SoC industry dynamics beyond the smartphone era

Author: Prakash Mohapatra

Industry analysis and opinion


Smartphones play a vital role in our life; it is sort of panacea for us. It has achieved massive growth in the last decade. With such demand of the end product, it is obvious that the supply side has worked in overdrive. Semiconductor industry has seen massive growth due to smartphones. The number of OEMs increased to fulfil the volume demands, pulling more vendors into semiconductor industry to suffice the OEMs’ supply chain requirements.

A few OEMs made fortune in smartphone sales, with revenue exceeding billions cumulatively. Such capital inflow encouraged them to invest more money on product development, to fulfil the end users’ paradoxical requirement of more performance with more battery life (less power consumption) at a lower price. With cumulative silicon sales going into billions, the semiconductor industry responded positively, and focused on stretching the innovation into leading process nodes and other techniques to enhance performance.

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IoT Project Day: Ideas, Reference Boards and Prototypes

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Plus an exciting quiz on IoT


IoT Project Day is our quarterly event. It’s an event for exchanging knowledge, inspiring others and networking with peers. It really doesn’t matter how trivial the project, we give chance to everyone to showcase what they have built, get feedback, learn and iterate. By having college students and industry folks on the same platform, students become aware of industry trends and project opportunities. As usual, we are happy to have it at Microsoft, Bangalore, and we thank them for opening up their venue for this purpose. We also thank all presenters who gave demos and withstood the barrage of tough questions from the audience!

In today’s event, a couple of students gave demo of an Arduino-based prototype. We had two industry folks presenting technical overviews of their products and their relevance to IoT. We had a short IoT quiz that brought out the latest developments in the world of IoT. Vikas and I presented some ideas for projects: interested folks can write to to know more and collaborate. As they say, there’s no better way to learn than by doing!

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Why, How and What of Custom SoCs

Author: Prakash Mohapatra

An opinion


Ever watched the Ted talk by Simon Sinek, How great leaders inspire actions? Not yet? Then I encourage you watch this 20-minute talk. This video covers the most fundamental thing that most companies fail to address: connecting with customers! Often companies focus on their products, going into details about the technical features, price, engineering innovation, etc. However, they fail to address the basic thing that is needed for a successful sale: Why they are offering the product? Answering this question bridges the gap between product and market. Revenue is an outcome, not the sole purpose of a company’s existence.

Let us take an example of a conventional sales pitch for the embedded computing platform: System on Module (SoM).

“We offer SoM that has a SoC, memory, power circuitry, Operating System, and BSPs, all integrated on a small form-factor board that offers you a platform for building your next embedded product”.

Sounds exciting? Well, it depends. However, it does not generate a great interest. Now, how about the following as a sales pitch? Continue reading “Why, How and What of Custom SoCs”

RISC-V: Open Source Instruction Set Architecture

Author: Prakash Mohapatra

The new kid on the block


The emerging IoT industry is an aggregation of products and services, complementing each other to enable efficiency and cost optimization in multiple industries. It does not have a vertically oriented value chain. IoT end nodes will be scattered in billions in various industries.

As mentioned in my earlier post ARM vs Intel: The new war frontiers, COTS processors will not be ideal for building these end nodes, as the latter are application specific. Companies would be inclined to adopt custom processors as they offer flexibility to assemble only required parts. These parts can include analogue sensor, DSP, proprietary IP, etc. Further, custom processors substantially reduce BoM cost and die size, which will minimize power dissipation. It also helps companies to differentiate their product from those of their competitors. In view of failing Moore’s Law, customization is the answer as it can reduce the BoM cost significantly.

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IoT Project Day: Drone, Gloves, Keyboards and Analytics

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Plus an exciting quiz on IoT


I am pleased to cover once again our quarterly IoT Project Day event, an event for demos and talks. More importantly, it’s an event for exchanging knowledge, inspiring others and networking with peers. As usual, we are happy to have it at Microsoft, Bangalore, and we thank them for opening up their venue for this purpose.

Today’s event was a mix of electronics, sensing applications and analytics. Because, in the world of IoT, one thing without the others is not all that useful. Collecting data is not useful if you don’t analyze it at some point. Electronics is not useful if you don’t drive it with intelligent firmware. Gadgets are not useful if you don’t think about wireless connectivity. Finally, you need to use the right sensors to gather real-world data that suits your application.

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Conserving Electricity in a Smart Home

Author: Kiran N S

A report from the national level winner for Innovative Science Model


It was indeed very exciting when my son Ujwal called me from Hyderabad that he has been selected for national level under Innovative Science Model category for Vidya Bharathi. When our Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked kids to save electricity at home, the thought of leveraging Smart Home to save electricity was brewing in Ujwal’s mind.

Saving electricity via Smart Home is not a new thought, but we started exploring what scenarios can maximize the benefits. A little more study told us that many while going on vacation turn on the lights at home for safety and it consumes electricity all day and night. Using Arduino and SIM 908 he built a Smart Home with “vacation mode” capabilities where the lights turn on automatically when it is dark. This system controls multiple lights to simulate someone at home. Continue reading “Conserving Electricity in a Smart Home”

ARM vs Intel: The New War Frontiers

Author: Prakash Mohapatra

From smartphones to IoT end devices


With Intel’s exit from smartphone processor market, the competitive zones are redefined in its rivalry with ARM. Is ARM’s domination the only reason for Intel’s exit? With no competing architecture, is ARM a monopoly in smartphone processor IP market? What are the new areas of competition between ARM and Intel? I will attempt to answer these questions in this post.

The following terms will be used in this article:

  • API

    Application Programming Interface

  • COTS

    Commercial Off-The-Shelf

  • IoT

    Internet of Things

  • IP

    Intellectual Property

  • OEM

    Original Equipment Manufacturer

  • SKU

    Stock Keeping Unit

  • SoC

    System on Chip

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