Rival semiconductor giants ARM and Intel have agreed to work together to manage networks of connected devices from both firms, clearing a major stumbling block to market growth of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).
Britain's ARM, a unit of Japan's Softbank Corp, said on Monday it had struck a strategic partnership with Intel to use common standards developed by Intel for managing IoT devices, connections and data.
The IoT involves connecting simple chips that detect distance, motion, temperature, pressure and images to be used in an ever wider range of electronics such as lights, parking meters or refrigerators.
Some of the world's dumbest electronics devices get smarter by becoming connected into cloud networks, but also harder to protect.
ARM's agreement to adopt Intel standards for securely managing such networks marks a breakthrough that promises to drive the spread of IoT across many industries, the two companies said.
"We see a significant acceleration in terms of how the market will grow in terms of the number of managed devices and the volume of data that moves through these systems," Himagiri Mukkamala, an ARM senior vice president and general manager for its IoT Cloud Services division, told Reuters in an interview.
The announcement came ahead of ARM’s annual technical conference set for this week in Silicon Valley.
ARM and Intel have long competed more broadly in processors for computers, networks and smartphones.
Most of the world's biggest suppliers of IoT chips rely on low-power ARM designs, including NXP, Renesas and Microchip's Atmel, while Intel, known for its powerful data-crunching processors, dominates the cloud data centre market, where IoT data are analysed and processed, Gartner analyst Bill Ray said.
Chipmakers are expected to ship around 100 billion ARM-based IoT devices in the next four to five years, matching the total number of ARM chips shipped in the last 25 years, Mukkamala said.
ARM has predicted that as many as 1 trillion IoT devices will be put to work in the world over the next two decades.
Typically, IoT devices come pre-loaded at the factory with network access credentials, leaving them open to many security vulnerabilities. Periodic fixes require manual upgrades by technicians in the field.
By allowing their devices to be managed via a single management platform, ARM and Intel are enabling such tasks to be automated to keep them secure.ARM's recently introduced Pelion IoT management platform will rely on Intel's Secure Device Onboard specifications announced a year ago. This will allow customers using IoT chips based on either company's products to manage them in the same system, executives at the two companies said in separate blog posts.