Virtualization pushes into microcontrollers

February 24, 2014 // By Nick Flaherty
Virtualization is set to be the next battlefield for microcontroller technology.

Both MIPS and ARM are bringing virtualization to industrial microcontrollers in different ways. Imagination Technologies is rolling out the world’s first MCU cores that incorporate hardware virtualization, while ARM is preparing its own version of virtualization technology for the embedded market.
The MIPS M-class M51xx cores form the first group of entry-level MIPS Series5 Warrior CPUs for industrial control, Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, cloud computing, wireless communications, automotive, storage and other applications.
“With the MIPS Series5 M-class IP cores, we believe we’re bringing fresh thinking to the embedded world,” said Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing at Imagination. “We have seen the trends leading to the need for more advanced multi-context security and multiple execution domains right across the CPU spectrum, which is why we’re now rolling out virtualization across our entire range of MIPS Series5 CPUs, including the new entry-level M51xx family.”
“The performance and low power credentials of our latest M-class CPUs have already generated a lot of excitement with our key licensees and partners,” he said. “With advanced functionality such as virtualization, full FPUs and advanced DSP capabilities, complemented by mature tools both from ourselves and our ecosystem partners such as Mentor Graphics and Green Hills Software, we’re confident you’ll be hearing a lot more about MIPS embedded CPUs in the coolest and most disruptive chips and products.”
Virtualization is also at the heart of the next version of the Cortex-R which was announced last October and is very much aimed at industrial customers who want the performance of microprocessor in a microcontroller, says Richard York, vice president of embedded CPU marketing at ARM.
“We are still not ready yet to say what form the implementation will take but the construction of that has happened,” he said. “It needs to be thoroughly built before we talk to the world about it. We took that to companies such as Green Hills and they in particular have been great and