Qualcomm introduces 7 new chips to power IoT installations
Qualcomm has released a new range of cellular connectivity modules for IoT devices. The seven new products range from entry-level to premium tier to expand access to a variety of industrial and commercial applications, including transportation and logistics, warehousing, video collaboration, smart cameras, retail and healthcare.
Qualcomm’s senior director of product management Nagaraju Naik said that the new chips are a comprehensive offering from entry-level to high-end products that meet the needs of a broad range of IoT solutions. Naik said that the high-end chips in particular will support video collaboration with support for high-resolution cameras and image signal processing for electronic pan, tilt and zoom actions.
“Within the Internet of Things ecosystem, there are a variety of segments going through digital transformation, whether its retail or warehouse management or the shipping industry. Collaboration is yet another significant segment. These products that we’re introducing are going to enable a lot of those applications,” Naik said.
“Smart cart is actually bringing the point-of-sale experience or the checkout experience into the cart. So, you have cameras that can detect what (merchandise) is being picked by the consumer, and then right on the cart you have point-of-sale ability. Companies need highly capable cameras and AI compute capability and connectivity to provide these services,” Naik added.
The chips can support a variety of activities, according to the company, including:
- Integrated connectivity
- Sensor fusion
- Person identification and detection
- Object detection
- Edge interaction
- Activity analysis
Naik said the chips also can support modern warehouse management from inventory management to package delivery to driver safety and productivity. In a warehouse environment, the entry-level chip can power the handheld device for managing inventory while the high-end chip can run the robot that pulls items. “All of these scenarios can be supported with the family of products we are introducing today,” Naik said.
Qualcomm also has promised extended life hardware and software options for a minimum of eight years for the new products. All of the new chips are available now except the QCM 6490.
The Qualcomm QCS8250 is the premium-tier offering, optimized to enable maximum performance at the greatest power efficiency possible for intensive AI at the edge. It comes with support for Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, with the Qualcomm Kryo 585 CPU architecture, latest Qualcomm AI Engine and an image signal processor to support up to 7 concurrent cameras with 4K resolution at 120 frames per second. The new Neural Processing Unit supports AI and machine learning for products such as smart cameras, video collaboration, AI hubs, connected healthcare and smart retail.
The next tier is the Qualcomm QCS6490 and QCM6490, also with global 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi 6E, and available from the second half of this year. These come with the Kryo 670 CPU architecture targeting industrial and commercial IoT applications such as transportation, warehousing, connected healthcare, logistics management and POS kiosks. The models can support triple ISPs and advanced edge-AI based on the 6th generation Qualcomm AI Engine.
The Qualcomm QCS4290 and QCM4290 are aimed at mid-tier devices, running the Kryo 260 CPU and 3rd generation Qualcomm AI Engine. This platform supports LTE Cat13 and is ready for upgrade to Wi-Fi 6.
For the entry-level market, the company has the Qualcomm QCS2290 and QCM2290 with LTE connectivity and memory support for low power consumption. Equipped with the Cortex A53 CPU architecture, this cost-effective solution is aimed at retail point-of-sale, industrial handheld, tracking and camera applications.
Customers supporting the new modules include Arrow Electronics, Zebra, Amtran, EInfoChips, Honeywell, Fibocom, Lanotronix and Quectel.
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WSJ Update- July 17, 2021:
Gallium is taking over in many of the places that silicon once reigned supreme—from antennas to charging bricks and other energy-converting systems known as “power electronics.” In the process, it’s enabling a surprising array of new technologies, from faster-charging cellphones, to lighter electric vehicles, to more power-efficient data centers that run the services and apps we use.
A byproduct of extracting aluminum from rock, gallium has such a low melting temperature that it turns into a runny, silvery-white liquid when you hold it in your hand. On its own, it isn’t terribly useful. Combine it with nitrogen, to make gallium nitride, and it becomes a hard crystal with valuable properties. It shows up in laser sensors used in many self-driving cars, antennas that enable today’s fast cellular wireless networks, and, increasingly, in electronics critical to making renewable-energy harvesting more efficient.
Many of the most tangible things made possible by gallium nitride, also known as GaN, are happening in power electronics. Today, you can buy small USB-C chargers with enough juice to power your laptop, phone and tablet simultaneously, even though they are no bigger than the much less powerful versions that have for years come with our gadgets.
The market for GaN power electronics is still quite nascent, however. In 2019, the entire market for all transistors was about $16 billion, whereas the market for the kind offered by Navitas, GaN Systems and others was $45 million, says George Brocklehurst, a vice president of research at Gartner.
There are other potentially revolutionary materials that are beginning to compete with silicon, like graphene, but GaN microchips have the considerable advantage that they can be produced in the same sort of manufacturing facilities—called fabs—that make conventional microchips, says Stephen Oliver, head of marketing at Navitas.
Because they don’t require the most advanced chip-manufacturing technology, GaN chips can be produced in older, paid-for fabs that might otherwise be idled. A fortunate side effect has been that GaN chip supply hasn’t been caught up in the wider global semiconductor shortage, says Mr. Oliver. Navitas’s chips are currently manufactured in the oldest fab still operated by TSMC, the Taiwanese chip-manufacturing titan.
Where the material revolution hasn’t taken hold is in the biggest market for semiconductors: the processors powering our computers. Until recently, Dr. Oliver says, GaN has been good at doing only half the things that a traditional silicon transistor can do.
So far, GaN can’t handle the electric-current flows needed to run the kind of computations carried out by traditional silicon logic chips. But recent findings suggest that may be changing.
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