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MediaTek sets sights on IoT with AI-focused chips

MediaTek believes its new artificial intelligence platform and partnerships will together help it push deeper into the IoT market.

Published onMay 20, 2019

MediaTek IoT Chipset

MediaTek today laid out the groundwork for its push into the Internet of Things (IoT). It announced a new platform and new partnerships that bank on the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver new experiences for consumers.

You might be surprised to learn that MediaTek is the world leader in supporting voice-assisted devices. Think about all those Amazon Alexa-powered pucks in homes around the globe. MediaTek powers the vast majority of those speakers, smart displays, soundbars, and TV sticks. The company believes its latest platform will help solidify its lead for the foreseeable future.

AI as a backbone

MediaTek has a three-pronged view of AI-based IoT products. These are: voice-enabled devices (speakers, smart locks, white goods); display and screen devices (smart thermostats, exercise equipment); and AI vision devices (robots, drones, security systems).

MediaTek AI bannerhead

To target these products, the company has developed a range of chipsets based on industry standards. Moreover, each was developed with open-source software with partners including BayLibre, Seeed, and StreamUnlimited.

MediaTek did not provide hard details about the CPUs, GPUs, and AI components involved in each system-on-a-chip. The company has a wide range from which to choose (such as its audio SoC and tablet SoC). MediaTek did note that each chipset is optimized for ultra-low power consumption and efficient yet powerful computing.

The IoT evaluation kit ticks off a lot of the boxes that AI-based product designers are likely to appreciate. For example, they are based on the 4.19 Linux Kernel with support for Android 9 Pie and Yocto 2.6, they are OP-TEE compatible, they support Wi-Fi 5 and LTE 4G, and they include the full Amazon Voice Service suite with far-field voice detection and similar.

Last, MediaTek says the chipsets rely on Arm’s TrustZone security and will include up to seven years of support for OS and security patches.

Undefined rollout

The company did not say when it will make the evaluation kits available to its partners, nor did MediaTek suggest when its partners might bring products based on the chipsets to market.

MediaTek is right to target IoT, and to think that AI is the key. Over the past year, the number of AI-powered services has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and ultra-low-power hardware.

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