NXP announced the LS1012A processor, which the company claimed is the smallest and lowest power 64-bit chip that comes with multiple built-in hardware security features.
The LS1012A chip is powered by a single-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPU, which makes it one of the most powerful IoT-focused chips around, and yet the chip is contained in that small 9.6 x 9.6 mm package.
NXP said that the LS1012A is the first chip small enough to be integrated directly onto the printed circuit board of an HDD, which means it enables the existence of “Ethernet drives” that have the same form factor as existing HDDs. These sort of drives can be used in data centers that employ
object-based file architectures that work across networks of intelligent HDDs.
At 2,000 CoreMark of performance, the chip consumes about 1 W of power. It has a Packet Forwarding Engine for acceleration of IP packet processing to reduce CPU load and power consumption. It also includes support for peripherals such as USB 3.0, PCIe, 2.5 Gbps Ethernet, and SATA3.
“The groundbreaking combination of low power, tiny footprint and networking-grade performance of NXP’s LS1012 processor is ideal for consumer, networking and Internet of Things applications alike,” said Tareq Bustami, senior vice president and general manager of NXP’s Digital Networking division. “This unique blend of capabilities unleashes embedded systems designers and developers to imagine and create radically innovative end-products across a broad spectrum of high-growth markets,” he added.
One of the main selling points of the chip is its security features, which include built-in hardware root of trust, crypto acceleration, secure debug, secure manufacturing (the firmware is protected against malicious manufacturing employees), and an ARM TrustZone, where the cryptographic master keys are stored.
The software development kit supports Linux. NXP also offers “application solution kits” based on OpenWrt, the popular open source Linux-based embedded operating system. It’s typically used for routers, but it can also be used for IoT gateways and networked storage. The company said it supports other third-party operating systems, tools and development boards, too.
The development tools will include the full software development kit with Yocto support, CodeWarrior for the 64-bit ARMv8 toolchain, and a reference development board. NXP’s LS1012A chip will be available in April 2016, but you can order it now.
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu.