IoT: Let’s Put the “A” Back into EDA


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If I say IoT, most people today will immediately conjure up some notion in their mind. This is especially true in the engineering community, where many of us are hanging the future of our careers on the Utopian vision of a clean, beautiful environment with hidden networks and sensors everywhere. A future where our communication devices, personal gadgets, homes, kitchens, transportation and more will be smarter (whatever that means), and we will be watched over by electronic guardian angels. Maybe it will not be so nice, or maybe it will be greater than we can currently imagine, but whatever your viewpoint is, one thing is abundantly clear: there are going to be lots and lots and lots of PCBs made.

IoT: More Boards and Fewer Designers

Predictions earlier in this decade made by Hans Vestberg (Ericsson), Jon Iwata (IBM), and Dave Evans (Cisco) were all bullish, typically estimating that more than 50 billion connected devices would be in use by 2020. Since then, real numbers have been crunched and these estimates have become more realistic. But even the most conservative predictions today of what the Internet of Things becomes within the next few years are quite staggering. It’s clear that there will be more than 20 billion connected devices (there may already be, if we include personal communications) by 2020.

Please indulge me while I ruminate on this a bit, with what I believe to be fair and reasonable assumptions about designs, based on my empirical observations. Twenty billion devices obviously do not mean 20 billion unique designs, but let's say for argument’s sake that these devices will equate to 200,000 new designs by 2020. In other words, I’m assuming there will be, on average, 100,000 instances of each type of connected device. Well, that may seem ridiculous, but as we know, some devices will sell only 1,000 units and others will sell in the tens of millions. 

To read this entire article, which appeared in the January 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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