Mobile World Congress is fast approaching. It makes me reflect on the past year and what’s right around the bend. 2017 is actually shaping up to be really exciting for data storage and the mobile industry.
Smartphone storage performance and capacity continued to increase significantly last year. These go-to devices continue to be critical for work and play. This dependence has led device manufacturers to almost double storage capacity on an annual basis.
In fact, some high-end smartphones actually offer more capacity than entry-level laptops now.
As we head into Mobile World Congress Barcelona, here’s what I’m most excited about:
The mobile industry has been talking about 5G being the next telecommunications standard for some time now. It promises to deliver faster Internet connection speeds and improved throughputs. 5G ultimately enables more mobile broadband users per area than 4G networks and virtually unlimited data consumption.
With 5G, it is becoming more apparent that users can stream high-definition media many more hours per day on their mobile devices. If Wi-Fi hotspots are out of reach, 5G will deliver improved device-to-device communication support, lower latency and less battery consumption than 4G platforms.
In actuality, 5G is more about connecting to ‘other’ Internet of Things devices with sensors. It will go well beyond smartphones and into connected devices that can capture, send and receive data.
Computing power in smartphones continues to improve as application processors take advantage of advancements in processing technology and microarchitectures. Storage is logically and clearly following the same model.
Today, 256GB is already available in smartphones. That’s a quarter of a terabyte. A few years ago this may have been deemed as excessive and unnecessary. However, consumers today almost expect never having to delete content whether it be apps, images, documents or games. If virtual reality is added to this mix, the size of files required to run on smartphones will be even more astounding. Therefore, it’s necessary for storage to scale just like processing power.
We are also seeing a miniaturization of storage. Our 256GB microSD cards are small as a thumbnail and are extremely power efficient. This footprint is essential for small mobile devices like action cameras, wearables, and of course, smartphones.
The industry is not far away from having 1TB storage capacities in smartphones. We know that soon consumers will not only want, but demand, terabyte capacity in their mobile devices.
Edge-to-cloud is big for the industry
From self-driving cars to drones, machine intelligence is built around computer vision and a variety of sensors. Many assume that all of this data will simply go to the cloud. However, the storage solution in the new IoT reality is far more complex.
On the one hand, the cloud is elastic and ubiquitous. It also has analytical tools that may help in discovering secrets hidden in the deep, broad pools of data. On the other hand, you can’t perform real-time analytics on cloud-based data due to the challenges from bandwidth and the amount of data being captured. By the time it gets into the cloud, the data is historical. For example, if a sensor in a factory detects an out-of-bounds condition on a shop-floor device, real-time information becomes critical for a timely response.
Since there are many situations that require instantaneous response, there is a pressing case for real-time analytics running near the edge of the cloud or the “fog” as some deem it. These could be gateways, aggregation systems and more.
Automobiles and drones can now be equipped to analyze and respond in real-time to mechanical, environmental, or situational alerts.
Better data intelligence and pattern recognition tools are becoming increasingly necessary across all areas of IoT. This will give a deeper understanding of the inherent value in captured data—whether in the cloud or at the edge.
I for one am looking forward to taking a deep dive into all of this at Mobile World Congress Barcelona. If you are there, come say hello in Hall 3, stand 3K25. We’ll be showcasing our latest solutions for the constantly evolving mobile industry. Also, follow us @SanDiskOEM to keep abreast of what we are enabling for the next wave of mobile devices.
Christopher Bergey is responsible for developing and driving Western Digital’s embedded storage solution strategies in the mobile and connected market segments, including smartphones and tablets, automotive, industrial, connected home and other connected, “Internet of Things” environments. Prior to joining Western Digital, Mr. Bergey served in senior management and marketing roles for Luxtera, Broadcom, Multilink Technology Corporation and Advanced Micro Devices. He received his MBA degree from the University of Maryland and Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Drexel University.