The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging market trend impacting semiconductor devices, system OEMs, cloud service providers, and internet infrastructure companies. The trade press, accompanied by the types of companies mentioned above, has spilled a lot of ink on the subject, but this is typical in an emerging market with evolving requirements.

Imagination Technologies - IoT Internet of Things

For the purpose of this article (and several others I’m about to publish over the coming weeks), an IoT device or related service applies to the following characteristics:

  • The device is connected via LAN, WLAN, or WPAN
  • The device communicates certain localized information or requests for service to a network hub or through the network hub to a cloud based service
  • The cloud accumulates data from the networked device or provides a service or capability to the networked device

An IoT device can cover a great deal of capabilities and be part of a wide range of vertical markets. To break down the market segments of the Internet of Things, one can look at the requirements of the device in terms of:

  • Sustained transmit and receive data rate required for the IoT device
  • Type of data the IoT device is handling; for example, the IoT device can be generating or receiving video, audio or other content/data
  • The level of processing at the edge of the network; for example, an accelerometer can measure acceleration and velocity, but local sensor data processing may convert that data into distance or energy
  • The type of transactions between the device and cloud; for example, whether the device provides any type of proprietary or sensitive data such as medical information which needs to be protected by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act of 1996) laws in the United States

Most IoT applications will be supported by wireless LANs – examples include Wi-Fi (802.11n or 802.11ac), 802.15.4 (Zigbee, 6LoWPAN), Z-Wave or Bluetooth.

Classes of IoT devices

IoT devices can be classified based on the type of data handled. It is useful to view the requirements for IoT devices in this way as a method of determining the device requirements from a power, connectivity, and security perspective. We can classify the devices as follows based on the types of data handled:

  • Smart sensor and M2M data
  • Connected audio
  • Connected audio/video
  • Video analytics, automotive, etc.
  • High-performance compute nodes

Imagination, TSMC IP platforms - SoC IP (7)

The table below shows the requirements of the IoT device based on the type of data handled. This table is for illustrative purposes and specific IoT device requirements may vary.

IoT use cases for Imagination platforms

A continuum of capabilities

An IoT device connects a physical device to the cloud for services or further data processing. The device requires certain functional capabilities, and these capabilities will vary based on the application. There are a set of requirements that are needed by IoT devices, but the scope and the performance of those features will vary based on the application requirements; these feature set requirements are shown below.

Wearable - IoT continuum

Over the coming weeks, I plan to go into more detail about how Imagination’s hardware and software IP is designed to meet the most aggressive requirements for IoT applications. To do so, I will be covering the following topics related to IoT devices:

  • Power requirements and power management
  • Processing and connectivity requirements
  • Security requirements
  • Cloud interface

If you are interested the latest IoT-related news and updates from Imagination, make sure to follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationTech, @MIPSguru, @MIPSdev), LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

About the author: Alan Aronoff

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Prior to joining Imagination in 2011, Alan was VP, Operations and IP Licensing for Anchor Bay Technologies, a provider of audio and video technologies for home entertainment. Before that, he was SVP Marketing and Business Development for Key ASIC, a provider of semiconductor design and manufacturing services. Previous roles included CEO of Platform Design, Inc.; SVP Business Development for AmmoCore Technology, VP and GM at Synopsys and GM at NEC Electronics. He holds an MSc. in Electrical Engineering from Southern Methodist University and a BSc. in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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