While traditional consumer electronics markets maintain an unstoppable momentum towards advanced multimedia and communications, other new markets are starting to emerge. These new opportunities benefit from the advanced chips used in our more mainstream markets (e.g. applications processors for mobile), transforming applications that are considered niche today into tomorrow’s high-volume consumer and enterprise products, and, in so doing, significantly enhance the quality of life for many.
The global trend to an ageing population means that it will be increasingly impractical to continue to rely on hospitals to provide such a large proportion of our healthcare needs. From monitoring non-life-threatening conditions to reliable dispensing of drugs, from continuous reporting and logging of vital body functions to sophisticated alarms alerting your doctor to any unusual conditions, the consumerisation of healthcare into every home has the potential to transform our lives.
Key to this fast-growing market will be technologies such as ultra-low power communications; body area networking; remote communication with medical staff using video and graphics; and innovative new ways of using multimedia to help people better understand and deal with conditions in the comfort of their own homes.
Imagination provides mature, low power solutions to address all of these application areas. MIPS-based SoCs have been deployed in hundreds of millions of embedded devices, sensors and computer networks. PowerVR GPUs support innovative UIs and applications while keeping power consumption to a minimum. Ensigma RPUs provide all of the communication requirements for always on, always connected embedded devices that can be linked together and monitored through Imagination’s Flow portal.
As society becomes ever more mobile, so the challenge to secure homes, offices and other locations becomes more essential and demanding. The challenge continues to grow in importance as consumers increasingly use connected devices for HD media streaming, cloud storage, secure ID protection, mobile payments and other highly secure applications.
Within embedded systems, static-based approaches for security which define secure and non-secure zones by partitioning separate hardware subsystems for each zone have been effective so far. However, more scalable and cost-effective approaches are required to address the needs of newer devices running multiple applications over several secure zones. Virtualization can create the requisite scalable trusted execution environment for secure embedded systems. With the MIPS architecture, Imagination provides extended support for both hardware-assisted and software-only virtualization solutions to meet the stringent security requirements of today’s home entertainment, networking, mobile and embedded products.
Imagination also supports the development of cloud-based security systems, which offer mainstream consumers the opportunity to secure and monitor their homes and valuables in ways never previously thought possible. Such systems rely on highly flexible low-power communications together with innovative ways to enable users to control and monitor these functions, using new 3D user interfaces and extensive streaming video.
One of the world's biggest challenges is powering the cities and rural areas that are home to most of the world’s population. Why is it that semiconductor technologies offer so much functionality while consuming so little power, yet the demands for more power continue to skyrocket? The answers lie in a combination of many factors, such as consumers’ appetites for lighting and power-hungry displays, and the insatiable need for ever more broadband internet bandwidth.
Imagination leads the world in low-power technology, and is working with partners to address the future of ‘smart grids’ – an increasingly intelligent national power infrastructure that will optimize its behaviour according to the current loads. With the help of ecosystem partners, we're also working hard to develop smart solutions like our Flow portal, to foster standardization in areas such as smart grid and smart metering, to stop the unnecessary landfill and power wastage that results from excessive use of today's inefficient, poorly designed and largely incompatible local power supplies.
Low power MIPS CPUs are already powering smart power solutions – at the heart of microcontroller based systems powering smart meter and smart grid SoCs in global markets including China. While most power meters today are based on 8-bit and 16-bit MCUs, the industry will increasingly move to 32-bit MCUs to facilitate complex, uninterrupted and secure processing. These 32-bit MCUs enable meters to scale for future needs, providing the hardware necessary to support tomorrow’s sophisticated software, which can be updated in the field without interruption. As this transition continues, MIPS CPUs provide an ideal high-performance, low power solution.