Gives developers a head start in writing IoT applications • The Register


Arm puts virtual models of its chip designs in the cloud so developers can write and test applications before the physical hardware is in their hands.

The Arm Virtual Hardware offering is part of a new product portfolio called “ARM Total Solutions for IoT”. Cringe-related marketing jargon aside, Arm wants to give developers a head start in coding Internet of Things applications, like cars, robots, and refrigerators.

This is how it works.

Arm chip design and intellectual property licenses for chips used in devices ranging from battery-operated devices to cars and servers. Once Arm delivers the chip building blocks to silicon partners, it will also make a virtual representation of the chip stack available to developers in the cloud.

Developers can then start writing, testing, and debugging applications and testing them on simulated hardware. Historically, everything has happened in sequence, with ARM releasing the chip design IP to silicon vendors, and there was a three-year wait before application development could begin.

Now, chip design and software development can happen almost in parallel, said Mohamed Awad, vice president of IoT and Embedded at Arm. The register.

“This represents a new way for software developers to innovate and develop for all of these diverse devices, but they can do it in the cloud without hardware,” Awad said.

This is the first time Arm has offered virtual hardware, and it will initially be for IoT, Awad said.

Virtual hardware will initially be available for the Corstone-300 subsystem from Arm SoC partners, integrating the Arm Cortex M55 AI processor and the Arm Ethos U55 microNPU.

Awad declined to say if anything similar would be available for mobile chip designs, and he pointed out why it had to be in IoT first.

The overwhelming number and diversity of IoT chips makes testing and deploying software expensive and difficult, and virtual hardware provides a better model to program on. Compare that to mobile phones, which replicate the design of a chip on a number of devices.

Testing software on virtual hardware is nothing new, with examples like flight simulation and wind tunnel testing in engineering applications.

Arm is based on a modern development methodology called DevOps, an iterative software cycle that allows developers to track improvements in performance, code quality, and achieve a level of comfort for code across a range of devices, everything by developing the chip. The iterative and collaborative DevOps methodology is used by Amazon, Facebook and Google to quickly deploy code to test new functionality in their products.

“Arm Virtual Hardware allows them to do this in the cloud… unlike what they had to do before, which was to just have a massive hardware farm and run Flash on those devices whenever they needed to change the code. Awad mentioned.

Amazon has used Arm Virtual Hardware to test Alexa functionality on a myriad of devices, Awad said. Amazon has given its wake-up word recognition software to several vendors for use in devices such as refrigerators and thermostats. Amazon used Arm Virtual Hardware to virtually test the code and its performance without deploying hundreds of hardware units using this feature.

The company also announced the Centauri project as part of ARM Total Solutions for IoT, which aims to find a common language on which devices, chips and cloud services can interface and talk. ®

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