While ARM processors have dominated the world of the smartphones, tablets and gadgets, they haven’t really penetrated into the guts of network itself. But there’s a growing movement to apply ARM’s energy efficient and powerful architecture to mobile and communications infrastructure.
Now network equipment maker Freescale Semiconductor has decided to put its stake in the ground. The chipmaker said on Wednesday it has begun incorporating ARM cores into all of its communications processors, the brains of everything from business wireless routers to gateways in the core of carrier networks. And it’s starting with a communications processor that Freescale hopes will play a key role in the internet of things.
Its first ARM processor, called the QorIQ LS1, is targeted at networking devices that float near the edge of networks linking and managing the smartphones and other devices the end-consumer uses. According to Tareq Bustami, VP of product management for Freescale’s digital networking business, that makes the LS1 ideal for the new internet of things hubs, the gateways that will control the increasing number of connected home devices, wearables and other gadgets making their way into the market.
Freescale isn’t abandoning the PowerPC architecture it has championed in the past, Bustami said, but it has decided to create a parallel ARM-based product line because of the direction the market heading. Device makers want the same power efficiencies in networking gear as they’re getting in smartphones, consequently Freescale is tapping the Cortex A7, ARM’s ultra-power-efficient core, Bustami said.
The other reason for the shift to ARM is the tech industry’s familiarity with the architecture. Billions of smartphone, tablets and other gadgets have been built with ARM designs at their heart. As those same product developers start designing connected home gateways and networking devices, they’ll be able to bring new ARM-embedded products to market more quickly and cheaply, Bustami said.
ARM CEO Simon Segars will be speaking today at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference about how his company’s processing architecture is becoming an increasing force in the internet of things. He’s onstage at 11:55 AM PT, and his talk will be live-streamed here. Freescale executive director of global strategy Kaivan Karimi will also be on hand at Mobilize on Thursday discussing the growing sensor web and its implications on privacy.