At electronica India 2017, Renesas Electronics India unveiled its latest automotive and smart city solutions. The Digital India programme is powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and as part of this effort, resources are being devoted to developing Smart Cities. Software and apps are needed to manage the millions of things on the internet. With the Renesas Synergy™ Platform, Renesas’ original platform that was highlighted at the show, system manufacturers involved in Smart Cities and IoT undertakings can benefit from a complete, qualified platform with fully integrated software, a scalable family of microcontrollers (MCUs), and unified development tools that accelerates the embedded development cycle needed for IoT applications.
Electronics Maker got the opportunity to meet Peter Carbone, Vice President, Synergy Platform Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Corporation, and Yashorajan K, Director at Renesas Electronics India Private Limited, to discuss more about the platform and how it benefits engineers along with its key applications and market growth. Excerpts from interview:
What platform was being displayed at electronica India?
Peter@We displayed the Synergy Platform – a complete integrated and qualified IoT platform, which helps customers to accelerate their development and reduces their development costs. In addition, the Synergy Platform provides a lot of technologies that makes it simpler and easier for customers to participate in the age of IoT. The platform is based on a scalable family of Arm®Cortex®-M MCUs integrated with qualified software using a common Application Programming Interface (API), a choice of leading software development environments, and a broad range of development hardware kits.
Can you share the market growth and applications of this platform since you introduced it to market two years back?
Peter@ We introduced the platform in October 2015, expanded it with over seven MCU groups, and made four new update releases of the software. We also added IAR Systems as one of our tools options. In terms of our activity, the Synergy Platform is now globally introduced, including India since August 2016.
Yashorajan K@The Synergy Platform is an embedded platform for IoT edge devices, targeting four application markets- healthcare, home automation, factory automation, and energy management systems such as electric power and gas meters. Some specific applications include billing automation, lighting control, factory sensor networks, programmable logic control, home appliances, home gateways, and home security systems. In the medical field,the Synergy Platform is being adopted by our customers because of two key features that make the platform attractive for use in medical applications: one is Synergy’s qualified tested software because many medical products go through very strict software qualification tests; the second that Synergy as a platform also offers graphic tools and software libraries for medical appliances in which make use of graphical human machine interfaces. For use of end-products in India, the Synergy Platform also offers local font support for almost every Indian language and graphic font for its graphic tools and libraries. There are a lot of discussions happening on smart metering. We are seeing new tenders come up that require Wi-Fi and GSM. For these applications, we see our customers adopt the Synergy Platform because of its excellent connectivity stacks. We are also seeing more connectivity in consumer products. Today’s consumer products are becoming more intelligent. In the past year, consumer appliances have appeared on the market with either Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity to smart phones or WIFI connecting to home networks. For high-end and even mid-level consumer appliances, connectivity is becoming a key factor. Our Synergy Platform is ideal for development and support of consumer appliances, as it includes a Synergy Software Package (SSP) with wireless connectivity software frameworks for WIFI and BLE.
How is the Synergy Platform unique compared to other platforms?
Yashorajan K@In the past, India was mainly developing standalone devices. Now, connectivity is playing a major role in newly developed devices. With connectivity, a lot of sensitive data needs to be transmitted over the air, so customers want to protect their data – meaning to ensure the data is not being listened to inappropriately, is not being altered unexpectedly, and the true identities of the sender and receiver are correct. Synergy is unique in the market because there are not many platforms that offer so many integrated layers of security. There are extensive hardware capabilities at the MCU level for cipher algorithm acceleration, memory isolation and protection, and secret key generation plus storage. Even if they do offer hardware encryption, other companies do not offer a total and complete platform solution to enable that hardware. Furthermore, the platform stands out because some of the MCU devices have extremely large onchip SRAM up to 640KB. This means customers can build their application and encryption on the platform, eliminating the need to separate the application process and encryption process on different chips. Some of the biometric applications that our customers are developing take advantage of these platform resources.
What is the cost advantage of the Synergy Platform and how does Renesas support the customer?
Yashorajan K@The Synergy Platform has been developed to deliver high security, and security the most important feature for IoT applications.Synergy Platform is the ideal solution as it can do both the encryption and the application on one single chip, which not only eliminates the cost of another device, but is also more secure.
Peter@ Let me also add that from an overall value proposition, our commitment or promise to customers are mostly 3 things- (1) reduce development time, (2) reduce total ownership cost and (3) eliminate complexity or barriers that prevent developers from starting new designs or exploring new markets. Time-to-market is INTERVIEW very critical for successful products. Being the first in the market means a different business outcome in terms of your gross margin and overall market share than being, for example, sixth in the market. The Synergy Platformen ables customers to get their product on the market faster and lead in the market. One of the benefits of using the Synergy Platform is that it takes over much of the developing costs for low-level software below the API, freeing resources for the actual application software above the API instead. The application code is what differentiates products, not the low-level code that is just expected to work all the time, every time.Normally, costs for low-level software can be saved on development tools, software licensing, integration, qualification, documentation, and on-going maintenance. To use the Synergy Platform customers only have to go to the Synergy Gallery website and accept a click-through license agreement to get access to the whole platform.There are no upfront or on-going costs. Customers access a complete set of tools, commercial-based software, support, and maintenance. Without using the Synergy Platform, individual software modules and development tools would have to be licensed separately from multiple vendors with legal contracts, and an annual maintenance fee of typically 20% is required. When customer have technical questions with multiple vendors, who do the call? With Synergy Platform, they only need to contact Renesas for help.
Synergy is a comprehensive, integrated IoT platform that provides all necessary components to reduce the development time and development cost, and is completely tested and qualified. The result for users is faster time to-market and more profit. The platform also provides easier and quicker licensing, and incorporates complex technologies like security, connectivity, and HMI, all of which are lowering barriers for companies to enter the market. With Synergy, Renesas promises: faster time-to-market, reduced costs of ownership and lower barriers to entry for its customers.