When I visit customers across the U.S. and around the world, I see more and more of them pursuing the IoT space and its opportunities, small and medium-size companies coming forth with bright ideas for the next big “thing”. Yet when you look at where they’re spending their money, much of it is going into hardware design. They’d rather spend it on their application, because this is their differentiator, but they’re stuck in the hardware design game because it’s an essential enabler of their product.
The result is that all of these companies are focusing an excessive amount of their time and resources on the hardware side—on processors, memory, power management, sensors, and many other electronics. And it’s costing them a lot of money.
Hardware is hard in modern devices
The slow hardware onramp to get their products onto the market is a serious problem for many companies. Especially now, when speed to market is more important than ever. Look at the drone space: there’s not one drone supplier but hundreds of them. Look at the smart home space: hundreds of new devices are coming out, many of them promising to do exactly the same thing. Look at the medical space: mandatory government certifications are lengthy and companies cannot afford the time to re-design hardware.
With so many players in the field, the winner is not always the best but the first, the company that can get its products out fastest. Yet they are often stuck plugging away on their hardware while they watch their competitors passing them by. And not only IoT companies. The same goes for startups, medium-size and large companies across the board—those making industrial applications, medical applications, wearables, even games.
Some of these companies are spending up to 18 months wrestling with hardware design. They wish they could do it quicker. But, as I mentioned, hardware isn’t easy, not when it comes to modern devices. These require sophisticated processors and maximal memory and power management. They involve high-speed signals and optimized placement of inductors and other components. Speaking of which, components are particularly challenging these days due to the space constraints of IoT devices such as wearables and medical implants, all of which are typically quite small and require tremendous horsepower.
Hardware is easier with SCM
NXP recently introduced the world’s smallest integrated smart system for the Internet of Things, wearables and other small, low-power portable devices. This is not a reference design, but a chip that a customer can design directly into their products. Our new line of SCM (Single-Chip Module) products integrate hundreds of components—including processors, memory, and power management—in a package the size of a dime. The out-of-the-box nature of SCM products means they can plug directly into a variety of devices. And that means companies can reduce development time by as much as 25 percent and get their devices to market faster.
Better still, SCM allows you to fit more components into the hardware design, which translates to more and better product features. For instance, SCM’s high performance and connectivity enable companies targeting the IoT market to incorporate sophisticated predictive data analytics capabilities into their products, which makes for more compelling, potentially disruptive devices.
In today’s market for smart, wearables and other devices—from barcode scanners to VR goggles—small is necessary. But now, small is doable. Organizations don’t have to spend time and money on expensive contractor manufacturers to come up with advanced board designs. And they can add more feature sets by shrinking the electronics in their applications. In fact, SCM provides a minimum of 50 percent board savings over discrete solutions—and that savings can be much higher depending on the application.
At NXP, we also leverage proven contract manufacturing partners to help our customers get their products to market even faster. These partners focus on supporting customers in developing their application board as well as vetting the firmware and peripherals to get their products working and into the hands of consumers.
Small is beautiful
A lot of companies are trying to create novel, compelling products in highly constrained form factors—and do it with limited resources. And they are trying to overcome hardware design challenges so they can begin development immediately and focus their efforts on highly differentiated applications and products.
Some chip vendors are putting together reference designs on a small form factor—and that’s cool—but you can’t put them to use right away because it’s still just a reference design, not a working product available now.
Here at NXP, we’re at the product stage. We’re at plug and play. How you play is up to you.