The ARMv9 ISA, And What It Can Do For You

The number of distinct ARM Instruction Set Architectures (ISA) versions has slowly increased, with Arm adding a new version every few years. The oldest ISA version in common use today is ARMv6, with the ARMv6 ISA (ARM11) found in the original Raspberry Pi SBC and Raspberry Pi Zero (BCM2835). The ARMv6 ISA was introduced in 2002, followed by ARMv7 in 2005 (start of Cortex-A series) and ARMv8 in 2011. The latter was notable for adding 64-bit support.

With ARMv7 being the first of the Cortex cores, and ARMv8 adding 64-bit support in the form of AArch64, what notable features does ARMv9 bring to the table? As announced earlier this year, ARMv9’s focus appears to be on adding a whole host of features that should improve vector processing (vector extensions, or SVE) as well as digital signal processing (DSP) and security, with its Confidential Compute Architecture (CCA).

In addition to this, ARMv9 also includes all of the features that were added with ARMv8.1, v8.2, v8.3 and so on. In essence, this makes an ARMv9-based processor theoretically capable of going toe-to-toe with the best that Intel and AMD have to offer.

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