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ARM and the Internet of Things

From Critical Link’s point of view, one of the most exciting things about the Internet of Things (IoT) is that it’s pretty much synonymous with embedded technology. And from Critical Link’s point of view, we’re always interested in reading about ARM technology, as well, as ARM is incorporated in a number of our System on Modules. Thus I was doubly happy to come across a couple of articles by David Blaza on the topic of ARM and the IoT, which were published on the ARM Connected Community.

In the first, David addressed security in the IoT. As most are aware, when it comes to the IoT, security is something of the elephant in the room. Many applications, especially on the consumer side, are being rushed to market without the type of robust security solution in place that industrial applications get. And, of course, since they’re connected to the Internet, any embedded apps that are part of the IoT have inherent vulnerabilities that an app that operates within the walls don’t have. A recent ARM trend will help shore up IoT security.

“…the trend is many new ARM based multicore boards coming to market that for the first time can run multiple operating systems simultaneously.  By running multiple operating systems the data coming from say real time sensors can be completely isolated from intrusion and be encrypted and sent to the cloud securely.  At the same time another operating system (like Android or Ubuntu) can manage the user interface and network connections. ” (Source: ARM Connected Community – April 27, 2015)

David had more to say about ARM’s multiple OS capabilities in a follow on post.

“Any good embedded software developer has to think about the classic tradeoff of system performance versus reliability/up time which if you are running a single OS it can be challenging and limiting.  With ARM multicore boards being available for under $100 now SMP and AMP are within reach of every embedded developer.  The other trend that comes into play here is that increasingly embedded systems (and their IoT progeny) need graphical user interfaces (GUI) and access to multiple communications networks.  So in many embedded designs running separate operating systems to handle different system functions solves many of the classic tradeoff problems and now it’s never been easier.” (Source: ARM Connected Community – May 1, 2015)

In this post, David gives a shout-out to Express Logic, and their ThreadX RTOS, which supports our MityDSP-L138 board, a SoM combining a TI C674x DSP, an ARM9 processor, and an optional FPGA.

Critical Link’s first multicore product features the dual ARM Cortex-A9 Altera Cyclone V SoC. A number of our customers have inquired about AMP for just the reasons David points out in his follow-up post.the OS that excels at data acquisition and processing isn’t necessarily the best choice for supporting external user and system interfaces.  However there are challenges that make AMP difficult to implement in many multicore architectures, particularly around inter-processor communication, cache and shared resource management. We have not yet worked with an AMP solution on our Cyclone V SoC SOM, but I’m sure we will soon!