Edge & Fog Computing

Accelerating the adoption of Arm technologies in Edge & Fog Computing ecosystems

Edge computing takes place outside of the data centre so is often described as the computing work done between things and the cloud. Whereas Fog computing is where Edge computing uses cloud technologies. (For a greater definition click here.)

On the cloud side, a generic software stack runs on Commercial-Off-The-Shelf platforms. On the embedded side, each component is custom: the software stack, the firmware and the hardware platform are custom. Those two approaches adequately address very different market demands.

To fully realize the edge computing promise, a generic edge software stack shall rely on a standard interface with the firmware and hardware platforms. Those later elements can remain highly customizable to efficiently address specific use cases.

The Linaro Edge and Fog Computing group and its members have joined forces to make this hybridization a reality through two major efforts:

  • Trusted Substrate - a reference implementation of the Embedded Base Board Requirement (EBBR) firmware specification from Arm.
  • LEDGE Reference Platform - a Generic Kernel Image industrial ready Linux (a single bootable image can run on any EBBR compliant board).

What is the group working on?

LEDGE Reference Platform

For servers, developper freely choose the operating system they want from a commercial or free provider. For embedded systems, developers get their operating system out of a limited list available for a chip family from the silicon vendor.

Edge computing requires a greater choice for operating systems that come with market specific features such as Time Sensitive Networking support for the industrial market or special trust and privacy capabilities for medical equipment.

The task of building and maintaining an operating system is complex and costly. Linaro members are collaboratively building a Linux Reference Platform. Borrowing from the server market, a single LEDGE Reference Platform binary image can run on any EBBR compliant platform. This build on the concepts of Generic Kernel Image pioneered by Google for the Android market. When moving from development to product, the Generic Kernel Image can be optimized for a platform to get the benefits of genericity without sacrificing performance. The efforts to create this Reference Platform allow any organization to easily create Linux distributions for vertical markets, focusing on the high level features of the operating system.

In more technical terms, LEDGE Reference Platform is a lightweight highly secure and robust container runtime environment that has dependable boot and update capabilities. It comes with a full set of security policies with SELinux, IMA and other technologies that can be further adapted to specific markets.

Trusted Substrate

As a companion to the LEDGE Reference Platform that builds on Embedded Base Boot Requirement compliant platforms, Linaro and its members are building an EBBR reference implementation based on U-Boot.

Conformance to EBBR brings standard support for:

  • UEFI Secure Boot
  • UEFI Measured Boot
  • UEFI random number generation
  • UEFI update capsules

In addition to being standard, great efforts are made to making the boot and update processes “dependable” which translates into a qualities of:

  • Trustworthiness - the system has clear and enforceable authority lines
  • Durability - the system shall be operation tens of years
  • Robustness and resilience - the system shall be updateable in confidence that it will remain operational regardless of incidents
  • Traceability - actions can be traced in case of liability forensics
  • Transparency - the generic software stack shall have no knowledge of implementation details
  • Scalability - all aspects of the boot and update process shall accommodate demographics of trillion devices

For more information, download our slide deck.

How do I get involved?

There are multiple ways to join the Linaro Edge & Fog Computing Group - you can either join at Group membership level which allows you to participate in all work and projects managed by the group. Or you can join at Club or Core level, both of which allow you to participate in the Edge & Fog Computing Group as well as other Linaro segment groups. To read more about membership and fill out the enquiry form, click here:

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