A penny-sized wireless modem has been revealed this week, to be used in interconnected smart devices such as wearable tech, home appliances and security systems. The Intel XMM 6255 3G chip measures just 300mm squared and claims to be the world’s smallest of its kind.
With experts forecasting that the global market for the Internet of Things will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020, Intel has decided to boost the development of its 3G modems, which will facilitate communications between smart devices and the cloud.
Stefan Wolff, vice president of Intel’s platform engineering group, told the EE Times that a 3G system had been selected over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth designs: “Wherever mobility, reliability, and security are important in combination, that’s where cellular is better.”
Wolff also explained that the new chip is ideal for networked sensors, thanks to its small size and its SMARTi UE2p transceiver component, which operates on a tiny amount of electrical power.
“The smaller the chip and its components, the less electrical power they need and the less heat they dissipate. That helps them survive in conditions where Internet of Things sensors are deployed,” Wolff said.
“A farmer, for instance, may deploy a bunch of sensors to detect ground moisture in fields. Those sensors can send data over 3G modems to a computer, which can produce a report for the farmer on where and when he or she should water the field,” he continued.
Intel also claims that the modem can provide “reliable communication” in low-signal areas, such as garages and basements.
Analysts suggest that the launch of the XMM 6255 modem signals efforts from Intel to gain a stronghold in the IoT market. “It’s not just about the size of it,” Sergis Mushell, a Gartner research director, told the BBC. “What Intel is really doing is going after a significant stake in the Internet of Things market, where connectivity is most important.
“Getting connectivity right is essential for their entire product portfolio,” he added.