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The Internet of Things @ SEMICON West 2014!

The Internet of Things @ SEMICON West 2014!
by Daniel Nenni on 07-09-2014 at 9:00 am

 Clearly I’m a fan of IoT in regards to the future of the fabless semiconductor industry. The fabless semiconductor transformation unleashed all sorts of innovation giving us the SoC and the life changing mobile devices SoCs enable. Unfortunately modern SoC design is expensive and raising capital for semiconductor start-ups has turned from a dream to a nightmare. The answer of course is IoT where just about anyone can design a chip and get it into a fab, absolutely.

I will be part of the CASPA Summer Symposium this weekend at the Intel Auditorium in Santa Clara, CA which will discuss this in much more detail in regards to wearables:

“Enabling Technologies That Will Shape The Next Wearable Applications

“Create Mainstream Market Opportunities For A Broad Range Of Industries

I hope to see you there!

During the SEMICON Press conference (free lunch) Bob Johnson of Gartner had some slides on IoT that are definitely worth a read and which I will summarize here. One of the problems with IoT is branding. What does IoT really mean? Gartner defines IoT as “The network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal state or the external environment.“ I’m good with that definition as long as you exclude PCs, Tablets, and Smartphones which Gartner does.

New IoT applications pop up just about every day. Some are smarter versions of existing products other are in a completely new category. The examples given were:

  • Solar powered connected trash cans that tell you when they need collecting
  • Sensor based logistics (time, temp, damage, and security sensitive packages)

The IoT market opportunities extend well beyond the actual chips used with infrastructure communications and networking, computing and storage, apps and services, and analytics (big data). According to Gartner we should expect 20 billion IoT shipments in 2020. Currently smartphones and tablets are expected to ship less than 10 billion in 2020.

The final slide in the presentation is the most telling:

What to Expect

  • Thousands of products with widely varying volumes

    • Start-ups and failure galore- think 1998-2000
  • Things: Demand for legacy technologies will increase

    • 30B MEMS chips per year require 22 200mm fabs
    • MCU and Comms require 15 200mm fabs
  • Things: Challenge the manufacturing supply chain

    • The challenge is how to bring thousands of new products to market rapidly and cheaply
    • Each product has unique functionality, but similar building blocks
    • System in Package rather than System on Chip?
    • One stop shop for product design through implementation?

Several of the keynotes and workshops here at SEMICON West are IoT centric discussing the challenges we are facing. Dr. Bob Metcalfe’s keynote on “Innovation with Startups Out of Research Universitieswas one of them.” If you have not heard of him check out his BIO,he invented Ethernet in 1973 at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Parc), and he founded the billion-dollar networking company 3Com Corporation in 1979. If you still doubt IoT as a critical semiconductor market segment you should give Bob a call. Today he is Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

More Articles by Daniel Nenni…..


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