Cortex-R Series

Cortex-R Series Image
The ARM® Cortex®-R real-time processors offer high-performance computing solutions for embedded systems where reliability, high availability, fault tolerance, maintainability and real-time responses are required.

The Cortex-R series processors provide fast time-to-market through proven technology shipped in hundreds of millions of products and leverages the vast ARM Ecosystem and global, local language, 24/7 support services to ensure rapid and low risk development.

There are many applications requiring the key Cortex-R series attributes of:

  • High performance: Fast processing combined with a high clock frequency
  • Real-time: Processing meets hard real-time constraints on all occasions
  • Safe: Dependable, reliable systems with high error resistance
  • Cost effective: Features for optimal for performance, power and area.

Application Examples for Cortex-R Processors



Industry standard

ARM Cortex-R series processors set the industry standard for a wide range of deeply embedded semiconductor application markets with a broad range of licensees throughout the worldwide semiconductor industry. Click on these logos for information on some of ARM’s semiconductor partners that licensed Cortex-R processors:

   Broadcom   Fujitsu   Infineon    

      Texas Instruments   Toshiba


Fundamental to the Cortex-R4Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R7 processors are key features that are demanded by deeply embedded and real-time markets such as automotive safety or wireless baseband where high-performance, real-time, safe and cost-effective processing is required.

Cortex-R Series Overview:

High performance – for rapid execution of complex code and DSP functionality:

  • High performance, high clock frequency, deeply pipelined micro-architecture
  • Dual-core multi-processing (AMP/SMP) configurations
  • Hardware SIMD instructions for very high performance DSP and media functions

Real-time – deterministic operation to ensure responsiveness and high throughput:

  • Fast, bounded and deterministic interrupt response
  • Tightly Coupled Memories (TCM) local to the processor for fast-responding code/data
  • Low Latency Interrupt Mode (LLIM) to accelerate interrupt entry

Safe – detect errors and maintain reliable system operation:

  • User and privileged software operating modes with Memory Protection Unit (MPU)
  • ECC and parity error detection/correction for Level-1 memory system and buses
  • Dual-Core Lock Step (DCLS) redundant core configurations

Cost effective – through fast time-to-market and customizable features:

  • Best-in-class energy and die area/cost efficiency
  • Configuration to include/exclude features to optimize power, performance and area
  • Fast development and testing with configurable debug breakpoints and watchpoints through CoreSight™ debug access port with embedded trace module options

Cortex-R Series Features:

  • Deeply pipelined micro-architecture
  • Performance enhancing technologies such instruction pre-fetch, branch prediction and superscalar execution
  • Hardware divider, Floating Point Unit (FPU) option
  • Hardware SIMD DSP
  • ARMv7-R architecture with Thumb-2 instructions for high code density without sacrificing performance
  • Harvard architecture with Instruction and Data cache controllers
  • Tightly-Coupled Memories (TCM) local to the processor for fast-responding code and data such as interrupt handlers
  • High performance AMBA®3 AXI™ bus interfaces

Cortex-R Series Differentiation from Cortex-A and Cortex-M Series:

The Cortex-R series processors differ from both the Cortex-M and Cortex-A series processors. Notably, Cortex-R series processors offer a more sophisticated programming model and can typically be run at higher clock speeds due to their longer pipelines, whilst the Cortex-A series is intended for user-facing applications with complex software operating systems employing virtual memory management.


Comparing Cortex-R processors

ARM Cortex-R4 ARM Cortex-R5 ARM Cortex-R7 

 1.68 / 2.02 / 2.45 DMIPS/MHz *
3.47 CoreMark/MHz

 1.67 / 2.01 / 2.45 DMIPS/MHz *
3.47 CoreMark/MHz

2.50 / 2.90 / 3.77 DMIPS/MHz *
4.35 CoreMark/MHz

Lockstep configuration

Lockstep configuration
Dual-core Asymmetric Multi-Processing (AMP) configuration

Lockstep configuration
Dual-core Asymmetric Multi-Processing (AMP) with QoS configuration
Dual core Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) configuration

Tightly Coupled Memory (TCM)

Tightly Coupled Memory (TCM)
Low Latency Peripheral Port
Accelerator Coherency Port
Micro Snoop Control Unit (µSCU)

Tightly Coupled Memory (TCM)
Low Latency Peripheral Port
Accelerator Coherency Port
Snoop Control Unit (SCU)

8 stage dual issue  pipeline with instruction pre-fetch and branch prediction

8 stage dual issue  pipeline with instruction pre-fetch and branch prediction

11-stage superscalar pipeline with out-of-order execution and register renaming and advanced dynamic and static branch prediction with instruction loop buffer

