Posts Tagged ‘IoT’

Next Page »

Online IOT Certification Program Offered at UC-Irvine

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

The University of California at Irvine (UC-I) online IOT Certificate program provides students with the knowledge and skills required to take advantage of this next major shift in technologies and the related exponential growth in the job demand. We will explore the tools, technologies, platforms and languages used to create exciting new connected devices. According to the Gartner research organization, 75% of executives are currently pursuing IoT related products and/or processes in their organization to drive business value. The economic impact of IoT is estimated to be between $10-15 trillion in the next 5-10 years. The program is designed to help both individuals and business leverage this new and exciting technological wave, understand the related technologies and create solutions that focus on the benefits of simple interactivity and large-scale connectivity.

Program Benefits

  • Understand the business opportunities of Ambient Computing and IoT
  • Design organic computing devices that sense, perceive, and react appropriately
  • Have fun using new technologies that will be an ever-increasing part of our future
  • Identify the main components of IoT devices
  • Understand the concept of Ambient Intelligence to increase personal and industry productivity and effectiveness
  • Utilize IoT standards for interoperability, machine-to-machine communication, and security
  • Utilize a variety of techniques to connect to and read sensor data
  • Explain different IoT technologies and their applications
  • Discern the basic functionality of the Arduino and Raspberry Pi hardware systems
  • Understand how to secure and monitor the entire system of devices, the connectivity, and the information exchange
  • Identify related network concepts including cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, ZigBee, and ZWave
  • Orchestrate signals and objects to fulfill complex events or end-to-end business processes

The next course starts October 8, 2018. Follow this link to learn more.

ARM Techcon 2017 – IOT Manifest, Servers and Security

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017
YouTube Preview Image

Silvaco – SOC Soln’s Acquisition Reflect Systems Trend in IP

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

With completion of the Silvaco acquisition of SOC Solutions, Electronic System Design sat down with the principals from each company to talk about the future.

By John Blyler, Editor-in-Chief

Quotable Quotes:

… to combine our (processor) subsystems with CAN-FD and FlexRay to service the automotive market.

… our IP Fingerprinting … targeted towards … concerns about (compliance).

… this will eventually lead to the “Arduino” type solutions that will fuel the IoT industry and others.

… We may be on the forefront of the next evolution of deliverables that will be expected with IP.

To grow, traditional EDA tools and IP suppliers must embrace the larger electronic systems market. This is nothing new to Jim Bruister, CEO at SOC Solutions (now part of Silvaco). He has frequently commented on the need to adapt the semiconductor IP industry to ensure it will be successful in the larger IOT system and embedded spaces. (See, “How can the Chip Community Improve the Industry for IOT Designers?)

Embracing the larger system perspective is just one of the reasons why the Silvaco acquisition of SOC Solutions is important. To understand why, JB Systems talked with Warren Savage, General Manager of IP at Silvaco, and Jim Bruister, CEO of SoC Solutions. What follows is a slightly edited version of their responses. – JB

Silvaco and SOC Solutions Acquisition
Warren Savage, General Manager of IP, Dave Dutton, CEO of Silvaco Inc, and Jim Bruister, CEO of SoC Solutions, sign the acquisition agreement. (Courtesy of Silvaco)

Blyler: How will SOC Solutions complement Silvaco in the IP space?

Bruister: One way is with a lot of IP, especially for AMBA infrastructure.  We’ve been providing ARM Cortex-M0/M3/A5 AHB and AXI subsystems for many years – both off-the-shelf and customized subsystems. Many IP engagements now require a system level hardware-software approach from the IP supplier and the IP user alike, which we provide.

Additionally, we (SOC Solutions) bring several popular cores to Silvaco, e.g., QSPI, Serial Flash Controllers, AES encryption/decryption, DMA controllers, I2C, SPI, SPI bridges, LCD controllers and more.

Savage:  Systems level thinking has become a big factor in the IP world. SoC Solution’s infrastructure IP plus their knowledge of how to put together both hardware and software subsystems fits very well into what customers want. A minimal overlap of products between the two companies also helps.

Blyler: What markets will be opened up?

Bruister: The combination of existing products from both companies will open up markets in automotive, industrial, IoT and perhaps medical industries.  For example, we intend to combine our Cortex-M0/M3 (or other CPUs such as ColdFire) subsystem with CAN-FD and FlexRay to service the automotive market with an automotive platform. Similarly, we will provide a sensor platform that contains a M0/M3/Coldfire subsystem with Silvaco’s I3C core to service the smart sensor market.

Savage: I don’t know about “opening up” markets, but there is a natural shift in the IP industry to align specific products and services that help customers in vertical markets. However, I will say that in the previous IPextreme/Silvaco IP world, we didn’t have the expertise to provide serious consulting and custom products like we have with SoC Solutions. Instead of turning away that business, we can offer something now to customers that need it.

Blyler: In past articles, Jim Bruister has said that IOT chip design must be done differently in the future. Will this acquisition help in that effort?

