Wonder chip reduces IoT encryption power consumption by 99.75pc

16 Feb 2018

Image: TaMaNKunG/Shutterstock

This week in IoT, a new chip not only makes encrypting 500 times faster, but it can do so with 99.75pc less energy.

There was a lot going on this week in the internet of things (IoT) realm, particularly on the hardware side of things as prestigious academic institution MIT revealed a number of new technological breakthroughs.

Among them was a new chip that can take the power of neural networks, capable of crunching huge amounts of data, and put them natively on your smartphone.

The special-purpose chip can not only speed up the rate of computation in neural networks by a factor of seven, it also manages to reduce its power consumption by up to 95pc.

MIT also recently revealed a device that sounds too good to be true, known as the thermal resonator, which can generate energy just by the simple passing of day into night.

By availing of the shift in temperature between the two times of day, the device could enable a continuous, years-long operation of remote sensing systems, making it ideal for IoT technologies.

New wonder chip makes IoT encryption a doddle

Just to make it a hat-trick this week, MIT also revealed a special-purpose chip hardwired to perform encryption, consuming 99.75pc less power than software execution using the same protocols would.

It also uses about one-tenth as much memory and executes 500 times faster, all through public-key cryptography that lets computers share information securely without first agreeing on a secret encryption key.

Like most modern public-key encryption systems, the researchers’ chip uses a technique called elliptic-curve encryption. As its name suggests, elliptic-curve encryption relies on a type of mathematical function called an elliptic curve.

“There is a lot of debate regarding which curve is secure and which curve to use, and there are multiple governments with different standards coming up that talk about different curves,” said Utsav Banerjee, first author of the research.

“With this chip, we can support all of them and, hopefully, when new curves come along in the future, we can support them as well.”

Advent of 5G leaves Sigfox struggling to meet growth

French start-up Sigfox has achieved enormous success with its low-power, wide-area IoT networks established in dozens of countries, including Ireland.

However, according to Reuters, the firm has admitted that it is now struggling to meet its growth targets as companies wait to see how 5G networks are progressing.

Sigfox said that it missed its revenue targets for last year, but CEO Ludovic Le Moan believes his company’s technology is still showing promise and will at least break even by the end of 2018.

“There’s a lot of noise around 5G these days,” Le Moan said. “But these technologies [5G] that are being put in place are much more costly. For telecom players, this is all about generating new revenue.”

He argued that while the roll-out of 5G networks towards the end of the decade will cost billions of euro per national market, Sigfox’s IoT networks would cost millions.

5G hits the slopes in Pyeongchang

Speaking of 5G, one of the first places in the world to avail of the super-high speeds is Pyeongchang, currently the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

According to Bloomberg, the technology is being used by the South Koreans to create an animal control system that uses sensors to see when porcines wander into tracks.

When it senses them, the system will not only shoot rays and emit tiger roars to keep them away, but will also throw in some foul-smelling gases just to make sure the creatures don’t go where they’re not supposed to.

Some other technologies on display include a fleet of autonomous shuttles to bring people around, as well as 360-degree images in real time showing competing figure skaters as they glide around the ice.

Former Samsung CTO will now coordinate Google IoT projects

After recently resigning as the chief technology officer at Samsung, Injong Rhee has decided to make the move to San Francisco, where he will coordinate a number of Google’s IoT projects.

According to Reuters, Google said that Rhee was hired by the company’s cloud computing unit, with Rhee declaring in a blogpost that he will serve as entrepreneur in residence, working under the chief executive of the unit, Diane Greene.

He said he wants to harmonise the company’s IoT projects, ranging from connecting to home appliances, to autonomous vehicles.

“One of the first things I would like to do with my Google colleagues is to get these efforts coordinated and aligned toward a concerted IoT story of Google [and] in the process, create distinct consumer and enterprise product lines,” Rhee said.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic