Arm virtual hardware has the potential to alter IoT economics

Oct 21, 2021, 9:23 PM UTC
4 mins read
Arm virtual hardware has the potential to alter IoT economics

This week, Softbank’s UK chip design subsidiary Arm announced an approach to IoT design that the company says will set the groundwork for a new IoT economy. Total Solutions for IoT might simplify and streamline software development, resulting in reduced product design cycles of up to two years for developers, OEMs, and service providers at all levels of the IoT value chain.

“Through a radical change in how systems are designed, Arm is uniquely positioned to fuel a new IoT economy that rivals the shape, speed, and size of the smartphone industry’s app economy,” said Mohamed Awad, vice president of IoT at Arm. “Arm Total Solutions for IoT changes the way we’re delivering key technology to the entire ecosystem and demonstrates our significant and ongoing investment in the software that will empower developers to innovate for global impact.”

Total Solutions for IoT presents virtual hardware targets for software developers, OEMs, and service providers, built on the foundations of Arm Corstone, a validated and integrated subsystem that has accelerated time to market for more than 150 designs from Arm silicon partners. This cloud-based service provides a virtual replica of the Corstone subsystem, allowing software development to take place without the use of actual silicon.

Virtual hardware allows IoT and embedded systems to use current agile software development approaches like continuous integration and continuous deployment (CICD), DevOps, and MLops without needing to invest in complex hardware farms.

Software development and testing are now possible before silicon availability, thanks to precise simulations of Arm-based SoCs that include mechanisms for mimicking memory, peripherals, and more. A normal product design cycle can be reduced from an average of five years to as little as three. It enables the entire IoT value chain to build and test code on the latest IP well ahead of silicon availability, allowing Arm silicon partners to obtain customer input for chips before tape out.

Arm Virtual Hardware is now available on AWS Marketplace, and Arm partners are already utilizing it to develop more quickly and reduce time to market.

This kit includes everything needed to design for specific use cases, allowing developers to focus on innovation and distinction across a variety of apps and devices. It includes hardware IP, software, machine learning (ML) models, virtual hardware targets, application-specific reference code, and support from Arm’s IoT ecosystem, among other things.

The first configuration, which includes an ML-based keyword recognition example, is now available and addresses general-purpose compute and ML workload use cases. Virtual hardware targets for different configurations of the Arm Corstone-300 subsystem, featuring the Cortex-M55 CPU and Ethos-U55 MicroNPU, are now available from Arm SoC partners.

The arm is also developing Project Centauri, which will enable industry players to exploit the software and services they invest in across the broadest range of platforms. Project Centauri seeks to accomplish for the Cortex-M software environment what Project Cassini does for the Cortex-A ecosystem by providing a set of device and platform standards, as well as reference implementations for device boot, security, and cloud interaction.

Support for PSA-certified and Open-CMSIS-CDI, a standard cloud-to-device standard that reduces the effort required to allow different cloud services and real-time operating systems, is included in the Project Centauri APIs. This should lower engineering costs, shorten time to market, enable large-scale IoT installations, and increase security across the Cortex-M ecosystem.

According to Mordor Intelligence, Arm partners have sold more than 70 billion Cortex-M-based devices to date and show no signs of slowing down, since chips for IoT are predicted to have a CAGR of about 15% by 2026. To meet this increase, Arm is focusing on keeping its ecosystem at the forefront of accelerating IoT innovation by making Arm IP more accessible to businesses of all sizes through Total Solutions for IoT and programs like Arm Flexible Access.

According to Arm, this marks the start of a new era for IoT, one of real software and hardware system-level co-design.


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Arm virtual hardware has the potential to alter IoT economics

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