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Samsung adds more secure Artik models, and switches from Fedora to Ubuntu

Oct 24, 2017 — by Eric Brown 1,482 views

Samsung unveiled extra-secure versions of its Artik COMs, including a new Artik 055s model, and it’s switching its Artik 530 and 710 from Fedora to Ubuntu.

At last week’s Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) 2017 in San Francisco, Samsung announced several updates to its Artik line of computer-on-modules. The Korean CE giant has always touted the security features of its Artik modules, but it now has taken the extra step of releasing new security enhanced versions of its major Artik modules. The ultra-secure Artik 053s, 530s, and 710s COMs are priced the same as the earlier, almost identical Artik 053, 530, and 710, which will presumably be phased out.

Artik 055s
(click image to enlarge)

There’s also a new Artik 055s model based on the MCU-based 053s design, as well as new SmartThings Cloud integration for all the Artik modules. Finally, the Linux-based Artik 530 and 710, including the new secure models, now ship standard with Ubuntu instead of Fedora (see farther below).

Secure Artik modules


The new “s” (Secure Artik) models offer advanced protection, integrated cloud services, and hosted security services. They provide device-level protection for safe data exchange and secure access to Artik IoT services including device onboarding, orchestration, management, and over-the-air updates, says Samsung.

The “s” model Artiks provide “a strong root of trust from device-to-cloud with a factory-injected unique ID and keys stored in tamper-resistant hardware,” says the company. A public key infrastructure (PKI) enables mutual authentication to the cloud to identify each device on the network, as well as support for whitelisting. A new Secure Boot feature and code signing portal validates software authenticity on start-up.

There’s also a hardware-protected Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) with a secure OS and security library that can be used to process, store, and manage keys and tokens. Information is protected using FIPS 140-2 data encryption and secure data storage, says the company.

In a separate announcement that does not appear to be directly related to Artik, Samsung unveiled a new Secure Element that features the first embedded flash (eFlash) used in a product built with a 45-nm process.

All the Artik modules, including the existing models, now support the SmartThings Cloud service. This is based on the earlier Artik Cloud as well as Samsung Connect Cloud, which is used by its SmartThings IoT hub. The platforms are now fully integrated.

Artik goes Ubuntu

Last month, Samsung announced that the Linux-based Artik 530 and 710 would be shipping with a default Ubuntu 16.04 stack instead of Fedora. The Ubuntu support is made available via a new Artik SDK 1.5.

Artik 530 module (left) and development kit
(click images to enlarge)

The move to Ubuntu brings long-term support to the platform, including five-year Ubuntu maintenance and security updates. Samsung cites Ubuntu’s greater support for features like WiFi, Zigbee, Bluetooth, audio, video, and graphical frameworks, as well as the larger Ubuntu developer community.

Artik 710

Samsung refers to “Ubuntu’s growing network of applications within the IoT space,” but does not mention Ubuntu Snap packages. In 2016, Canonical announced that images for the Snap-ready Ubuntu Core were available for Samsung’s Exynos-based Artik 5 COMs. However, Samsung has instead opted for the full-featured Ubuntu 16.04 as the default.

Last week, Canonical released Ubuntu 17.10 (“Artful Aardvark”). This is the first release to switch back to GNOME desktop and Wayland display server from Canonical’s discontinued Unity and Mir.

While Samsung has managed to integrate its Artik and SmartThings product lines, its Tizen Linux distribution has not yet joined the party. Tizen is used for similar IoT applications in Samsung consumer electronics devices, phones, watches, and other gizmos.

The Artik 530 and Artik 710 each measure 49 x 36mm. The Artik 710 features an octa-core, 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 SoC and a Mali T400 GPU. The Artik 530 has a quad-core, 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 SoC. Both are versions of earlier Exynos mobile SoCs. The quad Cortex-A7 based Artik 520 model appears to have been discontinued, joining the Artik 1 and Artik 10 in the dustbin of techno history.

Artik 055s

The new Artik 055s is a smaller, more power efficient version of the Artik 053 and new Artik 053s. Like those modules, it runs the Tizen RT real-time operating system on a 32-bit, 320MHz Cortex-R4 MCU.

Artik 055s (top) and Artik 053s

The Artik 055s has shrunk to 26 x 15mm, from the 40 x 15mm of the Artik 053 and 053s. In addition, it runs from 3.3VDC, instead of 5-12VDC. Otherwise, the modules appear to be identical, and the Artik 055s can presumably use the same starter kit board.

Artik 053
on Starter Kit

Tizen RT is built on a Nuttx-based RTOS called TinyAra. It doesn’t have much to do with Tizen except that Samsung has added a variety of Linux-like features including IPv4/IPv6 network stack, a SmartFS file system, and support for Linux-style development environments like POSIX API.

Samsung still offers two other MCU-based Artiks: the 020 and 030 (Artik 0). The 15 x 12.9mm Artik 0 modules are built around the Silicon Labs Wireless Gecko, a 40MHz Cortex-M4F SoC with floating point and wireless stacks. These low-end devices have not been updated with the advanced security stack.

Further information

The new Artik 055s and revised Artik 053s, 530s, and 710s, will be available in November, with pricing unstated. More information may be found in Samsung’s Secure Artik announcement and Artik 055s announcement, as well as the Artik 053/053s/055s product page.

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