Nathalie Morris, Senior Director of Legal at Arm, explains our simplified system architecture framework.The Arm system architectures define components and interfaces that make it easier for hardware and software to interoperate. They offer standardization and commonality across the ecosystem, providing strong compatibility and reducing the cost of ownership of software.
As well as contributing to existing industry standards, Arm creates standards for industry-specific system architectures. These standards help to ensure compatibility across the ecosystem. Examples of our system architectures include Platform Security Architecture (PSA), SBSA, and SCMI. Arm provides system architectures free of charge to help the ecosystem and all system designers.
Arm makes architecture specifications and documentation freely available, royalty-free and architecture agnostic. However, until recently this has involved a mix of licenses, some of which are specific to the document, and on occasion users have been required to accept an end-user license agreement (EULA). While this may not sound too onerous, all too often the individuals who need to use the specifications were not necessarily able to accept a license on behalf of their organization. This meant conferring with the legal team, who needed to review each agreement individually and often talk terms and customize the agreements to suit their needs. Having a customized license for each specification and each customer is not sustainable. It can lead to delays, preventing the developer teams from getting on with their jobs, while placing extra workload on the legal teams of both parties.
Recognizing this difficulty, the system architecture team has reviewed this process and, in July 2019, introduced a much easier and more user-friendly, standardized licensing framework.
This new approach makes system architecture documents and specifications available under standard, simplified legal terms, without the need for users to accept a EULA. The legal terms are now automatically included in the document which the user downloads. This framework is used whenever specs are updated.
Arm will make announced documents available under a standard proprietary notice, which provides the user with read-only rights. Reading rights are granted for documents such as discussion papers, which do not provide any design details or requirements. We have recently followed this new licensing framework to publish the Revere-AMU discussion paper.
Announced specifications will be made available, subject to a simple license, which grants users the right to design products based on the specification. The PSA Firmware Framework was the first specification to be released under these new license terms.
The correct legal terms will be incorporated into the document or specification. Simples! (As they say in the adverts.)
This is summarized in the diagram below, showing which license will be applicable in each of the cases. It reflects best practice in licensing while allowing easy one-click access to non-confidential specifications and documentation.
Simplified licensing framework for announced system architectures and technologies
Definitions applying to this framework:
This streamlined legal framework has been designed to make it easier and faster for developers to download the documents and specifications they need and get started straight away on their project. It will also help to reduce the load on partner legal teams, who may no longer need to be consulted on these licenses. As each specification is iterated, it will be updated to the new licensing framework.
Now, in addition to being free to download, royalty-free, and architecture-neutral, future Arm system architecture specifications will contain a straightforward, standardized license included at source.
The easy access approach to system architecture documents is in line with Arm’s recent announcements around simplified SoC development with the DesignStart program, and quicker technology access for research and academia with Flexible Access.
Find out more about system architecture