Published: 9 May, 2012
The 'internet of things' (IoT) is a major theme at this week's CTIA event in New Orleans, as operators and chipmakers race to develop a promising new revenue stream and influence the evolving IP-based ecosystem. AT&T unveiled a home networking initiative called Digital Life ahead of the show, reinforcing its already strong position in machine-to-machine devices. Then it was Qualcomm's turn, as it laid out its roadmap, adding to recent announcements by its partner ARM and by companies more specialized in this field, like NXP, which will become new rivals for the handset silicon giant.
Qualcomm has kicked off its efforts by creating a website, M2M Search, which catalogs all its products and partnerships. The cellular and Wi-Fi modules and systems on offer target a wide range of sectors, notably "automotive, industrial automation, retail and enterprise", looking beyond the smart home focus of some early movers.
The company says that vendors have released more than 100 cellular and connectivity solutions for M2M applications based on Qualcomm chipsets - most of those listed use its cellular offerings though a couple also harness the Wi-Fi products it acquired with Atheros, which also brings it the powerline support which will be important in the smart home. Atheros had previously acquired Intellon, a powerline start-up, and created an integrated powerline/Wi-Fi chipset for home networking purposes.
The centrepiece of the Qualcomm roadmap, though, is the Gobi modem technology, which supports CDMA, HSPA and LTE connectivity, and the Snapdragon processor family. Mainly associated with smartphones, the integrated baseband/processor platform will also target high end M2M uses such as automotive infotainment and digital signage, said Qualcomm. Leading this charge are the dual-core Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 and MDM9x15 chipsets.
Lower down the performance tree, the MDM6600 product for HSPA/CDMA, and the MDM6200 HSPA chipset, are targeted at cross-regional telematics applications. And entry level M2M sectors such as smart metering, home security and industrial automation are addressed with the QSC6270 (HSDPA) and QSC1105 (1X/GPRS) offerings.
From the Atheros stable, the main workhorses in M2M will be the AR4100 and AR4100P Wi-Fi systems-in-package, which support single-chip, single-stream 802.11n with an integrated networking stack for low energy purposes such as monitoring and control applications, while the QCA7000 chip specifically targets smart energy and automation, being the first chip to support the M2M HomePlug Green PHY powerline communications specification.
"Qualcomm will continue to support the emerging 'internet of everything' with chipsets and solutions that satisfy the needs of verticals, module and device OEMs and wireless operators," said Kanwalinder Singh, SVP of business development. "Our chipset roadmap provides our customers with a broad set of powerful technologies to fulfill key M2M requirements."