Arm: The Prospects of IoT, Infrastructure and Mobile Computing in the Post-COVID World

Article By : C.K. Tseng

Arm recently conducted a study to understand the impact the pandemic has had on the technology sector and how it will ripple on into the future.

2020 is a year of challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on every aspect of our lives, videoconferencing and all kinds of technologies rapidly helped fill the void so the businesses can continue to operate. It is also quickly revealed humanity’s extraordinary capacity for inventiveness and flexibility, with technology forming a foundation for much of this resilience.

In order to understand the impact the pandemic has had on the technology sector and how the lessons learned will ripple on into the future. Arm conducted a new report: Arm Ecosystem Predictions & Perspectives 2021 recently. This report is based on the views of more than 900 respondents in varying roles, regions and focuses across the Arm ecosystem—from small and medium sized enterprises to multinationals, OEMs to chipmakers, foundries and developers and further insights from senior Arm leaders. Since as high as 83% of the respondents were self-identified as software, hardware engineers and researchers, this report can be representative of the views of the majority of the developers in technology industry.

Most of the respondents have been using Arm technology for 2-5 years, and when asked about the role of Arm technology in their work, two-thirds of respondents answered ‘very or extremely important’. As we are celebrating our 30th anniversary now, it’s encouraging and a nice proof point for us to see on how fundamental Arm IP, tools and developer support has become since our company was founded in 1990. About 93% of respondents feel remote working models could be here to stay for design teams. 33% felt that the new remote workforce in designing future devices is extremely important. The top three technologies that have become more important due to COVID-19 are video conferencing, high speed broadband and autonomous factories.

The pandemic has demonstrated to many companies and their employees that remote working can be efficient, and when people have the freedom to decide where to work for socializing,  learning and efficiency, it will lead to long-term changes in human behaviors. For that to happen, it will be supported by corresponding productivity devices. For example, there’s increased demand for laptops capable of all-day working and we expect better and better image quality from cameras with dedicated system on chips (SoCs) capable of AI-powered image correction in future generations of laptop-class devices, bringing an even more immersive experience to devices.

Regarding to the emerging applications and use cases that the respondents are most interested in exploring in 2021, the top one is AI camera (43%), Health and fitness monitoring is a close second (35percent), and the third is smart home. This echoes the possible need to AR, VR, AI camera built in advanced AI features with a long list of design considerations due to longer working hours at home.

Arm’s path is built around a Total Compute strategy, moving beyond individual IP elements to designing and optimizing the System on Chip (SoC) as a system of elements. There’re three key pillars of Arm Total Compute. The first key pillar is performance—optimizing an SoC also requires designing for real-life use cases rather than relying on synthetic benchmarks. The second pillar is security, and again, it’s reassuring to hear that two-thirds of respondents will focus more on security in 2021 than in previous years. Looking at the responses across IoT and infrastructure, security is clearly top of mind for many of our partners. That is perfectly in line with our Total Compute strategy as it is founded on the principle of ensuring manufacturers and application developers can address privacy concerns of end users more easily. The third pillar deals with developer access: consolidating our toolchain across the entire SoC, ensuring developers have everything they need to build what they want to in the best way possible. This will be a key focus for Total Compute in the coming years.

With the rise of autonomous decision and 5G technology, autonomous vehicles will effectively become AI endpoint within the IoT. According to our survey, the number 1 factor for achieving success with autonomous computing is functional safety, which echoes Arm’s emphasis on safety. When it comes to future IoT innovation, sensor processing is seen to be the most important factor (48 percent). Arm’s automotive and Internet of Things (IoT) business group continues to assist partners in deploying endpoint artificial intelligence. This year, we released the Cortex-M55 processor and the NPU Ethos-U55 and Ethos-U65, which can greatly improve the machine learning efficiency of devices at the endpoint. Arm’s infrastructure organization focuses on the semiconductor IP, software and standards needed to build today’s high-performance data centers, networks and edge deployments. More corporates shift their workloads to the cloud and more individuals come to reply on video conference and broadband to work, infrastructure remains one of the strongest growth markets in technology industries. The award-winning Fugaku supercomputer, built in Arm architecture technology and at the top of the supercomputer rankings, is a testament to both efficiency and effectiveness.

Arm started our journey from a barn in Cambridge 30 years ago, over the years our IP technologies, development tools and a world-class ecosystem of support deliver the scalability, performance and efficiency for companies and developers to make their product a success.

Arm will keep on stepping forward very positively to make people live better lives in the fight to establish a ‘new normal’.

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