Highlights from FTF2015: Seeding Companies with Technology to Create Secure IoT Devices

by Daniel Mandell | 07/01/2015

  • Several new Freescale processors announced from secure MCUs to multicore SoCs
  • FTF product showcases spanned automobiles, hospital beds, IoT gateways, and much more
  • NXP integration ongoing; expected to wrap up end of year
  • Merger adds embedded security capabilities, ID solutions, sensors

Freescale hosted another successful Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) last week in Austin, TX at the brand new JW Marriott and the company kept everyone buzzing with its new product announcements, updates on the NXP merger, and product showcases. In addition, we were treated with expansive and interactive keynotes by CEO Gregg Lowe who demonstrated a variety of ways in which Freescale is fostering an ecosystem dedicated to accelerating the development of next-generation systems as well as Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak. 

The merger with NXP was an extremely hot topic with everyone clamoring for answers as to the implications of such a large acquisition for both sides. Back when the merger was first announced earlier this year, I found the unity to be synergistic  with little overlap. The area with the greatest overlap between the two companies, RF products, was resolved in May with the sale of NXP’s RF Power business to Chinese private equity firm JAC Capital. Both Freescale and NXP have teams of 30-40 personnel aggressively working towards the integration of the companies. It was apparent at the event, though, that much is still to be done in terms of planning for the alignment of specific product families and integrating solutions between the two organizations.

The motivation behind the acquisition of NXP is multifaceted. First, security is paramount to the development of IoT products and solutions. The addition of NXP’s security IP will amplify Freescale’s penetration of such connected applications and facilitate the development of more-comprehensive solutions. Not to be forgotten is that both companies have seen strong growth in terms of revenues and profit margin and investor requirements are pushing for consolidation within the maturing embedded processor landscape. The merger is expected to save the combined entity nearly $400M in OPEX and $100M in COGS. No plant closures are expected and the company is focused on making the transition at seamless as possible for customers (so no re-qualifying, no products being moved geographically, etc.).

Freescale took a unique approach to entering the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) realm (or Bluetooth Smart as they like to use) by also integrating an IEEE 802.15.4 radio (the foundation for ZigBee and Thread) on its newly announced Kinetis KW40Z wireless MCUs for a variety of IoT applications. In addition, Freescale’s royalty-free BLE host stack is planned to support the upcoming Bluetooth Smart Mesh networking protocol. The heterogeneous Kinetis KW40Z MCU (there will be SKUs with just Bluetooth or just 802.15.4 support as well) is ripe for adding further capability to many of the emerging HAN and IoT applications leveraging mesh networks including smart lighting, smart door locks, building automation, as well as asset or fitness monitoring.

Other embedded processor announcements included:

  • S32K MCUs – A new automotive MCU line aimed to significantly simplify software development
  • K8X MCU Family – Highly-secure ARM Cortex-M MCUs
  • 16nm FinFET QuorIQ – Migration of Freescale’s multicore communications processors
  • i.MX 6Dual SCM (single chip module) Family – First of its new SCM portfolio of small integrated systems; fits application processor, PMIC, flash memory, embedded sw/fw, and security on a board the size of a dime
  • QorIQ LS1088A octal and LS1048A quad multicore processors based on ARM Cortex-A53 cores; lays the groundwork for the upcoming QorIQ LS2 processors with ARM Cortex-A72 cores
  • i.MX 7 and i.MX 7Dual series processors featuring ARM Cortex-A7 and the ARM Cortex-M4 cores

Q&A with Freescale CEO Gregg Lowe and NXP CEO Richard Clemmer

My first ever rickshaw ride getting to the keynote

The Woz!

View the 2017 IoT & Embedded Technology Research Outline to learn more.

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