Qualcomm Aims for a Wireless Industry with 5G IIoT ChipsetMay 21, 2021 by Jake Hertz
This week All About Circuits had the chance to sit down with Qualcomm and talk about its newest chipset for IIoT and how it is moving 5G to industrial settings.
The industrial sector has always been a story of increased automation, be it the original industrial revolution or the modern integration of robotics in the factory place. This connotation is why, of all areas poised to be revolutionized by 5G and IoT, the industrial sector may change the most.
With the advent of the Industrial IoT (IIoT), the future factory is envisioned as a series of autonomous yet interconnected devices. Increased development of 5G infrastructure and hardware is needed to achieve this goal of a wireless IIoT.
The idea of a wireless industry has long been a goal of Qualcomm, and it has been working on delivering different solutions. Today, the company made headlines as it released its newest product, a 5G modem optimized for IIoT, which this article will focus on breaking down and understanding Qualcomm's newest chipset.
For a more industrial and control-focused aspect of this release and how it optimizes automation, you can check out Control's article here.
The Infrastructure Needed for IIoT
More so than others, the industrial sector requires very stringent technical specs out of its IoT network.
One reason is that many of the processes in a factory are real-time critical processes. Tasks like robotic motion control, computer vision classification, and inter-device communication often need to intake and process data in a matter of milliseconds for the technology to be effective. Where the high computing resources necessary for some of these tasks are too great to be done on edge, a wireless system that is quick, reliable, and always available to enable cloud computing is necessary.
A robotic control example shows the need for high-speed wireless communication. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
As per Qualcomm's example, consider a robotic control scenario where it's necessary to continually move a robotic arm 1 mm at a speed of 1 m/s. This task would require updating commands every 1 ms.
When considering the time it takes the robotic device to process its environment, the time it takes to actuate the device, the time it takes to process in the cloud, and the roundtrip communication time, it becomes clear how little time there is to spare. This time issue illustrates the need for faster wireless networks to decrease this system bottleneck.
To this end, one of the technologies that are widely being pushed for is non-public 5G networks.
As its name implies, these networks are not accessible to public users, using different hardware, virtual machines, or network slices. Private 5G networks benefit factories for its ability to be optimized to the factory's specific size and traffic needs. Not allowing public users makes the networks inherently more reliable, with no competition for bandwidth, and safe, with no external security threats.
Benefits of private 5G in industrial applications. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
With no external users, the traffic flow of a network becomes predictable and downtime becomes avoidable – better facilitating real-time applications. It was with these benefits in mind that Qualcomm developed its newest 5G offerings.
Qualcomm’s 5G IoT Chip
Today, Qualcomm announced the Qualcomm 315 5G IoT Modem-RF System, the company's first IIoT-specific modem equipped with 5G connectivity.
This chip, built on a 7nm process, is called a comprehensive modem-to-antenna solution and is meant to support the low latency, low power needs of industrial IoT. Leveraging a highly integrated RF front end offers a footprint as much as 50% smaller than competitive devices while achieving speeds up to 1.56Gbps and bandwidth up to 100MHz.
Features of the Qualcomm 315 5G IoT Modem. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
The device operates on 5G new radio (NR) sub-6 GHz bands in stand-alone only mode and can support private 5G and switch to LTE as needed. The chipset also incorporates wireless protocol security, secure boot functionality, and hardware key generation, amongst other offerings for enhanced security.
Moving Towards the Factor of the Future
Qualcomm hopes that this chip will help provide the dynamically changing field of industrial IoT with the hardware infrastructure it needs. This new chip is poised to be one step in the right direction in creating a wireless industry with its small footprint, high performance, and the ability for private 5G.
Featured image used courtesy of Qualcomm
Interested in other innovations recently from Qualcomm? Find out more in the articles down below.