Arm designs have been used in more than 125 billion chips to date, and now they will become part of Xilinx’s field programmable gate arrays, or FPGAs.

FPGAs are flexible chips that can be programmed with a hardware design after they have been shipped to customers. They can be used in a wide array of products, including those where the hardware specifications keep shifting until the last minute.

By combining Arm processor core designs with Xilinx FPGAs, engineers will have more design choices that tap the software available for Arm devices and the flexibility of FPGAs.

The newly enhanced Arm DesignStart program will help developers of embedded chips (those that are built into hardware appliances like car engines or refrigerators) speed up and improve FPGA projects with fast, free, easy access to Arm intellectual property.

Arm said the access model will include no new license fee and no royalties to help more developers benefit from industry-leading Arm technology, allowing a common software base across their entire device

As technology continues to change at a faster pace, the need for flexibility in product designs grows. That’s why Gartner forecasts a 74 percent volume growth of the FPGA and programmable logic devices (PLD) market between 2016 and 2022.

This has led to greater pressure for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to develop flexible, application-optimized designs more quickly and with less investment. To meet these demands, developers need easy access to the most widely adopted processors and the broadest set of software, tools, and know-how, whether on FPGAs, system-on-chips (SoCs), or single-board computers (SBC), said Phil Burr, director of portfolio product management at Arm, in a statement.

So Arm is collaborating with Xilinx, the market leader in FPGAs, to bring the benefits of Arm Cortex-M processors to FPGA through the Arm DesignStart program, providing scalability and a standardized processor architecture across the Xilinx portfolio.

Burr said that Cortex-M processors give embedded developers the opportunity to design confidently, innovate, and benefit from simplified software development and superior code density. In addition, they have the support of the broadest technology ecosystem of software, tools, and services, which provides a valuable and accessible path on which to scale products.

Developers can choose from a spectrum of options by considering factors such as design requirements, budget, resource availability, and time-to-market, all critical in an increasingly connected world with a vast range of applications and needs. The result will be lower cost products with more design choices. FPGAs from Xilinx can be combined with ARM Cortex-M1 (an FPGA-optimized version of the Cortex-M0 processor) and Cortex-M3 soft processor IP — all for no license fee and no royalties. Software costs will also be lower, thanks to access to Arm-based software.

The DesignStart program has been providing access to Arm IP since 2010.