IoT Total Solutions Starter's Guide - 2022
Arm Total Solutions for IoT: Specialized processing solutions for specific IoT use cases along with application-specific reference software and tools.
Arm Total Solutions for IoT Starter's Guide 2022
Introducing a New Approach to IoT Design
The IoT Has Evolved in Three Distinct Phases and Arm Has Led This Evolution for Decades.
We started with instrumentation: together with its vast ecosystem, Arm provided the core technology for adding microcontrollers to billions of devices at scale. The industry then turned to inter-connectivity, and from Bluetooth to 5G we now have a wealth of options for connecting these “things” together.
Three Phases of the Internet of Things
We’re now entering a third phase of the IoT: intelligence. This phase is about bringing new technologies and services together across billions and billions of endpoints in a global infrastructure, all the way through to the cloud. Getting this right means enabling new ways to improve human productivity, drive economic growth, and create opportunities that solve some of the world’s toughest problems, fueling a new IoT economy that rivals the shape, speed, and size of the smartphone industry’s ‘App Economy.’
Transforming IoT Design
To seize this opportunity and to mobilize the IoT ecosystem now, Arm in October 2021 introduced a profound change to IoT design: Arm Total Solutions for IoT. This industry first is built on three pillars:
- A full-stack solution designed with key use cases in mind, built on the foundations of Arm Corstone, our proven integrated subsystem.
- Arm Virtual Hardware, a brand new innovation that brings these solutions to the cloud and removes the need to develop on physical silicon.
- Enabling software reuse with ecosystem initiatives such as Project Centauri, a new Arm ecosystem initiative that will drive the standards and frameworks needed to scale IoT software innovation.
Arm Total Solutions for IoT are based on standards. For Linux-based systems, Project Cassini and Arm SystemReady ease the use and deployment of cloud-native software development at the edge.
Project Centauri brings homogeneity to Cortex-M based IoT endpoints, enabling software leverage at scale across diverse Arm-based hardware. PSA Certified enables the security required for IoT.
Arm Virtual Hardware is an evolution of our modeling technology that addresses the new realities of IoT development. It delivers accurate models of Arm-based SoCs, Corstone, and third-party hardware, providing mechanisms for simulating memory, peripherals, and more to enable the development and testing of software before silicon availability resulting in a shift-left in the entire IoT product design cycle with faster time to market for all. This transformation trims years off product design cycles and empowers everyone to spend less time integrating and more time building great products and services. Thanks to the cloud, Arm Virtual Hardware provides an easy way to scale your software test infrastructure to both improve quality and increase the cadence of software releases. On the hardware side, the IP is available through Arm Flexible Access. On the software side, you have free access to the complete Total Solutions Software Development Kit today on Arm’s Github.
You can run those SDKs – and the software you develop – on Arm Virtual Hardware, available as an Amazon Machine Image on the AWS Marketplace. This combination of the Arm Virtual Hardware AMI and the Total Solution SDK is integrated with some of the most popular CI/CD workflows like Github Runner.
Head to Arm's Github and enter 'Total Solutions' into the GitHub search bar to find all Total Solutions repositories.
Auspicious Beginnings: First Configurations of Arm Total
Solutions for IoT
The first Arm Total Solution addressed general-purpose compute and ML workload use cases, including an ML-based voice keyword recognition example. It supports multiple configurations of the Arm Corstone-300 platform, incorporating Cortex-M55 and Ethos-U55 processors. Users can choose from these configurations and apply them to their specific workloads. It is available in the cloud for immediate access to test.
The ecosystem embraced this design approach and the new tools and platforms we provided to simplify and modernize software development. But we didn't stop there. In the Spring of 2022, we've added even more to Arm Total Solutions for IoT.
Arm's roadmap will cover applications such as voice recognition and object recognition.
IoT's Future –
Built on Proven Foundations
Simplifying and Accelerating Design and Development
We launched this radical design shift for IoT because we wanted to simplify the design process and streamline product development by providing everything including hardware IP, platform software, ML models, and much more. That would leave developers to focus on what really matters – innovation and differentiation.
At the heart of Total Solutions is Arm Corstone. These are pre-integrated, pre-verified IP subsystems that just work.
