Oct 27, 2020
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
In our Implementing End-to-End IoT with Octave blog, we introduced Octave, an end-to-end framework by Sierra Wireless for building IoT solutions. In Octave’s architecture, assets are connected to devices supported by Octave, which provide compute capabilities and communications with the cloud. Currently, Sierra Wireless’ range of Octave-enabled devices include the mangOH Yellow and Red, and FX30/FX30S, whose firmware incorporates Octave edge functionality. These devices are based around Sierra Wireless’ AirPrime WP7702 low-power wide-area (LPWA) module, powered by the Qualcomm MDM9206 LTE modem. The WP7702 module can also be used as the basis for building custom Octave-enabled devices.
While our Qualcomm MDM9206 is well known for its cellular modem capabilities, it also includes compute capabilities. In a hosted configuration, the MDM9206 is used as standalone modem connected to an external microcontroller (MCU) (i.e., the MDM9206 is connected to and controlled by an external MCU). In a hostless configuration, both the modem and MCU capabilities of the MDM9206 are utilized (i.e., the MDM9206 doesn’t depend on an external MCU to control it).
Let’s take a closer look at how the WP7702’s hostless integration of our MDM9206 helps the WP7702 fulfill Octave’s edge-device requirements.
Octave at the edge
An IoT edge device should really have three fundamental capabilities: some degree of compute power, the ability to connect to assets, and cellular Internet connectivity. Octave edge devices fulfill these needs because they are effectively mini-computers, complete with an operating system, various IO mechanisms, and cellular connectivity.
To implement Octave’s edge logic on WP7702-based Octave-enabled devices, Sierra Wireless’ edge devices run Legato, an open source platform for building IoT applications. Since Legato is designed to run on top of embedded Linux distributions, Octave-edge devices run an embedded Linux distribution created using the Yocto Project.
Our underlying MDM9206 that powers this edge functionality includes an ARM Cortex A7, 2G through 4G support via EGPRS and LTE technology and power management modes. It also has hardware-level security features including the Qualcomm® Crypto Engine Core, Qualcomm® Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), and secure boot features. At the OS level, our MDM9206 supports both Linux and ThreadX RTOS.
To run the MDM9206 in a hostless configuration, developers can use the Qualcomm LTE for IoT SDK to gain access to the platform’s rich functionality. The API included in the SDK provides interfaces to the MDM9206’s vast capabilities including networking services (including HTTP/HTTPS, TLS/DTLS and MQTT), OS services (file system, USB), location (GNSS), board support package services (including UART, SPI, I2C, ADC, and temperature sensor), a service layer for device management (OMA LWM2M), as well as other capabilities used in IoT app development. It is these capabilities which allow IoT devices like those from Sierra Wireless to run frameworks like Legato.
The SDK also provides built-in connectivity to common cloud providers which are accessed through the API. These are made available through pre-integrated cloud device agents which Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI) has implemented and included with the SDK. Behind the scenes these are made available via shim layers as illustrated here:
The benefit of including connectivity to cloud providers is that developers can focus on solving IoT problems, while still having the flexibility to write their own shim layers to interface with other cloud providers. In a system like Octave, which has a sophisticated cloud backend, this built-in cloud connectivity provides Octave-enabled edge devices the ability to communicate IoT data to Octave’s cloud services. Octave further optimizes device edge-to-cloud communications for IoT by minimizing message transfers where possible, allowing developers to batch and/or filter events (to further minimize messages), and providing a message-based pricing model tailored to the needs of IoT communications.
Although our MDM9206 is commonly used as a modem, its real potential is realized when its compute capabilities are utilized as well, which is illustrated by its use in the WP7702 module by Sierra Wireless that powers Octave-enabled devices. Furthermore, Octave is a concrete example that showcases how our MDM9206, in conjunction with our LTE for IoT SDK, provides developers with device edge-to-cloud communications to build powerful IoT edge devices and ultimately end-to-end IoT solutions.
For additional information, be sure to check out the following resources: