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Standardizing LTE modems for IoT

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
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on Wednesday, 06 May 2015
in MBIM

The Ikanos announcement today (D-Link Selects the Ikanos Vx500 Fusiv Processor Family for Its Next-Generation of LTE Routers and Gateways) was doubly significant to me, because they're using the MBIM USB standard for communications between the embedded SoC and the modem. I chair the MBIM committee; it's great to see this work being applied outside the PC world.

I recently (well, back in January) did a presentation for the Wireless Technology Association (formerly PCCA) on using the MBIM spec as part of a strategy for adding LTE support to IoT devices. The announcement reminded me that I ought to post the presentation, so... here it is: Standardizing LTE modems for IoT. The presentation covers the underlying economics, the relevant standards, current status, and next steps, with a particular emphasis on USB standardization.

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A little more on MBIM

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Friday, 20 June 2014
in MBIM

There's been a bit of discussion in the LinkedIn USB Experts group regarding my recent PCCA presentation, "The end of AT? MBIM and the long goodbye to modem emulation."

Sten Carlsen asked me whether we'd referred to the Bluetooth LE (marketing name: "Bluetooth Smart") specification. We didn't, but his question led me to take a look at the specification. Bluetooth LE devices use a profile called GATT, which is conceptually quite similar; but it wasn't something we discussed in the NCM committee. I think, rather, that both groups were influenced by architectural concepts that date back to the Apollo DomainOS of the 1980s. Here's my take on the family tree:

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The end of AT? MBIM and the long goodbye to modem emulation

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 17 June 2014
in MBIM

I presented today at the PCCA Workshop on New Wireless Services and Applications Through Connectivity Management at Smith Micro in Aliso Viejo, CA.  (PCCA is a great organization that sponsors periodic technical workshops for the wireless community.)  My topic: the adoption of MBIM, which is rapidly replacing POTS modem emulation and AT-commands for LTE modules.

The presentation is both historical and technical, tracing the technologies that were incorporated into MBIM, and exploring in moderate depth the technologies and the reasons for its success.

You can get the slides here: pcca-moore-2014-06-17c.pdf

You can get the MBIM specification from USB-IF. The current version is MBIM10Errata1_073013.zip.

(I grew up in southern California, and I dig Raymond Chandler, for example his description of Santa Ana winds:

It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch.... Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks.

The title is a lame attempt at homage.) 

Updates

2014-06-19: I added some additional information about MBIM and Bluetooth LE GATT profile n a subsequent post, A little more on MBIM.

2014-06-18: eliminated duplicate slides.

2014-08-19: correct a mangled link.

Tags: MBIM
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Why MBIM matters for M2M

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 30 November 2011
in MBIM

An interesting article today in RCR Wireless:

German computer expo CeBIT, believed to be the world's largest at more than twice the size of CES in Vegas, reports that participation in its machine-to-machine (M2M) section will double in size next year, for the second year in a row. Announced over the holiday week, the news is a major indicator of the commercial expectations invested in the M2M paradigm. Will that participation double again the next year, bringing eight-times as many M2M companies to CeBIT in 2013 as were there in 2010? That doesn't seem like such a long-shot.

This growth in M2M is a primary reason that I'm excited about the new USB MBIM 1.0 specification.

There's a simple reason. M2M product designers will want to buy modems (to access the cloud) based on what carrier is providing cloud access, and based on local availability of service. Many designers will prefer a standardized modem, and MBIM (by defining a standard control protocol, in place of the ubiquitous but non-standard "AT" command set) will allow them to switch modems with minimal retesting.

In addition to MBIM, another important technology is being adopted. HSIC USB is being widely adopted in embedded systems for connecting to things like connecting to the cloud-access module, and HSIC is both low power and fast. It uses essentially the same host software as normal USB 2.0, but the power consumed is much lower.

This ecosystem of standards, operating at different levels, will make it possible to create an industry of competing and cooperating vendors, and will make it possible for the market to grow very rapidly. Of course, the demand must be there too! But if RCR Wireless is correct, demand will not be a problem.

For more on this topic:

My previous article on MBIM mentions a little more about MCCI's early implementations of device code and our automated test tool MBIMDVT.

Tags: "HSIC USB", M2M, MBIM
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USB Implementers Forum Releases MBIM 1.0 Specification

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 17 November 2011
in MBIM

The USB-IF Device Working Group yesterday published the Mobile Broadband Interface Model (MBIM) V1.0 specification.

It's a big specification -- 225 pages. It has to be: it defines a standard control/data plane for 3G and 4G wireless data modules. Because it allows for interchangeable modules with a common interface (regular USB or HSIC USB, used in MCCI's Catena 1910), the spec will have wide use in M2M applications. In addition, you can expect to see in-box support in Windows 8.

Tags: M2M, MBIM, NCM, USB-IF
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