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ARM launches IoT platform revolving around mbed OS

The move, which goes along with last week's launch of the Cortex M7 processor, is designed to create core standard functions and then let developers add value on top of the hardware.

ARM on Wednesday outlined a new Internet of things platform that revolves around its free mbed operating system for its Cortex M-based processors and a device server that operates under a freemium model.

The platform aims to bring more intelligence to devices and end-points in the Internet of things.

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The move, which goes along with last week's launch of the Cortex M7 processor , is designed to create core standard functions and then let developers add value on top of the hardware.

According to ARM, the mbed Device Server will include connectivity, security and base management tools. Connectivity will revolve around core Internet standards. In other words, ARM sees the mbed Device Server as a base layer for the Internet of things. Some of the technologies in ARM's mbed stack come via the acquisition of Sensinode in 2013.

In some respects, ARM's mbed Device Server launch will be competitive with Intel's Wind River unit, but not completely. What ARM's effort highlights is the lack of standards or agreement on some basic requirements to make the Internet of things — and the business model that goes with it — real.

Krisztian Flautner, general manager of the IoT group at ARM, said the mbed effort is designed to create "rapid micro controller prototyping" by filling in key missing pieces ranging from security to low power operation and device management.

To Flautner, ARM's role is similar to the same one the company had with mobile devices: Form an ecosystem. At the base of the ecosystem, it's not surprising that silicon players are on the mbed bandwagon. But companies like Salesforce as well as Oracle and IBM — enterprise players all seeing the Internet of things as a key business imperative — are also in the fold. "We came to the Internet of things ecosystem from the bottom up, but are now signing up other cloud partners, said Flautner.

For ARM. the IoT efforts are a way to license more processor intellectual property. The mbed OS is free and the mbed Device Server will have a freemium model where there's no cost for development but licensing down the product cycle.

Here's a look at the stack.

mbedchart1
mbedchart2

Among the key items:

  • The mbed platform is designed to be plug and play so partners can speed up research and development.

  • Mbed will work with existing standards and the free OS will roll up key components in the Internet of things chain.

  • The first mbed OS devices are expected in 2015 with the operating system available to partners in the fourth quarter.

  • Mbed.org will be a community to provide information for ARM's ecosystem of 70,000 developers.

  • If all goes well, ARM will position itself as a foundational technology as well as a broker from devices to applications and wearables.