In the last three years, more than 150 designs have used Arm Corstone subsystems to accelerate time to market, including nearly 70% of our Cortex-M55 licensees. As we enter the next phase of IoT growth, our partners looked to us for a way to further simplify and accelerate their development cycles.
Using Arm Corstone as the foundation, plus working with the ecosystem to add end-to-end tools support, robust OS enablement, and application-specific reference code, Arm Total Solutions for IoT is a complete solution, ready to implement or build upon. It offers use case-specific solutions, giving you everything you need to simplify your design process and streamline product development.
Our first Total Solution for IoT was based on the Corstone-300 and focused on keyword spotting as a use case. In the Spring of 2022, we added two more:
- A new M-class total solution for voice recognition based on the Corstone-310 and featuring the brand new Cortex-M85.
- Our first Cortex-A Total Solution for Cloud-Native Edge Platforms based on the Corstone-1000 and designed to address higher performance use cases.
We’ve worked hard to strike a crucial balance here – providing all of the essential ingredients for a complete solution, but maintaining enough freedom and flexibility to allow developers to get creative too.
So while many will use these solutions as is, we fully expect and encourage partners to find creative new ways to leverage Corstone 310 and Corstone 1000 for additional use cases
As you can see from the roadmap, there will be more to come later this year as we look ahead to address more complex use cases, such as vision and object recognition.
Arm Total Solutions for IoT simplifies the end-to-end developer experience and enables faster development and deployment of IoT applications for everyone, from silicon companies to OEMs to cloud service providers.
To make sure that these technologies are integrated into a successful, secure IoT SoC, Arm Corstone provides everything you need to start your SoC design, helping you build SoCs faster and more securely, with the right architecture choice and verified and validated subsystems. Arm Total Solutions for IoT simplifies the end-to-end developer experience and enables faster development and deployment of IoT applications for everyone, from silicon companies to OEMs to cloud service providers (CSPs).
Corstone Reference Package
Corstone reference packages contain all the relevant system IP to expand and complete the subsystem, building SoCs that can meet complex and diverse requirements while balancing trade-offs between performance and power. Each subsystem is configurable and modifiable, enabling you to focus on differentiation by customizing the system for your needs. Corstone reference packages have been designed to be extensible so you can build the rest of your SoC on top of the subsystem.
Let's start with a closer look at the new Corstone subsystems that form the foundation of our total solutions.
Corstone-310 offers SoC designers a reference design with full modification rights to act as the foundation of secure, high-performance chips based on the Cortex-M85 CPU to meet demanding applications, such as voice recognition. Corstone-310 has been built from the ground up to leverage the advanced capabilities of the CPU, helping designers push MCU performance to new heights. Combining the leading scalar and ML performance of Cortex-M85 with additional ML acceleration from an optional Ethos-U55 NPU, it’s easier than ever to build the highest performing MCUs.
- Highest performance MCU based design.
- Based on the all-new Cortex-M85.
- Enables secure IoT applications.
- Use cases: Smart Speaker, Drone, Smart Thermostat.
Now let's take a closer look at the new Cortex-M85.
Faced with more demanding compute requirements, Cortex-M microcontroller system developers have a choice: one of squeezing more processing per clock cycle from their current microcontroller or migrating their code base to a higher-performing microprocessor class. The Cortex-M microcontroller offers many benefits, such as determinism, short interrupt latencies, advanced low-power management modes, and integrated hardware-enforced security through TrustZone.
Cortex-M85 sets a new standard in secure, high-performance microcontrollers, and partners such as Renesas, NXP, and STMicroelectronics are really excited about it.
The M85 is the ideal choice for high-performance microcontroller-based applications:
- M85 leverages the power of Arm's Helium technology for ML use cases, enabling support for high-fidelity audio processing without a DSP. Helium gives multifold DSP and ML performance efficiency improvement vs. previous Cortex-M generations.
- Key to any IoT or embedded system is security against malicious or unintentional exposure of confidential data. Cortex-M85 brings TrustZone for Armv8-M. Additionally, Cortex-M85 is the first Cortex-M processor to integrate the new Armv8.1-M pointer authentication and branch target identification extension (PACBTI), which eases a developer's journey to achieving PSA Certified Level 2 security.
