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IoT dominates chipmaker announcements ahead of CES 2016

IoT was a clear theme in the announcements coming from major chipmakers ahead of this week’s CES 2016 event. Connected cars, connected home appliances and sensors to connect virtually everything else are all shaping up as major trends across the “Internet of Things” space for 2016.

Nvidia’s Drive PX2 is a 12-camera, 12-core chipset created using 16 nanometer architecture that promises to control cars by performing 24 deep learning operations per second. The lunchbox-sized module that houses the Drive PX2 can be cooled by the car’s existing cooling system if desired, according to Nvidia. The chipmaker has partnered with Volvo, Audi, Daimler, BMW and Ford to test the Drive PX2.

NXP Semiconductors was one of the first companies to launch a new smart home solution at CES 2016. The chipmaker announced reference designs for smart lighting, smoke detection and motion sensing, and said by integrating these solutions it will speed time-to-market for product makers and simplify installation for consumers. The NXP solutions use near field communication to enable smart devices to control the home network.

AT&T is launching a low-power Category-1 LTE-only chipset solution for connected sensors and other IoT applications. Category-1 is a flavor of LTE that transmits at much lower data rates than the higher category LTE protocols used by smartphones. AT&T said its LTE-only Cat 1 module supports download speeds up to 10 megabits per second and upload speeds up to 5 Mbps.

Many IoT applications do not require high data rates, and by designing for lower data rates chip developers can keep costs down. This makes connectivity more affordable for devices that will never yield the revenue per user that smartphones can yield.

“We’re pleased to be able to facilitate the availability of cost-effective modules so our customers can deploy IoT solutions over the AT&T 4G LTE network,” said Chris Penrose, SVP for Internet of Things at AT&T Mobility. “Businesses depend on IoT solutions for gathering real-time information on assets across the world.”

AT&T said its new IoT modules will be offered at prices as low as $15 each. For comparison, the cost of a Category-10 transceiver is closer to $50. AT&T’s LTE-only IoT modules are being developed by Wistron NeWeb using Altair’s Cat-1 LTE modem.
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