Azure Sphere

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Azure Sphere
Windows Azure logo.png
DeveloperMicrosoft
Written inC and others
OS familyUnix-like (Linux)
Working stateCurrent
Source modelAt least partially open source
General
availability
February 24, 2020; 13 months ago (February 24, 2020)
Latest preview19.10[1] / 2019
PlatformsARM (MediaTek MT3620)
Kernel typeMonolithic kernel
LicenseTo be determined
Official websitewww.microsoft.com/en-us/azure-sphere/

Azure Sphere are services and products from Microsoft that allows vendors of Internet of Things devices to increase security by combining a specific system on a chip, Azure Sphere OS and an Azure-based cloud environment for continuous monitoring.

Azure Sphere OS[edit]

The Azure Sphere OS is a custom Linux-based microcontroller operating system created by Microsoft to run on an Azure Sphere-certified chip and to connect to the Azure Sphere Security Service.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] The Azure Sphere OS provides a platform for Internet of Things application development, including both high-level applications and real-time capable applications. It is the first operating system running a Linux kernel[10] that Microsoft has publicly released and the second Unix-like operating system that the company has developed for external (public) users, the other being Xenix.

Azure Sphere Security Service[edit]

The Azure Sphere Security Service, sometimes referred to as AS3, is a cloud-based service that enables maintenance, updates, and control for Azure Sphere-certified chips. The Azure Sphere Security Service establishes a secure connection between a device and the internet and/or cloud services and ensures secure boot. The primary purpose of contact between an Azure Sphere device and the Azure Sphere Security Service is to authenticate the device identity, ensure the integrity and trust of the system software, and to certify that the device is running a trusted code base. The service also provides the secure channel used by Microsoft to automatically download and install Azure Sphere OS updates and customer application updates to deployed devices.

Azure Sphere chips and hardware[edit]

Azure Sphere-certified chips and hardware support two general implementation categories: greenfield and brownfield. Greenfield implementation involves designing and building new IoT devices with an Azure Sphere-certified chip. Azure Sphere-certified chips are currently produced by MediaTek.[11] In June 2019, NXP announced plans to produce a line of Azure Sphere-certified chips. In October 2019, Qualcomm announced plans to produce the first Azure Sphere-certified chips with cellular capabilities.[12] Brownfield implementation involves the use of an Azure Sphere guardian device to securely connect an existing device to the internet. Azure Sphere guardian modules are currently produced by Avnet.

MediaTek 3620[edit]

MT3620 is the first Azure Sphere-certified chip and includes an ARM Cortex-A7 processor (500MHz), two ARM Cortex-M4F I/O subsystems (200MHz), 5x UART/I2C/SPI, 2x I2S, 8x ADC, up to 12 PWM counters and up to 72x GPIO, and Wi-Fi capability. MT3620 contains the Microsoft Pluton security subsystem with a dedicated Arm Cortext-M4F core that handles secure boot and secure system operation.

Azure Sphere Hardware[edit]

Azure Sphere-certified chips can be purchased in several different hardware configurations produced by Microsoft partners.

Modules

  • Avnet Wi-Fi Module
  • AI-Link Wi-Fi Module
  • USI Dual Band Wi-Fi Module

Development kits

  • Avnet MT3620 Starter Kit
  • Seeed MT3620 Dev Board
  • Seeed MT3620 Mini Dev Board

Guardian devices

  • Avnet Guardian Module

Azure Sphere Guardian module[edit]

An Azure Sphere Guardian module is external, add-on hardware that incorporates an Azure Sphere-certified chip and can be used to securely connect an existing device to the internet. In addition to an Azure-Sphere certified chip, an Azure Sphere Guardian module includes the Azure Sphere OS and the Azure Sphere Security Service. A guardian module is a method of implementing secure connectivity for existing devices without exposing those devices to the internet. The guardian module can be connected to a device through an existing peripheral on the device and is then connected to the internet through Wi-Fi or Ethernet. The device itself is not connected directly to the network.

Microsoft Pluton[edit]

Pluton is a Microsoft-designed security subsystem that implements a hardware-based root of trust for Azure Sphere. It includes a security processor core, cryptographic engines, a hardware random number generator, public/private key generation, asymmetric and symmetric encryption, support for elliptic curve digital signature algorithm (ECDSA) verification for secured boot, and measured boot in silicon to support remote attestation with a cloud service, and various tampering counter-measures.

Application development[edit]

The Linux-based Azure Sphere OS provides a platform for developers to write applications that use peripherals on the Azure Sphere chip. Applications can run on either the A7 core with access to external communications or as real-time capable apps on one of the M4 processors. Real-time capable applications can run on either bare metal or with a real-time operating system (RTOS). Developer applications can be distributed to Azure Sphere devices through the same secure mechanism as the Azure Sphere OS updates.

Timeline[edit]

The following is a list of announcements and releases from Microsoft around Azure Sphere.

