Today, at the Xilinx Developer Forum event in San Jose, Arm has announced an expansion of their DesignStart program to offer Cortex M-series capabilities to customers of Xilinx FPGAs.
Arm DesignStart is a program which allows smaller customers to gain quick access to Arm IP. Developers can access the full Cortex-M0, Cortex-M3, and subsystem RTL designs for evaluation and integration into their products.
If a customer decides to utilize this IP in a commercialized product, they are then subject to a success-based royalty model. This is a similar business model that we've seen 3D game engines like Unreal Engine and Unity move to, where the development tools are free, but the engine holders are paid a percentage of unit sales.
Today's announcement in conjunction with Xilinx, removes the royalty requirement traditionally associated with DesignStart. Developers will gain access to Arm Cortex-M1, an optimized version of Cortex-M0 specifically for usage in FPGAs, Cortex-M3 soft processor IP, as well as software toolchain improvements. Arm IP has been integrated into the Xilinx Vivado Design Suite, allowing for "drag and drop" integration of Arm Cortex-M processors and Xilinx FPGAs.
At a time when the competition in the embedded space is stronger than ever from the likes of the RISC-V foundation, this could be an excellent opportunity for Arm to attract new customers to their ecosystem. As high-speed data processing becomes the norm, the pairing of application-optimized FPGA and general purpose Microprocessors should become common in the data center and beyond.
Stay tuned from more news this week at the Xilinx Developer Forum!