Arm unveils Cortex-M52 to power AIoT innovation

22nd November 2023
Paige West

Arm has made a significant stride in the realm of Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) with the announcement of the Cortex-M52, a new processor designed for AIoT applications.

This development marks a crucial step in embedding advanced machine learning (ML) and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) capabilities into more compact, cost-effective, and battery-powered devices.

The rise of AIoT

AIoT is rapidly transforming how we interact with technology in our homes, cities, and industries. By combining AI with the Internet of Things (IoT), these smart devices are not just interconnected but also intelligent, capable of analysing data and enhancing the interaction between the physical and digital worlds. The latest advancements ensure on-device intelligence, even in smaller, more cost-sensitive devices, offering greater privacy and reliability by reducing reliance on Cloud computing.

Introducing the Cortex-M52

To meet the increasing demand for ML capabilities and simpler development processes in AIoT devices, Arm has launched the Cortex-M52. This processor is uniquely designed for AIoT applications that require enhanced DSP and ML performance without the additional costs of dedicated accelerators. The Cortex-M52 promises to deliver ML on embedded computing solutions at lower price points, unlocking potential for a wide range of applications.

Featuring Arm's Helium technology, the Cortex-M52 provides a boost in DSP and ML performance for small, low-power embedded devices. This allows for more complex ML inference algorithms to be deployed in endpoint devices without the need for a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU). Previously successful in products at the network's Edge, Helium technology, with the Cortex-M52, can now penetrate into more cost and power-constrained devices.

The Cortex-M52 extends the capabilities of the Arm Cortex-M lineup, making it easier for developers to migrate from Cortex-M33 and Cortex-M4 processors. This new processor caters to a wide array of AIoT applications, enabling richer user interfaces and experiences in automotive, industrial control, predictive maintenance, and wearable sensor fusion. It offers the flexibility needed to scale across various performance points and configurations, providing DSP capabilities without a separate processing unit, thus saving on silicon area and cost.

Balancing performance, cost, and safety

As part of the Armv8.1-M lineup, the Cortex-M52 hits a new efficiency point, bringing ML capabilities to microcontrollers in a more compact and power-efficient manner. It offers the lowest area and power implementation of any Helium-enabled Cortex-M, giving silicon partners the ability to balance performance and cost. The Cortex-M52 also enhances safety features crucial in automotive and industrial control applications, expediting the journey to FuSa certification.

Developing AI for small endpoint devices has historically been a challenge due to the complex mathematics, data analysis, and programming skills required. The Cortex-M52 addresses these challenges by providing a unified development flow for traditional, DSP, and ML workloads. It offers integration and optimisations for leading machine learning frameworks, ensuring seamless development experiences and optimised performance.

The Cortex-M52 is fully compatible with Cortex-M55 and Cortex-M85, allowing developers to leverage a growing software and tools ecosystem around Helium. This includes access to free software libraries and a knowledge base from Arm's partner ecosystem. Additionally, the Cortex-M52 will be available on Arm Virtual Hardware, a cloud-based platform facilitating software development ahead of silicon availability.

The Cortex-M52 represents advancements in the AIoT landscape, enabling higher levels of AI inference performance on smaller devices. This development by Arm is set to catalyse a new era of IoT device deployments, harnessing the power of AI to create smarter, more efficient, and cost-effective embedded solutions across a spectrum of AIoT use cases. With the Cortex-M52, Arm and its partners are poised to redefine the boundaries of what's possible in the AIoT space.

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