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Arm SystemReady gives developers an out-of-the-box software experience that “just works”

Nitya Verma
25 Mar 2022

As an official Arm SystemReady IR certification partner, Capgemini is helping chip, platform, and product companies streamline embedded development with software that “just works.”

The value chain for developing today’s intelligent embedded products is a case study in complex ecosystem partnerships. It involves many moving parts and many vendors – developing IP and chips, low-level software; operating systems (OSs) and real-time operating systems (RTOSs); many layers of embedded software, middleware, frameworks, and protocol stacks; boards and system hardware, application software; along with system integrators, testers, certification specialists, and more — all adding their unique technology and business value along the way. With this kind of complexity and diversity, it’s crucial that each company in the chain be able to rely on the features, functionality, and performance of the previous building blocks on which their solutions are built. For example, application developers must rely on communications and connectivity stacks to work as specified; stacks must rely on the OS and lower-level software to correctly enable chip and other hardware features, and so on.

For firmware and other low-level software, however, this ‘trust’ is not always guaranteed.  Low-level software, such as firmware, drivers, board support packages, and SDKs, are developed for and tested at a specific OS/kernel revs. But by the time device development begins, a new OS/kernel has often been released, or the OS specified or hardware chosen by embedded developers is not the same as when this low-level software was released. These differences between what was released by chip or chip software vendors and what is required by embedded developers (who typically need to be working with the latest OS rev), if left unaligned, can often lead to bugs discovered later in product development in some not so straightforward ways. These could include issues such as transient feature discrepancies, sub-par performance, elusive security glitches, even device crashes, to name just a few, that can be challenging to detect and tie back to the cause. The consequences can be as straightforward as increased cost or delayed schedules, or if not uncovered and debugged during rigorous testing, even product failure after deployment.

Arm SystemReady enables software to ‘just work’

It’s key that embedded developers – anywhere in the value chain — be able to rely on precursor building blocks when they design, develop and test their platforms and products. This was precisely the problem Arm set out to fix with its SystemReady compliance certification program for chip, platform, and product developers building embedded components based on their core IP. SystemReady certification ensures that Arm-based chips and their low-level software are tested and certified to work as expected. Or as Arm puts it, they want to Arm developers to have confidence that generic off-the-shelf chips, low-level software, OS and subsequent layers of software in their devices will ‘just work’… right out of the box.  Certification assures chip & firmware developers their chip is ready for development; and it assures embedded developers they can port the chip and low-level software to any OS or hardware platform they choose and the chip will behave as expected.  This can bring dramatic cost and time savings compared to finding out later… this was not the case.

Who benefits?

1) Silicon providers, both fabless and IDMs – get assurance their products (chips, and low-level software) will perform as expected for their platform and product developer customers.

2) OS & RTOS vendors – Regardless of the age of the low-level software, certification includes testing at the current OS rev, giving OS vendors the assurance that low level software will ‘just’ work at any OS rev up to the rev used in the certification. This gives their platform developer customers a wider choice of OS.

3) Platform and component OEMs & ODMs – are assured that their application developers can just start using chips, software and hardware platforms with confidence that they can use standard firmware interfaces to build, deploy and maintain their products.

Capgemini is now an official certification testing lab for SystemReady IR

Arm SystemReady certification is based on a set of hardware and firmware standards and a selection of market-specific supplements and is performed by an official certification testing lab. Four SystemReady bands are designed to support different device classes:  SystemReady SR, SystemReady ES, SystemReady IR, and SystemReady LS.  More on SystemReady bands here.

Recently, Capgemini became an official certification testing lab for the SystemReady IR band in the Arm® SystemReady program.  The SystemReady IR band provides system certification for devices in the IoT edge sector built around system-on-chip (SoC) ICs based on the Arm A-profile architecture. More about the SystemReady IR band here.

Certification is typically thought of as the ‘last step’ in device development, a ‘gate’ of sorts before devices – whether chips, platforms, or products – are made available for the next phase of product development. But it is common for certification testing to uncover issues with device software both before and during the testing process.  To help developers prepare for certification, perform the certification testing itself, and debug issues encountered during certification, Capgemini offers three options for companies seeking ServiceReady IR certification.

  • SystemReady IR certification testing includes complete testing of a qualified chip, platform or product according to the Arm SystemReady IR test & certification plan. On completion of the test suites, CapGemini submits the results to Arm for review, and certified products are issued a formal certificate by Arm, including promotion into the Arm SystemReady Catalog.
  • Pre-certification firmware upgrade services are available for device firmware or other low-level software that may require an upgrade prior to certification in order to meet baseline requirements for certification.
  • Custom engineering services assist developers in handling issues uncovered during the certification process such as: diagnosing and fixing problems encountered during certification (and re-run testing until certification is successful), custom firmware migration, multiple OS distribution verifications for the latest releases, device driver and BSP development or modification, and other services as needed.

For more information on SystemReady certification services, to download the Capgemini Engineering Arm SystemReady IR Certification brochure, or to kick-off SystemReady IR certification project, visit the Capgemini SystemReady IR certification portal.

Author: Nitya Verma, Senior Director DSP, Capgemini Engineering