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Samsung gears up to vie for a spot in IoT race

Posted: 14 May 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung  module  processor  IoT  SoC 

Samsung has made a bold decision to penetrate the Internet of Things (IoT) space with the release of three modules and a handful of partnerships that aim to grow an open development community around them. Two of the Artik modules are based on versions of its Exynos smartphone processors and a low-end module uses an SoC from Ineda Systems, noted Samsung.

"If you want to build a [smart]watch today, you have to build all these things step by step. We want developers to use this, add your display, add your battery, and go," said Young Sohn, chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics.

Artik modules

Artik modules come in three sizes and speeds for a variety of IoT applications. Source: Samsung

Samsung's development kit is available for selected developers today with the top-of-the-line Artik 10 module. The inch-long board uses a 64bit Exynos octacore processor running at 1.3GHz with 2GB of on-board DRAM, and an ARM Mali T628 GPU. It packs 16GB flash, a relatively large amount of local storage Samsung hopes will spur work on home servers, media hubs and smart machines that require local intelligence.

The lower end of Samsung's Artik offerings is a ladybug-sized module designed for location beacons and sensor hubs. Artik 1 has a 250MHz dual-core Ineda processor along with 4MB flash and a nine-axis motion sensor.

The midrange Artik 5 for smart-home hubs, drones and IP cameras employs Samsung's ePOP DRAM+flash memory as well as a 1GHz dual-core ARM processor and ARM Mali 400 GPU.

Artik's success and efficacy is due in large part to Samsung's foundry business, Sohn said. "Having your own memory, and also being able to make own processors and connectivity solutions and being able to make your own modules, these require scale and investment and efficiency in the process."

Samsung sports one big advantage over IoT component competitors such as Intel, Freescale and Broadcom who came to this market much earlier. Besides making its own chips, it can rely in part on a giant internal customer in its home appliance group. Indeed, Samsung's digital appliances and home division wants all of its devices to be connected by 2020.

Artik is designed for low power. Sohn said Artik 1 could last a month on a single charge, although Samsung did not elaborate on power specs for its higher level modules, or how it will achieve such low power.

The company is also trying to close the gap between various communication systems by adding various combinations of Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi and Zigbee on each of its platforms. Samsung does not have plans to add cellular connectivity to its modules because the IoT doesn't typically require that kind of communication, said MyungKoo Kang, VP of IoT Technologies for Samsung.

Partners include Sigfox, SmartThings, Sansa

Samsung will likely rely on a series of high profile partnerships to push Artik into the forefront of the IoT module battle.

"No one company can do everything these days because the market is too broad and diverse. Our view is [to] leverage existing communities," said Curtis Sasaki, SVP of cloud services and innovation at Samsung. "We're not wedded to a single OS, to single tool chain, we're not wedded to a single cloud. We're taking a very pragmatic and open ecosystem perspective," he said.

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