Written by: Robert Heiblim, Partner, bluesalve partners, Chairman CTA Small Business Council

Here at bluesalve partners, we all love CES. Our team has attended almost all of them. The show is always filled with an astounding number of new products, technologies and business opportunities. To help those who attended this year's virtual show but may have missed some highlights, or professionals that did not attend but would like show insights, we will post a series of news and viewpoints to try to help sort it out.

5G Or Not To 5G?

Many of the most important new tech building blocks were on prominent display. For starters, let us point to 5G technology and the many, many new chips on the horizon. The numerous 5G announcements and predictions offered few surprises, considering the immense marketing push by phone makers and carriers that was (and is) already in motion. Backing that up, however, will be a bevy of new, more affordable and more capable 5G enabled phones, coming from all makers. Many of them use more 5G bands to support rapidly expanding networks.

Speaking of networks, much of what we heard from the carriers and their equipment vendors -- think Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, Nokia, Siemens and others – were excited pronouncements about the big capital investment, new lower cost equipment and thousands upon thousands of new towers, repeaters and other infrastructure that will be going up in 2021 and beyond.

The "beyond" part is the one to keep an eye on, because many markets and consumers will still find only limited 5G service in 2021. Many of the promised new applications that were talked about will not appear until the networks can support them. In many cases, they will also require edge computing hubs and centers to be built out, among other technical and market challenges. That said, the advanced applications sounded tantalizing, including latent sensors, automotive connections and ambient health-related monitoring.

All of this was detailed in many talks and presentations, and indeed the benefits and use cases look exciting and solid. The good news is that if you do not need a new phone, there will not be a pressing need to add 5G this year. But next year…!

Chippier Chips

We also saw many new chipset announcements, and not all by the usual big guns such as Intel and AMD. While Intel is still mired in process issues, the company did announce more and even higher powered chipset solutions. AMD made it plain they are back in the game and fighting for a spot in your PC or laptop. Both consumer and business users will benefit from the competition. We already knew that Apple had also thrown its hat into the ring with the M series chips, so look for ever-increasing performance in computing.

AMD also showed more GPU firepower, and Nvidia brought its top-of-the-line GPU tech down to $399 with its latest offering. This means more ability for gamers on their bespoke PCs; a promise of ever better console performance and much better graphics all around. We liked seeing the Nvidia tech in new monitors, and if you are a dedicated gamer so will you. However, that is not the end of new chip announcements by any means. The market seems to be democratizing, with many foundries ready to make chips for all.

Qualcomm showed off its new Snapdragon 888 and also announced that it had acquired Nuvia, a chip startup from some of the ex-Apple team who have brought the A and now M series there. The expanded capabilities of these technologies will result in benefits like OTC hearing aids at very affordable prices and more immersive and flexible audio functions on headphones and headsets.

Not only is this category large and fast-growing, some of these new capabilities will bring relief to millions of people with hearing and other issues at prices they can finally afford. Keep watch on this new chip development because the immense amount of processing power at lower prices also means more machine learning and AI function -- down to the local device level. This will result in much smarter devices, without the need for big cloud providers to know everything you are doing, if you do not want to share.

We'll have more in the next post, when we will cover new display technologies and new immersive audio approaches. Visit us then and stay safe!

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