What the next big growth engine?

April 10, 2017

junko.yoshida-April 10, 2017

Fast-paced technology advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are already taking us places unknown to us just a decade ago.
 
As the pace of innovation accelerates, we find ourselves either swept up by the promise of technology or engulfed by its resulting turmoil.
 
I assumed that Lucio Lanza has seen it all, and thought nothing could faze him.

Lucio Lanza
Lucio Lanza

Lanza’s a legend. I’m sure many of you know him. He is a technologist-cum-investor with a lively wit and sharp insights. His current gig is Managing Director of Lanza techVentures, an early stage venture capital and investment firm. He was the 2014 recipient of the Phil Kaufman Award for Distinguished Contributions to Electronic Design Automation (EDA).
 
I recently caught up with him on the phone, as he was preparing for a talk at the upcoming Design Automation Conference in June, along with Simon Segars, CEO of ARM. 
 
The topic of the session, which I’ve been asked to moderate, is IoT (or else?).
 
I was fully prepared to listen to the usual IoT talking points -- including “one trillion IoT chips to be delivered in next 20 years.” This is the vision laid out earlier this year by Softbank's Masayoshi Son, a new owner of ARM. 
 
Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t Lanza’s story. 
 
Next exponential growth
During our 30-minute call, Lanza and I covered the beginning and middle, all the way to the end (although not quite yet) of Moore’s Law. 
 
When I asked him how much life is still left in Moore’s Law, Lanza, almost gleefully, told me, “Well, we’ve already seen the slowdown of Moore’s Law many times. But every time when happened, we changed it.” 
 
Changed to what?
 
By throwing in new factors and metrics like parallelism and clock speed, the semiconductor industry somehow managed to prolong Moore’s Law, he explained.
 
However, as process nodes shrink further, the slowdown of Moore’s Law is looking inevitable, he noted. 
 
So, what do we do now?
 
Keep in mind, said Lanza, that the issue isn’t the repeal of Moore’s Law. People in the semiconductor industry want to know, if more Moore’s Law is circling the drain, “where the next exponential growth is coming from,” said Lanza.  
 
There will, for sure, be exponential growth in new IoT chip designs. There will be a ton of new IoT apps. But what will be the trigger for a new burst of exponential growth?
 
Lanza believes that the big growth engine will be “connectivity.” 
 
Under the heading of IoT, we talk about millions of computers connected, billions of people connected and trillions of objects connected. 
 
Connected objects
In fact, “most of the things that will be eventually connected won’t even be digital,” said Lanza. Connected objects won’t be limited to so-called digital wearable devices tethered to our bodies. He’s talking about analog, real-world objects that will be eventually connected to the Internet.
 
Lanza offers the example of “say…something like a drop of your sweat.” Once sweat become one of the trillion things connected to the Internet, soon, it will know more about your health than you know about yourself, Lanza explained.
 
Let that sink in for a minute. 

Continue to page two on Embedded's sister site, EE Times: "When your sweat knows more about you...."

 

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