IoT wearables given ARM up with new processor

23 Feb 2016

Chipmaker ARM has released a new tiny processor designed for IoT devices and wearables, paving the way for longer battery life, which is the biggest obstacle in the industry.

ARM’s new Cortex-A32 is 13pc smaller than the previous A35 iteration, and 10pc more power efficient, meaning it drains less battery and leaves room in devices for other elements, or provides the option of making the device smaller still.

Noted to be running Android Wear as a definite, the first devices featuring ARM’s new chip will come out towards the end of 2016.

Wearables are a bit more established at the minute, in comparison to IoT, which is receiving interest far beyond its current capabilities at the moment. One of the reasons it’s being held back, though, is battery life.

Internet connectivity is spreading globally, speeds are improving by the month and designs are continually improving. Processing power isn’t in short supply, with sensor technology and battery life the final two notable obstacles.

Should both of these areas leap forward soon – and ARM’s new processor is just one example of this happening – then the possibilities expand to a significant degree.

“IoT nodes have become increasingly diverse, with the more sophisticated nodes often requiring a rich OS,” said ARM’s Maarten Ectors.

“Combining Snappy Ubuntu Core and the highly-efficient processing and scalability of Cortex-A32 will enable developers to truly push the boundaries of edge devices for IoT.”

It’s 32-bit embedded (64-bit would have needed a bigger device, which would have used more battery etc), with its smallest configuration occupying less than 0.25sqmm  of silicon area, while consuming less than 4mW of total power at 100 MHz in a 28nm process node.

Beyond wearables and IoT devices, there’s also the exploding industry around single-board computers such as Raspberry Pi – for example, people making their own devices at home, be they 3D printers or scratch projects.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic