Microsoft, MediaTek launch new family of Azure Sphere IoT chips

Microsoft, MediaTek launch new family of Azure Sphere IoT chips

Fabless semiconductor provider MediaTek has announced that it has collaborated with Microsoft to deliver the first of a new family of ARM-based Azure Sphere chips, the MT3620.

Azure Sphere is Microsoft’s new Linux-based software kernel for creating secure, microcontroller unit (MCU) powered devices for connected applications.

The collaboration is the first fruit of a programme in which Microsoft makes its new IoT System on Chip (SoC) designs available to hardware manufacturers, which make and sell the chips on to IoT device makers, effectively locking them in to the Azure Sphere OS, along with Microsoft’s cloud and edge services.

“MediaTek has a long history of working with Microsoft on specific SoC designs that meet demanding connectivity needs,” said Jerry Yu, MediaTek corporate VP and general manager of the Intelligent Devices Business Group.

“On top of our close ties with Microsoft and design expertise, Microsoft had a vision we also believed in. Bringing trust and security into IoT solutions from chip to cloud, to make connected devices practical to sell and manage for businesses and consumers.”

Significant drops in the cost of connectivity mean that billions of SoC-powered devices, from household appliances and health monitors to children’s toys and industrial equipment, will be connected over the next few years.

More than nine billion of these microcontroller-powered devices are entering the market annually, according to MediaTek, which makes it critical that industry leaders work together to ensure that every connected device, regardless of price, has the highest level of security embedded within it.

Microsoft’s solution is to secure the SoCs at firmware level, and prevent hackers or malicious code from highjacking IoT devices’ wireless connectivity and processors for cryptomining and other unauthorised purposes.

“Today, computing is more powerful and ubiquitous from the cloud to the edge. In the next decade we’ll see the democratisation of connectivity to billions of devices,” said Galen Hunt, MD Azure Sphere, Microsoft.

“Azure Sphere brings together the best of Microsoft’s expertise in cloud, software, and silicon, resulting in a unique approach to security that starts in the silicon and extends to the cloud.

“MediaTek has worked in close collaboration with us on the silicon aspect of our solution, and we are pleased to share in this announcement of the MT3620, the first Azure Sphere certified chip.”

Internet of Business says

This latest announcement comes in the wake of Microsoft joining Dell and others in shifting its corporate focus towards the IoT, with a focus on edge services and intelligence. It also comes in the wake of numerous security reports – see Internet of Business passim – which have been critical of the security levels of IoT devices.

Microsoft’s new solution links a secured MCU/SoC with a secure OS and cloud security to create an end-to-end package. MediaTek is the first hardware manufacturer to release a new product based on the system, with more expected to follow soon.