ARM officials say the new chip design will help power new intelligent sensors and smart systems for everything from home appliances to cars.
ARM Holdings, whose chip designs dominate the rapidly
expanding smartphone and tablet markets, is unveiling a new high-performance,
low-power chip that officially brings it a significant step forward in the
creation of the Internet of Things.
ARM on March 13 announced the Cortex-MO+, a processor that
brings 32-bit computing into the same space and a smaller power envelope than
current 8- and 16-bit chips. ARM officials are targeting the Cortex-MO+which
they call the worlds most energy-efficient chipfor intelligent sensors and
smart control systems for a wide range of uses, from home appliances and white
goods to medical monitoring, metering, lighting and power.
Such appliances now run on 8- and 16-bit chips. ARMs new
processor will enable manufacturers to bring higher performance and greater
intelligence to such devices without having to crank up the power or take up
more space, according to ARM.
With our expertise in low-power technology, we have worked
closely with our [p]artners on the definition of the new processor to ensure
that it can enable the low-cost devices of today, while also unlocking the
potential benefits delivered by the Internet of Things, Mike Inglis, executive
vice president and general manager of ARMs Processor Division, said in a
The Internet of Things refers to a vision of the future where
everyday things, devices, homes, cities, cars and other items are infused with
intelligence and ubiquitously connected to the Internet. Proponents envision a
world that operates more seamlessly, if more efficiently and more in-tune to
the wants and needs of people.
Already vendors like IBM and Cisco Systems are working hard
to make buildings more energy-efficient and cities more intelligent through the
use of sensors and other devices. According to a
presentation by Cisco
last year, in 2008, the number of things connected to
the Internet exceeded the number of connected people worldwide. By 2020, about
50 billion things connected to the Internet, according to the networking giant.
Putting this type of intelligence in things will require
small, low-cost and highly power-efficient chips. ARM officials point to the
Cortex-MO+ as another step down that path. The 90-nanometer chip consumes 9MHz,
about a third of the energy of 8- or 16-bit chips currently on the market while
offering greater performance, the company said. With the Cortex-MO+,
manufactures will be able to produce chips that can power smart, low-power
microcontrollers that will bring more efficient communication, management and
maintenance to a variety of wirelessly connected devices, according to ARM.
The new chip is the latest step by ARM to produce chips aimed
at appliances, cars and other things. In 2010, the company rolled out its
Cortex-M chips. ARM officials said the new chip uses the same C programming
model and processing tools as the existing Cortex-MO.
So far, Freescale and NXP Semiconductor both have licensed
the Cortex-MO+ design, according to ARM.
ARM is looking to leverage the growing demand for low-power,
high-performance chips to greatly expand its reach. Not only are its chip
designs found in most smartphones and tablets, but company officials are
looking to move up the ladder and into PCs and
low-power servers for such environments as Web 2.0 and cloud computing
A number of manufacturing partners, including Nvidia, Calxeda
and Marvell Technology, are looking to leverage the low-power designs to chip
away at Intels server dominance. Hewlett-Packard has announced a partnership
with Calxeda to create low-power servers using the chip makers ARM-based
processors as part of its Project