The need for increased smartphone performance was also a trend in 2016 as consumers captured and accessed significantly more of their photo and video memories enabled by these higher capacities and increased read/write speeds and transfer rates available from smartphone memory cards and mobile memory. The emergence of virtual reality and augmented reality, 3D photography and 4K ultra high definition video has also changed how smartphone content is consumed requiring processors and memory to function at much faster rates. As it relates to mobile trends for 2017, a faster 5G standard, even larger storage capacities for smartphones, and more prominent edge-to-cloud storage models are at the top of this list.
5G closer to reality: Though smartphones are the most connected devices that we use, as it relates to 5G, it is actually more about connecting to "other" Internet devices with sensors. 5G will go well beyond smartphones and into computing devices that are embedded into everyday objects enabling them to capture, send and receive data.
1TB capacity is coming: Today, 256GB of embedded storage is now available in smartphones (can actually extend to 512GB through a combination of embedded storage and microSDs). That's a lot of storage capacity, which a few years ago may have been deemed as excessive and unnecessary. However, consumers today never expect to delete content from applications, images, videos, documents or games. The industry is not far away from having 1TB storage capacities in smartphones and know that consumers will not only want, but demand, terabyte capacities in their mobile devices.
Edge-to-cloud storage: Many consumers assume that all data associated with machine intelligence will simply go to the cloud, which is incorrect as the new IoT model is far more complex. On one hand, the cloud is elastic, ubiquitous and has analytical tools that may help discover hidden secrets in captured data. On the other hand, real-time analytics cannot be performed on cloud-based data due to bandwidth challenges and the amount of data being captured. By the time data gets into the cloud, it is historical, eliminating timely responses associated with real-time information.
Since there are many situations that require instantaneous responses, there is an urgency for real-time analytics to run near the edge of the cloud (or fog as it is deemed) in the form of gateways or aggregated systems. When this occurs, mobile devices will now be equipped to analyze and respond in real-time to a variety of alerts. As better data intelligence and pattern recognition tools are becoming increasingly necessary across all areas of IoT, a deeper understanding of the inherent value in captured data, whether in the cloud or at the edge, will be realised.
Therefore, much of the data and computing will happen at the edge, rather than in the cloud. There will be some sharing of that data that will move into the cloud in the form of machine learning or artificial intelligence, however, in this scenario, edge storage and edge compute models will complement the cloud by capturing data and making local decisions based on algorithms within the mobile device so that the cloud can actually be used for learning. As a result, the decision algorithms are passed down to edge devices for local decisions enabling mobile users to learn what they are doing well and not doing well requiring more storage at the edge and fog.
From 5G becoming reality to mega-smartphone capacities to edge-to-cloud storage models, 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year for data storage in the mobile industry. In fact, given the emphasis that OEMs are now placing on differentiating the CMOS sensor in mobile devices to produce superlative imaging, storage is now at the top of mind for many consumers who have become more conscientious that their mobile devices have adequate storage for storing and sharing. It's not just capturing 2D pictures any longer, but it's now 3D pictures, virtual reality, augmented reality, video, and richer and richer content in general, which means that files have become larger, requiring a lot more storage, but more importantly, high-performance storage.
The writer is vice-president of embedded and integrated solutions at Western Digital. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.