Bruister: I believe so.  Silvaco has historically been an EDA company with many physical design and analysis tools-libraries. That will be combined with our (SOC Solution) IP and product base to provide a “one-stop-shop” whole chip solution. The best example of this is how we support today’s “Smart Designs” in which more and more digital CPU based systems are added to custom analog to produce smart-sensors, smart-rf, and smart-IoT devices.

Savage: Jim is right: A large amount of the Silvaco customer base is BigA – SmallD, which is in contrast to the IPextreme/SoC customer base.  We are seeing the opportunity now with IOT customers to outsource the entire digital portion of the chip, rather than investing in a new digital team, tools, etc.

Blyler: Security has become a critical element in IP reuse. Will the acquisition help protect IP?

Warren: SoC Solutions was already a supporter of our IP Fingerprinting technology which is more targeted towards companies that have weak internal controls and are concerned about the liability associated with being out of compliance. It really doesn’t protect against people that want to steal your IP.

Blyler: What will the future bring?

Bruister: Already we are beginning to see the fruits of the acquisition.  The SoC Solutions’ IP and team brings the critical mass needed to bring Silvaco’s IP strategy to life.  But it’s just the beginning.  Silvaco plans to expand the IP and Services team to bring world-class IP and services to the industry.  My vision is this will eventually lead to the “Arduino” type solutions that will fuel the IoT industry and others.

Savage: Yes, that’s a good point that Jim brings up.  We may be on the forefront of the next evolution of deliverables that will be expected with IP. Such a deliverable package would include compliance setups, test boards, drivers, middle-ware, and more.   We have definitely seen this taking place last year with our I3C product, which keeps pushing the boundaries of traditional deliverables.

Blyler: Thank you.

Fractional Horsepower Engines and the IOT

Sunday, July 30th, 2017
Fractional Horsepower Engines of the IOT
Almost anything can be computerized in the IOT with connected processor-enabled sensor-based systems.
By Larry A. Crāpo, Director of Business Development, Breadware, Inc.
Back in 1983, Steve Jobs made a famous analogy between big computers, little computers, and steam engines — “Only with the advent of the fractional horsepower motor could horsepower be brought directly to where it was needed.” He was right. We don’t lash our portable drills and smoothie blenders to some rotating overhead wilderness of belts and pulleys run from a single large engine out in the garage. Each item has its own little motor.
At the time, Jobs meant his comment in defense of personal computers, which had only begun to displace computing power distributed from mainframes and minicomputers, and which sometimes encountered corporate resistance if not outright hostility. Hop into the DeLorean and motor forward 35 years, and we can make the same observation today about personal computers and “fractional horsepower” computers hooked to the Internet of Things.
Figure: Fractional horsepower engine – Of an Alchin traction engine. (Courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/elsie/)
According to Pew Research (whose numbers from 2014 are now somewhat brittle with age), 84% of US households have at least one desktop/laptop computer, and 73% have a broadband connection to the internet. Other areas of the world are equipped to a greater or lesser extent. Singapore and Lithuania are hovering at 100% connected. We’re at a point where the personal computer (especially in the home) can be considered as the mainframe or minicomputer of Jobs’ vision, and a host of smaller, internet-connected devices — TVs, phones, and stereos already; alarm systems, doorbells, vacuum cleaners, and HVAC as we speak; and appliances such as the fridge, washers/dryers, and soon everything else — form the Internet of Things, IoT.
There is a temptation… perhaps a strong temptation… to view an internet-enabled refrigerator as symptom of a fad. What’s it going to talk to, the milk? I will pause soberly to mention that personal computers once were derided in the same jocular tone, and dare I mention the phrase “get a horse”? (Oddly, no one ever shouted, “Get a messenger!” to the people putting in the first telephones.)
The long-term answer is: yes, it will talk to the milk — and ultimately to the milk distributor and the dairyman. That’s because IoT will not rest with adding a cool but expensive new feature to the top-end models of an already expensive appliance. IoT will be pervasive, like barcodes. Milk production lines, storage, and shipment will benefit from better instrumentation using connected IoT devices. You may not have experienced it personally — yet — but this IoT-fueled expansion in the number of internet-connected devices is what is driving the change from the IPv4 internet addressing scheme to the IPv6 internet addressing scheme. IPv4 can “only” connect to 232 devices (4,294,967,296, about half the number of people on the earth). IPv6 can provide individual addresses to 2128 discrete devices (and we’re ignoring internal networks). That’s… um… a lot. Like, more than the number of grains of sand on the Earth. A lot.
Almost anything can be computerized in this IoT way — some frivolously, some powerfully, some in ways we don’t currently anticipate (that’s the fun part). Edison invented the electric light, but he also invented the electric pen.
You don’t use an electric pen, do you?
We celebrate Edison’s inventiveness, anyway. So, too, with IoT. Some ideas will work famously, we won’t be able to live without them. Others will be the electric pens of 2020. This is what makes a horse race. It’s time to experiment. This is exciting. It’s Microsoft in 1985 exciting. The marketplace will decide — as it decides everything — what is useful and what we can live without.
Sure, we can do it; we can do anything. Anything encompasses quite a lot. Novelist Elan Mastai commented that every invention includes its own accident. You can’t have a wrong number without telephones, for example. We don’t yet know what “accidents” will accompany IoT. Still, there are a few questions that ride shotgun with the Internet of Things for both manufacturers of IoT-enabled devices and their users: What is the benefit? What is the cost? And who bears that cost?
This is where the shoulders of giants have brought IoT. It’s where the paradigms shift. It’s where we need those cleats to hang on.
About Breadware:
Breadware enables the Internet of Things for all sorts of Things. Breadware technology applies a high-level software abstraction technology to internet-connected hardware to make electronics development affordable, flexible, and accessible. This overcomes hardware development methods that have been clunky, disconnected, costly, and time-intensive. Breadware overcomes the IoT bottleneck.

