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Innovations And Ideas From ARM TechCon 2016

This year’s event featured the new owner – Masayoshi Son, numerous security features, new IOT Cortex cores and updated third-party platforms.

By John Blyler and staff, JB Systems

There were a number of interesting innovations discussed during ARM Techcon 2016. The technical sessions focused a lot on security and IoT. You could almost have become a security expert after a couple of days at the event.

Tuesday keynote

Masayoshi Son, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of SoftBank Group Corp. – the new owner of ARM – reassured everyone that ARM would continue business as usual. He talked about an interesting perspective that 500 M years ago the earth was in the middle of the Cambrian Explosion when just a few species changed to tens of thousands. Evolution was taking place. One of those new species was the trilobite – the first species with vision, and this forever changed the path of evolution.

Masayoshi thought that the current time was like that in that we are in for the period of the IoT explosion change. A period of big change that he wanted to be a part of. Now was the time. And that was why he purchased ARM. He noted that he is interested in discussing the long term goals and vision of ARM. He is not interested in day-to-day operations or quarterly results.

ARM CEO Simon Segars said that the financial support of Softbank will allow ARM to do more and reach higher.

New Cortex cores add security features

The new ARM Cortex-M23 and Cortex-M33 ARMv8-M based processor cores are ARM TrustZone technology capable, greatly adding to security features available for even the smallest of embedded devices. The new processors make it easier for developers to create very energy-efficient, secure, and connected IoT devices. The M33 is similar to the Cortex-M3 and M4, while the M23 is more like the Cortex-M0 and M0+.

Connected device designs using MCUs based on the new cores will benefit from the protection offered by security-critical functionality, such as secure boot, cryptography, identity and key management, and provisioning and update of the devices.

The M33 provides configurable support for TrustZone, DSP, and floating point computation. Cortex-M23 is built for small, energy sipping IoT and embedded products. It extends the capability of the Cortex-M0 and -M0+ Cores. Both processors are suitable for functional safety applications, with safety documentation packages to help silicon partners achieve IEC 6150 SIL3 and ISO 26262 ASIL D certification to follow.

New sub-systems

The new CoreLink SIE-200 was billed as a secure, low power foundation for IoT nodes. Interconnect and TrustZone controllers provided the very important hardware enforced isolation between secure and non-secure applications. The system had a comprehensive mix of backplane IP to efficiently secure memory and peripherals and enabled designers to target multiple IoT applications with an optimized ARMv8-M system.

TrustZone CryptoCell-312 further enhanced SoC security with features that include secure storage, key management, TRNG and crypto acceleration. It enhanced SoC-level security with features protecting the authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of code and data belonging to the chip maker, device maker, service provider, and the end user. The package provided  security mechanisms including persistent storage of secrets, rollback prevention, validation of loaded software, validation of software updates, cryptography, true random number generation, and strong authentication of parties prior to giving them access to resources.

The ARM CoreLink SSE-200 was a new IoT subsystem for Cortex-M33 with integrated and secure mbed OS and an interface to ARM Cordio wireless radio IP. The sub-system offered the fastest route to silicon for designers using the ARMv8-M architecture. It combined all of the latest ARM IP to provide a foundation for building a secure IoT node. The CoreLink SSE-200 Subsystem integrated the Cortex-M33 processor, the CoreLink SIE-200, power infrastructure, new instruction caches, secure debug infrastructure, optional TrustZone CryptoCell, and optional Cordio radio. It also included mbed OS and secure libraries.

Also new from ARM was mbed Cloud, a software-as-a-service. Mbed Cloud provided secure and scalable IoT device management for any device, any network and any cloud. It enabled provisioning and connects a diversity of IoT end nodes, with cost-effective, secure, and reliable software updating for long secure product lifetime.

Atmel START

Atmel START was a web-based, IDE-agnostic, embedded software configuration and deployment engine that allowed developers to rapidly build custom software platforms and graphically configure low-level interfaces like system clocks and pin-mux settings. The new tool allowed developers to select low-level drivers, advanced middleware, RTOS, high-level communication stacks and configured them for either evaluation boards using Atmel|SMART ARM-based MCUs or for their own custom boards.

Live Recorder from Undo

Undo Software’s ‘Live Recorder’ changed the process of debugging, particularly for companies porting from legacy hardware architectures to ARM or for those migrating to newer versions of the ARM architecture. It has a library that can be embedded in your code which, when activated, allows Linux and Android programs to make a detailed recording of themselves so that developers have a complete record of their program’s execution, including the bugs that were generated during the porting process.

Renesas Electronics IoT Sandbox

Renesas Electronics introduced the IoT Sandbox – said to simplify embedded design prototyping for connected devices. The comprehensive cloud-based environment where customers and partners could prototype their IoT solutions and accelerate their innovation. This end-to-end prototyping environment bridged embedded design to the cloud for prescriptive, predictive, and real-time analytics-based applications.

NXP MCUXpresso

MCUXpresso software and tools from NXP Semiconductors was a new common toolkit for Kinetis and LPC MCUs that provided embedded designers with high-quality tools that work together and in conjunction with the best tools from the Cortex-M ecosystem.

It included:

  • an open-source SDK with drivers, stacks, middleware and application examples
  • an easy-to-use IDE for editing, compiling and debugging
  • a suite of system configuration tools for power optimization, pin multiplexing, system clocking, and more.

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