ARM Launches Lowest-Power Cortex Chip, Paves Way For 'Internet Of Things'

ARM Holdings Tuesday launched its new Cortex-M0+ processor, which the company is claiming to be the world’s most energy-efficient chip as well as a gateway to the device-to-device connectivity model referred to as the "Internet of Things."

The 32-bit processor is the latest in ARM’s Cortex family and consumes only one third of the power used by any 8- or 16-bit processor on the market today, the company said. The Cortex-M0+ is designed to deliver ultra low-power, low-cost microcontrollers for intelligent sensors embedded within a range of applications including home appliances and medical equipment.

The UK-based company said that the new chip will lay the foundation for the "Internet of Things," a phrase describing the ability of low-power microcontrollers, which are found today in a number of electronics products ranging from refrigerators to cars, to wirelessly communicate with one another or a centralized network for more efficient energy regulation.

[Related: ARM Eyes PC, Server Expansion As Intel's Mobile Threat Looms ]

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"The Cortex-M0+ processor is yet another demonstration of ARM low power leadership and its commitment to drive the industry forward towards ever lower power consumption," said Mike Inglis, executive vice president and general manager of ARM's Processor Divison, in a statement. "With our expertise in low-power technology, we have worked closely with our Partners on the definition of the new processor to ensure that it can enable the low-cost devices of today, while also unlocking the potential benefits delivered by 'the Internet of Things'."

ARM said that new processor has the potential to enable a range of "energy-saving and life-enhancing applications." Its use in a hospital, for instance, could allow doctors to automatically receive updates from patient body sensors wirelessly connected to health monitoring equipment.

Early licensees of the new Cortex-M0+ processor include Freescale and NXP Semiconductor.

Telecoms equipment company Ericcson projected last month that the number of connected devices would reach a whopping 50 by 2020, compared to the five billion reported in 2010. "The 50 billion connected devices vision marks the beginning of a new era of innovative, intertwined, combined products and services that utilize the power of networks," Ericcson said.