The Week In Review: Semiconductors

NASDAQ breaks 9,000; GM in talks with U.S. about L5 cars; security issues; NEC-Synopsys deal.


The tech-centric NASDAQ index this week broke 9,000, which was a first. Key to the latest run-up were reports of a breakthrough on the trade war with China and continued low interest rates.

Chuck Peddle, who helped democratize computing and fuel Moore’s Law with his $25 processor chip, passed away last week. Peddle designed the MOS Technology 6502, which was the basis for the KIM-1 single-board computer, and the Commodore PET personal computer. Competitors at the time were selling their chips for $300-plus. Peddle’s $25 chip is credited with jump-starting the PC market. He was 82.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in talks with General Motors about rolling out Level 5 vehicles with no steering wheel or human controls, according to a Reuters report.

ANSYSmobility solutions will be on display at CES 2020. Its Autonomy will be part of demos in at BMW’s booth, FLIR Systems (as part of a physics-based thermal camera model for validating automotive systems), NXP Semiconductors (ANSYS Autonomy running on the NXP BlueBox, used in simulating virtual miles driven, and found in high-fidelity physics closed-loop, open-loop, SiL & HiL simulations), and AEye as part of the AEye iDAR technology that showcases hazard detection in a virtual world. Other companies are Edge Case Research, which will demo ANSYS SCADE Vison powered by Hologram for edge-case detection in AV perception systems as part of a highway driving autonomous closed-loop demonstration. ANSYS will also be at Blackberry Limited (QNX) in a lane departure warning system demo that shows off the digital safety workflow to validate the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) features in closed-loop simulation. Embotech will show motion planning that uses GPS data with sensor information for predictive path planning.

Intel is working with Universal Studios Hollywood on shooting star drones for a Harry Potter light projection experience.

Boeing pushed out its CEO, Dennis  Muilenburg, following missteps in handling post-crash issues with Boeing 737 Max. The saga of the crashes combines a faulty electronic flight system (the MCAS), lack of pilot training, pressure on the FAA, and post-crash initial denials and unrealistic promises for fixes. Boeing’s Board of Directors named David L. Calhoun as CEO and president of the company. In other news, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s space capsule landed safely on ground at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range, rather than in water — a first for a U.S.-commissioned space flight. Despite failing to dock with International Space Station (ISS) because of timing issues after it separated from its rocket, the Starliner deorbited and arrived back on Earth in one piece. A dummy human — an “anthropometric test device” says Boeing — with sensors collecting data was seated in the commander’s seat for the entire mission to prove Starliner is safe for humans. The Starliner is intended to shuttle crew to and from the ISS and has competition from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which already has delivered supplies to the station.

Data privacy and trust seem to be a major concern between consumers and auto manufacturers, a study from ENGINE Insights concluded. ENGINE Insights is part of the media and marketing firm ENGINE Group, which says it too is “driven by data.” The study concluded that 65% of car buyers have connected devices and that “65% of all recent and intending car buyers have a strong interest in understanding how their personal information is handled by companies.”

“We’re at a turning point for driving surveillance: In the 2020 model year, most new cars sold in the United States will come with built-in Internet connections, including 100 percent of Fords, GMs and BMWs and all but one model Toyota and Volkswagen,” The Washington Post recently wrote The newspaper tore down a Chevy to figure out what data was being collected and what was happening to it. “Cars now run on the new oil: your data,” wrote WaPo Technology Columnist Geoffrey Fowler.

Josephine Wolff, an assistant professor at Tufts University‘s law school, wrote in the New York Times that high-level security personnel in the U.S. Government are leaving in droves, opening the door to Russian hacking of elections.

NEC signed a deal to use Synopsys‘ Zebu emulation solution for verification of its HPC hardware and software. NEC’s SX-Aurora TSUBASA is a modular system of vector engines on PCIe cards, with different cores connected to HBM2 memories using silicon interposers.

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