ARMv8-M architecture simplifies security for smart devices

11 November 2015

ARM has driven security for ARM Cortex-M devices into the hardware layer to give an efficient way of protecting embedded or IoT devices.

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.

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 optimised cryptography and the lifecycle management of key materials.


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 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.

AMBA specification extends security

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

To further accelerate the design of ARMv8-M based systems, ARM is providing early access to software development tools, software abstraction layers, and the architecture reference simulation model. These components allow system architects and software engineers to develop a TrustZone enabled embedded or IoT application prior to the availability of devices. The tools are available under an early access program to ecosystem partners:

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 utilise 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.

ARM Fast Models: provides the ARMv8-M architecture reference simulation model that connects to EDA and software development tools to enable complete software validation.

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

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