Monday, April 18, 2016

Connecting WiFi and LTE for IoT in the Smart Nation

By Nick Flaherty

There is often a mismatch between cellular technologies, WiFi and other short range wireless for applications in the Internet of Things. So its very interesting that Parallel Wireless in the US is combining both WiFi and LTE cellular links in a heterogeneous network 'HetNet' trial to provide WiFi connections on buses in Singapore.

Mobile operators in Singapore are looking for innovative technologies to address spectrum scarcity as subscriber demand is growing rapidly with smartphone penetration reaching 130 devices per 100 people. Maximizing the utilization of the spectrum and easing network congestion in areas with heavy human traffic is necessary to meet the requirements of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (iDA) to connect the whole nation as a part of world's-first Smart Nation initiative.

The on-Bus HetNet technology uses network virtualisation and changes the economics of pervasive mobile coverage with real-time HetNet orchestration, traffic prioritization made possible by HetNet Gateway (HNG). All bus riders receive seamless, high throughput connectivity from an on-bus multi-mode LTE/Wi-Fi converged wireless system from a small cell with integrated backhaul including licensed assisted backhaul.  This needs new software in the radio access network (RAN) to enable carrier aggregation for backhaul and so allows the end user throughput can be increased 10 times (up to 300 Mbps).

The HetNet solution with the Parallel Wireless vRAN architecture allows M1 as the network operator to better manage network demands, enable intelligent traffic steering and load balancing on public transport. The network can seamlessly scale capacity up or down with intelligent traffic offload to address the changing usage patterns, while maintaining seamless end user Quality of Service. In the future, the same small cell can include M2M features to provide fleet management capabilities to transit companies.

M1 provides mobile and fixed services to over 2 million customers and was the first operator to offer nationwide 4G service, as well as ultra high-speed fixed broadband, fixed voice and other services on the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN). "We are proud to support M1's WiFi-On-The-Go service HetNet trial, Singapore's first connected public bus service as a part of the iDA initiative to make Singapore the worlds-first Smart Nation." said Steve Papa, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Parallel Wireless. "Innovative operators like M1 are leading a market disruption in new growth areas such as enabling Smart Cities. Parallel Wireless's cost-effective and efficient HetNet solution was designed to make this disruption a reality."

Qorvo buys GreenPeak Technologies to access the Internet of Things

By Nick Flaherty

One of the pioneers of the Internet of Things, Greenpeak Technologies, has been bought as part of the continuing consolidation in the semiconductor industry.

GreenPeak and its founder and CEO Cess Links, has been a vocal advocate of Zigbee for IoT applications in the home and enterprise.:

ZigBee transceiver adds Wi-Fi coexistence and deep packet inspection for Wake-on-LAN

Qorvo is the result of the merger of RF MicroDevices and GaAs speciliast TriQuint in 2014, and bringing GreenPeak in gives ultra-low power, short range RF communication technology for IoT. The acquisition of Netherlands-based GreenPeak will allow Qorvo to expand its customer offering to include highly integrated RF solutions and systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) for the connected home and the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT).

“The acquisition of GreenPeak Technologies will complement Qorvo’s market-leading high power RF portfolio with innovative ultra-low power, short-range wireless personal area network (WPAN) SoCs, ZigBee and Bluetooth solutions.  GreenPeak brings a world-class technical team and solutions to Qorvo, allowing us to increase our presence in the rapidly expanding IoT market,” said 
James Klein, president of Qorvo’s Infrastructure and Defense Products (IDP) group.

Links will head up the IDP group within Qorvo. “Our team is excited to join Qorvo and continue our legacy of creating ultra-low power RF solutions for our customers.  We believe Qorvo will be a great environment for the GreenPeak team to grow as part of a much larger company serving many more global customers,” he said.

GreenPeak Technologies adds longer range, robustness and best-in-class WiFi interference rejection with no latency in production-ready reference designs that will allow quick time to market for integration into smart home and IoT applications. In 2015, GreenPeak celebrated shipment of its 100 millionth ZigBee chip to the smart home market.

According to research firm Gartner, Smart Home networking and IoT markets addressed by 802.15.4, ZigBee and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology are estimated to grow to $2.3 billion by 2020; and related smart markets such as retail, agriculture, automotive, lifestyle and commercial lighting are expected to grow to $4.9 billion by 2020. Beyond smart home networking, demand is growing to connect a variety of devices including HVAC, energy, security, home health, and remote controls utilizing innovative ultra-low power wireless data communication SoCs.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Top posts for March 2016

By Nick Flaherty

I'm often amazed by what ends up being popular month to month, and how some of the older stories keep coming back up. IDT's deal with ProDrive to reduce switch latency is popular, and the Japanese taxis moving to IoT connection is always interesting. But what about Atmel's IoT hardware security or the 3D printed batteries that have fallen off the list from February.



