A look back at mobile innovation
Hardware design and functionality have always driven innovation in mobile. Iconic devices such as the Motorola StarTAC, Nokia N80, SEMC P800 and the Motorola RAZR wowed us with their innovative designs, from the form factor to the antenna to battery management and connectivity such as IR, BT, GPS, Wi-Fi and more.
But the result of the iPhone’s touchscreen is that all phones look alike today, whether they are running Android, Windows or iOS. The mobile industry has thousands of intelligent engineers working on the next great smartphone, but have we settled for expecting all they can deliver is a bigger screen and better camera? No way! And my recent meetings with product developers from some of the industry’s top OEMs showed their imaginations are as creative as ever.
Limits due to tight coupling between hardware & software
So what’s holding back the mobile industry from the next breakthrough in smartphone design? There is a limitation in the tight coupling that still exists between hardware and software. A mobile phone is designed to run on a certain chipset, and a chipset is designed to run a certain operating system. However, with the mobile phone chipsets now packing more power than is needed for a single mobile OS, new opportunities for innovation are possible. At Red Bend Software, we have taken the server virtualization concept and applied it to the mobile world of ARM IP-based devices.
Mobile virtualization provides flexibility
We believe Mobile Virtualization can break the tight coupling between hardware and software, and provide a foundation for innovation in the next generation of smartphones. Virtualization technology can enable multiple operating systems to run simultaneously yet separately on the same hardware. Furthermore, chipsets launching this year based on the ARM® Cortex™-A15 processor will include a dedicated HYP (hypervisor mode) privilege level that guarantees the secure isolation of the different operating systems in their respective domains.
3 recent ideas of this mobile innovation
Mobile Virtualization will enable these innovative mobile engineers to develop devices that are not limited by the HLOS that is running on the hardware. Their imagination no longer has to be limited by the constraints of the “me-too” fever that has gripped the smartphone market. One engineer suggested that instead of porting games to Android they could run a full gaming OS in parallel to the consumer Android on the same hardware, enabling the best of both worlds. Another suggested that the screen on the back of the digital camera could detach and become a mobile phone. A third suggested that combining virtualization with the ARM TrustZone® could extend the trusted world to certify a complete domain.
What innovation would you design into the next great smartphone if you weren’t limited by the tight coupling of hardware and software? It’s time for mobile engineers to take the glory back from the app developers and bring the next wave of innovative mobile devices to market.
What ideas do you have for the next great smartphone?
For another reflection on mobile innovation, read the blog by James Bruce of ARM Happy 5th Birthday iPhone: Innovator and Troublemaker.
ARM welcomes its wealth of Partners in the ARM Connected Community (CC) to submit guest blogs to be published on our multiple community blogs. If interested in participating please submit email inquiries to Tell.Us@arm.com.
The ARM Connected Community (CC) is an extensive ecosystem covering all aspects of ARM processor-based design, from chip implementation through to system and device design. The CC provides a platform for collaborative innovation, with multiple types of forums for members to work with one another, and with customers, to solve industry challenges, all with the purpose of enabling designers to focus on differentiating features and an accelerated time-to-market for ARM powered solutions.
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