ARM Brings Much-Needed Boost To IoT Security With Cortex-M33 And Cortex-M23 Embedded Processors

The IoT movement is well under way, for better or worse. On the plus side, we now have access to a wide range of internet-connected devices ranging from smartwatches to webcams to thermostats to even refrigerators. On the downside, these devices can be compromised, leading to massively powerful botnets that have the ability to take cripple websites with DDoS attacks.

ARM is well aware of these dangers as we wade deeper into IoT waters, so it has announced new family of Cortex-M processors that will help secure future connected devices. ARM is making a big push to offer more security-related features at the hardware level, and is extending its TrustZone solutions for IoT.

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“Confidentiality of data will be paramount to the global acceptance of more IoT applications. Integration of secure technology at a hardware level is essential for future IoT devices to be trusted,” writes ARM. “Security needs to be easy for the anticipated millions of IoT developers to build and scale, and yet it must be energy efficient for products to run.”

Today, ARM is announcing its first processors based on ARMv8-M architecture: the Cortex-M33 and the Cortex-M23. The Cortex-M33 will offer a 20 percent performance improvement over legacy Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M4 processors. In addition, the Cortex-M33 manages to offer improved power efficiency while using the same manufacturing process. The chips are also backwards compatible with ARMv6-M and ARMv7-M architectures and feature TrustZone CryptoCell-312 fortifications.

For those that require performance and IoT security in even smaller form-factors, the Cortex-M23 takes the ultra-lower power crown from the its Cortex-M0+ predecessor.

ARM has already announced a wealth of partners who will deploy the Cortex-M33 and Cortex-M23 including Analog Devices, Microchip, Nuvoton, NXP, Renesas, Silicon Labs, and STMicroelectronics.

“The Cortex-M processor family has enabled developers to push the boundaries in embedded intelligence over the last decade.” said Michel Buffa, Group VP and Microcontroller Division GM, STMicroelectronics. “Cortex-M23 and Cortex-M33 are set to unleash the next wave of innovation in IoT, where trust and security will be foundational.”

“As IoT technologies become more pervasive, it is time for a complete solution that secures data from the sensor to the service,” adds Pete Hutton, executive vice president and president of product groups, ARM. “ARM partners shipped a record 15 billion chips last year, many destined for smart embedded applications. The IoT already runs on ARM but the goal now is scale, which we are enabling today through a uniquely comprehensive set of technologies and services built to work together seamlessly.”

Cortex-M33 processors will also be available in the CoreLink SSE-200 subsystem, which will include not only power and secure bug infrastructures, but also optional TrustZone CryptoCell and Cordio radio (Bluetooth LE/802.15.4). CoreLink SSE-200 will also integrate with mbed OS and secure libraries from the TrustZone CryptoCell to provide a robust and secure platform for IoT development.