I-Cache and D-Cache

I-Cache and D-Cache

I-Cache and D-Cache

Hardware divide, SIMD, DSP

Hardware divide, SIMD, DSP

Hardware divide, SIMD, DSP

IEEE754 Double Precision FPU

IEEE754 Double Precision FPU or optimized SP Floating Point Unit

IEEE754 Double Precision FPU or optimized SP Floating Point Unit

Memory Protection Unit (MPU) with 8 or 12 memory regions

Memory Protection Unit (MPU) with 12 or 16 memory regions

Memory Protection Unit (MPU) with 12 or 16 memory regions

ECC and Parity protection on L1 memories

ECC and Parity protection on L1 memories and AXI bus ports

ECC and Parity protection on L1 memories
Error management with error bank

Vectored Interrupt Controller (VIC) Port

Vectored Interrupt Controller (VIC) or Generic Interrupt Controller (GIC)

Integrated Generic Interrupt Controller (GIC)

* The first result abides by all of the 'ground rules' laid out in the Dhrystone documentation, the second permits inlining of functions (not just the permitted C string libraries) while the third additionally permits simultaneous multifile complilation. All are with the original (K&R) v2.1 of Dhrystone.

Cortex-R series processors are all binary compatible, enabling software reuse and a seamless progression from one Cortex-R processor to another as functionality and/or additional processing power is required.

Cortex-R Series Applications

Cortex-R series processors, designed for demanding real-time solutions, are commonly in use in ASIC, ASSP and MCU System-on-Chip applications for these markets:

Product type


Automotive Airbag, braking, stability, dashboard, engine management     
Storage Hard Disk Drive controllers, Solid State Drive controllers
Mobile handsets 3G, 4G, LTE, WiMax smartphones and baseband modems
Embedded Medical, Industrial, high-end Micro-Controller Units (MCU)
Enterprise Networking and Printers; Inkjet and Multi-Function Printer
Home Digital TVBluRay players and portable media players
Cameras Digital Still Camera (DSC) and Digital Video Camera (DVC)

These applications exhibit a common processing requirement set, illustrated by the following application examples:


Automotive Electronic Control Units (ECUs) are present in all modern vehicles. In addition to engine management and entertainment applications, there is increasing reliance on driver assistance and safety systems for applications such as vehicle stability, steering, anti-lock braking (ABS), collision avoidance and air bag deployment. These systems require high performance processing as they read data from a variety of sensors, perform computation that often uses floating-point algorithms and deliver the necessary control signals. Above all, such systems must perform to their real-time constraints with high reliability and meet the requirements of automotive safety standards such as ISO26262. The Cortex-R5 has an optional Safety Support Package that assists partners in their product certification.

Hard disk drives

Hard disk drives also continue to be one of the most demanding applications for embedded processors and the Cortex-R series has been adopted by the major manufacturers. High growth in enterprise networks and Internet data centers is driving an exponential rise in storage capacity. Elsewhere, consumers keep their stock of music and movies on PC disks and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. More data requires more bandwidth and the latest drives support data traffic using USB-3 at 5Gbps and SATA at 6Gbps. Within the drive, high-speed servo control systems manage disk rotation and head position, and read/write channels process signals at very high data rates.


Mobile handsets too are introducing high data rate wireless broadband to deliver feature-rich, audio, video and Internet services to users. Handset processing for the fourth generation and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) of mobile technology requires complex software protocol stacks to run in real-time, managing mobility, connections, security, data traffic and the air interface modem. Advanced multi-core SoCs use Cortex-R series processors for these tasks, complementing Cortex-A series processors for user applications. Low cost and power consumption continue to be key success criteria for mobile handset products.

Cortex-R Series Technology

Cortex-R real-time processor technology, defined by the ARMv7-R architecture including ARM Thumb®-2 instruction set, provides high code density without sacrificing performance. This implemented architecture is in Cortex-R series processors with specific features for high performance and hard real-time applications as follows:


Fast, efficient and high frequency for real-time applications

  • Cortex-R5 and Cortex-R7 can be configured for Asymmetric Multi-Processing (AMP)
  • Cortex-R7 can be configured for Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) doubling performance
  • Deeply pipelined micro-architecture
  • Instruction pre-fetch and queuing
  • Advanced branch prediction
  • MPCore™ interrupt controller
  • Superscalar execution for parallel execution
  • Hardware divide
  • Hardware DSP / SIMD instructions
  • Floating point instructions including double precision
  • Harvard level 1 caches
  • AMBA® AXI3™ bus ports
  • Data I/O coherency


Delivering fast, deterministic behavior to events and interrupts for high-reliability

