Applications processor family powers a new era of secure edge intelligence

16-11-2021 | NXP | Semiconductors

NXP Semiconductors has released the i.MX 93 family of applications processors intended for automotive, smart home, smart building and smart factory applications, which use edge machine learning to predict and automate based on user requirements. As the first applications processors in its i.MX 9 series, the new i.MX 93 family connects the industry’s first implementation of the Arm Ethos-U65 microNPU with state-of-the-art security and a high degree of integration to achieve efficient, fast, secure machine learning at the edge. These family attributes allow developers to satisfy diverse areas, from voice-assisted smart home and building systems to low-power industrial gateways and automotive driver monitoring systems.

Systems able to process system inputs to form intelligent decisions locally with a high degree of accuracy are crucial for the growth of the edge. To deliver on these challenges, the family employs a heterogeneous multi-core architecture, incorporating up to 2x 1.7 GHz Arm Cortex-A55 applications processors and a real-time Cortex-M33 microcontroller sub-system with full access to all SoC peripherals, including the industry’s first implementation of a 256MACs/cycles Arm Ethos-U65 microNPU. This architecture produces best-in-class, power-efficient machine learning performance over various applications, including compact, battery-powered IoT devices, which need highly capable and efficient processors to sustain longer battery life.

“The world is rapidly accelerating towards 75 billion connected devices by 2030, and it’s crucial to ensure that we’re building energy efficiency and security as well as intelligence into each and every device,” said Ron Martino, executive vice president and general manager, Edge Processing for NXP Semiconductors. “The highly integrated i.MX 93 applications processors will help open an entirely new range of use cases at the edge, where you need to have that close tie-in to the sensor data to make fast decisions. This will enable a new generation of secured, efficient, intelligent devices across IoT, industrial IoT and automotive applications.”

The company's EdgeLock secure enclave, which is a preconfigured, self-managed and autonomous security subsystem, is a standard on-die feature over the series, allowing developers to deliver their device security goals without needing deep security expertise.

Keeping edge devices secured long after first deployment is a challenge that needs the help of nonstop trusted management services. It has partnered with Microsoft to provide customers a comprehensive chip-to-cloud security solution and more than ten years of ongoing updates and security improvements with the “cloud secured” i.MX 93-CS family built with Microsoft Azure Sphere.

“We’re making it easier for developers to create, connect, and maintain innovative IoT devices by providing a comprehensive platform actively supported by the scale and expertise of Microsoft software, cloud and security experts,” said Halina McMaster, partner group program manager, Microsoft Azure Sphere. “Together with NXP, we are delivering a variety of Microsoft Azure Sphere-certified edge processors that provide a secured environment for customer applications, critical over-the-air update infrastructure, and more than ten years of ongoing security improvements for every Azure Sphere chip. The i.MX 93-CS chips will unlock opportunities across industries for performance optimisation, sustainability, and safety through new classes of secured IoT devices.”

i.MX 93-CS processors with Azure Sphere are built with Microsoft Pluton enabled on the EdgeLock secure enclave. Pluton on EdgeLock secure enclave is the dependable hardware root of trust – built into the silicon – that enables the full Azure Sphere security stack and lays the foundation for developing highly secured devices for a multitude of IoT and industrial applications.

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