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IoT is reaching mainstream adoption across businesses in all market segments. Our vision is to enable Azure to be the world’s computer, giving businesses real-time visibility into every aspect of their operations, assets, and products. Businesses are harnessing signals from IoT devices of all shapes and sizes, from the very smallest microcontroller units (MCUs) to very capable microprocessor units (MPUs). This presents a great opportunity for collaboration between semiconductor manufacturers with extensive expertise in MCUs/MPUs and Azure IoT, an industry leader in IoT.

It has been nearly one year since we acquired Express Logic and their popular ThreadX RTOS, and last year we announced Azure RTOS that provides customers those capabilities with the leading real-time operating system (RTOS) in the industry.

Today, we’re announcing additional collaborations with industry leaders, which together represent the vast majority of the market for 32-bit MCUs. Their MCUs are embedded into billions of devices from sensors, streetlights, and shipping containers to smart home appliances, medical devices, and more.

STMicroelectronics, Renesas, NXP, Microchip, and Qualcomm will all offer embedded development kits featuring Azure RTOS ThreadX, one of the components of the Azure RTOS embedded application development suite. This allows embedded developers to access reliable, real-time performance for resource-constrained devices, and seamless integration with the power of Azure IoT to connect, monitor, and control a global fleet of IoT assets.

We will also be releasing the full source code for all Azure RTOS components on GitHub, allowing developers to freely explore, develop, test, and adapt Azure RTOS to suit their needs. When developers are ready to take their code into production, the production license will be included automatically if they deploy to any of the supported MCU devices from STMicroelectronics, Renesas, NXP, Microchip, or Qualcomm. If they prefer to use a different device in production, they may contact Microsoft for direct licensing details.

As we work with our semiconductor partners to implement best practices for connected devices, Azure RTOS will include easy-to-use reference projects and templates for connectivity to Azure IoT Hub, Azure IoT Central, Azure IoT Edge Gateways as well as first-class integration with Azure Security Center. Azure RTOS will soon ship with an Azure Security Center module for monitoring threats and vulnerabilities on IoT devices.

When combined with Azure Sphere, Azure RTOS enables embedded developers to quickly build real-time, highly-secured IoT devices for even the most demanding environments—robust devices that offer real-time performance and protection from evolving cybersecurity threats. For MCUs and system on chips (SoCs) that are smaller than what Azure Sphere supports, Azure RTOS and Azure IoT Hub Device Management enable secure communications for embedded developers and device operators who have the ability to implement best practices to protect devices from cybersecurity attacks.

For partners wishing to deliver reliable, real-time performance on highly-secured connected devices that stay secured against evolving cybersecurity threats over time, we recommend Azure RTOS and Azure Sphere together for the most demanding environments.

Here are more details on our collaboration with industry leaders.

STMicroelectronics (ST)

STMicroelectronics (ST) is a renowned world leader in ARM® Cortex®-M MCUs with its STM32 family, providing their OEM and mass-market customers with a wide portfolio of simple-to-use MCUs, coming with a complete development environment and best-in-class ecosystem.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Microsoft to address even better our customers’ needs,” said Ricardo de Sa Earp, Group Vice-President, Microcontrollers Division General Manager, STMicroelectronics. “Leveraging our installed base of more than five billion STM32 MCUs shipped to date to the global embedded market, we see Azure RTOS ThreadX and middleware as a perfect match to both our mass-market and OEM IoT strategies, complementing our development environment with industry-proven, reliable, high-quality source code.” 

Renesas Electronics Corporation

Renesas Electronics Corporation is a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions. Last October, we announced that Azure RTOS will be broadly available across Renesas' products, including the Synergy and RA MCU families. Renesas is also working to build Azure RTOS into their broader set of MCUs and MPUs.

“Our Synergy and RX cloud kits combined with Azure RTOS and other Azure IoT building blocks offer MCU customers a quick and secure end-to-end solution for cloud connectivity,” said Sailesh Chittipeddi, Executive Vice President, General Manager of Renesas’ IoT and Infrastructure business unit. “We are excited to expand our collaboration with Microsoft and look forward to bringing Microsoft Azure to our MCU and MPU customers, including solutions that will support Azure IoT Edge Runtime for Linux on our RZ MPUs.”

NXP Semiconductors 

NXP Semiconductors is a world leader in secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, serving customers in the automotive, industrial and IoT, mobile, and communication infrastructure sectors. Microsoft has been collaborating with NXP to extend intelligent cloud computing to the intelligent edge, from adding voice control directly to devices to offering machine learning solutions for edge devices, to device security with Azure Sphere. They plan to integrate Azure RTOS into their evaluation kits and some of the most popular IoT processor families in the industry.

“Edge computing reduces the latency, bandwidth and privacy concerns of a cloud-only Internet of Things,” said Jerome Schang, Head of Cloud Partnership programs at NXP. “Enabling Azure RTOS on NXP’s MCUs is yet another step to provide edge computing solutions that unlock the benefits of edge to Azure IoT cloud interaction.”

Microchip Technology, Inc.

Microchip Technology Inc. is a leading provider of smart, connected, and secure embedded control solutions. Their solutions serve customers across the industrial, automotive, consumer, aerospace and defense, communications, and computing markets. Microchip plans to incorporate support for Azure RTOS and Azure IoT Edge across their product families.

“Microchip is building on its already comprehensive portfolio of tools and solutions to enable quick, easy development of secure IoT applications across the full spectrum of embedded control devices and architectures,” said Greg Robinson, associate vice president of Microchip’s 8-bit microcontroller business unit. “Our partnership with Microsoft Azure extends our dedication to developing innovative solutions.”

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Qualcomm is a pioneer of wireless technology and powers the cellular connection of smartphones and tablets all over the planet. Qualcomm will be offering a cellular-enabled Azure Sphere certified chip and will be bringing Azure RTOS to cellular-connected device solutions found inside asset trackers, health monitors, security systems, smart city sensors, and smart meters, as well as a range of wearables.

”Qualcomm is a leader in wireless compute and connectivity technologies – not just in mobile, but in emerging markets like the Internet of Things as well,” said Jeff Torrance, Vice President, IoT, Qualcomm. “We’re proud to continue to work closely with Microsoft on solutions like Azure RTOS and Azure Sphere to jointly advance the IoT industry around the world.”

Learn more

We continue to work diligently with industry-leaders to create a rich, robust ecosystem that serves the world’s unique and diverse needs. Our collective aim is to enable customers to easily bring their ideas to life and truly unlock the opportunities available on the intelligent edge and the intelligent cloud. Find out more about why so many IoT industry leaders are excited about the benefits that Azure RTOS brings to their device solutions.

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