The chipsets of the future

by May 31, 2022 0 comments

By Rajen Vagadia, VP & President, Qualcomm India

The building blocks of technology will be the bedrock of fast-paced next-gen innovation

Semiconductors have often been called “the crude oil of the information age”, and for good reason too. They are an essential component of electronic devices that enable the functioning of almost every industry and sector –be it telecommunications, computing, healthcare, defense, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, financial services, or any other. Semiconductor technologies have enabled researchers to develop everything from complex instrumentation to smart glasses. In recent years, the growing applications of AI and IoT have sparked a fresh wave of innovation in the semiconductor industry. Meanwhile, the launch of 5G around the world and its much-awaited launch in India have coincided with rising demand for high-performance computing devices. Chipset manufacturers, technology providers, and applications and services enablers have a huge opportunity to tap into this market.

Next-generation chipsets, armed with 5G, IoT, Cloud, Sensing, Multimedia, and AI capabilities, are already being designed to deliver premium user experiences at scale. As AI-IoT becomes increasingly pervasive in industrial, government, and consumer applications, specialized chips are being created to support computing at the Edge. And this is just the beginning. With huge transformations underway in areas like automotive, Metaverse, and Industry 4.0, there is much more to come in how the world connects, computes, and communicates. If we try to imagine what the future of chipsets might hold, some areas stand out owing to their potential for truly disruptive and wide-scale innovation.

5G and AI, and a ubiquitous connectivity fabric of smart devices and services

5G and AI will be two very important elements of future innovations. Ongoing advancements in AI can help improve 5G system performance and competence, while the increasing number of 5G connected devices can drive distributed intelligence with continued enhancements in AI learning and inference. Going forward, more and more data will be processed closer to the source, either through on-device AI processing or through additional processing by the Edge Cloud over 5G. The former is important because it offers crucial benefits such as privacy, personalization, and reliability, besides scaling intelligence and enabling faster decision-making. The intelligent wireless Edge will enhance existing use cases and verticals and enable new ones.

Smarter smartphones and a world of extended realities

Until a few years ago, taking a professional-quality photograph at night or in the dim light was a job for a DSLR camera. But with advanced chipset capabilities, it is possible to click beautiful, clear, low-light photographs with a smartphone. What’s more, the future of smartphone photography will have an element of personalization, wherein the phone will learn about the user’s preferences from the look and feel of their earlier snaps! As smartphones get smarter and 5G enables ubiquitous connectivity, Extended Reality (XR)will be no longer a pipe dream but a reality. Augmented Reality (AR) glasses, connected to your smartphone, will enable you to view information on virtual screens. Imagine having a second work screen, or a third or a fourth!

A blending of smartphone and PC capabilities

The widespread shift to “remote” modes of working has accelerated the demand for high-functioning PCs and laptops. As a result, we will see more and more PCs and laptops packed with smartphone-like features through next-gen chipsets. Today, 5G-based chipset platforms are already enabling both high performance and long battery life, without sacrificing one for the other, in thin and light form factors. Advanced AI capabilities work in tandem with 5G connectivity to bring enterprise-grade security, greater privacy, and super-fast remote connections to Cloud platforms.

Chip-rich, feature-rich automobiles

Chipset technology for the automotive industry, too,is witnessing fast-paced innovation owing to the growing demand for personalized, intelligent in-car experiences, autonomous driving, connected car experiences, etc. which necessitate higher compute power than ever before. The advent of 4G some years ago resulted in vehicles adopting many smartphone-like features, which increased the number of chipsets used in vehicles. 5G, AI, and IoT will go a step further, increasing not only the number but also the sophistication of chipsets used in automobiles. As electric vehicles gain mainstream adoption, power semiconductors will emerge as a high-growth segment.

Domestic opportunities and the potential for world technology leadership

Today, the world looks to India for developing affordable and sustainable solutions that leverage technologies and platforms like 5G, AI, IoT, XR, Cloud, and Robotics. The Indian government is cognizant of the world-leading role that India can play in this space and is encouraging industry leaders and innovators to take the next big leap in semiconductor technology development and manufacturing. National programs such as Make in India, Digital India, and the Production Linked Incentive scheme are all supportive steps in this direction.

The growth potential for India’s semiconductor industry is high indeed, as many of the industries that require semiconductors as inputs are themselves poised for robust growth. With intelligent computing and interconnected devices finding wider and wider applications across industries, it would be reasonable to expect healthy, sustained demand for semiconductors in the decade ahead. Hardware aside, Electronic Design Automation software firms, which aid semiconductor design, will enable India to leverage its considerable software talent to good effect. Meanwhile, the strong domestic focus on semiconductor design and manufacture will hopefully nudge India’s R&D hubs, Centres of Excellence, government programs, and education institutes to address the skills gaps and strengthen the ecosystem for system integration.

According to an estimate by International Business Strategies, India’s semiconductor market could grow from a size of $24 billion in 2020 to $109.9 billion in 2030, a CAGR of 16.44 percent. It is an opportune time for the semiconductor industry to take center stage and deliver chipsets that will power the intelligent, connected future we all look forward to.

This is part of our PCQuest 35 Years Series on the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow of Technology.

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