Arm Abandons Cordio Hardware Development

Article By : Nitin Dahad, EE Times

Halts work on hardware IP, but maintains efforts on Cordio BLE software

LONDON — Arm is abandoning development of its Cordio hardware IP for low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) applications based on the NarrowBand IoT standard, but will continue to concentrate on the Cordio BLE software stack, EE Times has learned.

In recent weeks, Arm shuttered its office in Lund, Sweden, and Loughborough, U.K., cutting jobs and halting work on Cordio. While the Lund office was focused on NB-IoT solutions, the Loughborough office was working on Arm’s image signal processor.

“We are proposing to reshape Arm’s IoT device IP strategy and to stop work on Arm Cordio hardware IP, which includes LPWAN technology and personal area network [PAN],” a senior spokesman for Arm told EE Times. “Bluetooth Low Energy [BLE] software remains a key strategic asset. That team and technology will be integrated into our IoT Services Group [ISG] to support Mbed OS adoption.”

Cordio has been a prominent piece of Arm’s strategy to offer complete low-power wireless IP for LPWAN applications based on NB-IoT and complete RF-to-application coverage for wireless personal area networks.

Just over three years ago, Arm acquired Wicentric and Sunrise Micro Devices to develop its Cordio portfolio of Bluetooth hardware and software. Two years later, it acquired Mistbase and NextG-Com to further develop the platform.

But ultimately, Arm may have found business challenging. The Bluetooth hardware market is crowded with many players and dominated by Qualcomm CSR chipsets, making it difficult for upstarts to compete. And Bluetooth is a commodity, very much like a Universal Asynchronous Receiver and Transmitter (UART), with very little margin for standalone commodity IP unless it’s part of a bigger system solution.

We asked Arm whether there was any change in strategy with all of these changes given that it had already confirmed in September that it was cutting 180 jobs around the world. The senior corporate spokesperson told us that Arm is continually evaluating its resources and technology to ensure that it is correctly positioned to support its growth strategies.

“This includes continually reviewing technologies, resources, and approaches including locations and talent,” he said.

The spokesman added that there is discussion of closing some sites, but there is no shift from its focus on connectivity strategy, citing the acquisition of Stream Technologies as part of its Pelion IoT platform. The only decision that has been made is that Arm will stop development of Cordio hardware IP, concentrating instead on just the software stack.

The Arm spokesman emphasized that Arm remains committed to connectivity as it is a key part of its IoT device management strategy, and that it will continue to invest in the Cordio BLE software stack, which will form the basis of an MbedOS-based secure IoT connectivity solution.

“Within our IP business, Arm will continue its investment in eSIM technology along with supporting software and services,” he said.

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