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Summary:

ARM, the semiconductor company whose chip technology powers most modern smartphones, has come up with a chip for the Internet of things. It is an energy-efficient chip technology that is optimized for use in everything from connected lighting to power controls to other home appliances.

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ARM, the semiconductor company whose chip technology powers most modern smartphones, has come up with a chip for the Internet of things. Cortex-M0+ (terrible name if you ask me) is an energy-efficient chip that is optimized for use in everything from connected lighting to power controls to other home appliances, including devices like the Nest thermostat.

The Cambridge, UK–based ARM has been betting big on the Internet of things. In 2010 it launched its Cortex-M technology, which targets appliances, motors and audio devices. It has since been aggressively rolling out a strategy to cash in on the emergent opportunity. The company, in a press release, explains:

The 32-bit Cortex-M0+ processor, the latest addition to the ARM Cortex processor family, consumes just 9µA/MHz on a low-cost 90nm LP process, around one third of the energy of any 8- or 16-bit processor available today, while delivering significantly higher performance. The Cortex-M0+ processor features enable the creation of smart, low-power microcontrollers to provide efficient communication, management and maintenance across a multitude of wirelessly connected devices, a concept known as the ‘Internet of Things.’

At least two companies, Freescale and NXP, both major suppliers to the automotive and home automation industries, have signed up for the new ARM chip technology.

At our Mobilize 2011 event ThingM CEO Mike Kuniavsky said that “ubiquitous network connectivity, cloud-based services, cheap assembly of electronics, social design, open collaboration tools and low-volume sales channels create an innovation ecosystem that is the foundation for an Internet of things.”

From a John or Jane Doe’s perspective, the promise of this technology at the very least is to help make our homes become more efficient and lower our energy bills.

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  1. While a 32 bit CPU is nice, it really is all about cost, peripherals and radios. TI’s RF unit they bought up from Norway and Sigma Designs’ Zensys unit bought-up from Denmark (notice a trend here?) both have centered on 8-bit processors. Even Freescale has done most of there efforts on their 68xx architecture. Yes, as features keep shrinking and chips become driven by I/O pad size it becomes inevitable that some will push 32 bit CPUs, but if a little hardware support is added for comm protocols, the need for 32 processors becomes unimportant. Most widgets from thermostats to dishwashers have no need for a 32 bit code for their application. Indeed, an 8 bit process could always be designed to be more efficient that a 32 bit unit.

    1. GreenerEE

      From what I have heard from various sources, it seems there is a lot of desire for 32-bit CPUs with a 2013/2014 time frame in mind. In the near term, most are interested in 8-bit or 16-bit processors

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