With all the churn going on in the Human (wearables, home automation) side of the IoT space not many folks are going out on a limb to call winners and losers yet. There are going to be many winners (and losers) over time in Human IoT, but right now I’m going to take a chance here and say that no matter how the battle of the titans shapes up, I am going to declare ARM one of the winners. What’s the logic?
ARM is founder of Thread Group, along with Nest Labs, Samsung, Freescale, Silicon Labs, Big Ass Fans and Yale. Right now Google is putting all its Home Automation (HA) chips in the Nest basket using the Nest Wi-Fi thermostat. What does all this have to do with ARM? Well, courtesy of IFIXIT, we know that inside a Nest 2nd generation thermostat, there is an Ember EM357 and its ARM Cortex-M3 core with a Skyworks SE2436L high power 802.15.4 front end. We all know that the Nest thermostat is Wi-Fi enabled (using, of course, and ARM core). So the Nest also has a ZigBee radio, what’s that all about and why isn’t it used? Well as a reminder, Zigbee is not the only thing that can run over an 802.15.4 radio, it will also run a 6LoWPAN stack. Not coincidentally, ARM purchased Sensinode last year, one of the leaders in optimized 6LoWPAN stacks. Being an IoT node means being software upgradeable, so download a new software load to the Nest and all of a sudden the Wi-Fi Nest becomes a mesh network powerhouse, running on ARM. Oh, and all the other Thread Group Certified devices we are going to see later on will be running on 6LoWPAN, mostly if not all on ARM cores.
Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) announced last week is a Thread “competitor”. ARM is not a member here (yet). However, both Broadcom and Intel are founding members. Intel, at CES this year showed several prototypes for wearables based on ARM cores. Intel has been a top (if not THE top ARM customer for years!). Yes, even Intel holds an ARM license and uses their cores for specific applications, and wearables is one of them. Intel just bought Basis, too, that currently runs on an ARM M3-based processor. Quark in it’s current form isn’t low power enough for wearables, but we believe in the future, Intel is trying very hard to change this. Therefore, Intel is supporting “below Quark” and ARM. And of course, Broadcom introduced a new chip for IoT at Computex this year, the StrataGX line, all based on ARM cores.
The third member of this trio is AllSeen Alliance, anchored by QualComm, a huge ARM licensee. See Intel and Broadcom above. ‘Nuff said.
So ARM has locked up successes with Thread, OIC and AllSeen that cover Wi-Fi and 6LoWPAN, what about Bluetooth Smart? Well ARM has an answer for that one as well. Recently ARM has had their hands [both financial and personnel wise] in the launch of Sunrise Micro Devices. Sunrise produces The CORDIO BT4 Radio, an ultra-low power CMOS radio IP Family that incorporates Bluetooth Smart. Not only is this a low power solution for devices in the home, but this is also targeted at wearables and health care IOT devices.
Finally, while we are discussing wearables, the ARM Cortex-M is the processor core of choice for the majority of the new wearables such as Fitbit, Samsung Gear, etc.
I could go on like this for a while. Seems no matter who or what is the choice for success in the Human IoT market, ARM is involved. When it comes right down to it, no winner has yet to be declared in the Human IoT space, but one can bet that no matter who is left standing and what “standard” wins, ARM is already lined up to be crowned one of the winners.