Almost anything can be computerized in the IOT with connected processor-enabled sensor-based systems. Breadware provides development solutions that can help.

By Jeff Walden, Senior Editor, Breadware, Inc.

Back in 1983, Steve Jobs made a famous analogy between big computers, little computers, and steam engines — “Only with the advent of the fractional horsepower motor could horsepower be brought directly to where it was needed.” He was right. We don’t lash our portable drills and smoothie blenders to some rotating overhead wilderness of belts and pulleys run from a single large engine out in the garage. Each item has its own little motor.

At the time, Jobs meant his comment in defense of personal computers, which had only begun to displace computing power distributed from mainframes and minicomputers, and which sometimes encountered corporate resistance if not outright hostility. Hop into the DeLorean and motor forward 35 years, and we can make the same observation today about personal computers and “fractional horsepower” computers hooked to the Internet of Things.

Figure: Fractional horsepower engine - Of an Alchin traction engine. (Courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/elsie/)

Figure: Fractional horsepower engine - Of an Alchin traction engine. (Courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/elsie/)

According to Pew Research (whose numbers from 2014 are now somewhat brittle with age), 84% of US households have at least one desktop/laptop computer, and 73% have a broadband connection to the internet. Other areas of the world are equipped to a greater or lesser extent. Singapore and Lithuania are hovering at 100% connected. We’re at a point where the personal computer (especially in the home) can be considered as the mainframe or minicomputer of Jobs’ vision, and a host of smaller, internet-connected devices — TVs, phones, and stereos already; alarm systems, doorbells, vacuum cleaners, and HVAC as we speak; and appliances such as the fridge, washers/dryers, and soon everything else — form the Internet of Things, IoT.

There is a temptation… perhaps a strong temptation… to view an internet-enabled refrigerator as symptom of a fad. What’s it going to talk to, the milk? I will pause soberly to mention that personal computers once were derided in the same jocular tone, and dare I mention the phrase “get a horse”? (Oddly, no one ever shouted, “Get a messenger!” to the people putting in the first telephones.)

The long-term answer is: yes, it will talk to the milk — and ultimately to the milk distributor and the dairyman. That’s because IoT will not rest with adding a cool but expensive new feature to the top-end models of an already expensive appliance. IoT will be pervasive, like barcodes. Milk production lines, storage, and shipment will benefit from better instrumentation using connected IoT devices. You may not have experienced it personally — yet — but this IoT-fueled expansion in the number of internet-connected devices is what is driving the change from the IPv4 internet addressing scheme to the IPv6 internet addressing scheme. IPv4 can “only” connect to 232 devices (4,294,967,296, about half the number of people on the earth). IPv6 can provide individual addresses to 2128 discrete devices (and we’re ignoring internal networks). That’s… um… a lot. Like, more than the number of grains of sand on the Earth. A lot.

Almost anything can be computerized in this IoT way — some frivolously, some powerfully, some in ways we don’t currently anticipate (that’s the fun part). Edison invented the electric light, but he also invented the electric pen.

You don’t use an electric pen, do you?

We celebrate Edison’s inventiveness, anyway. So, too, with IoT. Some ideas will work famously, we won’t be able to live without them. Others will be the electric pens of 2020. This is what makes a horse race. It’s time to experiment. This is exciting. It’s Microsoft in 1985 exciting. The marketplace will decide — as it decides everything — what is useful and what we can live without.

Sure, we can do it; we can do anything. Anything encompasses quite a lot. Novelist Elan Mastai commented that every invention includes its own accident. You can’t have a wrong number without telephones, for example. We don’t yet know what “accidents” will accompany IoT. Still, there are a few questions that ride shotgun with the Internet of Things for both manufacturers of IoT-enabled devices and their users: What is the benefit? What is the cost? And who bears that cost?

This is where the shoulders of giants have brought IoT. It’s where the paradigms shift. It’s where we need those cleats to hang on.

dsfdsdfds

About Breadware:

Breadware enables the Internet of Things for all sorts of Things. Breadware technology applies a high-level software abstraction technology to internet-connected hardware to make electronics development affordable, flexible, and accessible. This overcomes hardware development methods that have been clunky, disconnected, costly, and time-intensive. Breadware overcomes the IoT bottleneck.

