Internet of Things Reaches Historic Milestone

If you counted the number of electronics, appliances and products connected to the internet in your home 18 months ago, the number would have been pretty small.  

But in the last year and a half, the number of “things” in our homes and day-to-day lives that are connected to the internet, known as IoT, has exploded. In 2020, for the first time in history, the number of IoT devices surpassed non-IoT connected devices.1 By 2025, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to reach nearly 31 billion.2  

We can be thousands of miles away from home and use our smartphone to open or close our garage door or adjust the temperature inside our house. Like smartphones, once we see the initial opportunities of what’s possible with IoT in our personal and work lives, we want more.  

Today’s IoT devices have higher levels of intelligence making it easier to connect them (which drives more usage) and makes it easier for devices to interact with us. IoT devices are becoming more sophisticated to support growing demand for smart features like face, speech and object recognition. And improvements in processing and intelligent reaction - the different things a device can do based on reacting to commands or recognition – will make it possible for devices to anticipate our needs and act without even being asked.  

Internet of Things

The first generation of products connected to the internet required that data they collected be sent to the cloud for processing. This year, it is expected that more than 30 billion devices will send data to the cloud, consuming precious power resources3. Without another solution, data centers will require massive expansion to handle the rise in volume of data being created and stored. 

The Internet of Things is presenting incredible commercial opportunities, too: 

  • Manufacturers will be able to track the real-time usage of equipment and anticipate failures before they even occur.  
  • In health care, ear buds or smart watches may evolve to monitor and send our heart rate and other biometrics. IoT could revolutionize diabetes care through non-invasive blood glucose monitoring.  
  • Retailers and warehouse managers will have more accurate, real-time inventory data.  

The possibilities are endless. 

Technology driving IoT acceleration 

New technologies are helping drive IoT acceleration. Older “legacy” technology infrastructure for sending data did so at a higher cost, consumed more power, had slower response times and was not as secure. 

In the future, IoT products will need to always be switched “on,” seamlessly connected, have a higher degree of intelligence and be more secure - all things that existing devices are unable to provide in an energy-saving or cost-effective way.  

That’s where GlobalFoundries® (GF®) innovation is delivering in a big way. New architecture and innovations developed by the company enable longer battery life, reduce the cost of ownership, allow computing to be done at the device itself and help deliver secure wireless software updates. That’s right, if our garage door opener or thermostat is part of the Internet of Things, it needs updates, but GF is helping that happen effortlessly, behind the scenes. 

GF innovation is helping build, expand and improve IoT 

There’s a lot more to IoT than connecting a device to Wi-Fi. A great deal goes into making the Internet of Things possible, and the more products connected, the more IoT needs to run smoothly.  

“GlobalFoundries’ solutions are purpose-built specifically for IoT and are not a one-size-fits-all-purposes type of retrofit,” said Ed Kaste, vice president of Industrial and Multi-Market at GlobalFoundries. “While semiconductor chips are very small, they are packed with big, tangible, innovative benefits that are making the Internet of Things work better – and smarter - than ever.” 

GF technology offers superior capabilities in connecting with IoT through: 

  • Better power solutions: For a smart speaker, doorbell camera or appliance to be connected, it has to be turned on in some way, and that drives a need for lower power solutions that enable connectivity but involve minimal battery consumption and minimal power “leakage.” In addition, the transceivers involved need to be effective enough to connect reliably yet consume very little power during the connection. 
  • Seamless connection: To connect things that weren’t before, consumers expect the connection process to be simple, fast and enduring.  
  • Intelligence: Connecting a car, bike computer, light bulb or driverless vehicle to the internet is not an end in itself. Once connected, it has to do something for the user - the item needs to respond to commands, provide information and send alerts, as well as anticipate the user’s needs. The IoT “brain,” which is inside the chip itself, also needs to be smart enough to know what data it should pay attention to and what it shouldn’t. 
  • Security: If an individual’s personal information or a business’ proprietary data is being communicated, it needs to be secure, and the privacy of that data fully protected. Attacks on IoT devices can occur in as few as five minutes after a connection is made, so security needs to be built in and effective from the start. 
  • Sensing: GF technology can sense situations such as someone approaching a door in the dark and has the intelligence to turn on a nearby light and call the homeowner’s mobile phone. 

The GF FDXTM platform portfolio includes the development and fabrication of state-of-the-art semiconductor chips that are providing significant performance advantages in intelligence, security and sensing.  

The GF 22FDXTM platform helps address the challenges being created by more than 30 billion connected devices. GF’s innovative solution combines high-density, low power digital processing required for edge artificial intelligence (AI) with precision analog needed to enable high-performance radio frequency (RF) and sensing, providing the reliable communications users expect.  

GF’s enabling of “AI inference” in semiconductor chips is relieving pressure on data centers and increasing the ability of edge devices to compute and store data, as well as take helpful actions on their own. 

At its annual GF Technology Summit, held virtually on Sept. 15, 2021, GF tech leaders discussed the company’s advances that are elevating the IoT, smartphone, auto and data center industries. 

At the event, the company announced that GF’s micro-display solutions for IoT include new features that enable smaller and lighter augmented reality (AR) glasses to last longer on a single battery charge. GF’s micro-display solutions are based on the 22FDX+ platform, which is seeing broad industry acceptance including more than $7.5 billion in design wins around the world. The platform has been optimized to improve process speed and reduce leakage while enabling enhanced pixel driver functionality. 

“As more devices are connected, more is needed to develop low-power, low-leakage solutions, as well as facilitate smooth connections, provide more intelligence and capability, protect information and facilitate ease of use,” Kaste added. “GlobalFoundries continues to develop innovative solutions for the growing and evolving needs of the Internet of Things, which is going to improve our daily lives for the foreseeable future.” 

To learn more about GF’s solutions powering home and industrial IoT, please click here.