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How The IoT Will Change The Chip (techcrunch.com) 70

"Get ready for some big changes in the 'silicon' of Silicon Valley," writes tech CEO Narbeh Derhacobian who argues that the need to build tens of billions of connected sensor devices will change the way computers get built. "Just like smartphone owners like to pick and choose which apps they want, IoT manufacturers may want to shop for components individually without being locked into a single fab." An anonymous reader summarizes his article on TechCrunch: Thousands of different hardware devices, each selling around one million units, "would suggest the need for a much greater diversity of chip configurations than we've seen to date." Currently smartphones are engineered using a "System on a Chip" design where all the components are "locked into a single manufacturing process," but Derhacobian predicts chip manufacturers will continue a trend of moving towards a "System in a Package" approach -- "packing components closely together, without the complete, end-to-end integration... In a smart, connected world, sensor requirements could vary greatly from factory to factory, not to mention between industries as varied as agriculture, urban planning and automotive."

"In some ways, the great trends of the PC and smartphone eras were toward standardization of devices. Apple's great vision was understanding that people prefer a beautiful, integrated package, and don't need many choices in hardware. But in software it's generally the opposite. People have different needs, and want to select the apps and programs that work best for them."

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How The IoT Will Change The Chip

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Whenever spinning up silicon, either general purpose or purpose-built, one of the most pressing questions is 'what is the total addressable market value for the segment in which it will be used, and what share of the market is it likely to get?'. Until IoT finds its killer app its unlikely to get much love from silicon vendors.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Funny how the article is written by a CEO of a company currently using 45nm fab about why they should be used over a SOC in 14nm fab...

  • yawn again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Sunday May 29, 2016 @01:45PM (#52206231)
    Embedded engineers have been doing this and dealing with these problems for decades. It really is their job description and what they do all day.

    I think this only shows how isolated some people are from the rest of the world. Nothing new to see here.

    • Yup. People who've grown up on PCs and Windows are surprised to learn that they're decades behind in their knowledge.

      • I've met plenty of embedded engineers that "discover" concepts that are considered common knowledge to all the agile developers that I know. There's an incredible amount of cross pollination going on. Embedded engineers now need to learn what a REST interface is and software engineers need to learn what debuncing a GPIO means and what an H-bridge does. It's more fun to look at this story from multiple perspectives.

        • Agile is a pain. New style programmers on jobs where everything can be broken down into two week sprints, like web pages. Continual testing is extremely difficult on many embedded systems where testing has to be done manually or with specially crafted builds (taking more time than the original code). It's doable, but I don't need some snot nosed kid telling me that I have to use the latest fad and that my life will become easier. Agile makes programmers work harder and more hours, with less long term pl

    • +1. I was reading it and wondering why a description of standard industry practice for the last 20 or 30 years warranted an article and Slashspot mention. MCMs are from the 1970s, and SoCs are 1980s. What's the author of the original article, or his employer, peddling that's in this field?
    • Embedded engineers have been doing this and dealing with these problems for decades. It really is their job description and what they do all day.

      I think this only shows how isolated some people are from the rest of the world. Nothing new to see here.

      Can you recall the tube IDs in your parent's old desk or mantl radio? Will the IOT chips be analogous to the 12ax7's the ecc83's the 6u6's the 12be6's and all the triodes, pentodes and rectifiers of that day.

      I see about a dozen or two of standardize modules for IoT. What would likely differentiate the family of modules is their operating voltages or immunity to electrical interference. The most useful chips will need one or two ms to change state.

      • Can you recall the tube IDs

        That's what the tester at the drugstore did.

        I don't see anything new for iot beyond the current capabilities of SOC embedded processing. What is there besides discrete and analog IO? Interaction in the real world is very slow. Operating voltages and noise are solved problems

  • by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Sunday May 29, 2016 @01:51PM (#52206259)
    I didn't realize until now that iOS apps run Android.
    • That's probably a misunderstanding due to the phrasing of the quote in the summary. Apple did exactly the opposite of what that sentence implies, and applied their ideas about hardware to their software as well: a one size fits all approach with few choices, but offering a great experience if those choices happen to more or less fit your preferences.
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday May 29, 2016 @02:07PM (#52206315) Homepage Journal

    I'm not saying the article is wrong, because I'm not really sure if it actually says anything.

    • Something's fishy about this article. I'm not sure if my superpower to detect P.R. campaigns has developed to the point where I can get it in just one post, but my senses are tingling about this story. Let's see if there are a rash of IoT stories over the rest of the weekend.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday May 29, 2016 @02:08PM (#52206317)
    They'd grab whatever components were cheapest at the time and put them together to build a PC. You'd buy one Acer model PC, really like it and recommend it to a friend who would buy the exact same model, and his would come with completely different components and suck. It's how Acer earned their reputation as a low-rate PC manufacturer that they're still trying to shake today. Routers occasionally run into this problem as well, as hardware changes from revision 2 to revision 3 result in incompatibilities or different behaviors even though two routers are "the same model."

    If you want to dumb down the software and use non-standardized hardware, be my guest. But you'd better make damn sure the user experience is consistent across all the different hardware versions you're using. Otherwise you're saving money on the front end just to end up paying more at the support end.
    • Broadcom sometimes do this with their USB 802.11n adaptor too. The same model adaptor can come with many different chips in it - if you download the drivers you get a huge bundle of all the drivers it might need, and an installer that makes sure the right one gets used.

