The IoT boom has impacted almost every industry. By 2025 IoT devices will successfully penetrate every industry, and form a core functional area. The future of IoT applications depends heavily on the semiconductor industry, for the development of solutions for future demands. System-on-Chip (SoC) is a fundamental silicon implementation which will aid next level of interconnectedness, including industrial IoT and smart cities.

The role of SoC in the evolution of IoT

The semiconductor industry has to keep innovating itself to stay relevant and this is a challenge in itself. Consumer expectations have reached the roof and they demand for more compact and multi-function capabilities from IoT devices. The semi-conductor industry must constantly work on the developing chips with an ultra-small form factor, multiple wireless connectivity option and low power consumption. Overcoming these challenges is the primary concern of innovators across the globe.

Some worth a mention are system-in-package (SiP) technologies, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and definitely SoC. Due to their power-efficiency, SoCs are the preferred choice for IoT devices. SoC solutions are all set to become a major portion of the IoT ecosystem, as companies continue their endeavours in SoC research and development. For instance, Qualcomm developed the QCA4020 tri-mode connectivity system-on- chip (SoC), which integrates three radios in one cost optimized, low-power chip. Not only tech giants, but also start-ups are coming up with chips that have disruptive capabilities.

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Key SoC-IoT trends

SoC technology is being used excessively in the creation of smart homes, smart cities, smart agricultural tools, smart televisions, smart hospitals and smart phones. The global trends in the SoC-IoT implementation plan will facilitate worldwide adoption of this technology.

  1. Wireless Interoperability:

    The edge segment being flooded with various kinds of IoT devices, and it is becoming a challenge to select the right connectivity solution for each product.One of the functional blocks of SoC-IoT pertains to the connectivity support that the chip will offer. Therefore, a scrutiny of the interoperability of IoT devices is in itself an examination of SoC-IoT. Currently, SoC-IoT manufacturers are able to pack support for Wi-Fi (2.4- & 5-GHz 802.11n). Bluetooth, and 802.15.4-based technologies (Zigbee 3.0 and OpenThread) within a single chip.
  2.  Analog IP Integration and Reuse:

    Chipmakers and OEMs follow a follow a guideline based reuse/integration model for implementing custom SoCs. These are not catering to only specific IoT devices but meant for custom SOCs on a broader level. In contrast to the current implementations, the future of IP integration/reuse promises modular architectures specific to IoT devices and the application areas of concern.
  3. Power Management:

    SoC is considered suitable for IoT devices because of its ability to provide power efficiency. Taking advantage of the SOC design, entities are looking to develop IoT devices with batteries that could last a decade or even devices that would not require batteries for their functioning. One such solution for creating devices with long lasting batteries is the near-threshold processing technique. This technique reduces power consumption by a factor of approximately 36 times vis-à-vis a conventional power management module.

Some of the key players investing in the development of SoC IoT applications are PLSense, The Ferroelectric Memory Company (FMC), Ambiq Micro, SiFive, Ineda Systems, Baum, GreenWaves Technologies, and others.