Reproduction micros

Pete Turnbull pete at
Thu Jul 21 08:24:37 CDT 2016

On 21/07/2016 13:38, Liam Proven wrote:
> On 20 July 2016 at 21:29, Paul Koning <paulkoning at>
> wrote:
>> I don't remember the earlier ARM designs, but it was my impression
>> that DEC's StrongARM was the one that made really large strides in
>> low power

> Hmm. That wasn't my impression at the time, no.
> The big deal with StrongARM was that it had a dramatically increased
> speed -- whereas Acorn ARMs ran from 8MHz in my original Archimedes
> A305 to 12MHz for the first SoC ones (A3010 with ARM 250) to 25MHz
> for the ARM3-powered A5000, Digital's first StrongARM ran at
> 100-200MHz. To keep the core fed with data at this ridiculous speed,
> it had onboard L1 instruction & data caches.

> So at least in the marketing to the Acorn user community, no, power
> draw wasn't even mentioned. It never came up. The original ARMs were
> low-power, and so was StrongARM.

Yes and no.  StrongARM was even lower power as well as faster.  If 
you're suggesting that that's just evolution due to things like reduced 
process size, I possibly agree.  But a StrongARM has many times as many 
transistors as an ARM3 (for example) let alone an ARM2, and initially 
ran 3 times as fast (100MHz vs 33MHz - the earliest ARM3s were 20MHz, 
but production runs were 25MHz and later 33MHz, and eventually SA-110 
ran to over 200MHz) yet uses less power.  I don't have the data sheets 
for ARM6 and ARM7 so I can't compare, though.

As for the marketing, I recently came across an Acorn press release 
announcing ARM, in which Sam Wauchope (CEO) was quoted saying it 
delivered 100MIPS per watt, so power was indeed a selling point.  I 
worked for Sam at the time[1], so I remember that.  OK that's for one of 
the Acorn ARM chips, not StrongARM, but the point is still made.  Not 
all the marketing was directed at the Acorn community.

[1] and I still have my Archimedes A310 Serial No. 0000002 (and the box 
with all the bits and pieces :-)) as well as my A410 and R260, both from 
the first batches.  I wish I'd kept an A500, though.  All I have now is 
the podule to connect it to a Beeb.  Anybody got the machine to put it in?

Pete Turnbull

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