The ARM architecture – yesterday, today, and tomorrow

ARM Story

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The ARM architecture has shaped modern computer history, and with the rise of mobile computing, ARM is more important than ever. We take a look at the ARM architecture and where it might be heading.

In many ways, what commentators are calling the mobile revolution is also the ARM revolution. The versatile, inexpensive, and energy-efficient ARM architecture is suddenly in the foreground as Linux and other operating systems move from the clunky desktop systems of the past to tiny and agile mobile devices. Even gigantic high-performance systems, as well as other enterprise-grade servers, are including ARM processors to make the most of the low cost, low energy, and low heat.

What is ARM, and how did it get here? How is it different from the x86 chips that so many associate with personal computing? In this article, we take a close look at the ARM architecture, provide a glimpse at why it is so attractive to hardware vendors, and describe some new ARM innovations that might figure prominently in the next generation of computers.

A Little History

The beginnings of the ARM architecture date back to the early 1980s, when the British computer manufacturer Acorn was searching for a new processor for its computer. The 6502 processor used previously was not powerful enough, and alternative architectures seemed inappropriate.

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