ARM processors are used in a wide range of applications from mobile devices to servers and supercomputers. Here are some of the key applications of ARM processors:
ARM processors dominate the mobile device market powering smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other portable gadgets. Their low power consumption and high performance make them ideal for battery-powered mobile devices. Almost every smartphone and tablet runs on an ARM-based system-on-a-chip (SoC). Popular mobile ARM processors include Qualcomm Snapdragon, Samsung Exynos, Apple A Series, and MediaTek Dimensity among others.
ARM processors are extensively used in embedded systems across consumer electronics, automotive, industrial, medical, and other segments. Their power efficiency, customizability, and real-time capabilities suit the needs of resource-constrained embedded devices. ARM Cortex-M and Cortex-R series processors target deeply embedded and real-time applications. ARM also offers processor IP suitable for automotive, networking and IoT segments.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things or IoT utilizes ARM processors in billions of smart connected devices including home automation gadgets, wearables, industrial sensors, retail terminals, smart city infrastructure, and more. ARM’s focus on power-optimized designs makes their processors ideal for always-on battery-powered IoT endpoints. Connectivity options like integrated Bluetooth, WiFi, and LTE on ARM processors also aid IoT adoption.
While Intel Xeon dominates data centers, ARM processors are making inroads into the server market. ARM-based server processors promise greater energy efficiency for cloud workloads. Amazon’s ARM-based Graviton chips power their EC2 cloud instances. Ampere’s Altra processors target cloud-native workloads. Fujitsu’s A64FX with ARM v8-A SVE is used in supercomputer applications. Microsoft is also developing ARM chips for its Azure cloud platform.
The power efficiency of ARM processors is attractive for building exascale supercomputers. Fujitsu’s Post-K supercomputer uses ARM-based Fugaku processors delivering 415 petaflops of computing power. SiPearl is designing the Rhea ARM-based processor for the European exascale supercomputer initiative. ARM processors coupled with accelerators can enable greener petaflop & exaflop scale supercomputing needed for HPC workloads.
ARM automotive processors power infotainment, instrument clusters, ADAS, autonomous driving systems, and electric vehicle powertrains in modern cars. Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride, NXP i.MX and S32, and Renesas R-Car are some leading ARM automotive platforms. ARM’s functional safety certification and lockstep cores make their processors reliable for automotive applications. Automakers and Tier-1 suppliers use ARM processors extensively.
ARM processors are deployed in networking gear like routers, switches, wireless access points, and more. Their network acceleration capabilities and OS support make them suitable for packet processing and network function virtualization workloads. ARM Neoverse N Series processors target cloud-scale infrastructure. Marvell’s Octeon TX2 with ARM cores powers 5G networking. ARM processors complement or replace traditional baseband DSPs in cellular network gear.
Consumer drones and UAVs rely on ARM processors to balance performance and power constraints. Quad-core Cortex-A53 or Cortex-A55 processors paired with Mali GPUs are common in drone SoCs. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight platform targets drones. STMicroelectronics, NXP, MediaTek and Rockchip also offer ARM drone chipsets. Drones require ARM’s computational capabilities coupled with low power for longer flight times.
ARM processors provide an efficient and cost-effective solution for robotics applications. Their small footprint and power efficiency allows more space for motors, batteries while still providing sufficient performance for robot control and perception systems. NVIDIA’s Jetson boards with ARM CPUs are popular in robots. Qualcomm Robotics RB5 platform has an ARM Cortex-A78AE CPU with a GPU, ISP and DSP for robotics.
Wearable devices like smartwatches, fitness bands, AR/VR headsets utilize ARM processors to deliver full-fledged functionality within tight thermal and power constraints. The Apple Watch has an S-series SiP with an ARM processor. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 4100+ platforms target WearOS smartwatches. ARM M-series processors also power lower-end wearable devices. GPU and ML processors are integrated alongside ARM CPUs in wearable chipsets.
ARM’s processor architecture also supports machine learning workloads for embedded and mobile applications. The Arm Machine Learning (ML) processor provides targeted ML acceleration to Cortex-A CPU clusters. Ethos is Arm’s NPU for edge ML inferencing. Cortex-M55 has Helium technology for sensor ML. ARM CPUs coupled with ML processors enable on-device ML across a range of power budgets.
ARM processors are capable of handling multimedia intensive applications including gaming, audio, video playback, AR/VR, and camera capabilities. ARM Mali GPUs provide graphics horsepower to mobile SoCs. ARM video processing and display IP integrate with their CPUs. Media codecs, ISPs and DSPs work closely together with ARM CPUs to deliver seamless multimedia experiences on mobile platforms.
ARM processors serve as capable host processors for storage devices including SSDs, SD cards, USB drives and HDDs. They provide a cost-effective and power-optimized solution to handle storage access, I/O requests, and background tasks. Samsung uses Mongoose ARM CPUs in their NVMe SSD controllers. Western Digital uses ARM cores in their client SSD and HDD controller chips.
Safety Critical Applications
ARM processors targeting functional safety use lockstep cores and other techniques to achieve ASIL-D compliance for safety critical workloads. This allows their adoption in applications like industrial control, robotics, transportation, medical devices, etc. that demand high reliability and fault tolerance. ARM’s Cortex R Series can meet safety goals up to ASIL-D in automotive and up to SIL 3 in industrial applications.
In summary, ARM processors power a diverse range of end-applications from mobile to embedded to industrial. Their power efficiency, customizability and vast software ecosystem will enable further proliferation across IoT, networking, automotive and server segments. ARM processor’s scalable and modular architecture makes them suitable for addressing the compute requirements across a wide spectrum of market verticals and use cases.