ARM buys Mistbase and NextG-Com to extend its reach in IoT

With expertise in NB-IoT low-power wide-area networking, ARM will extend its reach from smart homes to smart cities

Chip designer ARM has a new strategy for the internet of things: to offer complete solutions "from application software to antenna."

ARM has typically left it to licensees of its microprocessor designs to add their own wide-area radio modems and other circuitry essential for the chips at the heart of smartphones and other connected devices. That's the case with Qualcomm, for example, which packages ARM's processor core with its own LTE modems to deliver the chips at the heart of Apple's iPhones.

But now ARM wants to deliver the whole stack itself, at least for low-power, low-bandwidth devices, ARM wireless business general manager Paul Williamson said in a blog post Tuesday.

To further that goal, the company is investing in its own radio designs, and has acquired two companies with expertise in the NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT) low-power wireless standard: a Swedish one, Mistbase, and a British one, NextG-Com. Mistbase designs chips, while NextG-Com writes networking software.

Processors built to ARM's designs require little power, at least compared to the power-hungry chips found in desktop and laptop PCs. That's what made them attractive to smartphone manufacturers.

But phones, especially the latest 4G phones, are still power-hungry compared to many of the devices that make up the internet of things. A smartphone with a 10 watt-hour battery will run for a day or two before needing a recharge, whereas NB-IoT was developed for devices that must run for up to 10 years on a single 5 Wh battery. The trade-off is that NB-IoT devices will only be able to transmit at up to 20 kilobits per second, or perhaps 250 kbps, compared to megabits per second for a typical smartphone.

It's in the market for such devices that ARM sees a big advantage in more closely tying the design of the processor with that of the wide-area radio modem, something it already does for Bluetooth wireless devices.

"In addition to the hardware and software expertise of the acquired companies, we are also investing in radio design that will offer complete NB-IoT chip solutions from application software to antenna. This will cut the complexity of adopting cellular IoT technology," Williamson wrote.

Supporting NB-IoT is already a relatively easy decision for network operators to make. The standard, finalized last year, requires only a small upgrade to the high-speed LTE networks that operators have already invested billions deploying, and opens up a whole new market. Analysts at IHS-Markit forecast that the number of NB-IoT connections will grow from around 1 million this year to 141 million by 2021, Williamson said.

ARM's NB-IoT efforts will fit right into its Cordio range of wireless designs, alongside its support for Bluetooth 5 and the IEEE 802.15.4 personal area networking standard. This, Williamson wrote, allows ARM to extend its reach from the smart home to the smart city.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?