was set up in 1995, and quickly delivered their first design, the SA-110.

DEC agreed to sell StrongARM to Intel as part of a lawsuit settlement in 1997.[2] Intel used the StrongARM to replace their ailing line of RISC processors, the i860 and i960.

When the semiconductor division of DEC was sold to Intel, many engineers from the Palo Alto design group moved to SiByte, a start-up company designing MIPS system-on-a-chips (SoCs) for the networking market. The Austin design group spun off to become Alchemy Semiconductor, another start-up company designing MIPS SoCs for the hand-held market.

A new StrongARM core was developed by Intel and introduced in 2000 as the XScale.[3]

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