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Smart, specialised devices to drive evolution of IoT

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ARM? Internet of Things? SaaS? hypersystem? MCU?

For anyone in the industry, there is no doubt that the Internet of Things (IoT) market is bursting with opportunities. However, often viewed as a single entity, the IoT is expected to emerge less as a massive, unified system of smart sensors and cloud-based applications than as a richly layered hypersystem. This year will likely witness the realisation of a complex IoT that resolves into a series of functional layers fractured by vertically integrated solutions.

While third-party Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions will likely dominate the upper layers, IoT device manufacturers will rely on specialised hardware solutions for the lowest layers. At its farthest reaches where the IoT reaches into the physical world, the combination of specialised requirements and competitive forces will drive the growing segmentation of hardware systems and semiconductor devices.

For the semiconductor industry, the market potential of the IoT will continue to be a driving force in fuelling the emergence of devices specifically designed for IoT applications. In particular, MCU architectures will become highly specialised, segmenting into device classes designed for smart devices and for the hubs that manage them. In fact, one of the most interesting trends expected to gain steam in 2015 revolves around the further differentiation of MCUs targeting smart devices and those hubs.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things will gradually evolve into a richly layered hypersystem driven by IoT endpoints and hubs based on specialised processors. (Source: iStockPhoto.com)

For designs addressing endpoints of the IoT, engineers will find growing availability of MCUs that combine very low-power requirements with integrated peripherals needed for sensor interfaces, control and communications. Along with stripped-down versions of existing MCUs, emerging MCUs in this class will differentiate themselves with ultra-low-power management features and strictly limited peripheral sets targeted for specific IoT application segments such as automotive and industrial, among others.

At the same time, the market's emphasis on both low-power operation and efficient-connectivity options will drive further integration of RF capabilities in these MCUs. For these devices, the combination of a fully supported communications stack using on-chip MAC and PHY capabilities will become increasingly important as designers look to shrink smart-device designs while speeding time-to-market.

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