ARM Develops Free OS for Internet of Things

The chip designer creates a software platform based on the mbed ecosystem to help accelerate the growth of the IoT.

Internet of things

ARM, whose chip designs are found in a broad range of smartphones, tablets, embedded devices and now servers, is flexing its software muscles with a new platform and operating system for the Internet of things.

The company is leveraging the work it has done over the past several years with the mbed hardware and software ecosystem to create the ARM mbed IoT Device Platform, which includes a free operating system for devices powered by systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) based on the vendor's Cortex-M design and the mbed Device Server to help connect the devices and send the data they generate to the cloud for analysis.

ARM officials announced the platform Oct. 1, the first day of the company's three-day TechCon 2014 show in Santa Clara, Calif. It will help lay the necessary foundation to accelerate the creation and adoption of IoT devices and services, according to ARM CEO Simon Segars.

"Deploying IoT-enabled products and services requires a diverse set of technologies and skills to be coordinated across an organization," he said in a statement. "ARM mbed will make this easier by offering the necessary building blocks to enable our expanding set of ecosystem partners to focus on the problems they need to solve to differentiate their products, instead of common infrastructure technologies. This will accelerate the growth and adoption of the IoT in all sectors of the global economy."

Almost two-dozen tech vendors and service providers—including IBM, Ericsson, Freescale, Marvell Technologies, Renesas, Telefonica and Silicon Labs—have signed on as partners; the new platform will be made available to partners in the fourth quarter and begin appearing in products in 2015.

Analysts and tech companies are predicting that anywhere from 26 billion to 50 billion connected devices—from smartphones and tablets to cars, appliances, industrial systems, health care devices, wearables and streetlights—will be in use by 2020, communicating with each other and generating massive amounts of data. Companies and government organizations will be able to analyze the data quickly to make fast and accurate business decisions.

A growing number of industry groups—from the AllSeen Alliance and the Open Internet Consortium to the Thread Group (which ARM helped found) and the Industrial Internet Consortium—are working to create open frameworks to enable these devices to more easily communicate with each others. The ARM mbed IoT Device Platform is designed to offer a free operating system for ARM Cortex-M devices, similar to Google's Android mobile OS for smartphones and tablets, according to officials.