Nick, I did a double take when I saw your headline. At first, I thought you were writing about ST's announcement. Made me half jokingly wonder whether Imagination Technologies considered changing the name of their product because of our press release six weeks agoi
That's what makes this set of engineering choices very interesting. Imagination's Ensigma division has pioneered the use of Software Defined Radio (SDR) for exactly this reason, and it works well in other consumer areas such as digital radio (DAB, DMR etc) That's the discussion - when you know the specification you need for an IoT node, then the 'price' (power, area,) of the flexibility of SDR is too high - at least that's what Imagination is saying with this Whisper announcement. Now it may be that the flexibility had to come from the SDR previously as Imagination didn't have a mainstream embedded processor line (it had META). Now it can add a Warrior class embedded processor into that core the flexibility is more in C with standard software IP in the form of stacks - this makes for another intereting trend in 'hardware' flexibility vs processor flexibility
Reading between the lines I would say this is coming from their chip customers, so the details of the implementations later in the year (with the choice of Warrior processor and now they are coupled to the front end) will also be interesting!
Reducing the bandwidth and resolution of a system to the current specifications of a standard sounds like a false economy. As technology improves (people upgrade Internet connections and WiFi), the hardware of the device will be unable to adapt.
It would seem more cost effective to design for the top performance and then sell into the current markets with software options to upgrade the device when new connections become available. This approach also allows the product lifecycle to be extended. A software change can implement a more advanced protocol in a new box in a year or two without having to change any of the high volume production hardware.
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