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General availability has been announced for the Microsoft Azure Sphere security service, aimed at protecting IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Until now, the service was only available in a preview.

The company introduced Azure Sphere, which is based on a Microsoft-built Linux operating system, in March 2018. At that time, the company reported that the technology came from a Microsoft Research project called Sopris.

Azure Sphere chips are used to power microcontrollers, which are single-chip computers with processors, storage, and memory. These microcontrollers are built into IoT devices. The first special Azure Sphere chip launched in 2018 was the MediaTek MT3620, which came with an onboard security system called Pluton.

Multiple collaborations

Incidentally, Microsoft stated last year that it is also working with NXP on a newer chip for Azure Sphere, the I.MX 8, which is built for artificial intelligence (AI) and graphics workloads. Microsoft is also working with Qualcomm on yet another Azure Sphere certified chip, which should provide secure connectivity for IoT devices.

Halina McMaster, principal group program manager at Microsoft, said the early adopters of Azure Sphere used the service to design and manufacture a number of consumer devices and some devices for retail and manufacturing. For example, MediaTek MT3620 chips are used as “protection modules” to protect and connect critical devices, according to the company. This protection module, which is about the size of a deck of cards, allows existing IoT devices to be securely connected via the cloud.

“Azure Sphere is a fully realized security system that protects devices over time,” Mcmaster stated. “It includes the Azure Sphere-certified chips that go into every device, the Azure Sphere operating system (OS) that runs on the chips, and the cloud-based Azure Sphere Security Service.”