5G and the Internet of things (IoT)
Demand for high-speed, endless data plans and 5G installation is growing, with worldwide data volumes projected to rise to 175 zettabytes by 2025. Telecommunications companies are investing heavily in 5G communications equipment and towers.
The 5G Enterprise Market is expected to register a healthy CAGR of over 42% during the forecast period (2021 – 2026). The 5G enterprise market is expected to revolutionize the domain of connected devices in industries that are already pushing toward industrial revolution 4.0. (Mordor)
Development of robotics lagged behind that of computers for several decades but we are now on the cusp of major advances in the use of robotics in manufacturing.
Robots now perform roughly 10 percent of manufacturing tasks that can be done by machines, according to the Boston Consulting Group. The management consulting firm projected that to rise to about 25 percent of such “automatable” tasks by 2025.
In turn, labor costs stand to drop by 16 percent on average globally over that time, according to the research.
The shift will mean an increasing demand for skilled workers who can operate the machines, said Hal Sirkin, a senior partner at Boston Consulting.
Factory workers “will be higher paid but there will be fewer of them.” (Reuters)
The trend is likely to continue with expansion in the field of transport, construction, agriculture and services.
Robotics is unlikely to lead to fully-automated factories without workers. Instead we are likely to see a reduction in the number of workers, with greater productivity through increased use of smart tools.
Self-driving cars are in their infancy, with a few highly publicized deaths in vehicle accidents. The software is expected to improve over time, following much the same path as early speech recognition software.
Drones are used for various civil and commercial applications. These comprise remote sensing for aerial monitoring and investigation for agriculture, infrastructure inspection, border monitoring and surveillance, research and development, and other data-collection processes, along with the transport of goods, for example parcels in the logistics sector (JRC, 2019a).
The defense market is today dominated by large UAVs, and it is expected that this will remain the case for the next two decades. The defense industry has in recent years witnessed a growth in the application of other types of drones and cybersecurity. C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), cybersecurity, embedded computing and UVs are key applications with potential growing markets. (EC Study)
Demand for semiconductors grew by 6.5% in 2020. A chip shortage may have occurred without the pandemic, but the pandemic accelerated and worsened the issue.
- Global-wide shut-downs caused production to freeze up and stock to drain.
- The demand for electronics boomed, increasing competition between Tech Giants and Automakers for the dwindling number of chips. When auto sales slowed, many semiconductor contract foundries switched from making “mature” chips for the auto industry to producing more technologically advanced “emerging” chips for the consumer electronics industry (e.g., 5G), which demand higher prices.
- Automakers underestimated consumers’ demand for cars in the second quarter of 2020 and decreased production, further spiking demand.
- The cost of silicon has risen substantially due to the mass production of the COVID-19 vaccines; the silicon needed to make the vials is the same as the silicon used to manufacture chips and personal computers. (MAU)
US demand for semiconductors is highly dependent on foreign suppliers, especially those located in Taiwan. Building a new factory to make more chips is expensive and it takes time to bring new facilities online.
There is no easy fix. Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, estimates that shortages could last “a couple of years.”
This is just the start of a global trend, with semiconductor demand expected to grow strongly in a number of areas.
A typical EV has 50 to 100 microcontrollers and at least 10 more powerful semiconductors to control brakes, power steering, digital displays, infotainment, air-conditioning, steering, seatbelts, crash sensors, airbags, parking, etc. They are the brain of nearly all modern electronics.
Every household appliance sold nowadays – refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, dishwashers – all have sophisticated electronic control systems.
Widespread use of specialized sensors, automated equipment, and autonomous vehicles such as drones.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI uses computers to simulate human intelligence. Learning from data — a computer’s version of life experience — is how AI evolves. Deep neural networks require huge computing power to learn to recognize patterns from massive amounts of data.
AI and high-performance computing (HPC) are transforming a number of industries. Self-driving vehicles and drones are set to revolutionize transportation. Advances are being made in health care detection, diagnosis and treatment: enhanced imaging, AI-assisted diagnosis and remote operation. Manufacturing robotics require AI to train more advanced robots. Government security and surveillance agencies use AI to analyze vast quantities of data, whether Internet traffic or video feeds from thousands of locations across a city. China is a leader in surveillance, especially mass real-time facial recognition and traffic monitoring.
The move to mobile with limited keyboards has increased the need for enhanced speech recognition, with Internet giants running vast AI-driven data centers, powering voice recognition applications like Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), Google Now, and Cortana (Microsoft).
Big technology requires investment of billions of dollars in data centers with the latest technology in order to support AI and traffic levels.
Data centers are a fast-growing market for manufacturers of central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs) which are more suited to AI-related tasks that require extensive multi-threading.
- 5G equipment
- semiconductors (CPUs and GPUs)
- robotics equipment
- data centers
- autonomous vehicles
- voice recognition