Imagination Technologies identifies six trends driving industry momentum and related technologies at the recent Mobile World Congress 2015 (MWC) focused on security, IoT interoperability, wearables, computer vision, communications infrastructure, and ultra-low power connectivity. These trends confirm Imagination’s vision for the future of mobile, and the technology roadmaps it is aggressively pursuing across its entire IP portfolio in anticipation of the needs of its customers and partners.
Says Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing at Imagination: “Over the past decade, we’ve seen enormous changes and disruptions in the mobile landscape in everything from communications standards to smartphone functionality. 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.”
Top six trends at MWC 2015 according to Imagination:
- 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 new and emerging IoT devices. Low-power Wi-Fi, 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.
- Network infrastructure is expanding and virtualizing. 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. The next generation of infrastructure will require advances in communications and also in embedded processing to support software defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV).
- 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 the next generation of connected devices. At MWC 2015, numerous companies announced initiatives and technologies around security, including secure payments, secure mobile operating systems, virtualized solutions for BYOD, encryption and key management technology, security enhanced phones and smartwatches, and even privacy glasses designed to protect against facial recognition technology.
- 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.
- 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 specialized products such as fitness bands were introduced by new and emerging companies during the show. The next wave of wearables will be defined as electronics meets fashion.
- 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 and new user and social experiences, companies need processing solutions that go beyond CPU/DSP cores to deliver sustained video-rate processing of HD content.
Continues King-Smith: “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. We’re excited to work with our partners to deliver the technologies that will form the backbone of tomorrow’s mobile society.”
Driving ultra-low power communications
Imagination’s Ensigma radio connectivity processors (RPUs) are at the heart of ultra-low power communications. At MWC, Imagination showed a new HDMI streaming device using Ensigma Explorer 802.11ac connectivity, and also highlighted its Ensigma Whisper IP that is designed to drive a new generation of wearables, IoT and other connected devices where ultra-low power consumption and low cost points are essential. Whisper RPUs, like their Ensigma Explorer counterparts, provide multi-standard support in a single architecture, designed to enable customers to bring Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GNSS and other low-power connectivity technologies onto their SoCs.
LTE chipmakers were also prominent at MWC. The opportunity for growth in this area is huge, as LTE migrates from operator controlled mobile phones to become a communications standard for M2M and IoT devices. Companies that provide LTE chipsets achieve competitive advantage by using multi-threaded MIPS CPUs in their designs.
Imagination at the heart of network infrastructure
MIPS is at the heart of Cavium’s new 64-bit OCTEON Fusion-M family of highly integrated single chip solutions which were unveiled at MWC. The Fusion-M family is designed to enable a new category of macrocells and smart radio heads. Cavium also demonstrated its MIPS based 64-bit OCTEON III reaching new performance milestones to meet demand for massive increases in secure wireless transport throughput for 4G and upcoming 5G infrastructure. MontaVista Software demonstrated Carrier Grade Linux CGE7, MV Cloud and Docker® running on the MIPS64 based OCTEON III processors.
In addition, Blu Wireless demonstrated its MIPS-based HYDRA gigabit modem which is aimed at millimetre wave communication applications including ‘WiGig’ 802.11ad and wireless backhaul for LTE mobile networks.
Within the SoC, especially as the industry moves to heterogeneous processing architectures, each processing unit must have built-in security that provides multiple secure domains. Today’s security solutions, which tend to be around a single trusted domain, are no longer adequate to deal with multiple coexisting data types such as payments, health, and premium content. Imagination has built scalable hardware virtualization into its MIPS Warrior CPUs and PowerVR Series7 GPUs, providing the foundation for Imagination’s forthcoming heterogeneous security architecture designed to address the privacy and security needs of evolving and emerging connected applications. During MWC, Imagination demonstrated key pieces of its security solutions, including hypervisors for MIPS CPUs.
With the emergence of a diverse set of devices and fragmented markets for IoT, Imagination believes in the need for open protocols and APIs from server to gateway and from gateway to device. This is a trend that was central to many of Imagination’s discussions with partners at MWC and is an area where Imagination expects to see significant collaborations developing.
The prpl Foundation, a leading proponent of an open and secure IoT, is establishing major cross-industry projects to ensure interoperability and security in the next generation of devices. prpl will be central to efforts by Imagination and its partners around these issues.
Imagination’s FlowCloud technology provides a strong enabling platform for IoT with an open approach from device-to-cloud. During MWC, Imagination demonstrated FlowCloud on multiple development platforms including the Imagination’s Creator CI20 boards and Digilent’s chipKIT WiFire boards that enable developers to get started on creating open, interoperable solutions for a range of IoT applications including smart home, eHealth, agriculture and telecom. 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, Ensigma has it covered.
Wearables with Imagination
At MWC, Imagination showed numerous wearable devices that leverage its MIPS and PowerVR IP. As Imagination’s entire IP portfolio is designed for power and area efficiency, it is ideal for designing the next generation of wearable processors. During MWC, Imagination unveiled the PowerVR Rogue G6020 GPU that 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.
Imagination in computer vision
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-generation applications such as IoT sensors, ADAS, surveillance and virtual/augmented reality.
During MWC, Imagination further strengthened its offerings, detailing the PowerVR Series7 GT7900, a super GPU for high-end graphics and compute – ideal for virtual reality – and introducing new PowerVR Series5 video encoders for HEVC. Imagination also demonstrated its flexible and high-quality Raptor imaging processor. In addition, Imagination showed one of the first demonstrations of the Khronos Vulkan™ API which was launched during MWC for high-performance 3D graphics and GPU-based computation.
Imagination IP across MWC
Imagination’s IP including PowerVR multimedia and MIPS CPUs were found in many new products across MWC including mobile phones, tablets, IP cameras, wireless access points, wireless infrastructure equipment, and more from a wide range of companies including Acer, Alpenelectronics, Amazon, ASUS, Coolpad, Dell, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Meizu, Nokia, Quanta, Ramos, Tolino, Toshiba, Trekstor, Verizon and many others.
At the show, many of Imagination’s customers including Altair Semiconductor, Intel, MediaTek, Sequans Communications, Toshiba and others highlighted Imagination’s technologies in new chipsets and devices.
About Imagination Technologies
Imagination is a global technology leader whose products touch the lives of billions of people across the globe. The company’s broad range of silicon IP (intellectual property) includes the key processing blocks needed to create the SoCs (Systems on Chips) that power all mobile, consumer and embedded electronics. Its unique software IP, infrastructure technologies and system solutions enable its customers get to market quickly with complete and highly differentiated SoC platforms. Imagination’s licensees include many of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers, network operators and OEMs/ODMs who are creating some of the world’s most iconic products. See: www.imgtec.com.
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