Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image source Power and Beyond
At the heart of the IoT are the IC chips. They literally run all the essential aspects of these connected devices.
The chips control the processing, communication and data storage of the IoTs. The general operation of any device will depend on the features of the chips that are embedded in them.
If you are working on any IoT project, the first thing that you should know is the type and specifications of the IC in it. This information will know the specific roles that the IC plays in the device.
Keep reading as we break down key roles of IC chips in IoT devices.
Examples of IoT devices
Image source ComputerWorld
Before we get into the roles of chips in IoT devices, it will be prudent to have a brief understanding of this technology and its products.
IoT simply stands for the “Internet of Things.” These are physical electrical devices that are connected to each other over the internet.
The devices are packed with programmed sensors that allow them to communicate with each other through a seamless exchange of data.
Examples of IoT devices include the following:
- Wearable devices such as smartwatches and trackers that can sense and monitor activities of the wearer
- Smart home appliances such as cooking devices and entertainment systems
- Smart home assistant devices such as Siri and Amazon Alexa
- Connected cars that are connected to the dealership shops and manufacturers
- Smart farming systems such as irrigation systems.
This is just a small sample of the commonly used IoT devices that are already in use. It is expected that manufacturers will be coming up with many of such smart devices in the coming years.
Now that you know these IoT devices, it is easy to tell the roles of IC chips in them.
IC chips enable communication in IoT devices
The primary goal of IoT devices is to communicate with each other. This process entails sending and receiving data with each other over a network.
Communication between devices is possible thanks to the IC chips. They have sensors and receptor nodes that control every aspect of data communication.
Semiconductor chips are designed to meet various communication protocols of data communication, whether it is over a Wi-Fi network, cellular network, or even Bluetooth.
A chip in an IoT device will have special features that allow it to send data to a particular device. Similarly, there are chips on a receiving device that will take the incoming data and transfer it to the processor for analysis and interpretation.
Take note that IC chips are regularly updated to meet the communication protocols for different IoT devices.
The performance features of the communication chips also need to keep up with the rate of data flow.
We can use a smart home security system to illustrate the role of IC chips when it comes to communication. Some of these systems are designed to communicate with smartphones over the Internet. The system will sense movements at home and send alerts to your phone. You will then have an option to trigger an alarm on the security system hence keeping away intruders.
To process data
What happens when an IoT device, such as a wearable device receives data from the sensor? It will have to process it. This is where the role of IoT chips comes in.
The chips receive the data and analyze the perform arithmetic and logical processes. The primary function of the processing is to transform data into more useful forms.
The chips are programmed and are also embedded with complex applications that can do data analysis, calculations and processing.
Take an example of a smartwatch or any other wearable device that you are using to monitor your exercises and health. Most of these devices are capable of telling you whether you are doing good in terms of health. A device will use the input data such as weight and height to tell you your BMI.
The complexity that comes with data processing requires that IoT manufacturers install high-end IC chips. Not only do they have fast data processing capabilities but they are also high accuracy levels.
Storage of data is another important function of the IC chips in relation to the IoT devices such as wearables and smart homes.
After data has been received and processed, two things will happen; the device may execute the instructions in the data immediately or may store the data for future use. Our attention is on the latter function of the IC chip.
There are specialized ICs designed to store data that has been collected by IoT devices. They will then release this data when needed.
The data storage property of the IC semiconductor chips can either be for long-term or short-term. In other words, we have Read-only memory (ROM) chips and Random-access memory IC chips. Each of these memory types has a role to play in the overall functionality of the chip.
In most IoT devices, the ROM chip stores the instructions that define the overall operation of the device or appliance. For instance, it will determine the speed at which the device responds.
On the other hand, the RAM chip stores data that is needed for short-term use. For instance, your smart wearable device will record how many miles you walked in a particular day.
The memory storage role of IC chips in IoT devices is critical in many industries. One such application is in smart health appliances where data is needed for analysis of different health conditions.
Also, when buying an IoT device, one of the specifications that most people focus on is its memory storage capacity- what volume of data can the device support? This points to the memory IC chips.
Integrated circuits are used for energy management in IoT
Chances are you have heard of people complaining about the energy consumption of certain IoT devices and appliances. On the other hand, other appliances are lauded for their energy efficiency.
At the root of power and energy management of IoT devices is the IC chip. The chips manage and control how different components of a device consume power.
For years, very little attention has been given to the power feature of integrated circuits. This has become a hot topic in recent years thanks to the issue of sustainability whereby manufacturers are required to produce energy-efficient appliances.
There are various mechanisms that ICs deploy to manage power and enhance the energy efficiency of IoT devices.
For example, IC manufacturers use clock gating to cut down power dissipation on the integrated circuit. If this is applied on multiple circuits, there will be a significant drop in a device’s energy consumption.
Frequency and data optimization also contribute to power management of the ICs in IoT devices. For example, the chip will determine how data will be synchronized so as to cut down on its energy consumption rate.
Security IC chips in IoT
Security will always be a priority when it comes to the IoT devices. After all, they are connected to the internet and are vulnerable to security breaches. In fact, there have bee news of major security incidents that have affected IoT devices.
The surest way to keep these devices safe is by using security IC chips.
Security ICs have special features that are designed to protect target IoT devices from various security threats.
One such feature is the cryptography functionality which ensures that data being transmitted between the devices is well-secured from the unauthorized parties.
Security microchips also enhance privacy of the IoT devices. They have authentication systems that are used for controlling access of the devices. These chips determine who can access the device and who should not.
Since security is a dynamic field, IC manufacturers keep introducing more security features on the chips while updating the current features.
Also,before you include any chip into your IoT device, it will be smart to confirm is security features
From this guide, it is clear that you cannot ignore the role of IC chips in IoT devices. They define everything about the devices.
Other than just determining the operation of the devices, the chips have many other benefits. For example, the energy optimization role of the IC will save your energy bills.
Knowing the roles of IC chips in IoT devices is not enough. You also need to know which chips are in the device and their specifications.
For example, you should know the memory storage and power specifications of the chip.
All this information is in the manufacturer’s manual. From this data, you will be in a position to know the performance levels that the device will deliver.
If you are building IoT devices and would want to use the right chips, you should be careful with where you buy the. Ensure you buy from reputable IoT IC chip suppliers. This way, you can be sure of the performance ad reliability of the devices in question.
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