See the Latest ARM Developments at ARM TechCon
ARM ecosystem partners and licensees show off new cores, tools and microcontrollers at ARM TechCon.
The annual ARM TechCon taking place October 25-27 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif. highlights the latest advances in ARM® core designs, system-on-a-chip designs, software tools, and embedded software. Multiple keynote presentations at the conference will answer questions about ARM and its future directions—especially with the recent acquisition of ARM by SoftBank Group—as well as directions by partners such as the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Uber Advanced Technology Center, and Red Hat software.
Keynotes Detail ARM Directions
Leading off the Tuesday keynotes, Masayoshi Son, the CEO and Chairman of SoftBank, will discuss his vision regarding how ARM and SoftBank will grow together. Following Son’s keynote, Simon Segars, the CEO of ARM, will look at how ARM has been at the heart of transformational change for a quarter of a century and how ARM will continue to innovate in the future in areas such as smart and connected technologies to create better social, economic, education, and health prospects for all. Together, these two keynotes will also address the issues many have raised after SoftBank’s $32 billion purchase of ARM. Additional keynotes on Tuesday include a look at healthcare providers by Mike Muller, the CTO of ARM, and a look at Moore’s Law and its current status and future process technology directions by Dr. Greg Yeric, an ARM Fellow.
Keynotes on Wednesday include a look at partnering to enhance the human experience by Simon Segars, a vision for vision and imaging by Jem Davies, an ARM Fellow and Vice President of Technology, and a view of Raspberry Pi and the innovations it has spurred by Eben Upton, the founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. On the last day of the conference, Dr. Charles Miller, a senior security engineer at Uber Advanced Technologies, will provide a hacker’s eye view of automotive security, and Jon Masters, the chief ARM architect and technical lead for RHEL server at Red Hat, will examine how open-source technology has supported the collaborative, community-powered developments that drive innovation and how that affects the modern world.
In addition to the keynotes, the conference will host multiple workshops and technical paper presentations that cover a wide range of design topics. For example, a separate full-day event on the Monday preceding the conference will focus on IoT design with mbed™ (Figure 1). Additionally, during the three-day conference there will also be multiple hands-on training workshops covering mobile systems, hardware, and software, to help speed current and future product development projects. Nine topical tracks will deliver presentations covering silicon design, hardware design, operating system and application software security, and many other subjects.
Solutions for IoT and Embedded Systems
One key focus area at the ARM TechCon is a look at the future of the internet of things (IoT) and to do that ARM has set up the mbed Zone, an area at the heart of the exhibition hall with 21 partner booths. Exhibitors at those booths will demonstrate various mbed-Enabled products and multiple IoT solutions spanning edge devices to cloud platforms. Of course there are many additional exhibitors that will introduce new ARM-based microcontrollers, high-performance blocks of intellectual property (IP), advanced software development tools and system-level solutions for networking and data-center applications.
Two interesting blocks of IP being demonstrated for SoC designers include embeddable programmable logic from Achronix and Flex Logix Technologies. The Achronix Speedcore embeddable FPGA block is designed for compute and network acceleration applications and is based on the company’s 22-nm high-performance architecture employed in the Speedster 22i family of FPGAs. The programmable fabric can be compiled using the company’s ACE design tool suite and Speedcore builder software. The resultant FPGA block can then be combined with third-party IP such as the ARM processors, programmable I/O, SerDes, PLLs, Ethernet interfaces, and other blocks.
The EFLX configurable technology from Flex Logix is currently available in both a 40-nm and 28-nm process node and the company is developing versions of the reconfigurable logic in a 16 nm FinFET process that will be available in the first half of 2017. The currently available blocks provide from 100 LUTs (look-up table cells) to >100k LUTs in approximately 75 different array sizes. Additional options include DSP blocks with MACs (multiplier-accumulators) that can be inserted anywhere in the array, and blocks of RAM that can be inserted into the programmable array. The arrays also offer low power and power management modes.
From Open-Silicon expect to see an ARM® Cortex®-M based IoT custom SoC platform that can quickly implement end-to-end communication between sensor hubs and a cloud platform by turning the platform into a gateway solution. This IoT SoC platform is part of the company’s Spec2Chip platform, which allows IoT ASIC designs to be evaluated at the system level.
Microcontrollers Meet the Performance Challenge
Microcontrollers based on various ARM processor cores are not new, but the latest crop of MCUs offers higher performance levels, more on-chip storage, and additional integrated support functions. Three of the latest introductions will be demonstrated by STMicro, Silicon Labs, and NXP Semiconductors. At the conference, STMicro will show off the latest members of its STM32F7 series of MCUs (the STM32F722, 723, 732, and 733). The MCUs are based on the ARM Cortex M7 processor core and reduce the system’s memory footprint by integrating value-added features including code-execution protection and high-speed USB physical-layer (PHY) circuitry that streamline development of connected applications. The STM32F732 and STM32F733 variants come with extra cryptographic features on-chip, such as an efficient AES256 hardware encryption engine. At the conference, STMicro will also take the wraps off an even-higher-performance family of MCUs that deliver double the performance of the F7 series. This family will also be based on the Cortex M7, and delivers 2.14 MIPS/MHz (initial versions can run at up to 400 MHz, delivering 856 Dhrystone MIPS).
Wireless communications using the multiband, multiprotocol EFR32 Gecko SoC will be demonstrated by Silicon Labs. The company will show how to implement proprietary wireless connectivity using the mbed operating system on the versatile Gecko SoC platform, enabling a more connected world. In addition to the Gecko platform, the recent acquisition of software tools and RTOS supplier Micrium brings a broad range of tools and software components for embedded development.
Low power consumption for a single-core Cortex-A7 processor in an i.MX 6ULL application processor will be the new offering by NXP Semiconductors. The new processor can run at up to 528 MHz, includes 128 kbytes of L2 cache and packs a 16-bit DDR3/LPDDR2 memory interface. Integrated power management, embedded security, and a wide range of connectivity interfaces provide designers with a flexible solution that can serve as a performance upgrade to systems using the ARM7™ and ARM9™ processor cores.
One company focusing on network communication solutions, Cavium, will be demonstrating server and control/data-plane applications as well as Linux support for ARM processors. Several of the company’s Octeon-TX, ThunderX/X2 and other 64-bit ARM-based system solutions will be the focal point at its booth.
Many other companies will be demonstrating many other hardware and software enhancements to deliver higher performance, lower power consumption, and more highly integrated solutions too numerous to list. Come to the conference to see the latest developments.