Marvell believes the internet of things will need Zigbee, Apple and voice recognition.
The new Marvell silicon includes a microcontroller as well as a wireless chip combined as a system on a chip (SoC). The buyer picks the type of connectivity and gets a layer of software to make supporting the chips’ features easy.
The chip company has created a platform for the internet of things that will offer Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Zigbee chips, incorporating a standard that many device makers and other chip manufacturers have expressed doubts about. Both Broadcom and Qualcomm, competitors to Marvell, have said that both ZigBee and Z-wave will be supplanted by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but Philip Poulidis, VP and general manager of Marvell’s mobile and internet of things business units said Zigbee is now gaining ground and attention that make it worth putting in devices.
Other elements that Marvell is supporting are voice recognition via Bluetooth, which should let people talk to their wearable devices and perhaps to elements in their smart home. Implementing voice recognition in a power-efficient way would be a powerful feature, which Marvell is doing on its Bluetooth modules with a direct connection to the microphones on a device.
Marvell is also supporting Apple’s Wireless Access Configuration with its software for the Wi-Fi chips and the software necessary for devices to gain certification under the Made for iPhone program that will be central to Apple’s current plans for the smart home. It’s also supporting connections to a variety of cloud vendors focused on the internet of things, although those names will be released later.
And no chip platform would be complete without software. Marvell has built new software that will work with other platform such as ARM’s mbed offering and would compare with something like Broadcom’s WICED wireless software. This software element is essential for the internet of things, as hardware developers don’t always have the expertise or inclination to build the connections for cloud providers or to apply for certifications.
Consumer products companies don’t want to understand how to put their products on the internet, and so they are turning to chip companies or cloud providers to make it happen. Marvell, as are many of its direct competitors and cloud providers, are trying to help those firms just set it and forget it when it comes to adding connectivity to products like washing machines and dishwashers.
So the most relevant parts of these sorts of announcements is that they function as tea leaves to understand what features and technologies are deemed important by big-name customers.