Reimagining Semiconductors for Tomorrow’s Technologies

Devices are getting smarter everyday – right from connected gadgets for smart homes to AI enabled autonomous vehicles – with the aim of making lives better. The key element in this evolution is the ability of these devices to sense the environment and “think” like humans. This is where the “brain” of every device – the semiconductor chip – is playing an elemental role.

Chipsets can be categorized into memory chips and processor/ logic chips. While memory chips are relatively multi-utility in nature, logic chips need to be designed around specific hardware and software requirements to maximize device performance. Chipset manufacturers are not only packing in more and more processing power into smaller chipsets, they are also collaborating with OEMs and technology developers to customize them to use cases. For example, the Samsung Exynos Auto V9 chipset and the Qualcomm Automotive Series has been purpose-built for smart vehicle applications supporting multiple complementary technologies.

Sensing, Thinking, Interacting Cars

The emerging technology ecosystem is bringing together multiple devices centered around industry specific use cases to offer power packed solutions to end customers. Smart mobility is one such ecosystem, where cars are getting increasingly smarter with the interplay of automotive technology, IoT soluions, AI capabilities and high-speed data connectivity – all of which are supported by customized chipsets.

Already, 100+ sensors in today’s cars help control everything from engine management to in-cabin climate control. With increasing chipset processing power, number of sensors will multiply and support real-time applications like Augmented Reality for assisted navigation systems.

Integrated Ecosystems

5G, with its high bandwidth, low latency and network independent communication features, is making autonomous vehicles possible. These vehicles need massive amounts of processing power to be able to react in milliseconds to traffic, and 5G capable chipsets with very high speed processors are imperative for this.

Not only are cars becoming more autonomous and feature rich, they are evolving to connect with a larger ecosystem to provide the next level of experience. For example – with IoT devices built into urban infrastructure, cars will become capable of “talking” to each other to avoid accidents. However, if accidents do occur, in-car sensors will monitor and relay passenger health information to emergency service agencies automatically.

Powerful chipsets will get embedded in the existing devices in urban infrastructure for a smarter ecosystem. Example: Mumbai Traffic Police is testing smart traffic signals with automatic time adjustments, basis real-time analysis of inputs from video cameras monitoring traffic volume at intersections. They have already implemented an automated system of enforcing speed limits. Video camera feeds are analyzed in real time to identify speeding vehicles with their number plates. This information is matched with the digital database of car registrations and fines are imposed linked to the Aadhaar number of the owner.

Semiconductors are projected to account for 15% of the global corporate ER&D spend by 2022. With the advancements in chip design, in terms of processing power and miniaturization, the possibilities of integrating them in devices for specific applications will become endless.


About the Author

KS Viswanathan, Vice President, Industry Initiatives, NASSCOM


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