Key Takeaways from ARM TechCon 2016 – Part 1

by Daniel Mandell | 11/02/2016

Much of the ARM ecosystem came together last week in Santa Clara for the annual ARM TechCon conference where industry leaders like to launch and showcase their new IoT and embedded technology solutions.  This year’s conference featured no shortage of interesting and innovative developments from organizations both new and old. ARM itself announced its entrance into the cloud-based SaaS market with secure device management for mbed Cloud developers, launched the first ARMv8-M cores (the M33 and M23), expanded its Cordio radio IP, and extended its TrustZone security features beyond the processor core with the CoreLink SSE-200 subsystem IP. Looking back, there were 6 key themes that stuck out in our discussions with various vendors and partners at the event. Our key takeaways from the event include…

IoT Centers around the Senses
The conference kicked off with a keynote featuring ARM’s CEO, Simon Segars, and his new boss, Softbank’s Masayoshi Son. Mr. Son started with leading the audience through a journey into the evolution of life on Earth and the first organism developing vision and other senses hundreds of millions of years ago. He drew comparisons between biological evolution and the technological evolution of the IoT. The analogy makes sense (pardon the pun) and helps demonstrate the parallels between what biology has done for us and the potential for which we can enable computers to process the same data artificially.

Embedded vision in particular has a lot of promise to support a variety of IoT applications for object identification, consumer/audience analysis, logistics, condition monitoring, etc. However, combining vision-based sensing with real-time processing and control is no easy feat and demands a load of computing resources and IP to execute effectively.  One of the more interesting demonstrations at this year’s conference of embedded vision at work was Xilinx’s Solitaire-playing robot featuring Ultrascale MPSoCs.

Security Solutions are Abundant and Taking Center Stage after Recent Attacks
Last year, the Jeep hack led to Chrysler’s recall of 1.4 million vehicles. Two weeks ago, several different popular Internet services were crippled by DDoS traffic generated by the Mirai IoT botnet. Security has become a top concern over the past couple of years in all industries growing in parallel with embedded connectivity and the associated accessibility and vulnerabilities therein. As a result, the industry is responding with a variety of new security technologies deployed throughout the device stack.

The security trend isn’t lost on leading embedded software vendors like Express Logic who recently appointed the widely respected security expert, Tim Stapko, as head of its newly established Security Products department. At ARM TechCon, Express Logic announced its NetX Secure socket layer security for its NetX Duo IPV4/IPV6 TCP/IP network stack. NetX Secure was developed entirely in-house and uses TLS to prevent eavesdropping and tampering of data across the network.

LoRa is Generating Traction among Suppliers
Among the LPWAN technologies that have quickly arisen to prominence at the behest of the IoT, LoRa had the most interest and attention at this year’s ARM TechCon event. STMicroelectronics showcased its STM32 L0 MCUs with LoRa (radio provided by Semtech) embedded within sensor nodes and connected through a MultiTech gateway to a MyDevices cloud platform. Now, MultiTech isn’t putting all its eggs into one LPWAN basket, but the company has high expectations for LoRa adoption given the network’s strengths in serving all 3 classes of gateway customers: public, enterprise, and private. For example, with LoRa users don’t lose control of data the same as they might with a major cellular carrier.

Click here to view part 2 of this blog post.

A few photos from the event:


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