IOT Requires Shared Cloud and Embedded Connections

Sunday, July 30th, 2017
YouTube Preview Image

Hardware vs Software in IOT Security

Sunday, July 30th, 2017
YouTube Preview Image

Will Moore’s and Metcalfe’s Laws Cross the IOT Chasm?

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

The success of the IOT may depend more on a viable customer experience over the convergence of the semiconductor and communication worlds.

By John Blyler, Editor, IOT Embedded Systems

The Internet of Things will involve a huge number of embedded devices reporting back to data aggregators running servers on the cloud. Low cost and low power sensors, cameras and other sources will allow the IOT to render the real world into a digital format. All of these “things” will be connected together via the Internet, which will open up new business models and services for customers and users. It should greatly expand the human–machine experience.

The key differentiators between the emerging IOT and traditional embedded systems is connectivity. IOT will conceivable connect all embedded things together. The result will be an almost inconceivable amount of data from sensors, cameras and the like, which will be transferred to the cloud for major computation and analysis.

Connectivity means IOT platforms will have a huge data side. Experts predict that the big data industry will grow to about US$54.3 billion by 2017. But the dark side of connectivity is the proliferation of hacking and privacy lapses caused by poor security.

Security is an issue for users as well as for the device developers. Since most IoT devices are resource constrained, designer cannot deploy resource-intensive security protection mechanisms. They are further constrained by the low cost of mass-produced devices.

Another challenge is that most software developers are not particularly security or reliability conscious. They lack training in the use of security testing, encryption, etc. Their code is often not design nor programmed in a defensive fashion.

Finally, since IOT devices will be designed and available on a massive scale, security attacks and failures can be easily propagated. Frequently software security patches will be needed but these must be design for early in the development life cycle of both the hardware (think architecture and memory) and software.

Moore-Metcalf and the Chasm

Connectivity, security and data analysis will make IOT devices far more complex than tradition embedded systems. This complexity in design and product acceptance can be illustrated by the confluence of two laws and a marketing chasm. Let’s consider each separately.

First, there is Moore’s Law. In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that transistor density (related to performance) of microprocessors would double every 2 years (see Figure 1). While “doubling every 2 years” suggests a parabola-shaped curve, Moore’s growth function is almost always represented in a straight line ― complemented by a logarithmic scale on the Y-axis.

Figure 1: Moore’s Law (courtesy of Mentor Graphics, Semi Pacific NW, 2015)

Several years later, another technology pioneer, 3Com co-founder Bob Metcalfe, stated that the value of a network grows with the square of the number of network nodes (or devices, or applications, or users, etc.), while the costs follow a more or less linear function. Not surprisingly, this equation is show as a network connection diagram. For example, 2 mobile devices will only able to communicate with each other. However, if you have billions of connected devices and applications, connection complexity rising considerably (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Metcalfe’s Law.

Metcalfe’s Law is really about network growth rather than about technological innovation. Blogger Marc Jadoul recently noted on the Nokia website that, the combination of Moore’s and Metcalfe’s principles explains the evolution of communication networks and services, as well as the rise of the Internet of Things. The current IoT growth is enabled by hardware miniaturization, decreasing sensor costs, and ubiquitous wireless access capabilities that are empowering an explosive number of smart devices and applications…”

Jadoul realizes that the availability of state-of-the-art technology does not always guarantee success, citing the struggling growth of two main IOT “killer” consumer devices and apps, namely, watches and connected thermostats. The latter is also notorious for its security issues.

He explains this slow adoption by considering the “chasm.” Geoffrey A. Moore wrote about the gap that product marketers have to bridge for a new technology to go mainstream. Jadoul then combines these three charts, admitting the inaccuracies caused by different axis and scales, to observe that the chasm is actually the point where the shift from a technology driven model to a value and customer experience driven business needs to take place (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Intersection of Gordon Moore’s Law, Metcalfe’s Law and Geoffrey Moore’s “the Chasm. (Courtesy of Marc Jadoul blog.)

This line of reasoning highlights the key differentiator of the IOT, i.e., connectivity of embedded semiconductor devices. But the success of the IOT may depend more on a viable customer experience over the convergence of computational and communication technologies.

How can the Chip Community Improve the Industry for IOT Designers?

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Meeting the 20 billion IOT devices prediction by 2020 will require the semiconductor industry to streamline its processes for up and coming chip designers.

By John Blyler, Editorial Director, IOT Embedded Systems

Part I of this article covered the difficulties in designing System-on-Chip (SOC) devices for the Internet-of-Things (IOT) market, as explained by Jim Bruister, CEO of SOC Solutions, during his talk at the inaugural REUSE event. In Part II, we will examine ways for the semiconductor and electronics industries to improve the development process for the next generation of IOT designers. — JB

Quotable  Quotes:

  • … the semiconductor community needs to market outside of its traditional channels, for example, to the “Field and Stream” or perhaps the “Sports Illustrated” communities.”
  • … licensing agreements represent a real problem for buyers especially those that must buy IP from multiple vendors.
  • … a general contractor type of person is needed for the emerging IOT design industry.
  • … (could) open source be used to get IOT designers started especially with FPGAs?

