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ARM-based servers, SoCs link IoT devices to cloud

Posted: 12 Nov 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ARM  IoT  cloud  server  SoC 

During its recent annual conference, ARM gauged its work in everything from servers to cloud services for the Internet of Things (IoT). Mike Muller, ARM's CTO, seemed positive about the future of the semiconductor industry in a keynote opening the event.

"I still think there's an incredible amount of innovation ahead of us no matter what people say about flattening of Moore's Law," said Muller.

To emphasise his point he showed the equivalent of a 6in wafer on printed plastic film. The 2µm N-type metal-oxide-semiconductor (NMOS) design "is not very powerful, [but] it opens up a whole new world of computing," said Muller. "It will always be 20 years behind silicon, but it does open up new applications, it's not just about driving down to the smallest geometries you can do a lot with just 100,000 transistors," he said.

At the high end, Muller described ARM-based servers and SoCs now shipping from a handful of companies. ARM now runs its Web site on ARM-based servers from Hewlett-Packard. ARM announced earlier this year it believes it could capture 25 per cent of the server processor market and 45 per cent of the embedded processors used in communications gear by 2020.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Muller announced new services for linking IoT devices to the cloud. The Mbed Device Server is available online and can be used for free for developers connecting fewer than 100 devices and handling less than 10,000 events/hour.

Muller showed a wafer on plastic film

Muller showed a wafer on plastic film as an example of innovations ahead. (Image: EE Times)

ARM also announced a Web service that uses a smartphone to authenticate and provision a consumer IoT device securely. Next year, ARM plans to add more Web services for provisioning and managing IoT devices.

One goal of the new services is "to make IoT look like the mobile Web not embedded control" for millions of app developers because "they are the people who will drive most of the innovation in the future," Muller said.

Last year, ARM launched Mbed, its own operating system for IoT nodes. "We see a huge hole in the ecosystem of [OSes] working with all the standards and security, it's a multiyear effort so these devices get easy to build," said Christian Flautner, manager of ARM's IoT initiative.

In its mainstream market, ARM captured 85 per cent of the sockets for mobile processors last year, and will have its 64bit architecture in more than half of them next year, Muller said. Despite growth rates are coming down to about 10 per cent, ARM projects it will be in 2.8 billion mobile devices in 2020, a billion of them low-end phones.

In the keynote, Muller announced a new entry-level smartphone processor and an architecture for securing ARM-based 32bit microcontrollers.

ARM provided no details about its next-generation high-end mobile processor, code-named Artemis. However, James McNiven, GM of ARM's CPU group, said ARM plans to continue enhancing its Big.little approach to using a mix of large and small cores.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

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