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Arm Kigen Aims to Secure Cellular IoT

April 17, 2018

Author: Mike Demler

Arm wants to eliminate discrete subscriber identity modules (SIMs) in cellular-connected IoT devices. As a replacement, it’s offering hardware and software intellectual property (IP) for integrated SIMs (iSIMs), which enable designers to build the functions directly into IoT processors, reducing cost and enhancing security. The iSIM comprises Arm’s previously released CryptoIsland root-of-trust IP and an MCU-based operating system called Kigen. The OS comes from Simulity, an IoT-security startup that Arm acquired last year. It runs on CryptoIsland’s embedded CPU core as well as other root-of-trust processors.

To build complete wireless MCUs, designers can combine iSIMs with the company’s new NB-IoT cores, but the IP is also compatible with LTE Cat-M and 2G/3G/4G modems. The NB-IoT package includes a new Cordio-N radio and software stack, which the company acquired with its 2017 purchases of Mistbase and NextG-Com. Cordio-N is a hard macro designed for TSMC’s 40nm ULP process. Arm expects its customers to release the first production devices in 2019.

Whereas cellular operators issue preprogrammed SIM cards directly to their customers, devices with iSIMs will require remote provisioning over cellular networks, a service the company plans to offer with its Kigen server solution. Customers can run the Kigen server on Arm’s Mbed cloud platform, but it is also offering the software to IoT-service providers for installation on other cloud-based provisioning platforms.

The Kigen iSIM OS and cloud-provisioning platform comprises a differentiated solution for IoT processors, but it lacks wireless-industry endorsement. And unlike discrete SIMs, there is no certification process. For device manufacturers to see the cost benefit that Kigen promises, Arm must first address those issues.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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