How, then, do we improve as an industry to ensure success for IOT chip designers? Bruister believes there are 5 pieces that need to be in place. First among those is a proactive ecosystem, one that consists of more than just a few companies getting together and sharing their names on websites.

Secondly, the ecosystem must consist of IP providers, design houses and even the foundries whose goal is to offer real SOC reference designs for the IOT community.

Information marketing focused on the IoT business channels is the third needed item. Bruister emphasized that the semiconductor community needs to market outside of its traditional channels, for example, to the “Field and Stream” or perhaps the “Sports Illustrated” communities. The semiconductor world needs to reach out to those places where the next generation of SOC designers will live.

Fourthly, a general contractor type of position is needed in the IOT SOC ecosystem. By analogy, a general contractor is the person that helps you build a house. The general contractor has the experience and connections to bring in and coordinate the activities of the framer, electrician, plumber and others needed to build a house. The same type of person is need for IOT designers.

At this point in the presentation, an attendee from the audience noted the general contractor should probably own all of the tools for the “building of a house” analogy to work. Bruister looked at the problem differently, explaining that the general contractor for a house doesn’t typically own all the tools.

“I see the general contractor (for IOT design) more like a consultant that selects the design house and helps you pick the IP,” explained Bruister. There are design houses that play that role, but it’s not a smooth flow of activities from start to finish for doing an IOT design. That’s where I think a general contractor or coordinator could help.”

The last thing needed for improvement in the IOT design process was one stop shopping with a common licensing model. Today, there is no standard licensing model and there will probably never be one, said Bruister. But the licensing agreements represent a real problem for buyers especially those that must buy IP from multiple vendors. Current models take way too long to license the IP, get it in-house and evaluate the IP. There needs to be a consolidation on how IP is licensed. Bruister suggested a boiler plate IP license that could contain 90% of the common elements required in a license.

Bruister concluded by saying that the semiconductor industry needs to figure out a way to simplify the whole IOT design process. This statement prompted a question about the use of open source tools and IP as a possible solution. The questioner noted that open source could be used to get IOT designers started especially with FPGAs.

Bruister wondered if there were enough open source folks that would significantly help with the 20 billion predicted IOT devices by 2020. Nikos Zervas, CEO of CAST, who was in the audience, noted that relying on open source may be problematic with the millions of dollars involved in chip design. He question who would stand behind the open source tools in such a case.

But the questioner was persistent, saying that even major chip IP providers like ARM don’t pay for the blunders of the chip designer. He cited software as another example were nothing is really warranted, in his opinion.

Bruister tried to address the question by looking at the big picture. For the coming IOT design challenges, there will be one camp of providers who believe that one hundred different designs types will be good for all devices. The opposing camp will believe that each design situation will require some customization, e.g., to include energy harvesting capabilities, etc. Both groups will be large and vocal. The IOT device market will be so big that it will have lots variability.

“But the common thread is that it takes way too long to design IOT devices,” said Bruister. “There is no way we can reach that many devices with such a long design and long IP licensing processes. Expensive tools are always going to be an issue. I don’t think you can get away from that unless the big EDA vendors decide to go with a “pay as you design” model. They have resisted that for years.”

It may be difficult to simplify the process for less SOC experienced IOT designers, but we must try if the IOT market is to realize it’s potential.

Legacy vs New IP – Trends in IOT JPG and Drone Apps

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
YouTube Preview Image

Beginning the Discussion on the Internet-of-Space

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

A panel of experts from academia and industry assembled at the recent IEEE IMS event to answer critical questions are the role and impact of RFIC technologies.

By John Blyler, Editorial Director

Synopsis of compelling comments:

  • “Satellite communication becomes practical, low cost, and comparable to LTE only if you are at multi-Tera-bit per second capacity.
  • “Ultimately, we are not selling the bandwidth of our system but the power.”
  • “Power harvesting on the satellite is one of the most important things we can do.”
  • “You must establish commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) variants of your main space product line (to support both new and traditional space).”
  • “You need to consider new business models as well as new technology and processes.”

Recently, IEEE MTT Society sponsored an initial discussion and networking session on the Internet of Space (IoS) at the 2016 International Microwave Symposium. It was billed as one of several upcoming forums to bring the IoS and IoT communities together as these technologies and systems continue to evolve. The short term goal of this initiative is to, “jump start a global technical community cutting across multiple hardware-oriented fields of interest including: aerospace systems; antennas; autonomous systems; communications; electronics; microwave/mm-wave technology; photonics; positioning, navigation and timing; power electronics, etc.”

