We just caught up with ARM at a press event prior to the start of Computex 2014, where the company are showing a range of devices from partners while also announcing their first design and research center in Asia with the establishment of the ARM CPU Design Center in Hsinchu, North Taiwan. ARM also talked up their continued drive into the wearables and IoT space with ultra low power processor platforms that can operate for weeks or months at a time without needing to be charged.
ARM set the scene at the press conference with some healthy looking stats and claims; over 2.5 billion Cortex-A powered products in use today, over 2 billion Cortex-A devices shipped this year, with almost 200,000 ARM-based smartphones and tablets sold every hour.
At the heart of the ARM press conference today we have the announcement that the UK-based company will be investing substantially in the new Design Center in Taiwan. The decision is motivated by several factors, not least that Taiwan has a recognized pool of talent with top tier research and education centers already well established on the island. Taiwan is also very well placed in terms of semi conductor development and manufacturing with major players like TSMC also based in Taiwan. ARM aims to leverage a more scalable talent pool of high-caliber engineering talent, while at the same time exploiting close proximity to other semiconductor and eco-system partners.
The focus of the new Design Center, due to open its door in late 2014, will be to develop ARM Cortex-M processors, extremely low power processors that are more easily integrated into wearables and embedded devices that make up the Internet of Things. ARM is aggressively addressing significant of power, describing a next generation of devices that can be powered for weeks and months on one charge, removing the need for bulky and uncomfortable batteries. ARM are not only targeting the consumer wearables space, but are also aiming their Cortex-M platforms at the medical sector, with devices that can allow for better patient integration, without causing discomfort.
One device that was demoed was the Misfit Shine, a wearable that resembles a light-weight watch and can track all physical activities via its integrated sensors. Whereas most wearables today measure battery life in terms of hours or days, the Misfit Shine can operate on one charge for several weeks or even months.
ARM described a near future where embedded devices are all around us, engaging with advanced sensors to collect and interpret data without becoming invasive. They showcased a KL03 processor developed by Freescale which measures is an incredible 2mm x 1.6mm. The KL03 is a full system-on-chip that runs at 48MHz, includes a 32KB Flash, 8KB Boot ROM and a low power active mode.
ARM also displayed a wearable for pets with a product called the ‘Whistle’ which is essentially a wrist band that attaches to your dog or cat that also contains a Freescale Kinetic K60 ARM Cortex-M4 processor. The idea is that the Whistle’s integrated sensors monitors your pets location with detailed GPS data, allowing you to know what your pets get up to when you are not around.