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PICMG spec standardizes links between IoT controllers and sensors

Oct 7, 2021 — by Eric Brown 294 views

PICMG has ratified an “IoT.1” firmware spec for standardizing plug-and-play communications between IoT controllers and sensors and effecters. The spec works with PICMG’s recent microSAM MCU module form factor.

PICMG, which is known primarily for its COM Express standards, has released its first draft of a firmware spec for Internet of Things connectivity at the sensor level. The IoT.1 spec is primarily concerned with microcontroller connections with sensors. However, starting with IoT.2, the spec will extend upward to industrial controllers and IoT gateways that runs Linux or Windows on COM Express modules and other PICMG form factors.

IoT.1, which is also called the IIoT Firmware Specification, was created in collaboration with Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), and it extends DMTF’s Platform Level Data Model (PLDM) spec. The project is guided by PICMG members Arroyo Technology, nVent, Triple Ring Technologies, and Sandy Systems.

Conceptual diagrams for PICMG IoT.1 (left) and microSAM’s IIoT Endpoint architecture
(click images to enlarge)

With IoT.1, IIoT nodes that implement IoT.1 can self-report their capabilities to higher level IIoT systems for plug-and-play discoverability, thereby “providing a uniform data model for operational configuration and control,” says PICMG. The spec defines a uniform process for configuring firmware.


The goal of the project is to “enable sensor vendors to create smart sensors without having to manufacture the control circuitry and/or software by purchasing these components from PICMG-compliant suppliers,” says PICMG. The spec also aims to improve interoperability between sensor and sensor component suppliers.

The IoT.1 spec also builds on PICMG’s previous work in IoT.0 in developing a micro Sensor Adapter Modules (microSAM) spec for a compute module form factor. MicroSAM is designed to provide connectivity for attached sensors that lack connectivity capabilities. Specifically, IoT.1 supports microSAM’s IIoT Endpoint architecture.

The 32 x 32mm MicroSAM form factor specifies RS422 communications, PWM output for motion control, power filtering and signal conditioning, and hardware interlock and trigger signals for sync. The spec calls for -40 to 85°C support and the use of latching connectors.

Further information

The IIoT Firmware Specification (IoT.1) and microSAM spec are each available for download for $750. More information may be found in PICMG’S announcement and the IoT.1 and microSAM product/shopping pages.

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