With representation from a global community of satellite and end-user companies, the IEEE IMS 2016 Rump Session Panel explored the technical and business challenges facing the emerging   industries. What exactly is the IoS? Does it include both low-earth orbit and potentially sub-orbital platforms like drones and balloons? How do microwave and RF designs differ for satellite and airborne applications? These are a few of the questions that were addressed by the panel. Part 1 of this series of reports focuses on the challenges forecasted by each of the panelists. What follows is a portion of that panel discussion. – John Blyler

Panelists and Moderators (left to right):

  • [Co-Moderator] Sanjay Raman, Professor and Associate VP, National Capital Region, Virginia Tech
  • Prakash Chitre, Comsat Laboratories, ViaSat, VP and GM
  • Hamid Hemmati, Facebook, Director of Engineering for Telecom Infrastructure
  • Lisa Coe, Director of Commercial Business Dev. for Boeing
  • David Bettinger, OneWeb, VP of Engineering, Communications Systems
  • Michael Pavloff, RUAG Space (Zürich Switzerland), Chief Technology Officer
  • [Co-Moderator] and Mark Wallace, VP and GM, Keysight

Raman (Co-Moderator): Hi. I’m joined by Mark Wallace, my co-moderator to this panel. We’re here to discuss the emerging Internet-of-Space (IoS) industry. Let’s start with Prakash Chitre from Comsat Labs.

Chitre (Comsat): I’m going to talk about a new generation of satellite systems that NASA has been designing, building and launching. This will give you an understanding of what we have been doing for the last 5 years and our plans for the next 5 years. The main goal for us is to provide connectivity throughout the world. Even with today’s voracious appetite for high-speed and high-volume Internet, half the world’s population of 7B people don’t have any broadband Internet connection.

ViaSat has three satellites, ViaSat-1, WildBlue1, and Anik-F2.  Most of these satellites, like the ANIK-F2 and WildBlue 1, were more or less traditional Ka-Band satellites with 8Gbps (in throughput). But the ViaSat-1 satellite that we designed and launched in 2011, had about 140Gbps (see Figure 1). ViaSat-1 handles about 1 million users and covers North America (NA), including US and Canada. It was the start of a longer vision of very high throughput satellites to cover the globe.

Figure 1: ViaSat-1 rendering (Courtesy of Comsat Labs)

We want to provide broadband communication platforms that deliver affordable high-speed Internet connectivity and video streaming via fixed, mobile and portable systems. The key thing is that we are totally vertically integrated solution; the terminals, the gateway, the satellite all fit together to provide a very cost effective system. We deal with geosynchronous satellite latency issues with software embedded in the terminal and the gateway to make sure we can do very high page loads from media.

[Editor’s Note: Terminals link the satellite signal to fixed and mobile locations on the ground and on airborne systems. Examples of terminals include satellite TV disk systems, aviation broadband devices for Ku-, Ka-, and dual-band in-flight connectivity, emergency responder equipment, cellular extensions and the like.]

Soon we’ll be launching ViaSat-2 (see Table 1), which will provide almost 2 ½ times the capacity of ViaSat-1 while providing much greater coverage. It will bridge the North Atlantic with contiguous coverage over NA and Europe, including all the air and shipping routes.

The ViaSat-3 ultra-high capacity satellite platform is comprised of three ViaSat-3 class satellites and ground network infrastructure.  The first two satellites will focus on the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Work is underway with delivery expected in 2019. A third satellite system is planned for the Asia-Pacific region, completing global service coverage.

In the next few years, we’ll launch ViaSat-3, which will be about 3 times smaller than ViaSat-2. It has 1Tbps capacity and much larger coverage. The first two ViaSat-3 satellites will cover the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). A third satellite system is planned for the Asia-Pacific region, completing the global service coverage. We have already given the contract to Boeing to build the bus framework for the first Viasat-3. We are designing and building our own payload.

Year

Satellite Name

Throughput Capacity

2004

WildBlue 8 Gpbs

2005

IPSTAR 1 45 Gpbs

2010

KA-SAT 70 Gpbs

2011

ViaSat-1 140 Gpbs

2012

EchoStar XVII 100+ Gpbs

2015

NBN-Co 1a (“Sky Muster”) 80+ Gpbs

2017

ViaSat-2 350 Gpbs

2019

ViaSat-3 Americas 1 Tbps

2020

ViaSat-3 EMEA 1 Tbps

2021

ViaSat-4 APAC 1 TBPS

Table 1: ViaSat Satellites

Raman (Co-Moderator): Our next speaker is Hamid Hemmati, Director of Engineering for Telecom Infrastructure at Facebook.

Hemmati: Facebook’s interest in providing Internet coverage stems from our desire to connect everyone in the world. Anyone that wants to be connected. Something like 60% of world’s people aren’t on the Internet or have a poor connection – typically a 2G connection. If they are not on Internet, then they cannot be connected.

Most of the data centers around the world are based on open source models for both hardware and software. We can devote technologies to significantly increase the capacities and lower costs and then provide it to the community to then develop and implement.

In terms of the global Internet, we are interested in developed and underdeveloped countries that don’t have connectivity. Providing connectivity to underdeveloped countries is fairly tricky because the population distribution is very different between countries. For example, the red color means a large population of people and green means a small population (Figure 2). As you can see, these are the six different countries with widely different distributions. Some have more or less uniform distribution while others have regions that are scarcely populated.

