Today I was at the Chinese-American Semiconductor Professionals’ Association conference and dinner. Simon Segars, CEO of ARM, gave the dinner keynote. Somewhat surreally, it was in the same room in the same conference center two weeks ago that he gave they keynote at ARM TechCon. In another coincidence, Mike Muller of ARM gave one of the keynotes at TSMC’s OIP conference the day before, and then at ARM TechCon too. October seems to be all ARM all the time.
The CASPA event was titled Intelligent and Secured Living in a Connected World. It was really about the Internet of Things (IoT) with presentations from Broadcom, AMD, Imagination and SnoopWall. The most provocative presentation was the one by Gary Miliefsky of SnoopWall about privacy and security. He talked about how flashlight apps are all malware and hundreds of millions of phones are infected. He was recorded for ABC news (I think it was) and it should be broadcast early next week. When he was asked whether he thought it was possible to build a secure phone he was pessimistic: you can make it a lot better than it is today but the NSA is simply not going to let you build something that they are kept out of. I don’t know all the details but the Blackphone developed in Switzerland was taken off sale for a time and he is sure now that it is back that it has been compromised. There are videos from other news programs on the SnoopWall website.
Simon Segars talked about the impact of IoT on the semiconductor business and on ARM in particular. At ARM TechCon a couple of weeks ago ARM announced two things that are especially important for the IoT market. First, they announced their highest end Cortex M series, the Cortex-M7. It combines a six-stage, superscalar pipeline with flexible system and memory interfaces including AXI, AHB, caches and tightly-coupled memories, and delivers high integer, floating point and DSP performance in an MCU. Between the M0 and the M7 there is a huge range of performance and these processors are ideal for many IoT projects.
They also announced the ARM mbed IoT device platform. This consists of 3 products:
- the mbed OS. This is an operating system for the Cortex-M series that is free for use on theose processors. It consolidates the fundamental building blocks of the IoT in one integrated set of software components. It contains security, communication and device management features to enable the development of production-grade, energy-efficient IoT devices
- the mbed Device erver to connect and manage devices in a secure way. It also provides a bridge between the protocols designed for use on IoT devices and the APIs that are used by web developers. This simplifies the integration of IoT devices that provide “little data” into cloud frameworks that deploy “big data” analytics on the aggregated information.
- mbed.org The website provides a comprehensive database of hardware development kits, a repository for reusable software components, reference applications, documentation and web-based development tools.
The idea is to make it straightforward to build IoT projects with the mbed OS running on the sensor/compute/communicate chip, the mbed Device Server running on a web server or in the cloud, and mbed.org to create a strong community of developers. The mbed.org website is not new, it already has 70,000 developers using it.