Taking the IoT forward with plug-and-play configuration

By Nick Flaherty

Plug-and-play is one of the big challenges for the Internet of Things, and Belgian spin out VersaSense has developed a wireless system that requires no configuration by the user.
MicroPnP is a complete IoT hardware and software platform that reduces the total cost of ownership for sensing and control systems using the ultra low power SmartMesh IP from Linear Technology. SmartMesh is the technology behind the Dust microcontrollers that Linear acquired at the end of 2011.
Versasense provides the plug-and-play identification of sensors and actuators at 10 million times lower power than USB, and, critically, includes industry-grade security from the embedded sensor to the cloud, as Dust were the co-chairs of the IETF IoT security standard committee. The SmartMesh IP provides 99.999% end-to-end reliability as well as a battery life of up to 10 years, with accurate real time tracking of energy reserves across the entire network.
VersaSense is a spin-off company of iMinds-DistriNet at Leuven University and designs and manufactures a complete range of products for the next-generation of industrial wireless sensing and control systems. This includes: ultra-low power wireless hub devices, a wide range of sensors and actuators, and end-to-end software support. VersaSense also designs and deploys specialised sensing systems for customers working in data center monitoring, chemical pipeline sensing, precision farming and building energy monitoring.
This has led to VersaSense supporting flexible usage models, so that designers can integrate MicroPnP in a network through ‘sensing as a product’, or consume data through ‘sensing as a service’.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

SIGFOX teams with Microsoft to use Azure IoT Hub

By Nick Flaherty

Deal allows customers to connect, monitor and control millions of IoT assets

With 7m devices connected to the Internet of Things, SIGFOX is one of the world’s leading IoT providers, so the fact that it is opening up its SIGFOX Cloud is significant.

The company’s unique solution is based on a dedicated global network of low power radio connectivity, and up until now you had to sign up with the company's own cloud service for the real-time analytics and to intelligently automate operations. 

Now the company has developed a 'cloud-to-cloud integration' to Microsoft's Azure IoT Hub, which provides an easy and secure way to connect and control millions of devices. The collaboration allows users to access both SIGFOX’s low-power, wide-area network and the power of advanced analytics and storage on Microsoft Azure to collect, analyse and visualize large quantities of operational data produced by their connected devices and applications.

The deal makes a lot of sense for large operators who want to develop their own analytics using the Azure Hub rather than the SIGFOX system. 

“Integration with Microsoft Azure IoT Hub in SIGFOX’s Cloud is a key step in the evolution of the IoT, providing customers with a great alternative to investing large amounts of resources to develop and manage data storage and management themselves,” said Stuart Lodge, SIGFOX executive vice president global sales and partners. “We are thrilled to have Microsoft as part of our global ecosystem as it will empower our customers’ asset management tool efficiency and lower their costs”.

“The rapid proliferation of connected devices can raise challenges in bringing together disparate data sources, handling the scale of the aggregate stream, and ensuring a variety of platforms and protocols work together harmoniously,” said Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft corporate vice president of developer platform & evangelism and chief evangelist. “Our collaboration with SIGFOX enables Microsoft Azure IoT customers to more easily integrate devices connected to the SIGFOX network in their existing solutions.”

SIGFOX and Microsoft are also working together on both startup opportunities and large-scale joint projects with customers around the world, including
  • The “Connect your City” hackathon in San Francisco, when 150 participants developed prototypes of connected hardware utilizing the network and the platform. The four winning teams developed smart solutions for the City of San Francisco, which is covered by the SIGFOX network.
  • System integrator Econocom enables the French company Servair to improve logistics efficiency and better secure Paris Orly Airport runways. The innovative logistics solution uses a network of connected buttons for sending parcel-removal notifications to Servair employees.
  • At Grand Lyon M├ętropole in France, a solution developed by Exakis measures real-time air quality in the city via sensors attached to buses and trams. The Lyon Air platform, to be launched soon, is fully monitored in Azure.
  • A programme developed by the IoT consulting firm Eridanis allows GRT Gaz, one of Europe’s biggest natural gas transportation companies, to continuously monitor the condition of its distribution network through connected terminals. The terminals immediately transmit signals, if sensors detect any changes in their position.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Japanese taxis show how IoT changes the way technology rolls out

By Nick Flaherty

In an example of how the IoT is changing the relationship of technology suppliers and customers, VIA Technologies is working with the  Japan Taxi Co for a Smart IoT Mobility System that integrates communication and connectivity features.
The new face of IoT development

The Smart IoT Taxi System comprises a ruggedised small form factor VIA AMOS-825in-vehicle system (below) and a 7” touch panel display, and has been finely tuned to withstand the rigors of the road through a number of key enhancements, including: 
  • 9-36V voltage input and wide temperature range
  • Sophisticated power-management
  • Ignition-controlled quick boot
  • Withstands 7G shock and 70G vibration
  • GPS location tuning for pinpoint tracking and navigation
  • CAN bus support for the future capture of critical vehicle data such as speed and fuel consumption

The ruggedised small form factor VIA AMOS-825 in-vehicle system used by Japan Taxi 

The system was developed by combining the automotive industry expertise of Japan Taxi, the IT subsidiary of Nihon Kotsu, which is the leading taxi group in Japan in terms of revenue, and the hardware development capabilities of VIA to integrate the CAN and GPS requirements. This specification then opens up new IoT app implementations, both locally and in the cloud. 

