Marvell, MediaTek Aim New Silicon at Internet of Things

The companies are the latest chip vendors to roll out new offerings for the IoT and wearable device markets.

connected car Internet of things

The Internet of things continues to get a lot of attention from chip makers with Marvell Technology and MediaTek the latest to offer new products aimed at the burgeoning market.

Marvell is rolling out a range of new silicon offerings that are designed for everything from wearable computing devices and smart appliances to cars, homes security and personal health care, with the goal of making it easy for device OEMs to quickly bring new systems to the market.

Marvell's solutions, announced June 3, include embedded microcontrollers that support WiFi, Bluetooth and the Zigbee wireless standard. The systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) come with Marvell's EZ-Connect software, which enables easy WiFi provisioning for headless devices, built-in integration with Internet of things (IoT) cloud service providers, communications models for device-to-device communications and P2P applications, and multi-layered security, according to company officials.

The company also is offering software-development kits and APIs to for developers to leverage when developing software.

"Marvell's latest system-on-chip solutions offer unparalleled advantages for home automation, LED lighting control, remote control, healthcare monitoring and other applications," Philip Poulidis, vice president and general manager of Marvell's Mobile and Internet of Things business units, said in a statement. "Marvell's EZ-Connect delivers the industry's highest level of integration to significantly improve performance, lower power consumption, and reduce the total bill of materials."

The MW300 Wi-Fi microcontroller includes 802.11n WiFi capabilities while the MB300 Bluetooth SoC offer's dual-mode Bluetooth 4.1 support. The MZ ZigBee microcontroller supports the 802.15.4/ZigBee standard.

For their part, MediaTek unveiled its LinkIt development platform June 3 at Computex 2014 in Taiwan. LinkIt, which integrates the company's small Aster SoC, is designed to drive development in the IoT and wearables market, according to company officials.

Along with Aster—which comes in a 5.4-by-6.2 mm form that is specifically designed for wearable devices—LinkIt also includes reference designs, over-the-air update capabilities for applications, algorithms and drivers, a software development kit for Arduino and VisualStudio development environments (support for Eclipse will come in the fourth quarter), and a hardware development kit.

"We are enabling an ecosystem of device makers, application developers and service providers to create innovations and new solutions for the super-midmarket," J.C. Hsu, general manager of new business development at MediaTek, said in a statement.

The launch of LinkIt is part of a larger developer initiative at MediaTek called MediaTek Labs, which is designed to fuel the development of wearable devices and IoT applications based on LinkIt and the Aster SoC. MediaTek Labs will launch later this year, officials said.

Vendors and analysts alike expect the IoT—the rapidly growing collection of intelligent, connected systems and devices that will communicate with each other and send massive amounts of data back and forth—to boom over the next several years. Cisco Systems expects that by 2020, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet, and that the IoT will be worth $19 trillion to businesses worldwide. IDC analysts expect the IoT market to hit $7.3 trillion by 2017.

Chip makers and other component vendors are pushing to grow their IoT capabilities. For example, Intel last year created an Internet of things business unit and this year launched a $100 million fund to fuel the development of smart devices. The company last year also launched a new family of small, power-efficient chips call Quark. Broadcom in December launched its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) smart chip platform for such use cases as wearable devices, and in May added to the portfolio.

Freescale in February unveiled a tiny ARM-based microcontroller aimed at the IoT.