IoT gateways: Behind the scenes of smart cities

 Smart cities today offer systems that improve the wellbeing and efficiency of their citizens, from flexible transportation and efficient energy to effective water and waste management. While many technologies are essential to bring smart cities to life, one essential aspect of these cities is the highly connected infrastructure needed to support the sharing and exchanging of the overall intelligence of the installed systems.

While much of the system and sub-system communication is achieved using typical infrastructure such as Ethernet and/or Wi-Fi® networking, there are also significant requirements to support systems having more disparate sub-system nodes. These types of networks benefit from the use of an embedded Internet of Things (IoT) gateway that not only supports the various connection types to/from these disparate nodes and the upstream Ethernet, Wi-Fi or other, but can also provide much needed overhead processing to greatly offload the various node(s) and reduce their design complexity. Since design complexity can directly relate to node cost and the proliferation of nodes is an axiom of IoT, the use of embedded IoT gateways is an important consideration in the proliferation of IoT and its long-term viability and success.

Texas Instruments (TI) offers semiconductor solutions across the entire breadth of the IoT, from low-level nodes all the way up to and including high-level cloud servers and while a great amount of emphasis will be targeted at the edges, (e.g. node cost and server performance), the efficiency of the embedded IoT gateway will be an extremely important aspect as well. With this in mind, TI offers a variety of solutions in this space to include integrated wireless components (SimpleLink™ wireless connectivity), high-performance processors (Sitara™ AM335x) and microcontrollers (MCUs) (TM4C12x) that can address the system requirements spanning across various types of IoT gateways with each of them providing a different approach to solving customer design challenges.

One of the key offerings is the TM4C129x MCU family, which provides a compelling and efficient mix of CPU performance, on-chip memory, integrated peripherals, security capabilities and an industry-leading integrated Ethernet MAC+PHY. When coupled with its stable and broad suite of software, it hits the sweet spot as an embedded IoT gateway solution and is readily available to experiment with and use for proof of concept via either a low-cost, cloud-connected evaluation kit (EK-TM4C1294XL) and/or a more fully-capable, connected development kit (DK-TM4C129X).

How intelligent will smart cities eventually become? With so much headway made in just the past decade, I look forward to seeing how connected and efficient our cities will become in the coming years. The depth of this intelligence will ultimately be governed by the ability for IoT to continue to proliferate, and of course the overall cost of implementing smart systems. Leave us a note below and let us know—what systems are you interested in gaining more intelligence about, and what barriers to growth do you foresee?

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