IoT gains more share in semiconductor companies’ revenues

modernização de armazéns e logística utilizando IoT e IA
Sheila Zabeu -

September 28, 2023

The semiconductor market returned to growth after the slowdown experienced in 2021 due to chip shortages, trade tensions and slow economic growth. Subtle signs of recovery were seen from the first to the second quarter of 2023, when the first upturn in growth since the fourth quarter of 2021 was recorded, 6.7 per cent compared to the previous quarter. And in this market, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been gaining more space in the revenue of the main semiconductor companies in recent years and, in some of them, it already has a share of more than 10 per cent. In some cases, it has reached levels of over 20 per cent.

A study by IoT Analytics reveals trends in IoT chipsets and modules. They are:

1. Use of chiplet-based architectures for IoT devices: OEMs/ODMs are adopting chiplet-based architectures, a design that allows several chips with different process node sizes to be used in a single package. This design facilitates prototyping and consequently reduces time to market due to lower production costs. For use in IoT devices of varying complexity, chiplets are a great solution.

2. Increased adoption of RISC-V for IoT chips: RISC-V is an open-standard, energy-efficient and customisable instruction set. It is also considered secure due to its transparent nature and ISA compliance. It has been more widely adopted by IoT device manufacturers because of these characteristics and also because it allows for the efficient use of resources, which translates into savings for different types of deployments.

3. Incorporating cooling techniques for chips with smaller nodes: Chips are getting smaller and smaller form factors (3nm and 2nm). This trend could further boost IoT solutions. However, new cooling techniques will need to be incorporated because of the greater energy density (more circuits in a smaller area), the smaller surface for heat dissipation, and the greater thermal resistance within the chip itself.

4. Innovation in energy efficiency: As processors advance in terms of performance, connectivity and compact size, the demand for energy efficiency is growing. As a result, ultra-low-power microcontrollers (MCUs) are gaining momentum, with innovative energy-saving methods to extend battery life and optimise performance.

5. Enhanced cellular and satellite connectivity for simple operations and global coverage: 5G RedCap or 5G NR-Light (5G with reduced capacity) was introduced in 3GPP Release 17 as a new specification for IoT use cases with intermediate-level demand for connectivity. The standard proposes a balance between performance, battery life, complexity and density of IoT devices. In addition, the IoT device market is seeing the emergence of advanced connectivity solutions that combine satellite and cellular technologies.

6. Growing integration of AI chipsets in edge devices: The demand for real-time data analysis and data privacy is growing rapidly and driving the development of new devices with chipsets that allow Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications to be run locally without the need to send data to the cloud.

7. Increased processing power for industrial hardware: Several industrial automation suppliers have recently updated their hardware with faster chipsets and new functionalities. These upgrades allow industrial hardware to store and analyse data locally.

8. Adoption of Raspberry Pi and Arduino chipsets in IoT gateways: IoT gateway manufacturers are adopting Raspberry Pi and Arduino-based systems in their devices. Originally used as rapid prototyping boards, these solutions are being adopted in industrial IoT gateways because of their affordability, availability and strong community support. They also offer various connectivity options, such as WiFi, Ethernet and Bluetooth, which are essential for IoT gateways.

9. Growing use of RAN accelerators is driving the adoption of Open RAN/vRAN architectures: Communication service providers are becoming increasingly interested in open, flexible, virtual and programmable radio access network (RAN) infrastructures. RAN accelerators are customised hardware components or software modules that help boost the performance of RANs, and can be based on FPGAs, GPUs or ASICS.

10. Advances in security from chip to cloud: IoT chip suppliers are incorporating security features into their products and adhering to specific industry regulations and standards. One such set of standards is IEC 62443 for Operational Technology used, for example, in automation and control systems.