MediaTek brings smart home technology into mainstream homes

MediaTek brings smart home technology into mainstream homes
As a leading SoC provider of mobile communication, home entertainment and connectivity solutions, MediaTek is well positioned to unify the fragmented IoT market and drive a new IoT ecosystem with its comprehensive IP portfolios, ranging from smartphones to tablets, smart TVs, AP routers to smart and connected devices. SR Tsai, General Manager of Wireless Connectivity and Networking Business Unit at MediaTek explained its product development approaches and market observations on the smart home market.

Please introduce your product portfolios for smart home?

We offer SoCs for both home gateways and IoT end devices. At Computex 2015, we launched three low-power System-on-Chips (SoCs), MT7623, MT7683 and MT7687, to bring smart home technology into mainstream homes around the world.
The MT7623 and MT7683, designed for smart gateways that manage IoT devices, allow IoT devices with different standards to work together within smart homes. The MT7623 and MT7683 will work seamlessly with the MT7687, which is MediaTek's first ARM Cortex-M4 IoT Wi-Fi SoC with an enhanced security engine, designed for IoT end devices.
MT7623 and MT7683 supports the quad-core Cortex-A7 platform, applied for 4×4 11ac retail and broadband routers, premium IoT gateway, Wi-Fi hotspots, and media routers using Linux, OpenWrt to ensure seamless connection and enhanced user experience across multiple platforms. Supporting Linux, the ecosystem can leverage existing RD expertise to enter the smart home segment. 
For end devices, we provide different solutions for different market segments. For instance, MT7688 is a high-performance Linux-based SoC with a comprehensive protocol stack, powering the more complicated and data-intensive smart home appliances such as IP cameras and home surveillance systems. Those applications require high data transmission rate. On the other hand, MT7681, based on MediaTek’s RTOS, features compact size and is suitable for simple applications, including smart plug, lighting fixtures and sensors.
IoT is putting a lot of pressure on the cloud, sending information through sensors, which is not sustainable. MediaTek focuses on designing the intelligent hub whereas other router manufacturers are trying to keep costs down. Besides, we focus on the entire system, ranging from silicon, system, security to services, not just providing a single solution. To cater to customers’ needs, we provide versatile solutions based on different geographic markets. Our customers from North America prefer IoT solutions supporting dual band Wi-Fi, and with embedded flash and RAM in the chip for lower cost. In the Asian market, customers look for low-cost solutions. Also, we have MediaTek Labs to accelerate the development.

What are major design trends for the chipsets applied for home gateways and sensors?

The main concerns of the IoT developers are power consumption, security and programmability. Our latest SoCs address the requirements by decreasing power consumption, increasing security, and expanding programmability. For example, the MT7687 provides lower power consumption to ensure maximum performance with a minimal impact on the devices. The performance of MT7687 is ahead of the comparable SoCs in the market, being able to transmit data at a maximum power output of 21dBm along with enhanced WiFi coverage. In addition, security is achieved through AES and 3DES/SHA2 protocols as security engines.
Moreover, MediaTek aims to simplify the smart home experience. We are working on unifying many different devices with easy to set-up user interface by using smartphone apps like MediaTek’s Smart Connection. The app is not limited to the devices powered by MediaTek’s chipsets, supporting multi-platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows and Linux.
We adopt ARM architecture in designing our SoCs, which supports Linux and RTOS. Smart gateways or traditional Wi-Fi routers are not PCs. In fact, the ARM processors have better ecosystem support in embedded devices, and have better pricing and power consumption than solutions based on x86 architecture.

With more and more connected devices coming out, interoperability and security issues are raised. Do you have any solution to deal with the issues?

MediaTek is working with leading security software companies, such as TrendMicro, to offer comprehensive security management for all IoT devices, from gateways to peripheral devices. This comprehensive security approach can mitigate security threats and privacy attacks that have become a significant concern with the increasing number of connected IoT devices.
As a founding member of the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), MediaTek is working with other member companies like GE, Cisco, Samsung and Intel to address the issues like discovery, interoperability and security for IoT products and services, coming from a diverse community of companies complying with those standards. MediaTek is also a member of the Thread Group, working to bring a more secure low-power networking protocol, to enable secure mesh networks for smart home and IoT devices.

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