Figure 2: Population distribution varies according to country. (Courtesy Facebook via IMS presentation).

Figure 2: Population distribution varies according to country. (Courtesy Facebook via IMS presentation).

There is a magnitude of difference in population distribution around the world, which means that there is not one solution that fits all. You can’t come up with one architecture to provide Internet connection to everyone around the world. Each country requires a unique solution. It is more cost effective to allocate capacity where needed. But each solution comes from a combination of terrestrial links with perhaps airborne or satellite links. Satellites are only viable if you can increase the data rate significantly to about 100 Tbps. This is the throughput required to connect the unconnected.

Given:

  • 4 billion people with 25 kbps per user (based on average capacity and that users are on the Internet simultaneously).
  • Calculation: (4×109) x (2.5 x 104) = 100 Tbps

This is a staggering number (100 Tbps), so we are talking about very large capacity for all of these populations.

Technology advancements are required to extend the capability of current commercial wireless communication units by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude. What we need to do is amass the state of the art in a number of areas: GEO satellites, LEO Satellites, High Altitude Platforms, and Terrestrial. Satellite communication becomes practical, low cost, and comparable to LTE only if you are at multi-Tbsp capacity, otherwise it is much more expensive than providing LTE. There must be a business justification to do that.

High altitude platforms (like airplanes/drones) need to be able to stay airborne for months at a time. They must be low cost to produce and maintain, plus run at 10-100 Gpbs uplink/downlink/crosslink RF and optical capacity.

Meanwhile, terrestrial including fiber and wireless are already here. It’s just that it is immensely expensive if you want to cover all of the country with fiber. So other solutions are needed, like wireless links, tower to tower, and so forth. This is just a laundry list of what needs to be done. It doesn’t mean we at Facebook are looking at all of them. We are looking at some of them. We want to get these technologies into the hands of the implementers.

Raman (Co-Moderator): Next, let me introduce Lisa Coe, Director of Commercial Business Dev. for Boeing. Originally, James Farricker, Boeing, VP Engineering, was slated to speak on this panel. He was not able to join us.

Coe: I looked up the phrase “new space” on Wikipedia since others are talking about the traditional vs. the new space. I was asking myself if Boeing is a traditional space or new space company. Wikipedia called out Boeing as “not” new space.

[Editor’s Note: [New space is often affiliated with an emergent private spaceflight industry. Specifically, the terms are used to refer to a community of relatively new aerospace companies working to develop low-cost access to space or spaceflight technologies.]

Boeing builds commercial airplanes, military jets, helicopters, International Space State, satellites, cyber security solutions, and everything. We build a lot of very different things. So when you ask us about the Internet of Space (IOS) you’ll get a very different answer. Let me try to answer it.

When an airplane disappears, like the Egypt airplane, a lot of people ask why we don’t connect airplanes via satellites. We need to get our airplanes smarter and all connected. Passengers are already connected on aircraft with Wi-Fi. So before we push for the Internet of Things, why don’t we push to get all the airplanes connected?

Boeing is also a user of the Internet of Space. For example, we just flew an unmanned aircraft that was completely remote controlled from the ground. This is why we care about security, about hacking into these systems. How can we make the Internet of Space secure to connect more people and things?

Raman (Co-Moderator): Next we have David Bettinger, VP of Engineering, Communications System, at OneWeb

Bettinger: OneWeb is trying to provide very low latency Internet access to those who don’t have access everywhere. We are two years into the project and are quite far along. The things that ultimately make us successful are the microwave components used in our system. I’m a modem guy by nature – not an RF one. I wish all modems and baseband could stay at baseband but of course RF is needed on the wireless side. We utilize Ku-band in our system. We also have access to Ka-band, which are a more pointed feeder links that are servicing the satellites.

Supporting both bands means that we need a lot of different components for different functionality. The satellite is probably the most critical for us. The only thing that makes something as crazy as launching 648 satellites feasible is if we get the cost of the satellite and the weight down significantly compared to what is actually done today. Our satellite is about the size of a washing machine, weighing roughly 150 kg. You can fit 30 of them on the launch (payload). That is what makes this work.

The only thing that makes satellite mass work is if you figure out the power problem. Ultimately, we are not selling the bandwidth of our system but the power. This is because we don’t have the luxury of a bus sized satellite up there that is designed to power constantly regardless of the environment, whether you are in an eclipse or not. We have to effectively manage our power with the subscribers of the service. Power harvesting on the satellite is one of the most important things we can do. It drives almost every aspect of our business case.

We have looked heavily at a lot of different silicon technologies, especially GaN and GaS chip technologies. We are utilizing low noise amplifiers (LNAs) and up/down converters, among other components. Power and then cost are important. If there was anything I would ask you to keep working on, it’s the efficiency thing. We can use every bit that we can.

