Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

Tesla Autopilot troubles; Retbleed vulnerability discovered; Flex Logix, MS RAMPing security ICs for DoD.


Automotive, mobility
The head of Tesla’s Autopilot division — Andrej Karpathy — resigned from the company after Tesla laid off 200 people in its Autopilot division and the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration broadened its safety investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot. The NHTSA last month broadened its August 2021 investigation, which was looking at why Tesla cars on Autopilot had so many crashes into stationary vehicles that were off the main road, including emergency that had stopped on the side of the road to help motorists. The broadened investigation is now called an Engineering Analysis (EA) to “evaluate additional data sets, perform vehicle evaluations, and to explore the degree to which Autopilot and associated Tesla systems may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by undermining the effectiveness of the driver’s supervision. In doing so, NHTSA plans to continue its assessment of vehicle control authority, driver engagement technologies, and related human factors considerations,” according to the NHTSA. Just last week a 2015 Tesla plowed into the back of a trailer truck that was parked at a rest stop in Florida. The two Tesla passengers died.

NASCAR used Ansys’ tools to simulate virtual crash tests that have validated the safety of its Next Gen race car, which saved time and expense in avoiding real-life crash tests. The simulation tools were also used to create parts. Ansys’s simulation tools are also helping aerospace and defense customers improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions and noise pollution.

Tower Semiconductor and Cadence are working together to build a comprehensive automotive reference design flow for automotive and mobile IC development using Cadence’s Virtuoso Design Platform and Spectre Simulation Platform. Automotive reference flow development to provide a unified design environment for chip and package co-design and simulation. “Cadence and Tower have successfully collaborated for many years, delivering solutions for RF and silicon photonics, which help our mutual customers develop advanced offerings,” said Anirudh Devgan, president and CEO of Cadence. “The mutual work we’re doing on the automotive reference flow focuses on enabling customers to develop critical automotive ICs, leveraging an integrated workflow using an all-Cadence toolset and a Tower reference design to develop compelling products faster.”

Bosch will be investing 3 billion euros in its semiconductor business by 2026 as part of the IPCEI on Microelectronics and Communications Technology. The IPCEI, or Important Project of Common European Interest, is instrument to promotes R&D that fulfills European Union Industrial Strategy. Bosch will fund two development centers – in Reutlingen and Dresden – for more than 170 million euros. The company will also spend 250 million euros to add 3,000 square meters of clean-room space at its wafer fab in Dresden and expand its 300mm chip production in Dresden to make MEMS on 300mm wafers, starting in 2026. The Reutlingen fab has been mass-producing silicon carbide (SiC) chips since the end of 2021 but will begin making gallium nitride for electromobility applications. Bosch will work on systems-on-a-chip, such as the radar sensors a vehicle uses to perform 360-degree scans of its surroundings during automated driving.

The U.S. automotive insurance company AAA released a new study about EVs that shows 25% of Americans say they would be likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next purchase chiefly to save fuel costs. The study also found that anxiety over higher purchase price, the number of charging stations, running out charge will driving, the unsuitability for long-distance travel, battery repair costs, and not being about to install a charging station where they live.

Globally in Q1 2022, electric passenger EV shipments exceeded 1.95 million units, with passenger battery electric vehicle (BEV) shipments up 90% year over year, according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research. Counterpoint says EV shipments will go above 10 million units by the end of 2022 and 58 million units by 2030.

Panasonic will build a EV battery factory in the state of Kansas, in the United States.

Rivian, the electric pickup truck and SUV company, is installing EV chargers in remoter locations for the outdoor enthusiast.

Fraunhofer posted a one-minute video showing the inside of its reliability lab.

Gallium nitride (GaN) power IC company Navitas Semiconductor has acquired Belgium-based VDD Tech, which makes optimized digital isolators for power conversion. VDD Tech uses a proprietary modulation technique to improve size, weight, and system-cost.

SEMI Taiwan launched the SEMI Auto IC Master, a guide to automotive semiconductor and component providers in Taiwan.

Lam Research, Entegris, and Gelest are working together on an advance EUV dry resist technology ecosystem.

ETH Zürich researchers have found a vulnerability that can be exploited on Intel and AMD CPUs. COMSEC, the computer security group of the Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (D-ITET) at ETH Zürich, found Retbleed (CVE-2022-29900 and CVE-2022-29901), a new arbitrary speculative code execution that exploits return instructions. COMSEC says that the software construct invented in 2018 — the retpoline — that was supposed to protect the memory against the Spectre-BTI type attack can be practical to exploit. “Retpolines work by replacing indirect jumps and calls with returns,” writes COMSEC in its blog. “As it turns out, however, Retbleed is indeed practical to exploit.” COMSEC could trigger the microarchitectural conditions on AMD and Intel CPUs that can make returns predictable like indirect branches. They also made tools that could reveal locations in the Linux kernel where the conditions are met. “We found that we can inject branch targets that reside inside the kernel address-space, even as an unprivileged user. Even though we cannot access branch targets inside the kernel address-space — branching to such a target results in a page fault — the Branch Prediction Unit will update itself upon observing a branch and assume that it was legally executed, even if it’s to a kernel address,” writes the COMSEC team.  Affected Intel CPUs are here and AMD CPUs are here. Intel and AMD issued advisories on how to mitigate the issues.

