In the past five years, Arm has shipped more than 100 billion Arm-based chips by authorizing the chip instruction set architecture to other companies around the world.
People’s inherent impression of Arm may still lie in its achievements in the field of hardware and IP, but its comprehensive IoT solutions and virtual hardware released recently are mainly for the development field, helping developers, OEMs and service providers. The company has simplified the development process and shortened the product design cycle by up to two years.
Virtual hardware shortens the development cycle
Looking back at the evolution of the Internet of Things, it can be roughly divided into three stages. The first stage is instrumentation, that is, the microcontroller is implanted in commonly used terminal equipment; the second stage is interconnection, that is, data mining, device interconnection, remote control, trend analysis and other applications are realized through the Internet of Things; the third stage is intelligence , That is, with the blessing of AI, autonomous decision-making can be achieved from the smallest sensor to the largest cloud data center. However, as far as the current development is concerned, facing the complexity and diversity of IoT applications, there are still many obstacles to the development of the industry.
Mohamed Awad, vice president of Arm’s Internet of Things and Embedded Business Unit, said, “Slow product design, inefficient embedded software development, and lack of scale have made the development of traditional Internet of Things software based on hardware carriers far from reaching its potential.”
Take mobile APP development as an example. Nowadays, developers do not need to develop for all mobile phone models on the market, but only need to meet the standard Android or iOS system requirements. This undoubtedly provides great convenience for the innovation and large-scale promotion of mobile apps. . On the other hand, in the IoT market, system fragmentation is serious, which has also led to the lengthening of the product development cycle.
As Mohamed said, in the process of accelerating product design, hardware, software, and services are often developed at the same time, rather than sequentially. At the same time, based on clearly defined APIs and standards, many software can be reused in different hardware , This will undoubtedly greatly shorten the development cycle.
In this context, Arm has released a comprehensive solution for the Internet of Things, bringing cloud-based Arm Virtual Hardware Targets to software developers, OEMs, and service providers. It can provide a virtual model of the Corstone subsystem, enabling Software development does not need to be based on physical chips. Arm virtual hardware brings modern and agile software development methods to the Internet of Things and embedded platforms, including continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD), DevOps and MLOps, eliminating the need to invest in complex hardware farms.
The accurate model based on the Arm architecture SoC provides mechanisms for simulating memory and peripherals. Software development and testing can now be carried out before the chip is complete. As a result, the typical product design cycle can range from an average of five years to a maximum of five years. Shorten to three years. This allows Arm chip partners to obtain customer feedback on the chip before the chip is taped out, and at the same time assist the entire IoT value chain to easily develop and test code based on the latest IP before the chip is launched.
It is reported that Amazon has currently used Arm virtual hardware for their Alexa wake-up word test. Compared with the method they used before, they can use the Alexa wake-up test on 150 different devices more quickly.
Standardization is the key to scale expansion
In addition to comprehensive solutions for the Internet of Things, Arm also released an ecosystem plan for Cortex-M, Project Centauri. While providing the underlying standards, it also covers the reference code, platform middleware, and platform middleware for specific applications provided by partners. Software and services, thereby constructing the underlying cornerstone of the development of the Internet of Things, avoiding duplication of investment by partners throughout the value chain.
The underlying API of Project Centauri includes support for PSA certification and Open-CMSIS-CDI, which is a set of standard cloud-to-device specifications that can minimize the development workload required to start different cloud solutions and real-time operating systems . Project Centauri will reduce engineering development costs, accelerate the listing process, achieve large-scale IoT deployment, and strengthen the security of the Cortex-M ecosystem.
Mohamed Awad, vice president of Arm’s Internet of Things and Embedded Business Unit, introduced that Arm’s business is uniquely positioned at the intersection of hardware and software, and its importance of empowering the Internet of Things value chain is self-evident.
As we all know, the boom in the mobile phone market has driven the prosperity of the Arm architecture. Mohamed also bluntly said when answering questions from reporters that the smartphone market has helped Arm accumulate a lot of experience. It is worth noting that Arm smart phone business is based on its embedded technology. Similarly, the current Internet of Things business is also derived from embedded technology. The take-off point of the smart phone market is that the entire ecosystem can develop software in a unified way, which promotes hardware innovation and provides basic support for the large-scale development of smart phones.
Coincidentally, the Internet of Things field also needs to promote scale expansion through standardization. The most important point of the Arm IoT comprehensive solution is to transplant the innovations driven by the mobile field to the IoT field, by reducing software investment, expanding the market that the IoT can serve, and promoting software resources to enter the IoT market.
Mohamed pointed out that the industry is at an inflection point, the new Internet of Things economy will be driven, and its scale will definitely exceed the smartphone market.
At the critical moment when the industry crosses the inflection point, the Arm IoT comprehensive solution also represents to some extent the starting point of a new era of the Internet of Things-an era in which software and hardware are truly co-designed at the system level. Because of Arm’s unique positioning, it can combine software and hardware developers to create scenario-defined calculations and release the economic benefits of the Internet of Things. From smartphones to data centers to the current Internet of Things, no matter where computing occurs, taking the system into consideration during the design process will be a key to accelerating innovation and making full use of the dedicated processing capabilities provided by the Arm ecosystem.