  • ... the need to build tens of billions of connected sensor devices ...

    There is no "need" for the IoT. We've been getting along fine w/o it and don't really see any point to 99% of it.

    Thanks anyway Narbeh.

    • There is no "need" for the IoT. We've been getting along fine w/o it and don't really see any point to 99% of it.

      The only people who seem to want the IoT are the folks trying to sell it.

      • Well, with IPV6 we need something to use up all those IP addresses.

        The real pushers of IoT are "big data" because with a internet connected sensor chip in basically every object they will know practically everything about everyone.

        When Proctor and Gamble knows that you use an abnormally large quantity of sheets of Charmin TP every time you take a dump, because each roll has a accelerometer and biometric sensors in it to identify each user and log usage, they can market the extra soft rolls to you to protect

    • I can see certain niche applications. Think of street lights that can call for new bulbs. But they are niches - a lot of the IoT fuss is just pure hype.

      • Streetlights, traffic lights, electric meters, gas meters, transmission lines, water mains, gas mains, and so forth. None of it intended for consumers.

    • We've been getting along fine w/o it

      No, it has existed for 50 years and is as old as the internet. It is the internet. IoT is just a buzzword to get investors and excite other uneducated people, news media, etc. The internet is more than web pages, or more recently, facebook.

    • There is no "need" for the IoT. We've been getting along fine w/o it and don't really see any point to 99% of it.

      When there were only 3 billion people on the planet, no, they didn't need the IoT.

      If we keep packing in, at some point we will need these kinds of management tools just to handle the logistics of keeping everyone fed, clothed, housed, and not killing each other too often.

      • It's kind of funny that you say that. As the number of people on this planet has increased, the number who are starving has gone down.
        • It's kind of funny that you say that. As the number of people on this planet has increased, the number who are starving has gone down.

          We are getting better, but a lot of how we are getting better has to do with transparency: free flow of accurate information. The IoT supports that, in addition to talking toasters.

          • No, most of how we are getting better has to do with producing more food in the areas which need food. It has nothing to do with the IoT.
            • No, most of how we are getting better has to do with producing more food in the areas which need food. It has nothing to do with the IoT.

              See, I think that a whole lot of producing food in areas which need food has a whole lot to do with stabilizing governments and militaries such that they aren't controlling the food supply to 98% of the population for luxury benefits enjoyed by 2%.

              This isn't strictly an IoT function, yet, but it is highly dependent upon free flow of information, exposure of corruption and abuse, etc.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Sunday May 29, 2016 @02:36PM (#52206425) Journal

    ...immediately identifies themselves as someone I need not take seriously.

    Nobody rational GIVES A SHIT about connecting their coffeemaker to the internet.
    Anyone reasonably skeptical will have nothing to do with the idea of connecting their front door locks to the internet.

    Short version: it's the latest stupid internet fad, interesting only to the circle-jerk of people promoting such things.

    • We'll we see "apps" that unlock cars - and the consequences are hackers killing running vehicles remotely as they go - (already in the wild) The real push for things like Google nest that's constantly monitoring everything you do so it can sell a more detailed profile to advertisers. Even facebook has begun selling dark profiles (people who don't have FB accounts but are talked about by people who do) to marketers. The problems are privacy and security - neither of which marketers or law enforcement give 2
    • Short version: it's the latest stupid internet fad, interesting only to the circle-jerk of people promoting such things.

      Thus speaks someone who probably doesn't work in industrial computing. Sure, the home coffeemaker doesn't make sense connected to the Internet. But the Coke machine in the waiting rooms of thousands of hospitals? Absolutely. "Phone home: Diet Cokes and Snickers are getting low and the cash drawer is almost full, send out a truck to restock". How about the protection switch on the power pole outside your home? You're the electricity company. When those switches trip during a thunderstorm, do you (a) w

    • The "smart refrigerator" won't make sense until there are automatons delivering food to it directly from the distribution channel.

      However, cheap distributed sensors in all kinds of industrial equipment _do_ make a lot of sense, as in strong ROI dollars sense.

      The consumer side is just plinking away at every possible idea, hoping to be the next fad that catches fire.

  • So instead of connecting chips via a circuit board, connect chips directly. It sounds like a good idea, but I think the conclusion, that it would enable every IoT manufacturer to customize their chip configurations, is wrong. It would be expensive due to economies of scale, and I don't see why IoT devices can't use the plain old circuit board. Do IoT devices need to be super small and super power efficient? However, I do see that it might benefit smartphone manufacturers, where size and power consumption ma
    • Super small, maybe not, but super power efficient is absolutely key.

      I installed wireless thermosensors with IR motion sensors in several rooms in my house, they're zigbee connected to a "smart" thermostat, and I'm quite pleased that they've been running for over a year on a single coin cell - if I had to replace the batteries in those things every 2-3 months, I'd rip the system out and replace it with something that required less maintenance.

    • IoT needs to be super small and super power efficient, yes. Some may need to run on a battery fro 10 to 20 years. Not for the stupid "tell me if my coffee maker is ready" apps for gadget lovers, but for industrial use, sensor use, etc.

  • Till security is fixed, the notion is not only preposterous but dangerous.
  • Everything claimed as revolutionary changes have been happening over the past 5 years.

    Welcome to 2008... oh and us hackers have been screwing around making our own fully open iOT devices for the past 2 years already on a "single chip" device. the ESP 8266 is already destroying the arduino and other platforms rapidly.

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