Date Description
2018-05-21 Azure Sphere Announcement[13]
2018-09-24 Azure Sphere services are in public preview and dev kits are broadly available[14]
2018-10-22 Explanation of Azure Sphere tenant concept[15]
2018-11-05 Upcoming Azure Sphere 18.11 release[16]
2018-11-16 Update 18.11 for Azure Sphere in public preview[17]
2019-01-07 Description of Azure Sphere secured MCU[18]
2019-01-09 Azure Sphere: Update to the 18.11 release[19]
2019-02-15 Azure Sphere 19.02 Release[20]
2019-03-15 Update 19.03 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation[21]
2019-03-29 Update 19.03 for Azure Sphere public preview now available in Retail feed[22]
2019-04-10 Update 19.04 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation[23]
2019-04-24 Update 19.04 for Azure Sphere public preview now available in Retail feed[24]
2019-05-16 Update 19.05 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation[25]
2019-05-31 Azure Sphere 19.05 Release Unlocks new features in the MT3620[26]
2019-06-24 Update 19.06 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation[27]
2019-07-08 Update 19.06 for Azure Sphere public preview now available in Retail feed[28]
2019-07-17 Update 19.07 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation[29]
2019-07-31 The latest update to Azure Sphere (in preview) is now available in the retail feed[30]
2019-09-25 Azure Sphere Preview—Update 19.09 is now available for evaluation[31]
2019-11-01 Microsoft announces Azure Sphere will be generally available in February 2020[32]
2019-11-07 Update 19.10 for Azure Sphere now available[33]
2019-12-06 Azure Sphere update 19.11 is now available via retail feed[34]
2020-02-24 Azure Sphere is now Generally Available[35]
2020-08-20 Azure Sphere OS 20.08 is now available via retail feed[36]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Update 19.10 for Azure Sphere now available". azure.microsoft.com. November 7, 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Azure Sphere - a solution for creating highly-secured, connected MCU powered devices | Microsoft
  3. ^ Now that's old-school cool: Microsoft techies slap Azure Sphere IoT chip in an Altair 8800 · The Register
  4. ^ Microsoft’s bid to secure the Internet of Things: Custom Linux, custom chips, Azure | Ars Technica
  5. ^ Azure Sphere - Microsoft's Ambitious Plan To Own The Next-Generation IoT Devices
  6. ^ Inside Microsoft’s Azure Sphere hardware for secure IoT | InfoWorld
  7. ^ Microsoft introduces Azure Sphere for securing IoT devices | ZDNet
  8. ^ Microsoft's chip push continues with Azure Sphere: Securing gadgets with chips and Linux | PCWorld
  9. ^ Microsoft announces Azure Sphere for IoT security - Neowin
  10. ^ Microsoft wants to stuff Linux, not Windows 10, into Internet of Things devices | Digital Trends
  11. ^ "Azure Sphere". Archived from the original on 2018-06-14. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  12. ^ "Qualcomm to build Azure Sphere chips with Cellular connectivity". build5nines.com. October 23, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Azure Sphere". azure.microsoft.com. May 21, 2018. Retrieved May 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "Azure Sphere services are in public preview and dev kits are broadly available". azure.microsoft.com. September 24, 2018. Retrieved September 24, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Background on Azure Sphere tenant concept". azure.microsoft.com. May 21, 2018. Retrieved May 21, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Upcoming Azure Sphere 18.11 release". azure.microsoft.com. November 5, 2018. Retrieved November 5, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Update 18.11 for Azure Sphere in public preview". azure.microsoft.com. November 16, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Azure Sphere - Anatomy of a secured MCU". azure.microsoft.com. January 7, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "Azure Sphere: Update to the 18.11 release". azure.microsoft.com. January 9, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ "Azure Sphere 19.02 Releas". azure.microsoft.com. February 15, 2019. Retrieved February 15, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "Update 19.03 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation". azure.microsoft.com. March 15, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ "Update 19.03 for Azure Sphere public preview now available in Retail feed". azure.microsoft.com. March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ "Update 19.04 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation". azure.microsoft.com. April 10, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  24. ^ "Update 19.04 for Azure Sphere public preview now available in Retail feed". azure.microsoft.com. April 24, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ "Update 19.05 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation". azure.microsoft.com. May 16, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. ^ "Azure Sphere 19.05 Release Unlocks new features in the MT3620". azure.microsoft.com. May 31, 2019. Retrieved May 31, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  27. ^ "Update 19.06 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation". azure.microsoft.com. June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  28. ^ "Update 19.06 for Azure Sphere public preview now available in Retail feed". azure.microsoft.com. July 8, 2019. Retrieved July 8, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  29. ^ "Update 19.07 for Azure Sphere public preview now available for evaluation". azure.microsoft.com. July 17, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  30. ^ "The latest update to Azure Sphere (in preview) is now available in the retail feed". azure.microsoft.com. July 31, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  31. ^ "Azure Sphere Preview—Update 19.09 is now available for evaluation". azure.microsoft.com. September 25, 2019. Retrieved September 25, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  32. ^ "Azure Sphere will be generally available in February 2020". azure.microsoft.com. November 1, 2019. Retrieved November 1, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  33. ^ "Update 19.10 for Azure Sphere now available". azure.microsoft.com. November 7, 2019. Retrieved November 7, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  34. ^ "Azure Sphere update 19.11 is now available via retail feed". azure.microsoft.com. December 6, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  35. ^ "A secure foundation for IoT, Azure Sphere now generally available". azure.microsoft.com. February 24, 2020. Retrieved February 24, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  36. ^ "Azure Sphere OS version 20.08 is now available". azure.microsoft.com. August 20, 2020. Retrieved August 21, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]