The demands of IoT on the MCU Industry

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The market for microcontroller units (MCUs) used in Internet of things (IoT) applications is on the rise, which is having a positive effect on overall MCU market growth. According to a report by HIS, the market for MCUs used in connected cars, wearable electronics, building automation and other IoT applications is expected to grow at an overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11 percent, from $1.7 billion in 2014 to $2.8 billion in 2019. The overall MCU market is expected to grow at a CAGR of just 4 percent through 2019.

Tom Hackenberg, senior analyst for IHS Technology, in a statement said, “Without the influence of IoT application growth, the MCU market is predicted to stagnate by the end of the decade.”

In this scenario semiconductor companies have been pouring all their energy and expertise into developing MCUs for the IoT industry, but this route is mired with challenges as Hackenberg in his statement said, “however, the industry’s challenge now is to quantify this new opportunity, since IoT is a conceptual trend, not a device, application or even a new feature,”

Bjorn Brandal, Head of MCU Product Marketing, Atmel from Atmel, a leading MCU company, shed some light on the biggest challenges for the makers of MCUs in the changing times.

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The biggest challenge for developers and makers in the IoT and smart hardware industry

“IoT has gone from being a buzz-word to becoming a reality with real products coming out every day. To enable IoT, there is a strong need for the lowest power microcontrollers; together with connectivity- either Bluetooth low energy (BTLE), Wifi or ZigBee. For IoT applications to succeed they need the best in both class connectivity and battery life.

Atmel has always been a leader in ultra low power MCUs, which was recently further proven by the introduction of its lowest power Cortex M class microcontrollers in the world, the SAML21 series. We are also further strengthening our position as a leader in connectivity with the best in class products for both BTLE, WiFi and ZigBee.

One of the main challenges faced by developers and makers for IoT and smart hardware is to collect all the different bits and pieces needed not only from hardware and software point of view but all the way up to cloud integration. Traditionally this has been offered through many different vendors in a scattered offering, where a substantial amount of work has been needed just to get all the information and piecescollected and then with a strenuous task ahead of integrating this into an end application.

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As a company focused on, and strongly positioned for success in the IoT industry, we have worked on making sure we can offer a streamlined and complete solution to this challenge. Not only are we offering the world’s lowest power microcontrollers and connectivity solutions, but we tie this all together in a complete Integrated Development Platform (IDP), the Atmel Studio 7. Besides traditional tasks of code writing, compilation and advanced debugging like low power debug, profiling, and data visualizers, it also integrates an extensive source code firmware library covering everything from board and device level drivers, middleware like communication stacks and even real time operating systems to complete application examples and qualified 3rd party SW. All this is available free of charge. Combined with strong partnerships with all the main cloud service providers worldwide we can offer our users a complete solution all the way from the end node data collection and user interaction to cloud integration. A complete solution to target everything from simple to very advanced IoT applications.”

ELE Times’ complete story on MCUs will be published in the April Issue of ELE Times print magazine.

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