Arm Total Solutions Promo

It’s Now Easier to Build IoT Hardware

April 26, 2022
Arm’s Total Solutions for IoT, which includes new Solutions for cloud native edge devices and voice recognition, adds the Cortex-M85 to the mix.

What you’ll learn:

  • What is Arm’s Total Solutions for IoT?
  • What is virtual hardware?
  • What is the Cortex-M85?

Ok, if you’ve been following along, then you probably know some of the specifics about Arm’s­­ Total Solutions for IoT. It’s a collection of lots of tools and intellectual property designed to make it easier for developers to crank out chip designs that can be churned out by the millions. This has been quite a successful endeavor for Arm and its partners.

Central to the Total Solutions approach is the Arm Virtual Hardware set of virtual-hardware-emulation models of the cores provided by Arm. It includes Cortex-M as well as Corstone system-on-chip (SoC) platforms. This expands the basic processor core model to incorporate more of an SoC—developers need only add the peripherals and their secret sauce to build a real chip. As a result, the time it takes to develop and certify a chip is significantly reduced; integration and testing generally is neither quick nor cheap.

An example is the Corstone-310 that utilizes the new Cortex-M85 and Ethos-U55. The Ethos-U55 is one of Arm’s machine-learning (ML) hardware-acceleration cores. The Cortex-M85 and earlier Cortex-M55 had some ML enhancements with the Helium ARMv8.1-M machine-learning hardware-acceleration support, but the Ethos family moves it to another level.

Why Virtual Hardware?

The advantages of virtual hardware are significant. These platforms emulate the real hardware, enabling software developers to write and test software without having real hardware available—which is the case for new chip designs. Basic emulation of just the CPU can be done; however, such support is typically already available, or a similar chip can be used to handle the software.

Things get more interesting as more of the system is brought into the virtual environment. Such is the case with the Corstone-310 that’s part of this latest Arm announcement.

Another advantage of virtual hardware is that designers can expose more internals, which would be difficult with real hardware. It includes functions like debugging and tracing.

New Total Solutions Times Two

Two of the announcements related to the Total Solutions family include the Total Solution for Cloud Native Edge Devices and Total Solution for Voice Recognition.

Total Solution for Cloud Native Edge Devices is based on the Corstone-1000 (Fig. 1) that’s “Arm SystemReady-IR compliant and features a hardware secure enclave that supports PSA Certified for a higher level of security, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can immediately enjoy the benefits of Project Cassini.”

The SystemReady certification program means the base design meets a set of hardware and firmware standards, including Arm’s Base System Architecture (BSA) and Base Boot Requirements (BBR) specifications. It substantially reduces the amount of customization and verification of drivers, operating systems, and compiler support. The end result is faster time to market.

The Total Solution for Voice Recognition uses the Corstone-310 (Fig. 2), which is where the Cortex-M85 comes into play. It can be partnered with the Ethos-U55. This is just the thing to do voice recognition for smart speakers and smart thermostats. You’ll notice that the two figures show the documentation and test scripts. These also speed up the chip development process; otherwise, you have to do it yourself.

Now for a little about the Cortex-M85 (Fig. 3). I will have an upcoming article delving into this new core in more detail, but here are some of the highlights. Think of the Cortex-M33 to Cortex-M85 jump in the same manner as the Cortex-M3 to Cortex-M7 jump. These push the performance envelope closer to the high-end Cortex-A series, adding more power memory capabilities, better arithmetic, and higher clock rates.

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