Arm Helium Delivers up to 15x Performance Uplift for Machine Learning on Cortex-M MCUs

Arm has just unveiled Armv8.1-M architecture that adds Arm Helium technology, the M-Profile Vector Extension (MVE) for the Arm Cortex-M cores that will improve the compute performance of Cortex-M based microcontrollers.

Helium will deliver up to 15 times more machine learning (ML) performance and up to 5 times uplift to signal processing allowing local decision-making on low-power embedded devices.

Arm Helium

Helium instructions will enable new applications for Arm Cortex-M microcontrollers in audio devices, sensor hubs, keyword spotting, voice command control, power electronics, communications and still image processing.

Helium and Neon (the Advanced SIMD technology for Arm Cortex-A processors) are similarities but Helium has been designed for efficient signal processing performance in small processors.

M-Profile Vector Extension (MVE)

One different illustrated below is that while NEON loads 128-bit instructions (e.g. VLDR, VLMA), Helium will split up 128‑bit wide instruction into four equally sized chunks, called “beats” (labelled A to D) due to difference between Cortex-M and Cortex-A cores as explained in details in an Arm Research blog post.

Other highlights of the new Armv8.1-M architecture features include:

  • Additional instruction set enhancements for loops and branches (Low Overhead Branch Extension)
  • Instructions providing half precision floating-point support
  • Instruction improving state management of the Floating Point Unit (FPU)
  • Enhancements to debug including:
    • Performance Monitoring Unit (PMU)
    • Unprivileged Debug Extension
    • Debug support for MVE
  • Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) extension

You’ll find more details in Helium’s page, as well as in the Armv8-M Architecture Reference Manual Documentation (PDF).

Via Arm’s Press Release

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