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ARM Cortex-M0 Processors    
ARM Cortex-M0

ARM Cortex-M0

The ARM® Cortex™-M0 processor is the smallest, lowest power and most energy-efficient ARM processor available.  The exceptionally small silicon area, low power and minimal code footprint of the processor enables developers to achieve 32-bit performance at an 8-bit price point, bypassing the step to 16-bit devices.

The ultra low gate count of the Cortex-M0 processor also enables it to be deployed in analog and mixed signal devices.

The Cortex-M0 processor promises substantial savings in system cost while retaining tool and binary compatibility with feature-rich processors such as the Cortex-M3  processor.

The Cortex-M0 processor, which consumes as little as 85 microwatts/MHz (0.085 milliwatts) in an area of under 12K , builds on the unrivaled expertise of ARM as a leader in low-power technology and a key enabler for the creation of ultra low-power devices.

The new processor further extends the company’s MCU roadmap into ultra low-power MCU and SoC applications, including:

  • Medical devices
  • e-metering
  • Lighting
  • Smart control
  • Analog and mixed signal
  • Gaming accessories
  • Power control
  • Motor control
  • IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee) and Z-Wave systems

The Cortex-M0 processor is also suitable for the emerging new markets for programmable mixed signal applications such as intelligent sensors and actuators which have traditionally required separate analog and digital devices.

Key Features and Benefits
The ARM Cortex-M0 processor offers significant benefits to system and software developers.

  • 32-bit performance in a 16-bit footprint resulting in more power efficiency and longer battery life, plus performance headroom for product enhancements
  • Small size enables the processor and analog circuits to be implemented on single die
  • Lower cost devices through a smaller processing core, system and memories
  • Ultra low power consumption and integrated sleep modes resulting in longer battery life
  • Thumb® instruction set for maximum code density
  • Fast interrupt handling for critical control applications
  • Wake-up Interrupt Controller enables ultra low leakage retention mode with instantaneous fully active mode for critical events
  • Enhanced system debug for faster development
  • 100 per cent C coding including interrupt handlers, and boot code to ease system development. Zero assembler code required
  • Wide application envelope encompassing ultra low cost microcontrollers and analog mixed signal applications

Tools Support
The Cortex-M0 processor is fully supported by the Keil™ MDK-ARM Microcontroller Development Kit, which integrates the ARM RealView® Compilation Tools with the new Keil µVision4 IDE and Debugger. The processor is also supported by third-party tool and RTOS vendors.

Cortex-M0 processor-based designs can also be prototyped using the ARM Microprocessor Prototyping System (MPS). The MPS features:

  • A Cortex-M3 or Cortex-M0 processor operating at up to 50MHz in FPGA
  • Altera Stratix III (EP3SL50) FPGA for system prototyping
  • CAN, FlexRay, RS232, DVI, USB, Ethernet, Audio, MMC
  • Free synthesis and Place and Route Tool

The platform is delivered with a comprehensive example AMBA® AHB™ system allowing you to quickly add your own and third-party IP; it also includes Keil MDK-ARM (Eval) and ULINK2 enabling fast software development.

Physical IP
The low-power operation of the Cortex-M0 processor is enhanced by implementations using the ARM Ultra High Density Standard Cell Library and ARM Power Management Kit (PMK) available for 180ULL processes, low power memory instances built specially for Cortex-M0, and the Keil MDK-ARM.  The ARM 180ULL libraries are optimized for high-density, low-power applications to enable low dynamic and static power consumption and minimize chip area. The Power Management Kit features dynamic and leakage power management functions which further enable low static and dynamic power consumption while meeting the high-performance targets of demanding applications.

Software Standard
The Cortex-M0 processor is fully compatible with the recently-launched Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard  (CMSIS), the vendor-independent hardware abstraction layer for the Cortex-M processor series

The CMSIS is available for free download from, a website providing a comprehensive resource for embedded developers. CMSIS documentation and maintenance of the software layer will be provided by ARM.