As the number of IoT devices and applications increases, so too does the volume of data traffic. At present, 16.3 zettabytes of data are produced and collected every year. One zettabyte is equivalent to a billion terabytes. This figure is set to increase to 163 zettabytes by 2025, as reported in a study by IDC and Seagate.
The demands for processing, transferring, and storing this mass of data are every bit as challenging as might be expected. In particular, the performance of telecommunication networks, data centers, and servers - which together make up the backbone of the IoT - needs to keep improving, combining higher bandwidth with more storage capacity and improved energy efficiency. What’s more, people and companies expect stable, uninterrupted connectivity, which is why all the systems propping up the IoT need to be so exceptionally reliable.
Data centers and server farms have complex requirements: Alongside providing the computing power and storage capacity required by the Internet of Things, they also need to offer maximum security for the data stored and processed within them.
Yet requirements for energy efficiency are becoming more stringent, too. After all, data centers guzzle power. According to EnergieAgentur.NRW, the amount of power required by servers and data centers in Germany will hit 16.4 billion kWh in 2025. The figure in 2010 was just 10.5 billion. High-performance power semiconductors are the answer: They enable high PUE (power usage efficiency) and DCIE (data center infrastructure efficiency). Storing and processing data are not the only power-intensive tasks in this context. The amount of power required to keep servers cool is likewise high because so much waste heat is generated during operation, especially when inefficient voltage converters are used.
Cybersecurity is the second key topic for data centers: In the form of trusted platform modules (TPMs), there are already standardized and certified security solutions available for network equipment (including routers and gateways) that substantially reduce the risk of successful cyberattacks on data centers.
The super-fast 5G mobile-communications standard is the second cornerstone of the IoT. Seamless data transfer in real time is a basic prerequisite for “smart” applications. End-to-end 5G networks are instrumental in ensuring an unbroken connection of people, companies, machines, and automated processes in the IoT. With the technologies used here (such as data transfer in the millimeter wave range, small-cell networks, massive MIMO, and beamforming), 5G offers transmission rates 100 times faster than LTE and data rates of up to 10 gigabits per second. This opens up applications like telemedicine, in which a doctor can even perform surgery over the internet.
At the same time, the new 5G network enables wider bandwidths, meaning that many users can be served simultaneously while also receiving better quality. As such, 5G’s operation is much more stable and reliable. In a smart city, for example, 5G can provide motorists with congestion and accident warnings, as well as information on where to find a free parking space. Vehicles can communicate with one another or with the infrastructure, with fast and reliable data transfer acting as a driver for highly automated motoring. Industry 4.0 is yet another important 5G application. With its interlinked value creation and supply chains, wide-ranging sensor monitoring of production systems and interacting robots, this fourth industrial revolution is reliant on effective communication. However, expanding 5G communication infrastructure’s coverage is necessary for its potential to be exploited to the fullest.
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