HomeChipsetsArm bolsters ‘total IoT’ mission with new developer-adds for Cortex-A/M systems

Arm bolsters ‘total IoT’ mission with new developer-adds for Cortex-A/M systems

Arm has issued a flurry of announcements related to its Cortex-M and Cortex-A processor families, restating its mission to “streamline” embedded computing for the IoT developer market. Among the new releases, the UK-based firm has launched a new top-of-the-line Cortex-M processor, the Cortex-M85, offering an upgrade path to Armv8-M for higher-powered IoT applications.

It has also revealed a bunch of innovations as part of its new cloud-based IoT design system, Total Solutions for IoT, which does away with the need for physical silicon. Within an alphabet soup of a press announcement – drowned in product names, tech acronyms, engineering specs – the point of the new Arm releases is clear: to enable higher performance and easier development of IoT hardware solutions.

Mohamed Awad, vice president of IoT and embedded at Arm, commented: “Developers drive the future of the IoT, but they face an ever-increasing demand for higher performance, increased security, and less complex development flows. The IoT runs on Arm, and we have a responsibility to create greater opportunities for IoT innovation and scale by continually raising the bar on performance, simplified development, and software reuse for our ecosystem.”

The new Cortex-M85 processor is the “highest-performing and most secure Cortex-M to date”, said Arm, offering a 30 percent uplift in scalar performance compared to the M7, plus support (via its Helium tech) for miniaturised device-based machine learning (ML) and digital signal processor (DSP) workloads, and also enhanced security with Arm’s TrustZone technology.

(We soldier on.) It highlighted ‘pointer authentication’ and ‘branch target identification’ (PACBTI), a new security feature for better ‘attack threat mitigation’ to help developers achieve level-two accreditation from (sister company) PSA Certified, which Arm rates as a “security-baseline for IoT deployments”. Meanwhile, Arm has expanded its cloud-based Total Solutions IoT design system to work with Cortex-A processors, alongside Cortex-M units.

Arm Total Solutions for IoT, launched six months ago, brings together software and hardware design processes into a single virtual co-innovation process, according to the company. It is geared, again, to accelerate product design by “up to” two years, it reckons – and lay the foundation for the “new IoT economy”. The expansion means Cortex-A projects now work with Arm’s Corstone IP subsystem, on which the Total Solutions web design system is based.

Corstone offers developers a way to design “pre-integrated, pre-verified” IP componentry into their Arm-based solutions in the cloud, as per the Total Solutions promise; Cortex-A design is now compatible with the Corstone-1000 subsystem. “It makes the power and potential of platform operating systems like Linux easily available to IoT developers, for the first time,” stated Arm.

“It allows application-class workloads to be developed for devices such as smart wearables, gateways, and high-end smart cameras. Since the Corstone-1000 is Arm SystemReady-IR compliant and features a hardware secure enclave that supports PSA Certified for a higher level of security, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can immediately enjoy the benefits of Project Cassini.”

Some more architectural systems in there. SystemReady is a compliance certification program based on a set of (BSA) hardware and (BBR) firmware standards; IR denotes the IoT variant of the SystemReady certifications. Project Cassini is Arm’s ecosystem exercise to deliver a set of device and platform standards for Cortex-A developers – which also incorporates the PSA Certified and SystemReady initiatives.

It might be noted, its new Project Centauri seeks to achieve for Cortex-M what Project Cassini has delivered for the Cortex-A ecosystem, so customers can leverage its software and services across the widest range of platforms, including reference implementations for device boot, security, and cloud integration.

The first release of the Centauri open IoT SDK framework is just out, featuring the new Open-CMSIS-CDI software standard, described as a “community driven project hosted in Linaro that defines a common device interface (CDI) for the Cortex-M ecosystem”. Eight key industry players have signed up, including silicon partners, cloud service providers, and device/equipment makers.

The new Cortex-M85 comes with a new voice recognition solution, as well, based on the Corstone-310 subsystem, and integrated into the onboard Ethos-U55 ML processor. It is targeted at use-cases ranging from smart speakers and thermostats to drones and factory robots. Arm said developers can take the Corstone-310 and create “a whole range of additional high-performance products by combining it with different reference software”.

Meanwhile, Arm has extended its Virtual Hardware (AVH) modelling technology, which delivers cloud-based models of Arm processors and systems for system-on-chip (SoC) designers to pre-test designs before silicon is available, and to engage in continuous integration/delivery (CI/CD) development without the need for large custom hardware farms. New additions include AVH for the new Corstone designs as well as seven Cortex-M processors, from the M0 to the M33.

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