We are fortunate to be living in one of the most amazing and exciting times in the history of our planet. The developments seen in my life time alone have been astounding and we are now on the cusp of yet another inflection point. The world wide web has morphed into the internet of things (IoT), some even call it the internet-of-everything and it has the potential to touch every aspect of our lives. Companies like Arm have written about the march to One Trillion IoT devices and lest we think that’s crazy, we already reached the point where there are more connected devices on the planet than people, and that happened almost 10 year ago!
With that in mind, Dan Nenni and I set out to write an e-book about the IoT phenomenon, and more specifically its disruptive nature and how system companies are using IoT opportunities along with the ASIC business model to get into the chip business. The book is entitled, “Custom SoCs for IoT: Simplified” and it is an attempt to give the reader a high-altitude fly over of how the IoT market and opportunities are evolving and how it impacts chip designers hoping to cash in on the opportunities that abound.
The book is a quick read covering a large breadth of material including IoT markets and applications and the associated IoT system architectures that map to those markets. IoT security and how it translates into hardware solutions is addressed along with discussions on trade-offs between discreet IC implementations and solutions that seek to integrate system functions onto a single chip. Other covered topics include power optimization at different levels of the IoT system architecture as well as different communications protocols and standards used by IoT devices based on the amounts of data to be transferred and the distance to be traversed.
Covered in more detail is a case study of a highly successful approach to custom SoC design for an IoT gateway SoC using Open-Silicon’s Spec2Chip turnkey solutions. The case study covers platform-based design methodologies now being employed to mitigate designer risks and accelerate design cycles needed for rapidly changing IoT markets. The case study dives into state-of-the-art design flows and methodologies including sophisticated high-level architectural synthesis, hardware / software co-design with FPGA-based prototype boards, RTL synthesis, placement & routing of digital logic, design-for-test, design-for-manufacturing, SoC packaging including systems-in-a-package (SiPs), and hardware verification boards used to bring-up chips once they have come back from manufacturing.
As said earlier, we are fortunate to be living in one of the most amazing and exciting times in the history of our planet and the good news is that we are just at the beginning. The IoT is being merged with an explosion of progress in the fields of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, which should in fact enable many of the autonomous systems-of-systems described in the book. This too, will be a stepping stone to even more aggressive technologies that are already being developed in research labs. As an example, silicon photonics is at the cusp of becoming a mainstream technology that will enable much of the 5G cellular network that will truly make the IoT ubiquitous.
The lessons learned, and the platform-based methodologies used by companies like Open-Silicon will be key to enabling companies both large and small to manage the complexities of IoT designs and to move the state-of-the-art forward. Give the book a read. It’s a free download and can be found here: