Chip News: Intel Unveils New Processors; ARM Announces Bolstered Security

Intel says its E3900 is well suited for demanding industrial IoT applications, as well as for high-quality image processing needs at the edge of networks. ARM reports an expansion to its TrustZone technology to low-power IoT chips.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

ARM Expanding Security Capabilities to Small IoT Devices
U.K.-based chip designer ARM Holdings, whose processor designs, licensed by many brands including Samsung and Qualcomm, are used in more than 95 percent of the world's smartphones, announced two new chip designs—the Cortex M-23 and Cortex M-33—yesterday at its TechCon conference. Both chips are exceptionally small, the company reports: the M33 measures one-tenth of a square millimeter, while the M-23 is 75 percent smaller than the M33. The M-23 is also 50 percent more energy efficient than the other model.

While the M-33 is suitable for use in smart watches or for managing sensor networks utilized in smart-city applications, such as street lighting, the M-23, given its smaller size and lower energy requirements, could be designed to harvest radio frequencies emitted from a gateway or reader, rather than requiring an on-board battery. This would open up a number of applications, the firm reports, including bandages that contain sensors used to transmit data about a patient, or in asset tracking applications in which a label with an integrated sensor can transmit data regarding temperatures during transit.

ARM's Cortex M-23
Given recent security breaches involving IoT devices, the news that these two new chip designs are intended to be licensed and implemented along with ARM's ARMv8-M architecture—which includes ARM's design for security chip, the TrustZone CrytoCell, and its mbed operating system—will likely come as welcome news to end users. The ARMv8-M architecture also includes ARM's Cordio radio, which supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee) connectivity. CrytoCell and Cordio are optional, however, and it is up to the licensee to integrate them.

ARM also said it will roll out its first software-as-a-service offering, a cloud-based mbed operating system. Michael Horne, ARM's VP of marketing and sales, says the solution will allow original equipment manufacturers to provision and secure an IoT device using chips based on AMR's Cortex-A or Cortex-M series, on any network, and on multiple clouds. This service will be subscription-based and will be available during the first quarter of next year.

SoftBank, a Japanese provider of telecom and internet services, acquired ARM Holdings last summer for $32 billion. According to ARM, seven chipmakers—Analog Devices, Microchip, Nuvoton, NXP Semiconductors, Renasas, STMicroelectronics and Silicon Labs—have already signed licensing agreements for the M-33 and M-23.

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