- With increased scaler performance at the microarchitecture level and in the new Corstone-310 solution, the M85 is combined with the Ethos-U55 NPU- but it can also enable a whole range of high-performance products across the IoT, and we're excited to see what our partners do with it.
Learn more about Arm Corstone here.
Cortex-M85 is the highest performing Cortex-M processor delivering unprecedented performance levels across the board. It is the first Cortex-M to deliver over 6 CoreMarks/MHz and more than 3 DMIPS/MHz. This level of scalar performance is achieved thanks to many innovative features at the microarchitecture level, including optimized dual issue and selective triple issue capability, improved branch prediction, and enhanced memory system.
By integrating Arm Helium Technology, Cortex-M85 delivers multiple folds of DSP and ML processing uplift compared to its predecessors. M85 provides 4x ML performance improvement standalone for endpoint device keyword detection.
Where higher workload ML use cases are needed, including voice recognition and automatic speech recognition (ASR), the Corstone-310 Total Solution for Voice Recognition includes the Ethos-U55 microNPU.
The M85 is a major step forward for us in the M-class family – it effectively brings us closer to the performance of the Cortex-A, but with the convenience, determinism, and low power of an MCU and the added bonus of being able to harness the diversity of the extensive Cortex-M software ecosystem.
What are the biggest challenges for IoT development?
- Slow product design
- Inefficient software development
- Inability to scale
The IoT market requires not only MCU-based SoCs but also higher-performant processors capable of running major Linux distros “out-of-the-box”. Arm Total Solutions for IoT addresses that space with Corstone-1000. Corstone-1000 integrates Cortex-A and enables easy implementation of heterogeneous systems with Cortex-M processors, like Corstone-310, providing both high performance and extreme power efficiency in a single system. The Cortex-A processor is scalable from Cortex-A32 to Cortex-A53, giving the options of implementing a range of platforms suitable for a range of platforms, for example mobile point of sale applications, gateways, and high-end smart cameras. Corstone-1000 comes with an extensive range of verified configuration options.
Security has been fully integrated from the very definition of Corstone-1000. The Secure Enclave is an essential component. It uses a Cortex-M0+ processor that is included in Corstone-1000. With separate system resources and a separate OS, the Secure Enclave acts as a secure environment in which to store secrets and process sensitive information. Corstone-1000 is already PSA Level 2 ready certified thanks to its secure enclave.
Investing further in Corstone as the heart of our Total Solutions for IoT, with the addition of both Corstone 310 and Corstone 1000, we’re addressing the needs of developers across a wide spectrum of use cases in the IoT and embedded market.
Faster Time-to-Market with Arm Virtual Hardware
A Simple and Scalable Way to Reduce Dependency on Physical Hardware
Developing IoT applications has been historically tied to the availability of hardware platforms, which can limit flexibility and scalability. Moreover, when new technologies become available, it is not possible to start software development until silicon becomes available or an FPGA emulation is created, which is time-consuming and expensive.
The challenge: A typical 5-year development cycle, with application development trailing hardware design.
We launched Arm Virtual Hardware, a cloud-based offering that delivers a virtual model of the Corstone subsystem to enable software development without the need for physical silicon. This approach has allowed our ecosystem to easily adopt modern cloud-based development and CI/CD without the need for large custom hardware farms. With Arm Virtual Hardware, product design cycles can be significantly accelerated.
Arm Virtual Hardware reduces dependency on physical hardware and opens the door to new paradigms such as cloud-native software development for the embedded edge. Imagine Arm Virtual Hardware as the equivalent of virtual machines but for endpoint devices. It provides a functionally accurate representation of an Arm-based SoC, simulating the behavior visible to the software but abstracting the complexity of the
Software engineering teams will benefit from a scale never seen before as the bottleneck of physical hardware availability is removed.
At the heart of this benefit live two traditional embedded workflow constraints: developer efficiency and the availability of quality control data to inform business decisions around the software workloads. Arm Virtual Hardware breaks through these historical ceilings by leveraging the scalability of today’s modern cloud environments. For example, if a team would like to halve the software testing time or double the test coverage, they can simply duplicate the number of Virtual Hardware instantiated in their continuous integration (CI) cloud environment. Arm Virtual Hardware eliminates the need to manage physical lab space or similar logistical tasks that plague common IoT software product lifecycles.
