The Internet of Things and the Intelligent Edge

By Colm Lysaght - 2020-01-13

Can the cloud really manage 75 billion devices? Yes, but only if they are intelligent.

As 2020 begins, we have 27 billion connected devices and the number continues to grow, expected to reach 75 billion by 2025, according to Statista. These devices will generate 75ZB of data or about 1TB each that year. Clearly, if all that data is being sent to the cloud, there will be an enormous storage and networking problem. Instead, more processing will be done at the “intelligent edge,” and only key results will be sent to the cloud, reducing the volume and complexity of data management.

Smart devices are getting smarter, learning our habits and relieving us of the need to program and maintain them. Door locks, thermostats, fridges, TVs, video doorbells and security cameras can be summoned remotely for a quick check, or they can be left to run the home according to our known preferences. The fact that they are connected gives us a variety of ways of managing our digital lives — whether we are at home, at work or on the go. Our connected network of devices forms our own intelligent edge, a continually growing set of connected systems and devices where data is analyzed and aggregated close to where it is captured.

Intelligent devices make aging in place for elders much more viable. Non-tech-savvy seniors don’t have to become system administrators of a bewildering IT network in their own homes. Smart products are simpler for them to use and can be managed remotely by other family members. Voice-activated technologies, automatic lighting and motion sensors that respond to a range of medical conditions — they all help to make aging baby boomers feel comfortable staying at home. At an estimated 73 million, this generation will swell the ranks of the elderly in the coming decade, as all of them will be 65 or older by 2030.

Manufacturing will see big consequences as AI at the edge plays a larger role in gaining efficiencies and increasing output. According to an April 2019 Deloitte/MAPI Smart Factory report, intelligent edge initiatives for smart manufacturing in the past three years have boosted labor productivity, factory utilization and total output by more than 10% each. In a $30 trillion market like retail, that translates into big savings that go straight to the bottom line.

Agriculture is also being transformed by the internet of things (IoT). Crop farmers use sensors to monitor soil conditions and deploy drones for crop health assessment and spraying. Livestock farmers put IoT sensors on each animal for easy tracking of herd movements in remote locations, early detection and diagnosis of sick animals and monitoring of reproductive cycles. Sensor data, along with machine learning, can be used to understand animal behavior, diet and exercise so that feeding is optimized. For the farmers, the result is better efficiency, lower costs, higher yield and better quality — all of which benefit consumers of their output. With the world’s population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, feeding all those people will require more output and higher yield from a limited amount of arable land.

Micron’s leading memory and storage solutions are accelerating the growth of the smart IoT devices that form the intelligent edge. Our low-power DRAM (LPDRAM) solutions are ideal for small form factor devices where battery life is critical. Our managed NAND solutions provide compact nonvolatile storage for both code and data. Our SSDs have high capacity and great performance for aggregated data analysis. Our deep learning accelerator (DLA) platform provides an easy-to-use inference engine to do deep learning at the edge, with a low power budget.

Micron is where the data lives. Micron — Intelligence Accelerated.

Colm Lysaght

Colm Lysaght

Colm Lysaght is Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy & Innovation at Micron Technology.