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Developing the Backbone of the Internet of Things

Companies face hardware challenges in making the millions of sensors and gateways that enable the growing connected ecosystem.
By William Chen
Feb 05, 2017

Throughout the past decade, you would be hard-pressed to find a single piece of technology more disruptive than the smartphone. As we all know, smartphones have come to dominate the daily lives of people the world over. But despite smartphones still being a major revenue driver for the $1.715 trillion electronics market, their growth is starting to slow to single digits, and other technologies are beginning to gain ground in the hardware space.

Today, we are seeing the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the migration to the cloud, big data and data analytics. Again, this new technology is changing the way in which people live, work, play and even communicate. Not only that, the IoT could be the driving force for technology development during the next 20 to 30 years. Along with this new era will come billions of new sensors that will contain built-in intelligence and be connected to a variety of devices and things. While data centers and networks will form the backbone of the cloud infrastructure that will handle much of the data, there is still much discussion in the chip space about what specific hardware will enable the many sensors and gateways.

At the core of this discussion is the debate between specific packaging technologies that will house and enable the billions of connected devices in the near future. While system-on-a-chip (SoC) has dominated the smartphone era, it may not necessarily be the driving force in the era of the IoT.

What Do We Need?
Decade after decade, chip makers have pushed to create smaller and more powerful components to keep up with the rapidly evolving ecosystem. Although this will continue, the Internet of Things presents much different needs than previous technologies. When the connected device in question performs a relatively simple task as part of a larger ecosystem involving Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and more, the most advanced nodes and technology are not actually necessary.

On the contrary, for one of the first times in history, device manufacturers might very well be looking backward to less advanced nodes to find a more-affordable, less-sophisticated solution. This means the coming wave of devices could be built on less-advanced, legacy technology.

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