Arm aims to accelerate IoT product development with full-stack solution, virtual hardware

Virtual hardware is key to Arm's plan to help IoT developers trim years off product development schedules.

Arm is looking to do its part to help rev up the much-hyped but historically sluggish evolution of IoT with new efforts aimed at speeding up design and development of solutions based on its chip architectures.

On the eve of the Arm DevSummit starting Tuesday, the company unveiled two portfolio offerings sensitive to the need for faster IoT product development and quicker courses to revenue realization.

The first offering, Arm Total Solutions for IoT, is a full-stack solution for accelerating IoT product development and improving ROI. The second offering, Arm Virtual Hardware, enables co-design of hardware and software by eliminating the need to first develop on physical silicon. Doing so can speed up product design by up to two years, for example accomplishing what was once a five-year project schedule in three years, claimed Mohamed Awad, vice president of IoT at Arm.

The Virtual Hardware announcement follows the launch by Arm last June of a software abstraction layer designed to help improve IoT workflows.

Awad called these efforts a “radical” departure from the slow product design, inefficient software development and lack of scalability that have kept companies from maximizing on the potential of IoT. Arm has suffered for these ongoing problems as much as any company, as it reported this past summer that software sales were down, which observers blamed on slow IoT adoption.

However, Awad said Arm has helped solve similar challenges before in the product development chain for the mobile market, and can do the same for IoT. Also, Arm Total Solutions for IoT is built on the Arm Corstone subsystem, which the company said already has accelerated time to market for more than 150 designs from Arm silicon partners

The company is taking these steps to help the worldwide IoT chip industry make good on growth forecasts like those of Mordor Intelligence, which is predicting a roughly 15% compound annual growth rate for the global IT chip market through 2026. 

The company also announced a new ecosystem initiative called Project Centauri, which Arm said will drive the standards and frameworks needed to grow serviceable markets and scale IoT software innovation.

Arm Total Solutions for IoT, available now, gives companies deploying IoT complete solutions designed for specific use-cases, which allows developers to focus their energies on applications and devices. The offering includes hardware IP, software, machine learning models, advanced tools such as Arm’s Virtual Hardware Targets and application specific reference code.

Arm Virtual Hardware Targets is the key to removing the need for physical silicon from software development efforts, as it is a cloud-based offering for software developers, OEMs and service providers that provides a virtual model of the Corstone subsystem for software development. It leverages agile software development methodologies like continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD), DevOps and MLOps to IoT and embedded platforms, without requiring companies to invest in complex hardware farms.

Having accurate models of Arm-based SoCs providing mechanisms for simulating memory, peripherals and more, development and testing of software is now possible before silicon availability. Arm silicon partners can gain customer feedback for chips before they enter the last design steps, while others in the IoT value chain can more easily develop and test code on the latest IP well ahead of silicon availability, the company said.

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