  • Tightly-Coupled Memory (TCM) interfaces to local RAM and/or Flash memory that can hold instructions or data that are always immediately available for processing
  • Low Interrupt Latency modes
  • Low Latency Peripheral Port
  • GIC or VIC controllers
  • Any instructions that could delay interrupt response by more than a few cycles can stop and restart
  • Fast data can be read into or out of TCM using DMA via a dedicated AXI slave bus interface


Dependable, available, reliable, maintainable, fault tolerant and secure

  • Deterministic interrupt response with bounded response time
  • Lock-step redundant core configuration
  • Cache ECC and parity
  • TCM ECC and parity
  • AMBA AXI port ECC and parity
  • Hard error cache
  • Memory Reconstruction Port
  • Memory Protection Unit to report/prohibit access to specific memory regions by selected software tasks
  • User / Privileged software operating modes
  • Exception handling modes
  • Suitable for use in systems that must operate to a Safety Integrity Level (SIL) as defined by IEC61508 or ISO 26262
  • In automotive applications these systems will run an AUTOSAR-compliant RTOS


Configurable for flexible cost and power efficiency in feature-rich, cost-sensitive applications

  • Low energy micro-architecture
  • ARM or Thumb®-2 code for high code density
  • Target from low power/small die area to high performance
  • Synthesis feature configuration allowing designers to select features of the processor for a precise match with application requirements
  • These options enable Cortex-R series processors to address a wide range of embedded applications and designers can trade off features and performance against power consumption, area and cost of the final device. For example:

Market segment


Mobile baseband

Imaging / Wireless






Memory Protection Unit




Yes, 12 regions






ECC / parity





TCM ports





Floating Point Unit





Breakpoints / Watchpoints





Cortex-R Series Benefits

A key benefit to choosing the ARM Cortex-R series is the comprehensive portfolio of processors, physical IP, tools and support that ARM is experienced in delivering to rapidly get customers into production. The choice of processors and technology is the widest available and most mature which ensures your investment in ARM can meet all of your product needs now and into the future.

ARM Offers:

  • The widest portfolio of low-power processors and physical IP solutions
  • Rapid access to deep expertise with global, local-language, support 24/7
  • A vast choice of experienced Ecosystem partners

ARM Enables:

  • Fast product development through system configuration, not complex integration
  • Choice and configurability to meet your Power Performance Area goals
  • Low cost of ownership through reduced engineering time and effort

ARM Partners Achieve:

  • Fast time to market with complete solutions and integrated system support
  • Differentiated products while reusing their development investment
  • Lowest risk through the widest IP offering and a roadmap long into the future

ARM has proven record of enabling our partners to be successful:

  • Industry standard processor technology
  • Broad partnerships across the global semiconductor industry
  • Millions of developers and an unrivalled Ecosystem



ARM Portfolio

Bringing a new product with an embedded processor to market as quickly and inexpensively as possible is a major undertaking. The processor core is just one element of a complex combination of system hardware and software that must be quickly developed and validated. ARM can deliver complete system solutions and offers global, local language, support 24/7 to quickly speed your product to market. Software developed for one ARM processor and system is quick to port to others, protecting your investment in software.

ARM provides full support for implementation and development with Cortex-R processors including CoreLink™ System IP, CoreSight™ debug and trace IPArtisan® Physical IP and ARM development tools.

ARM Ecosystem

Getting a product quickly to market requires complex hardware and software development, often in parallel, and comprehensive system validation and deep system debugging and profiling. ARM has the widest Ecosystem in the industry with more than 1000 partners offering tools and services that can speed your development. Partner categories include:

  • Silicon
    • Semiconductor Vendors
    • Foundry Services
    • SoC IP Providers
  • Design Support
    • Development Tool-Hardware
    • Development Tool-Software
    • EDA - Design Tools
    • Services (SoC and SW Design)
    • Tool Distributors
  • Software
    • Application Software
    • Middleware
    • Operating Environments and Low-Level SW
  • Training

ARM Connected Community members and other organizations offer tools and software for Cortex-R processors such as Compilers, Debuggers and Real-Time Operating Systems. There are also providers of specific hardware and software products such as microcontroller hardware and mobile baseband protocol stack software. Click on these logos to find out more:

Code Sourcery   ENEA      Green Hills   Hitex   IAR   Lauterbach         

ARM Support

You can accelerate your hardware and software development with a flexible range of technical services:

  • Free online resources for engineers such as Technical Reference Manuals, Application Notes and Tutorials, FAQs and Knowledge Articles and Downloads
  • ARM experts on your site to provide technical product Training and Active Assist project services
  • Worldwide Support and Maintenance for round-the-clock problem solving

With the comprehensive solutions that ARM can offer it is able to rapidly support partners and resolve any system integration and development issues quickly - you do not lose time while trying to resolve system issues with a number of different suppliers.

ARM Connected Community is an interactive platform with Cortex-R related blogs, discussions, technical content


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