The Solution: Enabling cloud development at the same time hardware is designed shrinks cycle time from 5 to 3 years.
A Cloud-Based Innovation Accelerator
Arm Virtual Hardware goes beyond just simulating the Arm CPU; it provides mechanisms to accurately simulate the memory subsystem as well as peripherals. As such, Arm Virtual Hardware is suitable for bare-metal development up to kernel and application development on rich operating systems such as Linux.
With the current release of Arm Virtual Hardware, Arm is providing a ‘virtual peripheral driver’ that will mimic common I/O formats such as audio front ends. Users will configure the virtual driver for the appropriate analog-to-digital data stream your product requires. In the future, Arm and its partners will be investing in additional peripheral configurations which will further ease common data I/O requirements your products need.
Arm Virtual Hardware is available as part of Arm Total Solutions for IoT at the same time the underlying hardware design is ready. As a result, the whole ecosystem, including OEMs, can start to develop software for new devices long before silicon is available. This means faster time to market for everyone as well as additional insurance for silicon partners who demand your future chip is generated even before tape-out. As developers have begun exploring what Arm Virtual Hardware can do, they’ve also been open with us about what other features and functionality they want to see from it. There were three key areas they wanted us to address:
- They wanted access to MORE Arm Virtual Hardware for the billions of Arm-based devices already deployed and powering the IoT and embedded markets.
- They wanted to further streamline testing, evaluation, and development into existing development flows.
- They also wanted support for a much wider range of device types.
We heard this feedback loud and clear and have invested in addressing it in a number of ways.
First, we are announcing models for additional Cortex-M processors as part of the Arm Virtual Hardware offering on AWS. We’ve added seven of our most popular Cortex-M models.
On the tooling side, we are actively making it much easier for other tools providers to support Arm. GitHub, the most popular source code hosting service for developers, has asked to integrate Arm tools including a compiler and virtual hardware into their service. It will mean users can get AVH where they already go, saving them from any complicated setup process.
We are also integrating Arm Virtual Hardware into Keil tooling, making it a natural part of the development process. Keil MDK Professional now also includes the Cortex-M Arm Virtual Hardware with the capability to run them locally to accommodate traditional embedded development workflows as well.
We are bringing Arm Virtual Hardware support for existing third-party ecosystem devices, as well as Cortex-A53, in line with the new Total Solution for Cortex-A. The first devices to be added include popular third-party hardware from NXP and STMicroelectronics, as well as a virtual Raspberry Pi. By extending Arm Virtual Hardware to ecosystem devices, independent software vendors and cloud service providers can now take advantage of the billions of Arm-based IoT and embedded devices already deployed.
Enabling Workload Portability in a Diverse and Fragmented IoT Value Chain
Project Centauri: Standards
That Drive Scale
Cloud-based development is becoming a key technology across multiple markets, and Arm has helped enabled this with activities such as Project Cassini for the edge and SOAFEE for automotive. The new IoT economy needs technologies within IoT to achieve the pace and scale of the cloud-native, DevOps- and MLOps-driven software development lifecycle that has revolutionized the data center.
Project Centauri does this by drawing upon and including Arm's rich portfolio of Cortex-M software, bringing together complementary initiatives under a single MCU software strategy. These initiatives have laid the foundation for Arm Total Solutions for IoT, giving the entire value chain foundational standards, such as Open-CMSIS-Pack, secure device management with PSA Certified and Trusted Firmware-M, and ecosystem support for use case-specific IoT solutions.
Project Centauri standardizes aspects of the system that enable software leverage across diverse hardware. This gives IoT partners that want to provide cloud services, real-time operating systems, and platform software packages the leverage to scale. Project Centauri also includes our work on Trusted Firmware-M, which provides a reference implementation aligned with PSA Certified.
Through project Centauri, we are laying the groundwork to help scale IoT so partners across the value chain don’t need to worry about it.
A huge opportunity: The market for IoT silicon was $9 billion last year and is expected to expand to almost $19 billion in 2025.
