Arm opens software and tooling suite to spur ‘step-change’ in IoT productivity
Arm is moving parts of its microcontroller abstraction layer for Cortex-M processors into an open collaboration platform to help embedded system developers to integrate and manage software components and improve code reuse across IoT projects. The company has also moved part of its next-generation tooling suite for embedded IoT into an open cloud platform to give software developers early beta access.
The two initiatives will provide a “step change in productivity” for embedded developers working with IoT systems, machine learning tools, and microcontroller components, the company said. They are symptomatic, as well, of the need for “strong industry collaboration and robust support and tools”, as engineers struggle to grasp the multi-dimensional play in the fast-growing IoT market – driven by “increased compute, connectivity and security”.
Arm said reuse of IoT components has “long been a challenge” for embedded system designers. The IoT landscape is more diverse at hardware level than equivalent markets for personal computers and data centres. Its vendor-agnostic CMSIS (software interface standard) abstraction layer is designed to help developers reuse microcontroller parts for Cortex-M based IoT modules, which number about 70 million, it reckons.
The CMSIS-Pack packaging tech in the CMSIS product supports 9,000-odd different microcontrollers, making integration of various drivers and software components easier across different Arm-based devices. The company is now moving parts of CMSIS into an open project called Open-CMSIS-Pack, which will deliver the infrastructure to integrate and manage software components and improve code reuse across projects.
The Open-CMSIS-Pack project will start as an incubation initiative within the embedded IoT group at UK-based engineering group Linaro, and focus on a standard for software component packaging and tools for validation, integration, management, and maintenance. CMSIS-Pack will evolve into an open standard for component packaging, and establish a framework for developers working on Cortex-M parts, said Arm.
Meanwhile, Arm has also said its Keil Studio Cloud, the first part of its next-generation Keil tooling suite for software IoT developers, is moving into an open beta phase, with direct Git integration and modern CI workflows, to allow developers to “experience the Keil Studio workflow firsthand” with a limited set of development boards and features.
The tool will evolve over several software releases, it said, delivering an integrated development environment (IDE) that runs in the browser and connects directly to boards on desktop computers. “There is no complicated tool installation, and example projects along with the related resources are always up to date so developers can have code running on a device within minutes,” it said in a statement.
The company stated: “We believe the next, and most exciting, phase of IoT is upon us – and these initiatives will broaden access to the software and tools that will spark the industry’s true potential.” In a press statement, the rest of the market quoted its support.
Andrea Gallo, vice president of business development at Linaro, said: “Linaro is delighted to take on the Open-CMSIS-Pack project and drive the collaborative engineering needed to improve the integration and management of software components. By encouraging code reuse and the adoption of consistent software interfaces and baselines across projects, Linaro and Arm continue to reduce overall fragmentation in the IoT and embedded software ecosystem, enabling device manufacturers to focus on their value add.”
Joe Yu, vice president and general manager of IoT at NXP Semiconductors, said: “The combination of Keil’s next-generation tools with NXP devices and the Open-CMSIS-Pack project will help increase productivity across the industry by encouraging code reuse, improving software component deployment, and enhancing development time.”
Laurent Desseignes, ecosystem marketing manager at STMicroelectronics, said: “Keil’s next-generation tools and the Open-CMSIS-Pack project are focused on those important goals and will prove valuable to the entire community.”