Location features on computer chips can be a differentiator in the purchasing process for customers. Pre-integrated or pre-certified location software can add immediate value at the manufacturing stage, either as part of a system-on-a-chip (SOC) solution or otherwise.
Benefits of Location on a Chip
Integrating location software directly onto chipsets helps Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) build devices that are ready to use on networks worldwide. Location software on a chip provides direct benefits to both the product and the end-user. Location providers ensure that the chip (and subsequently the device it powers) can be positioned in various environments. This makes the chip more valuable and attractive, removes the need to look for a location provider later in the device creation and optimization process, and saves valuable product development time stemming from integrating validating a location solution.
The semiconductor industry is very involved in a wide range of devices, and while not always visible to the consumer, they are essential to technology. From laptop tracking for remote workers to mobile phone locating features to connected devices that must function in extreme weather, accurate location details on devices that use chips are important. Adding location to a chip can improve overall functionality and make production move faster.
Chip Shortage Worldwide Increases Importance of Differentiators in Chips
The world is currently facing a shortage of computer chips, situating chip manufacturers in a unique position. It is a pent-up demand for chips but hurdles to overcome related to the shortage and the need for increased production. This spotlight on the chip industry positions the addition of location to computer chips as a potential differentiator between competitors. Connected devices are increasingly expected to have location as a capability, and building location into a chip can be a decision-maker for potential businesses looking for a chip that is ready to be used in their products – especially those whose products have been delayed by COVID shutting down production. A chip that is ready to go and saves the step of finding and integrating a location provider can get their products into the market faster.
The high demand for these integrated circuits directly results from the COVID-19 pandemic and various factors throughout 2020. Stay-at-home orders led to the highest global PC market growth in a decade as work, school, and entertainment all moved into the home, and semiconductor factories cut back employees in the factory, overall decreasing production. Texas faced unprecedented cold temperatures and weather, leading to the largest forced blackout in U.S. history, resulting in many Texas-based chipmakers such as Samsung, NXP, and Infineon closing their factories. Automakers cut down car production in misplaced anticipation of a dip in car sales, leading to a rush in production at the tail-end of 2020. These, in addition to some other factors, led to the current state of the world where there is a chip shortage and factories are seeing large hiring pushes to increase production.
Chip Market and System on a Chip
The IoT chip market is expected to see continued growth, with the expectation that many products will have IoT features implemented with a single system on a chip(SoC). This SoC approach allows IoT devices to operate with an efficient battery and increased security as it packs processors(MCU), RF transceivers, memory, power management, connectivity, and sensors in a single unit. As SoC grows, the integration of location software at the chip level is increasingly relevant.