As manufacturers of electronic gadgetry continue to explore ways to shrink their wares, every conceivable component is scrutinized to try to figure out ways to minimize the size required. In the world of smartphones we have seen manufacturers do things like combine layers in the display screen or get rid of audio jacks in the name of slimming down devices. Chip design company ARM has announced they have developed some new specs to help companies save space that would otherwise be devoted to a SIM card. The design that ARM came up with would let an iSIM be built right into a processor chip alongside all the other specialized processing units.
Shrinking the size of the SIM card has been going on for a while now. In recent years the smartphone industry has moved to the use of nano-SIMs that measure about 12.3 x 8.8mm in size. That is not too terrible, but there is a lot of additional hardware – the slot and connectors – that adds to the requirements for a SIM card. The next wave in the traditional SIM card path that appears to in the works is the eSIM, which is a 6 x 5 mm version of a SIM card. These have started to see use in some tablets and wearable devices and even in the Pixel 2 phones from Google.
ARM thinks manufacturers can benefit from a jump away from actual SIM cards, no matter how small, to having the technology built right into a processor chip. As ARM describes them, the new iSIM would take up a “fraction of a millimeter squared” when built onto a chip. ARM also points out that cost savings will be achieved as the cost the SIM card would move from “tens of cents” to something in the single-digit range.
Part of ARM’s goal with trying to make it easier and more ubiquitous for SIM card circuitry to be available is to encourage the use of cellular service on devices other than the traditional smartphones, tablets or some wearables. ARM clearly sees a proliferation of Internet-of-Things connected devices coming, each needing their own service with a wireless carrier.
ARM says they have already shared the designs necessary for their partners to implement iSIM on their chips and they are hopeful manufacturers will start to include them by the end of the year. The next big step will be convincing the wireless carriers to support the new technology. ARM says the iSIM meets the carriers’ standards and should be welcomed.
source: The Verge