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IoT’s Mainstream Adoption an Opportunity to Collaborate For Semiconductor Firms: Microsoft

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  • Microsoft is working with semiconductor companies to implement best practices for connected devices
  • The company has deepened its existing collaborations and announced new collaborations
  • The global internet of things (IoT) market was valued at US$ 190 billion in 2018

Microsoft believes that businesses harnessing signals from IoT devices of all shapes and sizes, from the very smallest microcontroller units (MCUs) to very capable microprocessor units (MPUs present a great opportunity for collaboration between semiconductor manufacturers with extensive expertise in MCUs/MPUs and Azure IoT. The company has announced additional collaborations with industry leaders, which together represent the vast majority of the market for 32-bit MCUs.

“IoT is reaching mainstream adoption across businesses in all market segments. Our vision is to enable Azure to be the world’s computer, giving businesses real-time visibility into every aspect of their operations, assets, and products,” read Microsoft’s official statement.

The global internet of things (IoT) market, as per a Fortune Business Insights report, was valued at US$ 190 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach US$ 1,102.6 billion by 2026. It is to be noted here that MCUs are embedded into billions of devices ranging from sensors, streetlights, and shipping containers to smart home appliances, medical devices, and more.

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Collaboration with global semiconductor companies

Microsoft has announced collaborations with STMicroelectronics, Renesas, NXP, Microchip, and Qualcomm. All the companies mentioned will be offering embedded development kits featuring Azure RTOS ThreadX, one of the components of the Azure RTOS embedded application development suite.

“This allows embedded developers to access reliable, real-time performance for resource-constrained devices, and seamless integration with the power of Azure IoT to connect, monitor, and control a global fleet of IoT assets,” read Microsoft’s official statement.

It continued, “As we work with our semiconductor partners to implement best practices for connected devices, Azure RTOS will include easy-to-use reference projects and templates for connectivity to Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Edge Gateways as well as first-class integration with Azure Security Center. Azure RTOS will soon ship with an Azure Security Center module for monitoring threats and vulnerabilities on IoT devices.”

STMicroelectronics and Renesas Electronics Corporation

STMicroelectronics (ST), with its STM32 family, is providing OEM and mass-market customers with a wide portfolio of MCUs. Renesas Electronics Corporation is working to build Azure RTOS into their broader set of MCUs and MPUs.

“Leveraging our installed base of more than five billion STM32 MCUs shipped to date to the global embedded market, we see Azure RTOS ThreadX and middleware as a perfect match to both our mass-market and OEM IoT strategies, complementing our development environment with industry-proven, reliable, high-quality source code,” said Ricardo de Sa Earp, group vice-president, Microcontrollers Division general manager, STMicroelectronics.

“Our Synergy and RX cloud kits combined with Azure RTOS and other Azure IoT building blocks offer MCU customers a quick and secure end-to-end solution for cloud connectivity,” said Sailesh Chittipeddi, executive vice president, General Manager of Renesas’ IoT and Infrastructure business unit.

NXP and Microchip

NXP Semiconductor plans to integrate Azure RTOS into their evaluation kits and some of the most popular IoT processor families in the industry. Microchip also plans to incorporate support for Azure RTOS and Azure IoT Edge across their product families.

Edge computing reduces the latency, bandwidth and privacy concerns of a cloud-only Internet of Things. Enabling Azure RTOS on NXP’s MCUs is yet another step to provide edge computing solutions that unlock the benefits of edge to Azure IoT cloud interaction,” said Jerome Schang, head of cloud Partnership programs at NXP.

“Microchip is building on its already comprehensive portfolio of tools and solutions to enable quick, easy development of secure IoT applications across the full spectrum of embedded control devices and architectures,” said Greg Robinson, associate vice president of Microchip’s 8-bit microcontroller business unit.

Qualcomm Technologies

Qualcomm will be offering a cellular-enabled Azure Sphere certified chip and will be bringing Azure RTOS to cellular-connected device solutions found inside asset trackers, health monitors, security systems, smart city sensors, and smart meters, as well as a range of wearables.

”Qualcomm is a leader in wireless compute and connectivity technologies – not just in mobile, but in emerging markets like the Internet of Things as well,” said Jeff Torrance, vice-president, IoT, Qualcomm. “We’re proud to continue to work closely with Microsoft on solutions like Azure RTOS and Azure Sphere to jointly advance the IoT industry around the world.”

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