Arm’s iSIM technology for embedded systems will render your current SIM card completely obsolete

ARM Processor designer, Arm Holdings is fronting the iSIM, a functional technology geared towards saving space in smartphones and IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Seeing as the bulky SIM card along with its adaptors continuously frustrate space-conscious device manufacturers, how about a SIM integrated right into the processor?

The elimination of the 3.5mm audio jack has so far been met with fierce opposition so it goes to reason that device manufacturers had to go back to the drawing board. And this is what they have come up with.

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The iSIM is an acronym for Integrated SIM, compliant with GSMA Embedded SIM specifications. This technology differs from the eSIM (Embedded SIM), a related technology already in use in Google Pixel devices and other wearables.

RelatedSIM card formats: Mini-SIM vs Micro-SIM vs Nano-SIM vs Embedded-SIM/eSIM

For comparison’s sake, let’s size up the two form factors: the eSIM measures a modest 6 x 5mm, a clear upgrade from the common-place Nano-SIM that measures 12.3 x 8.8mm. The iSIM is, on the other hand, is expected to be less than a millimetre squared. What’s more, the iSIM is baked right into the processor. How’s that for size?

According to The Verge, Arm calculates that iSIM will cost manufacturers a minuscule amount (single digit cents in USD) compared to tens of cents for regular SIMs. That actually makes sense, as it requires fewer materials to manufacture the iSIM.

iSIM for IoT (Internet of Things)



Arm has a vision to power a trillion devices by 2035. For now, the company is playing the long game, beginning with IoT devices. As we know, SIM cards cannot change ownership once purchased. More to that, they require physical access to swap service providers. This setback impedes interoperability and growth of IoT due to the unscalability of system-wide SIM modifications.

Related content: Why eSIM (Embedded SIM) heralds the next generation of Connected Consumer Devices

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Arm’s iSIM is only one part of a jigsaw puzzle. Arm provides an integrated IoT SoC (System on a Chip) comprising the MCU (Microcontroller Unit), a radio modem and SIM Identity. The MCU comprises the CPU (Central Processing Unit), memory and other circuitry. The radio modem is what enables picking up mobile signals.

The SIM identity is powered by Arm Kigen OS, ‘a scalable, low footprint and GSMA compliant software stack to enable full integration of SIM functionality into IoT SoC designs.’

What about Smartphones?

As of now, the iSIM won’t be deployed in smartphone devices just yet. The iSIM obviously meets all stringent GSMA embedded SIM regulations, which is a plus. ARM actually doesn’t manufacture processors directly. That is the onus of Arm’s technology partner’s numbering in the thousands.

Once these manufacturers adopt this technology, there’s no reason mobile operators won’t jump on board. After all, the more subscribers connected to their networks, the better it is for them. For now, finger’s crossed.

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