While based on the same core pillars as Project Cassini, Project Centauri will deliver standards and software specific to the Cortex-M architecture. This includes existing and new initiatives from Arm and partners with a renewed focus on widespread adoption and enabling a rapid path to scale.
- Open-CMSIS-Pack has launched as a Linaro incubation project to deliver the infrastructure to integrate and manage software components and improve code reuse across embedded and IoT projects.
- Open-CMSIS-CDI joins this as an initiative to deliver key abstraction layers for cloud-connected IoT devices.
- Arm and partners will continue to build upon the success of PSA Certified in raising the security bar across IoT and embedded.
- Arm is making a renewed investment in Trusted Firmware-M to make it more widely adoptable as an accelerated path to PSA Certification.
- Arm is working with innovative partners across areas such as low/no-code development, ML Ops, and cloud services to unlock step changes in scale to the entire ecosystem.
When we launched Project Centauri last year, we talked about CMSIS-Pack which specifies how to package and deliver software components from various vendors. By creating a common format that can be used within any developer environment, software vendors can scale their offerings across the 9,500 microcontrollers and 450 boards that have already supported CMSIS-Pack and it continues to see great momentum.
We are working with Linaro on Open-CMSIS-CDI which will define a common device interface for MCU devices used in the IoT to enable IoT applications to be portable across virtual and physical devices.
We also have the Open-IoT-SDK, a reference implementation built around the Centauri standards. This standardization of best practices and common ways of working is going to be a long journey for the IoT market but the momentum we are seeing in Project Centauri shows that the ecosystem truly values this work.
Project Centauri standardizes aspects of the system that enable software leverage across diverse hardware. Find out more about Project Centauri here.
The promise of the IoT is clear: collect vast new sources of data to transform businesses, leveraging distributed compute and AI and ML in the process. But traditional development methods can’t support the immense scaling to come.
ROI can be expanded and time-to-market drastically accelerated for the entire value chain through a radical change in how systems are designed: Arm Total Solutions for IoT. This industry first brings together software and hardware in a simple, use case-specific package. Making these solutions available in the cloud brings modern development flows to IoT and gives software developers access ahead of silicon.
In the process, it transforms the economics of IoT:
• Arm Total Solutions for IoT provides a full-stack solution designed with specific use cases in mind.
• Powered by Arm Virtual Hardware, cloud software development begins immediately, before silicon production.
• Arm Corstone provides proven foundations delivering pre-designed, pre-verified, and pre-validated subsystems.
• The ecosystem initiative Project Centauri delivers software leverage and scale with defined standards.
Arm Total Solutions for IoT Roadmap
Arm is fully committed to a comprehensive solutions approach with the Total Solutions for IoT roadmap continuing to be rolled out over the coming months and years. The solutions will target new IoT use cases and support our latest IP. Expect more to come in the future. Meanwhile, you can get started with the foundational tools to transform your IoT development:
• Arm Total Solution SDK based on Centauri is available for download: https://github.com/ARM-software/ATS-Keyword
• Arm Virtual Hardware is available as an Amazon Machine Image, working with AWS we are offsetting initial infrastructure fees:
• Arm Corstone is available to license now and through Arm Flexible Access: https://www.arm.com/products/flexible-access
Why Does All of This Matter?
When we built this new approach, we established three core tenets we need to live by in order to give the IoT and embedded market what it needs:
First, Scale. We must enable scale. This means making it so that developers can focus on innovation, not on porting software from device to device.
Second, Acceleration. We must streamline the development process. This is all about accelerating time to market and simplifying how products are developed.
And finally, Leverage. We will need to leverage the ecosystem. We can’t do it alone – we’ll need to work with partners to reach millions of developers and OEMs.
The three pillars of Arm Total Solutions are designed with those core principles in mind – and as you’ve heard today, we’re continuing to invest in all three of these areas:
- More Corstone designs, incorporating IP such as the Cortex-M85.
- A broader Arm Virtual Hardware library that gives developers what they need.
- A strong framework from which to drive adoption of standards across the ecosystem, and new software components to speed up innovation.
We’re extremely excited to have had so much engagement from our ecosystem since we first launched this radical approach to IoT design, along with the tools, technologies, and platforms our ecosystem needs to continue to innovate and scale IoT.