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The Journey to Cloud-native Edge: Project Cassini Doubles Participation in 2021

Project Cassini has been hugely successful with broad adoption by leading silicon and device manufacturers across the IoT and infrastructure edge supply chain.
By Mohamed Awad, SVP and GM of the Infrastructure Business, Arm

By Mohamed Awad, vice president of IoT and embedded, Arm

Today Arm partners have shipped more than 200bn chips, most of which are going into devices that we encounter in our daily lives from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed, and everywhere in between. The pervasiveness of Arm technology in IoT cements our expectation that 100 percent of the world’s shared data will soon be processed on Arm.

But to develop IoT and edge technology to its full potential, it must scale to a pace of development and deployment much greater than what we see today. Embedded software, cloud services, hardware design, connectivity, machine learning, security – there is a long list of challenges to tackle in delivering these systems, and many have been slow to improve due to complexity, fragmentation or other issues. That’s why two years ago, Arm announced Project Cassini to rally the industry to tackle key friction points in realizing a cloud-native software experience across a secure Arm edge ecosystem.

Project Cassini has been hugely successful with broad adoption by leading silicon and device manufacturers across the IoT and infrastructure edge supply chain. In fact, participation has more than doubled from 30 partners 12 months ago to more than 70 participating partners today. I’m particularly excited that this year we’ve seen adoption by several partners focused on “far edge” gateways and endpoints, including several of the world’s largest Original Device Manufacturers (ODMs).

Progress toward a cloud-native edge

It’s clear the industry sees the benefit of a scalable, grab-and-go blueprint for reaching mass software deployment, as well as a consistent approach to developer APIs to ensure devices are secure from the ground up. The growth and adoption of Project Cassini is evident across all three pillars of the initiative, starting with standardisation.

Arm SystemReady is a standardisation initiative to ensure there is consistency in how operating systems can be deployed to the Arm-based edge, so that hardware and software on Arm ‘just works’. Today marks some key milestones for the program:

  • Since launching last year with 2 lead partners, we have now certified 26 SystemReady devices across various categories.
  • Arm silicon partners Ampere, Broadcom, Marvell, NXP, and Rockchip have achieved SystemReady certification for the evaluation kits of some of their leading SoCs, providing a foundation for their customers to more easily certify products based on their SoCs.
  • More than 10 leading Original Device Manufacturers (ODMs) have committed to SystemReady by certifying multiple products within their portfolio, including, AAEON, Advantech, Avantek, Compulab, Gigabyte, HawkeyeTech, Kontron, Lenovo, Pine64, Raspberry Pi, and SolidRun, leading to dozens of commercially available certified products in the market.
  • In addition to Red Hat, VMWare, and Windows, other commercial operating systems now leveraging Arm SystemReady include Debian, Fedora, OpenSuse and Yocto Linux.

Security is essential for a scalable edge

Equally as important as system standardization for a scalable edge is security, especially as attacks on edge applications are becoming more frequent and complex. It is fantastic to see there are now more than 80 PSA Certified products from more than 50 partners spanning silicon providers, software providers, and device manufacturers. And for the first time ever this year two partners, Silicon Labs and STMicroelectronics, achieved the highest level of IoT hardware and software security protection with PSA Certified Level 3 products. This progress, to me, reflects the significant investment that our industry is making in foundational security.

Another key part of Project Cassini’s security pillar is Parsec, which is compliant with PSA Certified and enables software developers to maintain portability while taking advantage of best-in-class security features that can be applied directly to their application. Conceptualized at Arm, Parsec is an official Cloud Native Computing Foundation sandbox project, which has now been embraced by the open-source community and integrated with operating systems including Fedora, OpenSuse and Yocto Linux.

Innovation driven by participation

Taking a standardized approach to system architecture and security remain the foundation of Project Cassini, and ecosystem collaboration to produce real cloud-native reference implementations and blueprints is where the vision of a secure Arm-based edge comes to life for developers. We are seeing a number of industry partners deliver new reference implementations to address key edge use-cases, including an AI edge use-case developed with NVIDIA and Rancher, high performance edge inference with Redis, and a compute consolidation use-case developed with VMware.

The success of Project Cassini for the infrastructure edge and IoT markets has had a ripple effect in other domains. It’s important to note participation across the ecosystem is not limited to hardware companies such as silicon providers and ODMs; numerous OEMs, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and other key software vendors are now fully engaged with Project Cassini as well as new, similar initiatives led by Arm for the automotive and Cortex-M ecosystems:

  • Arm, along with leaders across the automotive industry, recently announced SOAFEE (Service Orientated Architecture for Embedded Edge), a collaborative initiative which builds upon the foundation of Project Cassini to define a cloud-native architecture compatible with the safety critical and real-time requirements of the software-defined vehicle.
  • Just this week we also announced Project Centauri, focused on driving rapid, exponential growth for Cortex-M based devices. A key part of the new Arm Total Solutions for IoT, Project Centauri brings together standards, security initiatives and our extensive software ecosystem to achieve for M-Class systems what Project Cassini is doing for A-Class systems.

Project Cassini

The diversity of the Arm ecosystem has allowed the innovation leading to many of the technologies we take for granted today. Project Cassini is about giving our partners a scalable and secure framework for building the computing solutions of tomorrow, and I truly believe the progress we’ve seen to date is only the start of something incredible. We look forward to continuing to evolve and adapt this approach to standardization, security, and ecosystem collaboration to address the needs of everchanging computing requirements, from cloud to edge to endpoint device.

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