Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

MEMS and COVID-19 testing; DARPA AI security; Wi-Fi 6; Flex Logix benchmarks.


Mentor’s parent company Siemens is making its Additive Manufacturing (AM) Network, along with its 3D printers, available to the global medical community.

MEMS is at the forefront of SARS-CoV-2 testing, writes Alissa M. Fitzgerald, founder of AMFitzgerald in a blog on SEMI.org. Fitzgerald points out a MEMS silicon PCR chip, developed by Northrup et. al. at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and licensed to Cepheid, a California-based company that makes a SARS-CoV-2 test that returns results in 45 minutes. The test called Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 now has FDA emergency approval.

Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that manufactures Apple iPhones, will be making ventilators in a Wisconsin factory it owns, according to Bloomberg.

Lam Research committed $25 million to COVID-19 relief and recovery for community and employee relief. The company has implemented pay continuity and emergency fund programs. Intel says it is pledging $50 million. These are just two of the semiconductor industry companies helping out.

Ericsson tells the story of its teams provided connectivity to frontline hospitals in China as the coronavirus was breaking. They supported China Mobile Wuhan and China Unicom Wuhan in launching four base stations for the Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital. The Ericsson team also supported Zhejiang Mobile Provincial Group in installing 5G connectivity in five new hospitals. These hospitals would become the fixed-point diagnosis and treatment institutions for patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

AI and machine learning
At the online Linley Processor Forum, Flex Logix revealed benchmarks for its InferX X1 edge inference co-processor, sampling in Q3 2020. The embedded FPGA IP company says its InferX X1 die size is 1/7th to 1/11th the area of Nvidia’s Xavier NX and Tesla T4s, but can run faster in some cases. InferX X1’s latency for YOLOv3 is similar to Xavier NX. Flex Logix also revealed benchmarking for nnMAX architecture that shows it can be used for DSP acceleration. “Because nnMAX is so good at accelerating AI inference, customers started asking us if it could also be applied to DSP functions,” said Geoff Tate, CEO and co-founder of Flex Logix in a press release. “When we started evaluating their models, we found that it can deliver similar performance to the most expensive Xilinx FPGAs in the same process node (16nm), and is also faster than TI’s highest-performing DSP — but in a much smaller silicon area than both those solutions. nnMAX is available now for 16nm SoC designs and will be available for additional process nodes in 2021.”

NVIDIA became a shareholder in Germany’s AI research center DFKI (Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz or German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence).

Security and AI
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Intel and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) to lead a Guaranteeing Artificial Intelligence (AI) Robustness against Deception (GARD) program team for DARPA. The GARD program is four-year program to improve cybersecurity defenses against deception attacks on machine learning models. Deception attacks “deceive, alter or corrupt” AI, ML algorithms, which is especially dangerous in self-driving cars and semi-autonomous systems.

IoT, connectivity
NXP released its new Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) portfolio for IoT, auto, access and industrial markets. The portfolio includes IoT-focused 2×2 WiFi 6 + Bluetooth 5.

Telenor Connexion’s network, Sony Network Communications Europe and Ericsson are working together smart IoT healthcare devices, using Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator platform for managing the device connectivity. Sony provides IoT cellular platforms Visilion and mSafety, for cellular connectivity and wearable tracking devices.

EDA tool and IP company Synopsys introduced new DesignWare ARC HS5x (32 bit) and HS6x (64 bit) processor IP, based on a new 32/64-bit ARCv3 instruction set architecture (ISA), for high-end embedded applications. Applications include solid-state drives, automotive control & infotainment, wireless baseband, wireless control, and home networking. Synopsys says the 64-bit version of the ISA can support larger addressable memory with 52-bit physical and 64-bit virtual address spaces, and a memory management unit (MMU) can be added. Up To 12 cores can be added to the IP and it supports up to 16 hardware accelerators. Real-time operation is possible.

Aldec’s EDA tool, Spec-TRACER, can now exchange with IBM Requirements Engineering DOORS Next. System engineers use DOORS to manage traceability in products from requirements to testing, so this addition to Spec-TRACER should help hardware teams see changes to the functional specification faster and check to sure they are meeting the traceability requirements of safety standard like DO-254 and ISO26262.

The State of California has awarded self-driving delivery company Nuro a permit for road tests in California. NURO has been test driving its delivery service in Houston, Texas, and in China.

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