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.
ARM Develops Free OS for Internet of Things
The mbed OS includes security, communications and device management capabilities, enabling partners to focus more on how they will differentiate their products, rather than on such foundational technologies as an operating system, which will reduce development costs and the amount of time needed to bring products and services to market. It supports such connection standards as Bluetooth Smart, Thread, WiFi and 802.15.4/6LoWPAN, and cellular technologies like 2G, 3G, LTE and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), according to the company.
Mbed Device Server is software that can be licensed and will help integrate IoT capabilities into cloud services. Through the product, the small bits of data created by individual IoT devices can be more easily brought into the cloud, and aggregated and analyzed by big data technologies. It also unifies the management of devices and application data, officials said.
The platform also is supported by more than 70,000 developers in the mbed.org community, which includes everything from hardware development kits, reusable software components, reference applications and Web-based development tools. According to ARM, there were more than 1 million project builds within the community in 2013.
ARM over the past several years has aggressively built out its IoT efforts, including expanding its Cortex-M product family and helping establish the Thread Group. In addition, the vendor is creating a chip design center in Taiwan that is aimed at IoT and wearable devices,
In a Sept. 12 post on the company blog, Kris Flautner, general manager of ARM’s IoT business, stressed the need for tech vendors to lay a foundation that will make it easier for companies to build out the Internet of things.
“We need to leverage the learnings from the evolution of the Internet if we expect the IoT to be as big or even a bigger opportunity than the Web was in the ’90s,” Flautner wrote. “The predicted scale of tens to hundreds of billions of connected devices requires a scalable, open and layered architecture that is ready to evolve over long periods of time. To accomplish this, we need to put the right building blocks into place today both in terms of the necessary software components to build devices and services, as well as the ecosystem to support the deployment of solutions.”