Flex Logix and Microsoft are working together on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)’s Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) program to produce secure ICs. Flex Logix’s eFPGA IP has been used successfully in over a dozen successful tape-outs. “Security can mean a lot of different things. For eFPGA, it means providing a means for keeping circuitry secret by programming the eFPGA in a secure environment,” said Geoff Tate, CEO and co-founder of Flex Logix in a press release. “We’re honored to be working with Microsoft to bring Flex Logix’s eFPGA technology as part of their Advanced Commercial Capabilities project for the DoD RAMP program”

Keysight Technologies says its Keysight Cyber Training Simulator (KCTS) is helping train cybersecurity workers by providing realistic scenarios, in a realistic environment using realistic tools. The KCTS uses Keysight’s BreakingPoint security testing platform and simulator.

The U.S. Cyber Safety Review Board, a new cybersecurity board of public and private experts created by the Biden Administration in the Department of Homeland Security in February, is warning that the Log4j flaw is now an endemic security risk that “be exploited for years to come.” The flaw makes it possible for intruders to access any computer systems.

Pervasive computing
Cadence will acquire Future Facilities, which specializes in cooling analysis and energy performance optimization using data center 3D digital twins.

Google Cloud has adopted Arm Neoverse. Google Cloud customers and developers now have access to Arm’s Tau T2A VMs, using the Ampere Altra CPU, based on the Arm Neoverse N1 core.

Siemens Digital Industries Software added to its Calibre platform for IC physical verification to shift left some of the verification solutions into early stages of design.

Siemens added a new CO2 sensor to its Siemens Smart Infrastructure’s RDG200 thermostat series to monitor indoor air quality and adjust airflow for people in the building at peak use times versus lower use times.

Siemensnew innovation center for research is still being built, but the company celebrated a topping-out ceremony at the building shell in Garching, Germany. (Topping out is a traditional construction milestone.) The building will be a joint research facility with Technical University of Munich (TUM). The research will be about the future of digitalization and innovative approaches to sustainable solutions for Siemens customers. Core technologies such as simulation, digital twins, the industrial internet of things, the future of automation, additive manufacturing, and innovative production processes will be studied.

Achronix is using Ansys’ multi-physics simulation solutions on its latest FPGAs.

Israel-based Inuitive Partners is using Arteris IP’s FlexNoC IP in Inuitive’s next vision processing for edge devices.

Infineon released a new highly-efficient IPOL DC-DC buck regulator power modules with an integrated inductor. TDM3883 and 3885 IPOL are fully integrated single-output buck converters, offering a high-efficiency continuous 3A/4A load capability and line regulation over a wide input supply range (4.5 – 14 V).

Keysight has software and hardware test tools to verify Arm-based 5G PCs that use Windows on Snapdragon Compute Platforms. Also, China’s AI-LINK adopted Keysight’s 5G test tools to validate its cloud-native 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment in a digital twin laboratory environment. A-LINK designs and provides industrial internet of things (IIoT) solutions for large-scale smart warehouse applications, built on 5G and cloud edge computing technology platforms.

Nordic Semiconductor will acquire Mobile Semiconductor, a U.S.-based memory company. Mobile Semiconductor makes optimized embedded memory technology for MCUs and SoCs.

People, companies, industry groups
The Accellera Systems Initiative, the industry EDA and IP standards organization, named Lynn Garibaldi as its 2022 Leadership Award. Garibaldi, the executive director for Accellera, was recognized for 30 years of service and achievements in the Accellera standards organization.

Codasip, which makes customizable RISC-V processor IP, is growing its design team and expanding to Greece. Giorgos Nikiforos is the director of Codasip’s Greece Design Center.

Microsoft has come to a 10-year agreement with DAC (direct air capture) company Climeworks to remove 10,000 tons of carbon from the air and deposit it in the ground in Iceland. The system removes carbon from the atmosphere by pulling air through a filter with a fan and heating the filter to 100°C. The carbon interacts with basalt rock and will solidify into a rock in a few years.  The carbon is released and pumped via water into the ground. And you thought DAC stood for the Design Automation Conference.  

SEMI FlexTech, a SEMI technology community, awarded its 2022 FLEXI Awards at the FLEX Conference held at SEMICON West in San Francisco. University of California San Diego’s Sheng Xu earned the R&D Achievement award for a continuously recording wireless ultrasound patch that conforms to human skin. The patch records central blood pressure waveforms and heart rate variability when wearers are in motion.  E Ink’s color-changing car, the BMW iX Flow, won a “FLEXI” for Product Innovation and Commercialization. CHASM Advanced MaterialsRobert Praino received a FLEXI for being an Environmental Sustainability Champion by promoting sessions on environmental sustainability at FLEX Con planning meetings. Michael Ciesinski contributions to building awareness of FHE and their impact on the larger electronics industry were recognized with a FLEXI for Flexible Electronics Industry Leadership.

Read more news at Manufacturing, Test and Design, Low Power.

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