Outlook 2015: Game changing technologies to transform the physical world

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Transforming the physical world that surrounds us to the possibilities of the digital world is at the core of today's and tomorrow's global business challenges. Today, cloud and mobility are rewriting the rules for computing and communications. The Internet of Things is both driving and enabled by the ubiquity of sensing and connectivity. While the term itself may be somewhat overhyped, the underlying fundamentals are there and customers are clearly investing in this space.

The potential of this new era is supported by an increasing need to solve complex analogue design challenges and an increased focus on signal process technology needs. In this dynamic landscape, technology and companies are co-evolving and there is an unprecedented imperative to be nimble. Key industrial, communications, healthcare and automotive customers are rightly asking more from their suppliers. They want us to deliver more complete solutions and more than silicon so they can get their products to market faster. They want suppliers who can keep pace with the speed of their own evolution and help them discover what's possible at the next level. Game changing technologies To meet this challenge, we are seeing the emergence of game changing technologies. These include the sensor and sensor node explosion and the associated trend towards solutions that ensure lower energy consumption. Further areas of strong development are security and communication systems, the technologies implemented in and around the car, as well as software defined radio. In addition to pushing core technologies to higher levels, customers are increasingly asking suppliers to make their innovation process easier by providing tools and support. They want earlier access to product roadmaps and they want suppliers to demonstrate a strong understanding of their customers' problems. The semiconductor business, more than ever, is now about showing insight into the customer's customers' problems and the capability to accurately define solutions to these critical challenges. For our customers, differentiation is an imperative. They are looking for products that make a difference for them and for their customers. To earn their partnership and loyalty, we are focused on increasing the speed and impact of the innovation we deliver. With the stability of a high quality, high reliability supply chain, we are well prepared to take the bold risks that go hand in hand with game changing innovation. Solving tough problems Each day, engineers have new ideas for what's possible when the physical is transformed to digital. And in the coming year, the know-how and the creativity of engineers will solve tough problems. • Software defines hardware Software is increasingly defining hardware as customers focus their internal engineering efforts on software and system design. They need their suppliers to orient themselves at the system level in order to develop the right system for the respective application, making system knowledge critical for success. By speaking the systems language of their customers, suppliers are able to solve problems in a more effective way. This is just the starting point – successful chip designers will not only have broad knowledge of customers' systems, but also deep expertise in the design, application and optimisation of the precision analogue and digital components and the associated IP/software components. In addition, we'll see silicon manufacturers collaborating with system manufacturers to create new products. Smart integration of high performance analogue components (such as amplifiers, A/D converters, D/A converters, voltage references, temperature sensors, wireless transceivers) and 32bit processor cores from ARM with the right digital peripherals addresses goals that discrete solutions cannot. Among the many applications that can benefit from a device that integrates high performance analogue with ARM microcontrollers are temperature sensing, pressure sensing, gas detection, solar inverters, motor control, health care vital signs monitoring, automotive monitoring systems and gas/water/electric meters. • Motor control: improved efficiency and cost savings Given that motors account for 40% of the world's electricity usage, the question is often raised how these systems can be made more 'green'. The answer is to make them more efficient – savings from broad use of more efficient motors is measured in large numbers: electricity savings of hundreds of billions of KWh and the reduction by millions of tons per year of CO2 released into the atmosphere. • The SDR revolution The software defined radio (SDR) revolution is reshaping the RF technology space, combining RF with additional functions such as controllers, DSPs and power management based on CMOS. It is clear that most users have little time to build their own SDR systems and current systems do not have the capacity required in many target markets. The development of a complete reference platform including software and drivers solves a critical system challenge that is broadly applicable from base stations to industrial instrumentation to defence. This sets an SDR standard for many target markets and fully justifies the expression SDR revolution, delivering a solution before the industry knew it was needed. • Intelligent cars The role of electronic components has also become increasingly important in the automotive segment. Hybrid cars and electric cars are slowly gaining popularity but, beyond those innovations, car manufacturers are also working hard to make the engine in all cars ever more efficient. This requires a lot of electronics from which the broader market will benefit in the future. Amongst the many opportunities for growth in the automotive sector are radar, car to car communication and autonomous driving. Cars are now developing into base stations on wheels. The automotive segment offers rich future possibilities for the implementation of components, including ICs for engine control and infotainment; battery monitoring and control; and MEMS for inertial sensors and gyros, not least in the car security systems. MEMS are also driving innovation in numerous other segments, notably the medical market where they enable vital sign monitoring and in the industrial market where they are used for vibration monitoring in manufacturing environments. And not to forget the energy sector where MEMS gyroscopes facilitate high temperature applications for oil and gas foraging. Conclusion It's an exciting era, with the market coming towards us with the skills in wireless transmission, sensors, conversion of data, process control and monitoring. And this is particularly relevant in the business sectors served; industrial, automotive and healthcare. The conversion of the real world to a digital version is just starting and is here to stay. Analog Devices Innovation, performance and excellence are the cultural pillars on which Analog Devices has built one of the longest standing, highest growth companies within the technology sector. Acknowledged industry-wide as the world leader in data conversion and signal conditioning technology, Analog Devices serves more than 60,000 customers, representing virtually all types of electronic equipment. Analog Devices is headquartered in Norwood, Massachusetts, with design and manufacturing facilities throughout the world. Analog Devices is included in the S&P 500 Index. Vincent Roche is the CEO of Analog Devices.