As we all know, our mobile phones and global broadband communications are marching rapidly toward 5G, the next big step-up in function that’s already arrived globally in major cities. But at Micron’s Insight 2019 conference last fall, four industry leaders in mobile technology discussed how rolling out 5G to expand coverage and enable a better user experience was only a fraction of their companies’ focus. It’s the potential for innovation, they said. For 5G to be truly revolutionary, technology must enable intelligent computing in network edge devices. It requires expanding this faster network into a new world ecosystem.
The “5G: Accelerating Intelligence at the Edge” panel discussion was moderated by Raj Talluri, senior VP and general manager of Micron’s Mobile Business Unit. Joining Talluri were Noel Kenehan, VP of Technology & CTO at Emerson; Rokeya Jones, senior principal group director of 5G at Microsoft; and Dr. Rasmus Hellberg, senior director of Tech Marketing at Qualcomm.
The potentially huge scale of the innovation triggered by 5G set off a particularly lively conversation about predictions. “Let’s talk about the killer app that will come in 5G. Do we even know what it is yet?” asked Raj.
Kenehan grew expansive with his answer. “I think it’s important that we don’t decide what the innovation will be, that we have it as open as possible. From a very concrete perspective, 5G is to industries what 4G was to consumer and the smartphone and so on. I think we’re going to see huge innovation and change.” The internet of things (IoT) and industrial uses dominated his suggestions. “A lot of use cases around smart manufacturing, and I like the cross-over between consumer and industrial. If we look at things like AR, having devices and having a lot of processing offloaded at the edge … We’ll have amazing things for consumers … but now the industrial side is going to see an amazing shift.”
Jones agreed from her perspective at Microsoft. “We focus on building tools for our developer audience. It’s all about developers being able to be their true selves, bring innovation from diverse areas of their life, and creating something we don’t see today.” She gave an example, “Like drone automation. We know that’s going to be amazing; that’s going to be an awesome thing. We know smart cities and autonomous vehicles of all kinds, whether that’s a car, a scooter, a bicycle [will be key] … For me the next-gen API would be creating an application where those things can talk together.”
Hellberg promised that Qualcomm is also very focused on what’s next. “The second phase of 5G is to bring 5G to new industries, new use cases and new deployment types. Like, smart transportation with direct communication between cars and infrastructure. Also, the industrial IoT with control of mission-critical things where you bring in this new link that has 0.99999 reliability and sub-millisecond latency to control things like ADAS and so forth.”
For those attending CES 2020, the common theme here is intelligence at the edge of the network. Look at the devices available now and on the way that need innovations in memory and storage to enable compute at the edge. 4G enabled speed and low latency. But with 5G, you can do all those things, in parallel, to an extent you couldn’t have done before. “I think we will have an amazingly rich mix of not-very-smart devices that I can now offload and have next-gen experiences with because I have very low latency in edge compute, and I can render at the edge,” said Kenehan.
Watch the “5G: Accelerating Intelligence at the Edge” panel from Micron Insight 2019 and let us know your thoughts and predictions.