Chips intended to be embedded in so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices will need to cost less than 50 cents if the IoT is to become truly ubiquitous.
That is the conclusion of a panel of technologists at ARM TechCon, which has been taking place in Santa Clara, California this week.
The technologists told delegates that while there's still much uncertainty around SoCs - especially in terms of memories, connectivity and sensors to cope with IoT demand - the future is around affordability.
As the EETimes reported, the panelists spoke about the state of modern flash memories, Bluetooth interfaces and sensors. They said much of this technology still consumes too much power to be able to serve volume IoT nodes - and this will remain the case for at least the next ten years.
They attempted to explore potential solutions, and low-cost end node SoCs were at the top of the agenda. The panelists claimed that, in 2027, a SoC could consume around 10 microwatts/MHz.
As a result, it'd be able to send and transmit data efficiently - potentially at 1 or 2 milliwatts. Jason Hillyard, director of software in ARM's wireless group, gave an example of a so-called "slideware SoC".
This, he explained, is underpinned by a new architecture based on subthreshold circuits. He claimed that this technology would enable better energy harvesting.
The lack of suitable memories is an industry-wide problem, according to ARM senior principal researcher Lucian Schifren. "New memories won't hit power and cost needs for IoT", ARM said.
According to Shifren, "Memory energy is major problem going forward. Everyone is betting on ReRAM and STT to replace SRAM and flash, but I don't think either one will work…and I don't see any viable replacements out there."
He also noted that STT has its problems. For starters, the technology is often expensive, and it can also rely on too much write energy. ReRAM and phase-change alternatives bode for higher voltages, he claimed.
Speaking to EE Times, ARM chief technologist Mike Muller said: "The ideal is a non-volatile, low-power design that's good for logic as well as memory...there will be an expanded range of memories but they will not replace flash."
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