TAIPEI — MediaTek is working with Microsoft to deliver this year the first Azure Sphere chip, the MT3620 that the partners expect to drive IoT innovation with built-in security and connectivity.

Azure Sphere is designed for highly secured, connected MCU-powered devices at a price that the companies expect will make enterprise-class security affordable for an array of cloud-connected gadgets.

MediaTek and Microsoft have worked together to develop a specialized chipset with a Wi-Fi connected controller built around a processor designed to run Azure Sphere’s IoT operating system that includes support for Microsoft’s latest security protocols. The chipsets will be sold as part of the Azure Sphere solution, enabling customers to connect their MCU-powered products and devices with protection and security provided by Microsoft.

"Microsoft had a vision we also believed in. Bringing trust and security into IoT solutions from chip to cloud, to make connected devices practical to sell and manage for businesses and consumers," said Jerry Yu, a MediaTek vice president, in a press statement.

MediaTek is the reference chip partner for the Azure Sphere Partner Program.

Cost and Security

The partners expect a significant drop in the cost of connectivity will allow billions of MCU-powered devices, from household appliances and health monitors to children’s toys and industrial equipment to become IoT devices.

Yet each connection is vulnerable to attacks. IoT won’t become a mass market until devices, data and cloud are secure. That’s the fundamental problem the two companies aim to solve with their latest project. 

With more than 9 billion microcontroller-powered devices entering the market annually, Microsoft and MediaTek see as critical the need to ensure every connected device, regardless of price point, has the highest level of security embedded.

"In the next decade we’ll see the democratization of connectivity to billions of devices,” said Microsoft Managing Director Galen Hunt. "Azure Sphere brings together the best of Microsoft’s expertise in cloud, software, and silicon — resulting in a unique approach to security that starts in the silicon and extends to the cloud."

The MediaTek MT3620 is the first Azure Sphere-certified chip, which the companies expect will be the foundation for a new generation of secure intelligent edge devices and solutions. 

With Azure Sphere, Microsoft aims to build a new ecosystem, consisting of silicon vendors, ODMs and OEMs from a broad range of industries.

Recognizing the opportunities and risks associated with the growing number of IoT devices and applications, a group of companies have banded together to ensure that security standards are developed and upheld, according to Microsoft.

MediaTek is now sampling chips with lead customers and expects to ramp production by the third quarter of 2018.

— Alan Patterson covers the semiconductor industry for EE Times. He is based in Taiwan.