Silicon Labs announced the first Arm Cortex-M33 based low power wireless platform with support for Bluetooth 5.1, Zigbee 3.0, Thread and multiprotocol connectivity. The new Wireless Gecko Series 2 platform includes system-on-chip (SoC) devices, software and tools designed to make Internet of Things (IoT) products more powerful, secure and reliable. The first products in the Series 2 portfolio include EFR32xG21 SoCs that incorporate 512KB to 1024KB Flash, 64 to 96KB RAM, and a rich suite of analog and digital peripherals. In addition to the high-performance radio, the Series 2 SoCs also offer new improved security features based on an on-chip dedicated security core and the Arm Cortex-M33 processor with Arm TrustZone technology. TrustZone has become a requirement to provide hardware isolation in connected, upgradeable IoT devices that also store confidential information such as keys, certificates and confidential data.
The core and peripheral features of the EFR32xG21 are explained below:
The EFR32xG21 SoCs target a wide range of applications with a high-performance radio that supports multiprotocol connectivity and several popular protocol options. The new Bluetooth 5.1 stack offers four times the range, double the speed and eight times the broadcasting message capacity of Bluetooth 4.0, increasing the functionality of Bluetooth for the IoT. The SoCs also support Bluetooth mesh to enable greater coverage in applications, such as commercial lighting.
With support for Thread and Zigbee 3.0, the EFR32xG21 SoCs opens up even more smart and connected applications in homes, buildings, industrial, retail, health and metering.
The EFR32xG21 SoCs are the first Wireless Gecko products to incorporate Arm TrustZone technology, enabling IoT devices to be built with security from the ground up.
Here are the four key attributes of an IoT device that requires isolation and higher performance, enabled by Cortex-M33 with TrustZone:
IoT devices can be connected to the internet directly via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or gateways that support Bluetooth, Zigbee or Thread. This presents an opportunity for malicious interception of a communication or remote software attacks. Prevention is possible with the right hardware isolation of the encryption and security-related functions from the application code.
One of the best features of modern IoT devices is the ability to upgrade the firmware remotely. The firmware upgrade can enable or unlock new features or even patch security vulnerabilities. Upgradability is great but care must be taken to any upgrade securely. Again, the best solution to implement a secure firmware upgrade is by utilizing hardware isolation.
Most IoT devices have to store secret information such as keys for encryption, certificates for firmware upgrades and Wi-Fi passwords. In addition, IoT devices may also store biometric and personal information and the firmware itself is also valuable. Hardware isolation enables all of the confidential assets to be stored, securely isolated from the user application.
The Cortex-M33 processor used in Series 2 devices also provides a 20% performance increase over the Arm Cortex-M4 processor used in previous-generation Wireless Gecko devices. The extra performance can be utilized to add more features, run multiple RF protocols concurrently or reduce power by running at a slower clock speed.
We, therefore, need hardware-enforced isolation between Trusted and Non-trusted parts of the system. With the Cortex-M33 processor and TrustZone technology, hardware isolation can be implemented in a single processor with two views. TrustZone provides the most efficient solution to implement secure IoT systems today.
The Cortex-M33 is built for feature-rich IoT and embedded products. It extends the capability of the Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4, providing more security, enhanced efficiency, performance and scalability for deployment even in the most demanding contexts.
TrustZone technology is already deployed in billions of devices and is now accessible for Cortex-M in our Armv8-M architecture with the same, proven, system-wide security concept, but optimized for embedded, deterministic devices.
The Cortex-M33 also adds high-performance Digital Signal Processing (DSP) extensions and a powerful Floating-Point Unit. With computing moving to the edge the ability to process complex signals and do complex control locally reduces latency, communications overhead and power consumption.The Cortex-M33 processor brings TrustZone security to demanding and low-powered devices, enabling programmers to use a familiar programming model to make software isolation more achievable. The processor supports the main recommendations from the Platform Security Architecture (PSA), which is a framework providing a common approach to security for both hardware and software. PSA offers a consistent foundation for designers and developers working on IoT and embedded devices.
The PSA documentation and open source code (Trusted Firmware-M) is perfectly positioned for developers using CPUs like the Cortex-M33 processor.
Visit our PSA page to learn more and access PSA resources.
No matter how tough your IoT wireless connectivity application challenges may be, Silicon Labs' Series 2 platform is your solution. Take advantage of the robust, long-range connectivity of Series 2 SoCs without compromising current consumption and battery life.
With Series 2, designers can bring secure, next-generation IoT products to market by taking advantage of Silicon Labs’ Simplicity Studio integrated development environment (IDE). The Simplicity Studio IDE accelerates time-to-market with a suite of tools, including a unified wireless development kit, SDKs, energy profiler, patented network analysis, application demos and mobile apps.
In addition, by accessing the broad Arm ecosystem, developers can choose from a wide selection of ecosystem partners offering software, tools, compilers, RTOS and security solutions to best meet their application needs. There is also a wealth of resources and documentation, along with Q&A support, at the TrustZone Community for Armv8-M.
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