Six trends driving the future of wireless

10th March 2015
Barney Scott

Imagination Technologies identified six trends driving industry momentum at the recent MWC 2015, focused on security, IoT interoperability, wearables, computer vision, communications infrastructure, and ultra-low power connectivity. ImgTec says these trends confirm its vision for mobile's future, and the technology roadmaps it is pursuing in anticipation of future needs.

“Over the past decade, we’ve seen enormous changes and disruptions in the mobile landscape in everything from communications standards to smartphone functionality,” commented Tony King-Smith, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Imagination. “However, this year’s MWC signaled the start of a new era that goes far beyond phones and infrastructure, as everything from IoT sensors and actuators to wearables to highly connected and increasingly automated cars become an integral part of MWC. What is clear to us is that security and interoperability together with software and system portability lie at the heart of bringing these latest visions of a connected world to life.”

According to Imagination Technologies, the six trends driving the mobile industry are as follows:

Highly integrated, ultra-low power communications are proliferating widely. At MWC, it was clear that the ‘mobile’ device category now includes a huge number of products beyond mobile phones and tablets – from wearables to automotive to the huge range of emerging IoT devices. Low-power WiFi, Bluetooth Smart, Cat 1 and Cat 0 LTE and other short range wireless technologies are key to enabling these devices that are finding their way into every industry, every product category and everyday life.

ImgTec’s Ensigma Radio Connectivity Processors (RPUs) specialise in ultra-low power communications, allowing HDMI streaming via 802.11ac and offering the potential for use in next-gen IoT and wearable devices.

Network infrastructure is expanding and virtualising. To accommodate the ever increasing number of connected devices and expanding cloud infrastructure, 4G buildout continues around the globe. At MWC, 5G was a hot topic, despite the fact that it is yet to be defined. Companies are already looking to the advantages it will provide in the 2020 timeframe. Next-gen infrastructure will require advances in communications and also in embedded processing to support Software Defined Networks (SDNs) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV).

Imagination’s MIPS-based processors and SoCs offer the performance required to meet the anticipated large data demands of 5G. Cavium’s MIPS-based 64-bit OCTEON Fusion-M family of single chip solutions, which were unveiled at MWC, is designed to enable a new category of macrocells and smart radio heads.

Security is critical: In an increasingly connected world, any system is only as secure as its weakest link. Embedded security has become a critical issue for next-gen connected devices. At MWC 2015, numerous companies announced initiatives and technologies around security, including secure payments, secure mobile operating systems, virtualised solutions for BYOD, encryption and key management technology, security enhanced phones and smartwatches, and even privacy glasses designed to protect against facial recognition technology.

ImgTec integrates scalable hardware virtualisation into its CPUs and GPUs, which it says will provide the foundation of its forthcoming security architecture designed to address privacy and security needs for connected devices.

IoT interoperability is key: In the next generation, the number of connected IoT devices will not only continue to grow and be provided by an ever expanding number of vendors, but will also perform a wide array of functions. As such, high-volume success and consumer satisfaction will be dependent on a level of interoperability not previously seen in the industry.

Imagination’s FlowCloud technology provides a strong enabling platform for IoT with an open approach from device-to-cloud. As multi-standard IP, Ensigma RPUs also play a key role in enabling interoperability, whether talking to the cloud over high-performance interfaces or over sensors where ultra-low power is everything.

Wearables are entering the mainstream: MWC 2015 made it clear that wearables are now an integral part of any OEM product lineup. Numerous smart bracelets, smartwatches, and specialised products such as fitness bands were introduced by emerging companies during the show. The next wave of wearables will be defined as electronics meets fashion.

At MWC, Imagination showed numerous wearable devices that leverage its MIPS and PowerVR IP. The PowerVR Rogue G6020 GPU has been specially designed for graphics efficiency in ultra-compact silicon area, obtaining better real device performance and compatibility without unnecessary overhead. With the PowerVR GX5300 and G6020 GPUs, Imagination covers graphics and UIs from entry-level smartwatches to high-end wearables.

Computer vision and VR/AR applications represent massive opportunities. Vision-aware technologies are increasingly incorporated in smartphones, IoT devices, automotive, robotics, and other products. MWC 2015 also confirmed the re-emergence of Virtual Reality (VR) and a growing interest in Augmented Reality (AR). To create devices that support computer vision, computational photography, user and social experiences, companies need processing solutions that go beyond CPU/DSP cores to deliver sustained video-rate processing of HD content.

Datapath optimizations between Imagination’s PowerVR GPUs, video encoders and camera ISP lay the foundation for a highly efficient PowerVR Vision IP Platform for next-gen applications such as IoT sensors, ADAS, surveillance and VR/AR. The PowerVR Series7 GT7900 ‘super GPU’, PowerVR Series5 video encoders for HEVC and Raptor imaging processor from ImgTec have the power to enable seamless graphics performance and immersive experiences in AR/VR.

“Imagination’s technology roadmaps anticipate and increasingly drive these trends, as we focus on providing not only the cutting-edge PowerVR GPUs and MIPS CPUs that we are known for, but also the communications engines, video and vision processing engines, and heterogeneous processing platforms that are all secure, and deliver interoperability through open standards,” continued King-Smith. “We’re excited to work with our partners to deliver the technologies that will form the backbone of tomorrow’s mobile society.”

At the show, many customers including Altair, Intel, MediaTek, Sequans and Toshiba highlighted ImgTec’s technologies in chipsets and devices.

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