ARMv8-M Architecture Simplifies Security for Smart Embedded Devices

November 10, 2015

Launch of ARM®v8-M architecture extends ARM TrustZone® technology to microcontrollers, creating a foundation in processor hardware that makes it easier for developers to deliver security in small embedded devices.

Cambridge, UK, Nov. 10, 2015 – ARM has driven security for devices based on ARM Cortex®-M processors into the hardware layer to ensure developers have a fast and efficient way of protecting any embedded or Internet of Things (IoT) device. This is achieved with ARM TrustZone technology, now available as a feature within the latest ARMv8-M architecture being launched today at ARM TechCon 2015. TrustZone helps secure data, firmware, and peripherals by creating separate trusted and non-trusted states across the processor system.

“By offering security, enhanced scalability, and improved debug, the ARMv8-M architecture makes it easier for developers to meet the needs of next generation embedded devices,” said Mike Muller, chief technology officer, ARM. “Security is critical, yet small embedded devices often have limited protection or are secured with software-managed security that requires developers to have significant technical expertise. By moving the protection down into the hardware architecture, as is achieved with ARMv8-M, we are making security easier to implement and much more efficient.”

Beyond the architecture, ARM is taking data protection to the next level with the TrustZone CryptoCell product family. The enhanced security technology creates an additional layer of hardware security and enables the isolated storage of high value assets, offering optimized cryptography and the lifecycle management of key materials.

“As IoT innovation and adoption continues to grow, so has the opportunity for new cybersecurity risks,” said Shankar Somasundaram, senior director, Internet of Things, Symantec. “Symantec has partnered with ARM to bring trust and security to IoT devices by releasing one of the first security commercial applications running on TrustZone and will continue to work with ARM to deliver innovative ‘secure-by-design’ solutions for TrustZone on ARMv8-M based devices.”


The new architecture makes it easier for developers to write code that spans from the most energy-efficient to the highest performing ARMv8-M based processor. It also makes it easier to integrate low power ARM Cortex-M processors alongside more powerful Cortex-A processors, to allow the development of higher performance system-on-chip (SoC) products. By enhancing the industry’s ability to produce premium embedded SoC designs, there will be new opportunities for smart connected technology. This can benefit any sector, including health, identification or factory machine management, where the analysis and use of secure data can add new value.

New ARM AMBA® Specification Extends Security to the Embedded SoC

To complement the ARMv8-M architecture, the ARM AMBA 5 AHB5 specification has been launched to extend the TrustZone security foundation from the processor to the entire system for embedded designs. This new version of the AHB interconnect standard is available to download and adds security controls as well as extended memory types required for higher performance embedded systems. AMBA 5 AHB5 supports ARMv8-M architecture and TrustZone technology.

Ecosystem Partner Support

ARM Keil® MDK: including Compiler, Debugger and IDE for Cortex-M processor based microcontrollers. Enhancements to Keil MDK enable both secure and non-secure ARMv8-M software development.

ARM CMSIS: includes functions to utilize the TrustZone security extensions of the ARMv8-M architecture. The non-secure programmer’s model of the CMSIS-Core allows direct migration of Cortex-M application code.

ARMv8-M architecture training: is available for early adopters online at

Partner Quotes:

Express Logic
“The new ARMv8-M architecture adds a hardware foundation of security to the heart of the embedded processor, providing a standard for the embedded industry to create security solutions,” said William Lamie, CEO, Express Logic. “Our ThreadX RTOS and communication stacks are widely used by developers of ARM-based systems and we are excited to extend these solutions, taking advantage of the highly efficient, low overhead, low latency security solution offered by the ARMv8-M architecture.”

Green Hills Software
“Next generation embedded IoT products demand assured security and efficiency and ARM’s latest ARMv8-M architecture with TrustZone helps address both of these by delivering a scalable and trusted hardware architecture,” said Dan Mender, vice president, business development, Green Hills Software. “When coupled with our safety and security certified real-time operating systems, development tools and cryptographic toolkits, joint customers are enabled to achieve rigorous security and aggressive performance goals when developing embedded IoT products on this highly efficient architecture.”

“The new ARMv8-M architecture addresses three important characteristics applicable to tomorrow’s microcontroller based products: security, scalability and developer productivity,” said Mats Ullström, chief operating officer, IAR Systems. “Our complete fully integrated complier and debugger toolchain, IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM, helps software developers create the solutions needed for the next generation IoT and embedded systems using ARMv8-M architecture.”

"In order to trust the big data, you have to know that the little data is secure,” said John Cohn, IBM Fellow, Watson IoT. The ARMv8-M architecture with TrustZone will allow us to secure data right at the point of collection and extend that trust up through our IoT platform. Security is important to both ARM and IBM. Having it designed in from the base is the right way for us to build an end to end trusted solution together."

Mentor Graphics
“The ARMv8-M architecture provides the ability for device manufacturers to trust the authenticity of a device’s software, enabling assurance of in-the-field upgrades and services more typically associated with a higher-end complex device,” said Scot Morrison, general manager, platforms business unit, embedded systems division, Mentor Graphics. “Our Nucleus RTOS continues to be one of the most highly deployed in the industry due to its security, reliability and scalability providing a robust solution across the Cortex-M portfolio.”

“As we move to a connected world, the security and scalability of smart embedded device has become key,” said Jean J. Labrosse, CEO, Micrium Embedded Software. “The ARMv8-M architecture addresses these demanding constraints, and with TrustZone offers a fast efficient foundation for security. Micrium’s industry-leading real time operating system and ARMv8-M architecture are an ideal combination for smart embedded products.”

Real Time Engineers

“The ARMv8-M architecture provides, at the hardware level, a secure foundation to protect a deeply embedded system’s software, hardware and data from attack,” said Richard Barry, director, Real Time Engineers Ltd., maintainers of the FreeRTOS project. “ARMv8-M provides a flexible and scalable architecture making it easier for developers using FreeRTOS to take advantage of this higher level of security.”

“As IoT innovation and adoption continues to grow, so has the opportunity for new cybersecurity risks,” said Shankar Somasundaram, senior director, Internet of Things, Symantec. “Symantec has partnered with ARM to bring trust and security to IoT devices by releasing one of the first security commercial applications running on TrustZone and will continue to work with ARM to deliver innovative ‘secure-by-design’ solutions for TrustZone on ARMv8-M based devices.”

“Trustonic and TrustZone secures enterprise services and personal data in over 400M mobile devices,” said Ben Cade, CEO, Trustonic. “IoT has similar challenges in securing critical services and data. Trustonic brings a proven secure, simple and scalable solution to developers creating smart connected products with ARMv8-M Trustzone.”



Andy Winstanley
+44 1223 405244/ +44 7788 249712
Director of Corporate PR, ARM

About ARM TrustZone

ARM TrustZone technology provides a system approach to processor partitioning that isolates hardware resources and software to create a “secure” world protected from software attacks.

Devices with safety and security operating requirements can isolate and execute secure applications in a trusted environment with priority execution over the non-secure applications in the normal world. Devices requiring a safe domain with dedicated peripherals for trusted applications to support secure software updates, digital rights management, and trusted payments can all benefit from the hardware partitioning technology provided by TrustZone.

ARM also offers TrustZone CryptoCell-300 and CryptoCell-700 family security technology to protect software and communications through hardware assistance. It includes hardware acceleration of cryptographic functions, to provide a more efficient and fast way of securing data and communications with IoT and embedded devices.

About ARM
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