Processor architect ARM has created Total Solutions for IoT, a platform that enables engineers to design and develop Internet of Things (IoT) software faster.
Total Solutions for IoT is a multi-stakeholder project that includes accelerated systems-on-a-chip (SoC) development, state-of-the-art cloud-based development methodologies, and an initiative to create a surrounding ecosystem that allows developers to reuse software across a wide variety of hardware. IoT. According to Mohamed Awad, ARM’s VP of IoT and Embedded Systems, the goal is to create a software development environment for IoT similar to that found for thousands of different smartphones, for which millions of applications have been built. If developers had to hold in their hands every smartphone on which they would like to install their application, there would be fewer applications, less innovation, and more wasted potential.
“We’re going to give millions of developers around the world the opportunity to accelerate time to market, arm with more modern software development methodologies, and easily abstract away from the variety of hardware that represents the IoT ecosystem,” Awad said. “They don’t have to get better for that. We’re going to fundamentally change the way IoT is developed and, as a result, the economics of the market. ”
IoT development challenges
IoT, with its rapid growth, wide reach, and a huge variety of devices, presents challenges for developers. This also applies to slow product design. It takes five or more years from the release of the technology to the appearance of products on the market, which is largely due to the way they are developed. In addition, there is a lack of skills in creating software and services that can be used on different platforms, and software development and testing for the IoT are ineffective due to the need for physical equipment. The Virtual Hardware Target simulator is designed to solve this problem.
“If you’re an IoT developer, you have to fiddle with cables, jumpers, wires, and boards on your desk,” says the expert. – If you want to implement modern development methodologies, then you either simply cannot do it, or you will have to create huge hardware farms. As the hardware evolves, you will have to disassemble them and install new hardware blocks. This is extremely ineffective. ”
What ARM offers
Total Solutions for IoT consists of three elements. The first is Corstone, pre-designed, integrated, and tested hardware subsystems including CPUs, MPUs (Memory Protection Units), and system IPs that ARM supplies directly to partners to accelerate the development and release of SoCs containing not only CPUs but also elements such as memory, GPU and I / O ports.
The company designs and licenses chips to processor partners such as Qualcomm and Samsung. It has made a name for itself developing SoCs for mobile and embedded devices and has expanded its reach over the years in areas such as data center systems and IoT. Corstone is being used by partners to accelerate development on more than 150 projects, Avada said.
The second pillar, Virtual Hardware, is a cloud-based Corstone virtual model that allows developers to build and test their code without the need to access physical hardware and encourages agile development methodologies for IoT and embedded platforms such as CI / CD and DevOps. Virtual hardware models simulate everything from memory to peripherals, allowing developers to create software even before physical SoCs appear. This will shorten the product development cycle from five to three years and will help ARM chipmakers get SoC feedback even before the hardware is tested, Avada said.
“We are putting technology into the hands of millions of developers who simply didn’t have access to it before,” said an ARM executive. “Previously, it was only available to traditional chip manufacturers and a limited number of embedded system designers.”
This is also a boon for OEMs and IoT service providers who “don’t need to build and maintain hardware farms to scale their services across devices,” Avada said. They can run continuous integration workflows and test their algorithms on virtual hardware to scale them up. ”
Standardization is the key
ARM is also pushing for more standardization in IoT design with its Project Centauri, which provides device/platform standards and reference references for device booting, security, and cloud integration. The company hopes to make Cortex-M (low-cost and energy-efficient microcodes) for SoC projects.
controllers that use Helium technology to increase processing power) what Project Cassini did for Cortex-A processors designed for more complex applications.
In the cloud, the Project Centauri APIs include support for PSA Certified and Open-CMSIS-CDI, a cloud-to-device standard specification that can reduce the effort required to implement various cloud solutions and real-time operating systems, which in turn reduces costs and speeds up time. to the market, and helps to scale and improve security.
The IoT is expected to continue its rapid growth as more devices become more intelligent and generate massive amounts of data. Despite the global chip shortage and the negative impact of the pandemic on the supply chain, the number of connected IoT devices this year will grow by 9% compared to 2020 and reach 12.3 billion active endpoints, according to IoT Analytics. By 2025, there will be over 27 billion IoT connections.
According to Mordor Intelligence, the IoT chip market is set to grow from nearly $ 12 billion this year to over $ 27 billion in 2026.
ARM has been active in the IoT field for many years, combining its hardware developments – Cortex-A, Cortex-M SoCs, Ethos-UNPU machine learning microprocessors, and Mali Image Signal Processors (ISPs) with software and development tools. To date, its partners have produced over 70 billion Cortex-M devices. GPU maker Nvidia is vying to buy ARM for $ 54 billion, although the deal has yet to be approved by EU and UK regulators. It is also opposed by ARM partners such as Qualcomm, although other companies such as Broadcom are supporting the deal.
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