More secure and efficient i.MX processors for the industrial and IoT edge

At Embedded World 2021, NXP announced the advanced i.MX 9 applications processor with improved performance for security, energy efficiency and scalability at the industrial and IoT edge. Updates to its product portfolio enhance edge processor security by integrating EdgeLock Secure Enclave, an independent, self-managing on-chip security subsystem that simplifies the deployment of cutting-edge security technologies.

In an interview with EEWeb, Gowri Chindalore, head of business and technology strategy for edge processing at NXP, Amanda McGregor, director of product management at NXP, and Mohit Arora, senior architect, edge processing, highlighted the expansion of the EdgeVerse product portfolio and its cross-border applications, and through Energy Flex architecture maximizes efficiency.

“Greener, safer, safer and more efficient are the themes of the new edge processing portfolio,” said Chindalore.

He added: “It’s really important for end devices at the edge to be more energy efficient so we can turn them off when the processor isn’t in use and just turn on the areas that need to be turned on, like some kind of real-time sensing or slower engines So creating architectures that allow us to selectively turn on and off parts of the SoC to create a broad range of optimized energy systems is very critical for us, and that has become one of our main guiding principles.”


Energy Flex Structure Block Diagram

Edge Processing i.MX Solutions

NXP highlighted that the next evolution of edge technology will be driven by intelligence distributed across billions of devices, which will be important for processing and energy efficiency. Microsoft Azure Sphere Certified i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS (Cloud Security) series and next-generation i.MX 9 series designed to pave the way for new solutions with EdgeLock security and Energy Flex architecture that can improve security performance and energy efficiency.

The EdgeLock Security Enclave is a preconfigured security subsystem that simplifies the implementation of complex security technologies and helps designers avoid costly mistakes. It enhances edge device protection by autonomously managing critical security features such as root of trust, runtime attestation, trust settings, secure boot, key management, and cryptographic services, while also simplifying the path to industry-standard security certifications.

“When we talk about security, we’re just talking about random number generators, encryption, and some kind of key management. Secure edge locking is a bit like aggregating all security-related functionality into some security subsystem, but more importantly Yes, running requires a dedicated security core with very tight controls,” Arora said.

EdgeLock Secure Enclave will be a standard feature built into i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS with Azure Sphere and i.MX 9 application processors.

“Security isn’t easy, so the improvements we’re implementing make that very easy,” Chindalore said.

NXP has partnered with Microsoft to bring security to customers through the Azure Sphere chip-to-cloud holistic security strategy in the i.MX 8ULP-CS (Cloud Security) application processor family. The i.MX 8ULP-CS incorporates Microsoft Pluto enabled in EdgeLock Secure Enclave for a wide range of IoT and industrial applications. In addition to secure hardware, Azure Sphere includes the secure Azure Sphere operating system, the cloud-based Azure Sphere security service. Certain products in the i.MX 9 series will also enable Azure Sphere chip-to-cloud security.

Energy Flex is designed to extend battery life and reduce power consumption in portable or connected devices. McGregor pointed out that there are many strict regulations in various industrial applications that need to improve energy efficiency. In the i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS series, the Energy Flex architecture improves energy efficiency by 75% over previous versions by uniquely combining heterogeneous domain processing, design technology and 28nm FD-SOI processing technology.

NXP’s i.MX 9 series builds on the market-proven i.MX 6 and i.MX 8 series of application processors, introducing a new generation of scalable processors and combining high-performance application cores with MCU independence. Real-time domain integration, Energy Flex architecture, state-of-the-art security technology with EdgeLock Secure Enclave and dedicated multi-sensor data processing engine (graphics, image, Display, audio and voice). The i.MX 9 series integrates hardware neural processing units throughout the series to accelerate machine learning applications.

Specific i.MX 9 applications processors will also support a wide range of advanced machine learning, including:

– Enables multi-object recognition and deceptive-free multi-face recognition in millisecond inference time.

– Speech system that can recognize natural language and accents.

– Gesture recognition analysis

– Anomaly detection for industrial predictive maintenance and comprehensive sensors in smart homes and numerous other industrial and IoT applications.

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