Microvisor is Twilio’s next generation IoT device builder solution aimed at bringing APIs all the way down to the edge. It will enable the embedded developers of the world to easily build properly secure IoT devices with:
- a lifetime of managed connectivity and security,
- built-in over-the-air upgradeability, and
- true remote application debugging!
For those of you new to Microvisor, here is a video introducing its capabilities:
And we have now reached Private Beta status with this exciting new platform, which means that you can experience Microvisor for yourself!
How to leverage Twilio Microvisor to get your IoT devices connected
The unique feature of the Microvisor approach is that you don’t need to change your way of working to add the Microvisor features into your device.
You develop your embedded application targeting the STM32U5 your way, be that a bare metal application, or built on top of a real time operating system (e.g FreeRTOS), or any way you see fit. Whether it uses Cellular, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet connectivity, the communications hardware components (i.e. the modem or the communications co-processor), their firmware, drivers and stacks are all Twilio’s responsibility to manage and maintain.
Simply add Microvisor via API calls into your application and benefit from a lifetime of security updates, the ability to push your own OTA code updates, secure boot, managed connectivity, and the ability to remotely debug your application anywhere in the world.
This means that it has never been easier to
- migrate an application to a secure managed approach,
- enabling faster secure device development, and
- access to the scale you need for reliable, trusted IoT deployments.
And with support for cellular connectivity powered by Twilio Super SIM supported from the start, Microvisor and Super SIM combined provide fully managed device-to-cloud connectivity and bring the power of simple APIs all the way to the edge. As a developer, you’re empowered to develop your product your way, but now with a new agility, speed, reliability, and operational efficiency previously reserved for pure cloud, i.e. pure-software deployments, never for IoT hardware.
The Microvisor development throughout 2021 has been a ride! Since announcing Microvisor at SIGNAL 2020, we have been laser-focussed on getting the first hardware and software release into your hands. When we launched the documentation earlier this year, we talked about enabling any embedded engineer to start building their products with Microvisor in mind. Thanks to the launch of the Microvisor Private Beta, you can now go one step further and get your hands on a development board and the brand new Microvisor SDK, to really get moving with application development in a Microvisor world. With this Private Beta SDK release, we are now enabling embedded engineers to build their products on Microvisor.
What does the Microvisor Private Beta Release include?
The Private Beta release is not just the SDK and example application. It provides the build environment and toolchain, as well as the Nucleo form factor development board - everything you need to get going including:
- The SDK tooling, which enables you to create a dev environment and build Microvisor application firmware bundles.
- The Initial Microvisor Trustzone firmware component, which allows you to explore the Microvisor hardware abstraction layer and call the Microvisor system calls to create your application code.
- A Quick Start Guide and a Hello World example application built on FreeRTOS that makes use of the above.
- The initial cloud-side APIs for deploying firmware to remotely connected devices. You can now push your application firmware bundle to the device and get your code deployed completely remotely over-the-air.
- The initial device side logging (printf equivalent over-the-air!) which enables you to start debugging your code as you develop. (The full remote GDB debugging capability is coming in the new year).
Hardware wise, the Nucleo form factor development boards are also now available and include the latest STM32U5 devices on them as well as a cellular modem (powered by Twilio Super SIM), and a Wi-Fi and Ethernet co-processor.
How do I get started with Twilio Microvisor?
If you haven’t yet, please apply for the Microvisor beta program. You will then get access to the latest Microvisor documentation, updated from our pilot release as follows:
The Quick Start Guide which leads you through setting up a Microvisor development environment and getting a FreeRTOS-based “Hello World” application up and running. You can deploy this application over-the-air to your Nucleo development board.
The hardware documentation describes the details of the pins and interfaces reserved for Microvisor use on the STM32U585. It explains the clocks, power states, and additional circuits needed to design and build a Microvisor-based device.
We have also provided the schematics for a Twilio ‘Nucleo’ form factor development board, enabling you to start designing hardware of your own based on the STM32U585.
The software documentation covers the secure boot and startup logic, the OTA upgrade process, the memory partitioning, and interrupt usage. It also provides an overview of the API (only accessible to registered users).
The Microvisor timescale from here
As we move into 2022, we will continue to add to and improve the SDK, example applications, and the documentation as the development progresses. Expect to see:
- The release of GDB remote debugging over the air.
- A choice of connectivity routing options (MQTT, HTTP, etc)
- Support for Wi-Fi and Ethernet transports.
How to sign up to the Private Beta to get access?
As mentioned before, if you have not yet signed up for the Microvisor beta program, you can do so here. This will get you access to the regular updates and make sure that you are first to hear when we reach the next milestones and announce the new releases.
To gain access to the documentation and the SDK itself, there are a few additional steps needed:
- First, you will need to create a Twilio account if you do not already have one
- Find your Twilio account SID on your Account Dashboard in the Twilio Console
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your account SID. We will enable the documentation and the SDK itself at our end.