This enables operators to enhance passenger convenience and safety while simultaneously reducing costs through the implementation of smart fleet management and the development of new on-demand passenger services.

New IoT apps locally and in the cloud supported by a ruggedised VIA system

“The Smart IoT Taxi System provides the perfect illustration of the innovation that can be achieved when two companies leverage their respective domain expertise to meet rapidly-changing market needs,” said Richard Brown, VP International Marketing at VIA Technologies. “With our customisable in-vehicle system platforms, we are committed to providing commercial transportation customers throughout the world with proven ultra-reliable solutions that can be rapidly tuned to meet their exact requirements.”

“Thanks to our close cooperation with VIA, we can now provide operators with the smoothest path for adding smart IoT functionality to their vehicles so that they can deliver innovative new passenger services,” commented Mr. Tomoya Yamamoto, Lead Engineer, Japan Taxi Co., Ltd. “The launch of this system is the first step in our long-term vision of accelerating the transition to smart on-demand transportation.”

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

IDT teams with ProDrive to reduce switch latency

By Nick Flaherty

The latency of switching data is a key challenge for today's high speed networks, and IDT has teamed up with Prodrive Technologies to develop a RapidIO switch with 100ns latency for next generation cellular infrastructure.

The embedded devices for these switches will be used in networks running from 750 Gbit/s to 4.8 Tbit/s for next generation 5G cellular networks where the lower latency will open up applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as Mobile Edge and High-Performance Computing applications.

The new products are the result of work the two companies have conducted under the charter of the Open Compute Project (OPC) HPC group, which IDT co-chairs. The switch appliances use IDT's RapidIO technology, which is designed in to many 4G LTE networks.

RapidIO switches are used to connect computing components in complex processing-intensive systems, including SoCs, DSPs, FPGAs, GPUs and custom ASICs. IDT has shipped more than 110 million ports of its 10-20 Gbps RapidIO switches for use in production networks. In addition to using the second-generation switches, the new appliance portfolio will deploy IDT’s recently announced RXS family of RapidIO switches, which enable ports running at up to 50 Gbps with less than 1.2 W per port and 100ns latency.

"The single millisecond round trip latency requirements of 5G infrastructure will place considerable demands on all computing elements in the network, and these new RapidIO-based switching appliances deliver a leading combination of latency and energy efficiency,” said Sailesh Chittipeddi, IDT’s CTO and vice president of global operations. “This collaboration withProdrive Technologies helps meet the needs of 5G edge computing and C-RAN in the telecommunications arena, as well as high-performance computing and data centre analytics.”

Initial systems leveraging switch appliances with 38 ports operating at 20 Gbps have been deployed in wireless C-RAN and data analytics systems. Additional products, expected in the latter half of 2016, use IDT’s 50 Gbps-per-port RXS switch silicon portfolio with 19 inch rack-mountable systems.

“The collaboration with IDT has been instrumental in winning computing and telco customers using our RapidIO- based servers and switch appliances,” said Pieter Janssen, CEO of Prodrive Technologies. “By combining IDT’s interconnect and market channels with the Prodrive design and manufacturing in the EU, we have already deployed 10-20Gbps versions of the switch portfolio in tier 1 telco C-RAN programs as well as top-tier European HPC-oriented data centres. The switch appliances, complete with Prodrive’s RapidIO-connected FPGA/Power/x86/ARM servers, are also attractive for financial trading applications.”

The switch appliances feature scalable modularity with 32 to 96 ports supporting clustering at rack or multi-rack scale for target applications supporting heterogeneous processing with CPUs and accelerators. Multiple switch appliances can be connected in a leaf and spine network leveraging the RapidIO protocol to connect up to 64K processing nodes in a single network. Individual ports can be configured to run at a variety of speeds, including 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 40 and 50 Gbps, and thus tuned to optimize overall system power consumption, depending on application workload.

"Taking an open and collaborative approach to developing solutions for Open Compute and OpenPOWER is accelerating and strengthening the development efforts of our broader open community," said Calista Redmond, president of the OpenPOWER Foundation. "IDT is at the forefront as OpenPOWER grows capabilities into edge computing across system and switch resources."

The switch appliance products are available directly from Prodrive Technologies: The 20 Gbps-per-port versions are available now.  Lead customers can contact Prodrive for customized 50 Gbps-per-port solutions featuring IDT’s RXS RapidIO switches.


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