The collaboration, announced at the NXP Connects technology meeting in Santa Clara, aims at delivering a new Microsoft Azure Sphere certified crossover applications processor as an extension to NXP’s i.MX 8 processor series. The goal is delivering a secure, smart embedded processor for IoT edge applications that seamlessly runs Azure Sphere’s security platform. This processor will be based on the Arm Cortex-A35 architecture with one or two cores. It will also feature a powerful GPU and an HiFi4 DSP core for audio processing capabilities, all at very low power consumption, announced NXP. The processor will be available in limited samples in Q4, 2020.
The chip will run Microsoft’s Azure Sphere OS, a strongly reduced and resource-efficient Linux version, a Microsoft spokesperson explained. “It runs in a much smaller environment that anybody would expect for Linux,” he said
The processor will include a security subsystem called Pluton and developed by Microsoft. Functions include, among others, generating and secure storing of cryptographic keys. These features enable the new processor to connect to Microsoft’s Azure Sphere Security Services that guard Azure Sphere devices by keeping the security features updated over the lifetime of the respective equipment. This service also identifies emerging security threats and acts as a broker between device and cloud.
The move aims at the fast-growing world of industrial IoT applications. Both partners said they are unfolding intensive activities to create and establish an application ecosystem with partners. To facilitate the entry into the ecosystem and the handling of software licensing, an OS license will come with each chip. This includes updates throughout the lifetime. For the time being, a service life of 13 years is planned.
Dedicated engineering teams from each company will work together to build this new ecosystem, which includes single and dual core versions of power-efficient Arm® Cortex®-A35, independent real-time domain with Cortex-M33 core, and an independent audio/video processing domain powered by high-performance HiFi4 DSP core; all designed to address the needs of fast-growing Industrial IoT edge applications. The product will be built using FD-SOI technology and will leverage heterogeneous processor architecture with independent power domains that has been perfected by successive designs of i.MX 8 applications processors covering automotive infotainment, streaming media, and general-purpose consumer and industrial markets.