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ARM, Thundersoft Plan IoT Accelerators In China

The initiative is the latest in a recent spate of major investment in IoT by major vendors worldwide, even as two US industry trade groups call for greater commitment to the space.
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ARM and Thundersoft, an Android core technology provider headquartered in Beijing, are establishing the ARM Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator, which the companies describe as a one-stop shop for Internet of Things (IoT) startups and established original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The initiative is the latest in a recent spate of major investment in IoT by major vendors worldwide, even as two US industry trade groups call for greater commitment to the space.

A June report from IT research firm IDC projected the worldwide IoT market will grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9%. According to IDC, devices, connectivity, and IT services will account for the majority of IoT spending in 2020.

The ARM-Thundersoft collaboration will offer startups and OEMs access to chips designed for artificial intelligence (AI), along with software and hardware systems for IoT initiatives.

[ Where does Microsoft fit in the IoT race? Read 10 Ways Windows 10 Will Advance The Internet of Things. ]

The Beijing facility, aimed at advancing China's IoT industry, is the first of four planned. It will include an innovation lab designed around the ARM mbed IoT Device Platform, as well as a design lab built around the ARM Cortex-based IoT system on chip (SoC). The venture will provide system integration services to facilitate the path from prototype to production for startups and equipment makers. Workshops, training, and design services for Mbed OS and Cortex processor-based development platforms will also be available.

"We are providing the ability for any company, big or small, to access integrated resources and expertise to simplify product development and accelerate time-to-market," Allen Wu, ARM's president of Greater China, said in a statement. "China is the largest IoT market in the world and there is a compelling growth opportunity for local companies if we address today's fragmented technology landscape."

The ARM-Thundersoft announcement on Sept. 7 came on the heels of a Sept. 2 report from two semiconductor industry groups -- the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and the nonprofit group Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) -- advocating for additional US investment in IoT research. The groups are calling for investment of $500 million over five years and the establishment of a large-scale, public-private research initiative, which the report dubbed the National Computing and Insight Technologies Ecosystem (N-CITE).

"The United States stands at a crossroads in the global race to uncover the next transformative innovations that will determine technology leadership,” John Neuffer, president and CEO of the SIA, said in a statement. "We either aggressively invest in research to foster new, semiconductor-driven technologies such as the Internet of Things that will shape the future of the digital economy, or we risk ceding ground to competitors abroad."

Meanwhile, IBM and ARM announced a partnership that calls for out-of-the-box compatibility between ARM embed-enabled devices and IBM's IoT platform, formally known as IBM IoT Foundation. The effort will also allow access to IBM Bluemix, the company’s platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering.

The partnership between IBM and ARM is an extension of IBM’s IoT investment strategy, announced in March. The company plans to invest more than $3 billion over the next four years to build a dedicated IoT business unit staffed by more than 2,000 consultants, researchers, and developers.