ARM, Thumb, and ThumbEE instruction sets

The ARM instruction set is a set of 32-bit instructions providing a comprehensive range of operations.

ARMv4T and later define a 16-bit instruction set called Thumb. Most of the functionality of the 32-bit ARM instruction set is available, but some operations require more instructions. The 16-bit Thumb instruction set provides better code density, at the expense of performance.

ARMv6T2 introduces Thumb-2 technology. This is a major enhancement to the 16-bit Thumb instruction set by providing 32-bit Thumb instructions. The 32-bit and 16-bit Thumb instructions together provide almost exactly the same functionality as the ARM instruction set. The 32-bit Thumb instruction set achieves the high performance of ARM code and better code density like 16-bit Thumb code.

ARMv7 defines the Thumb Execution Environment (ThumbEE). The ThumbEE instruction set is based on Thumb, with some changes and additions to make it a better target for dynamically generated code, that is, code compiled on the device either shortly before or during execution.

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