On the ground side, our challenges are a little bit different. We have two different ground components. One is the user terminals like the devices that you put on your roof. They point straight up at the satellite to provide local access via an Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi or even LTE extension. These terminals are all about cost. To crack the markets we want to crack, we need to get the cost of the CPE down yet have a device that actually points at satellites that are moving across at about 7km per second. And changing to different satellites every 3 ½ minutes. It’s a difficult and different problem from the GEO world. Now I remember why I did Geo for 25 years before this.

[Editor’s Note: Customer-premises equipment or customer-provided equipment (CPE) is any terminal and associated equipment located at a subscriber’s premises and connected with a carrier’s telecommunication channel at the demarcation point (“demarc”).]

It all comes down to cost. How can we get cost and power utilization down? What tech can we use to be able to point at our satellites? We are excited about the prospect of trying to bring active steering antenna to a mass market. I see our friends from RUAG are here (in the audience). We have done reference work on looking at these different technologies. There is a lot of secret sauce in there but I think ultimately it comes down to how do you make small, cheap chips and then how can you make antennas around that.

[Editor’s Note: The gateway is the other ground component. A gateway or ground station connects the satellite signal to the end user or subscriber terminals. Most satellite systems are comprised of a large number of small, inexpensive user terminals and a small number of gateway earth stations.]

Raman (Co-Moderator): Our final panelist is Michael Pavloff, CTO, RUAG Space with headquarters in Zürich Switzerland)

Payloff: It’s an honor to be here. How many have heard of RUAG? Maybe 30%? That’s not bad. We are a small, specialized version of Boeing based in Switzerland. Also, we have divisions in aviation, defense, cyber security, space, etc. I’m the CTO of the space division. We do launchers, satellite structures, mechanical-thermal systems, communication equipment and related systems. I’m glad we are here to talk about what are the key technology enablers that allow us to do Internet cost effectively in space.

Costs must continue to decrease for the satellite. We saw this “New Space” world coming some years ago and we had to decide whether to participate in it or not. Up to that point, our legacy markets were institutional ones like the European Space agency, large GEO commercial telecom companies, and similar customers where we do a lot of RF and microwave work. Our main challenge it to make money in this business. So when you get a factor of 10 or more cost pressure on your products, you feel like giving up.

In the end, we saw that all of our traditional institutional and commercial customers were starting to ask the same question, which is, if we are manufacturing some avionics or frequency converters or computers for OneWeb (e.g.new space) that are a factor of 10 or 100 less than our standard products, why can’t we do it for the European Space agency or other government customers, namely the large satellite operators. In the end, we didn’t feel it was optional. We had to support this parallel world in which we are doing this business.

There are four main elements that are critical to get to that capability (to support both new and traditional space). First, you should be doing high-rate production. You get a lot of cost savings that way. We have moved to a lot of high-rate production lines. For example, our RF frequency converter chip business is coming to a point where 75% of the product, i.e., half of that product line, will be for non-space applications. Having that type of throughput, handling commercial, non-space grade components and so forth is key to getting that type of high rate production capability

The second critical capability is to increase the emphasis on automation. I’ll cover that shortly.

Third, you must establish commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) variants of your main product line.

Finally, it’s important to adopt new business models including collaboration and taking risk-sharing positions with customers. Our friends at Oneweb have been pushing us to adopt new business models. Collaboration often means to co-locate and do co-engineering. You need to consider new business models as well as new technologies and processes.

Let’s return to the automation element. RUAG has been doing automation into a lot of different areas, from electronic and satellite panel production to out-of-autoclave composites and multi-layer insulation production. An example of the out-of-autoclave composites are our rocket launcher payload fairings (see Figure 3). [Editor’s Note: A payload fairing is a nose cone used to protect a spacecraft (launch vehicle payload) against the impact of pressure and aerodynamic heating during launch through an atmosphere.]

Figure 3: Payload fairing for the small European launcher Vega. (Courtesy of RUAG)

There should be more cost pressures being put on the launchers, as well. We are trying to be proactive with the composites, with the launcher side to cut down costs. Reusability is a big key subject in the launcher world, that is, to reuse all the bits of the rocket.

From our perspective, these are the key enabling products for the Internet-of-Space (IoS):

  • Future microwave products (Q/V-band, flexible analog converters)
  • GNSS receivers for space
  • 3-D printed structures
  • COTS digital signal processors

Future microwave products have been an evolution to the higher frequency bands as well as to optical. This is key to enabling some of the high capacity throughput for the future. Another enabling area is COTS as applied to signal processors. Some customers are evolving to regenerative types to try to squeeze every last bit of capacity out of the system. The focus is on bandwidths for DSPs which have to be based on COTS. GNSS receivers are enablers as they are a key technology for the satellite bus. And, as Dave mentioned previously, mass is a real thing that we have to try to get out of these systems. One way to drive down mass is with 3-D printing structures.

In Part II of this series, the panelist are asked questions about the cost viability of the Internet of Space, LEO vs. GEO technologies, competition with 5G and airborne platforms.

Next Page »

Extension Media websites place cookies on your device to give you the best user experience. By using our websites, you agree to placement of these cookies and to our Privacy Policy. Please click here to accept.