ARM IoT Subsystem for Cortex-M Processors - Moving forward in IoT

You might have noticed last week ARM announced a new IoT Subsystem for Cortex-M Processors at Computex in Taiwan. Not being too involved in the whole IoT space at ARM, I was intrigued at where this fit in along the IoT story for ARM and its partners. I have to admit I am one of these people who are constantly dazzled by the IoT revolution; and the scope of possibility is so vast I sometimes find myself wondering how does it all work? How does the whole ARM IoT solution enable partners?

Why does anyone care about IoT in the first place?

This was probably the main question I had when I first joined ARM over a year ago. When you think about it however, it isn’t only obvious, it is also close to unbelievable how many applications there are for IoT solutions. According to Gartner;'The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.'Simple, right? However when you break it down it becomes so vast you wondering where it will actually stop? We are now in a world where all objects will become smart and connected. When you think about some of the opportunities and areas these solutions can be deployed:

  • Automotive and smart city applications.
  • The amount of people who have 1-3 wearables for fitness, health, productivity or security purposes.
  • The number of appliances in a modern smart home.
  • Production sites with people looking for faster and better ways to produce items with smart machines and control units.
  • Then to name a few; the number of cities, trash bins, street lights, traffic lights, newspaper stands and vending machines that IoT endpoints could be used. there are millions per city.

The IoT Subsystem for Cortex-M Processors

ARM’s IoT subsystem for Cortex-M processors allows design teams to create IoT endpoints faster and with lower risk. The subsystem with mbed OS is a complete reference system that reduces the complexity and risk of an SoC design for IoT endpoints. The IoT subsystem for Cortex-M processors features a range of peripherals and interfaces. It is specifically designed for use with Cortex-M processors and optimized for mbed OS and Cordio Bluetooth Smart radio but it is also possible to integrate other radios and wireless networking standards such as Wi-Fi and 802.15.4. The system has been designed to optimize power consumption and bring a high level of security: two key features for IoT solutions. This subsystem has been developed in collaboration with TSMC, one of the world's leading semiconductor foundries, for production on its 55ULP process technology. The combination of Artisan physical IP and TSMC's 55ULP process means the subsystem can run at sub-one volt operation, extending battery life and making it easier to run a device using energy harvesting. What are the advantages of using the IoT Subsystem for Cortex-M processors?There are three big advantages (along with many smaller ones) to using the IoT subsystem for Cortex-M processors:

Low Power consumption

Endpoints today need low intensity processing and ultra low power. Flash consumes power when reading, but having a cache reduces the number of flash fetches. The IoT Subsystem for Cortex-M processors includes an integrated cache which allows up to 99% flash power consumption reduction.Optimized for ARM Cortex-M ProcessorsThe IoT subsystem for Cortex-M processors solution supports the successful ARM Cortex-M processors. The Cortex-M3 is an example processor that the IoT subsystem for Cortex-M processors is optimized for. This industry-leading 32-bit processor offers the performance and efficiency for the most demanding IoT applications.

Mbed OS and mbed Device Server

The IoT subsystem for Cortex-M has been optimized to run with mbed OS, which includes the connectivity, security and device management functionality required for IoT markets.Of course the IoT Subsystem for Cortex-M Processors is only one individually licensable subsystem IP block, but together with the Cortex-M processor and ARM Cordio radio IP, forms the basis for an IoT endpoint chip design, allowing partners to integrate sensors and other peripherals to create complete SoCs.To conclude, the subsystem makes a big difference to the whole IoT story from ARM. It enables partners to create even lower power Cortex–M based IoT applications for endpoints that will (whether we like it or not) take over the world. For a more detailed view, please go to the IoT Subsystems for Cortex-M processors webpage.

Personally I am looking forward to the connected lifestyle. Waking up to your coffee brewing, your music turning off when you fall asleep and your desk lamp coming on when you sit on the chair when it is dark in the room are just some of the cool things I have seen at events this year. How do you think IoT will effect everyday life in the next few years?