Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

CISA warning; Biden’s AI roadmap; Apple/Broadcom deal; EV battery lab; electronic counterfeiting; GPNPUs; foldable smartphones; reusable electronics.


The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a cybersecurity warning about Chinese state-sponsored activity impacting networks across U.S. critical infrastructure. “One of the actor’s primary tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) is living off the land, which uses built-in network administration tools to perform their objectives,” the agency said. Hacking efforts have impacted infrastructure on Guam, a U.S. military outpost considered key to a conflict in Taiwan.

Apple inked a multi-billion deal with Broadcom for U.S.-made 5G RF components, including FBAR filters and other cutting-edge wireless connectivity components.

The U.S. Biden administration rolled out an updated roadmap for focused AI research and development. The 56-page report detailed priorities for federal investments, and emphasized “responsible” AI research. Among the stated goals are advancing hardware for improved AI, and creating AI for improved hardware (page 14,15).

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt joined other technology leaders to warn of the dangers of AI in the hands of wrong people. He said AI is an “existential risk,” defined as “many, many, many, many people harmed or killed.”

Automotive Ecosystem

Drawing parallels from the concept of Software-Defined Vehicles, NI rolled out a new test solution, a software-defined battery lab for electric vehicles, tackling issues such as time-to-market, cost, and battery performance. “As battery technologies evolve and scale, companies can accelerate test system development, maximize reuse of battery testing investments, and connect battery data to improve performance through changes to software,” the company said.

Fig. 1: Battery testing equipment. Source: NI

The automotive industry is in the midst of a tremendous and rapid change on many fronts. OEMs are exploring new functions and features to add to their vehicles, including chiplets, electrification, autonomous features, as well as new vehicle architectures that will determine how vehicles are going to be designed from the foundation up. Here’s what all this means for the relationship between the ecosystem players.

Despite prior legal battles, Uber’s ride-hailing and delivery services will soon be available in Waymo’s autonomous vehicles in the Phoenix, Arizona area. In addition, both Waymo and Cruise are seeking approval for round-the clock autonomous rides in San Francisco at a hearing scheduled for June 29.

The automotive semiconductor sensor market is projected to reach US $14 billion in 2028, at a 10% annual compound growth rate, according to Yole. Key drivers are electrification, ADAS, and safety features.

The luxury electric vehicle market continues to heat up. A fully electric BMW i5 will be available this fall, with a range of about 300 miles. Cadillac is rolling out an all-electric Escalade IQ later this year. And Tesla is now selling the first made-in-China Model 3s and Model Ys across Canada.

Ford EV customers will be able to use more than 12,000 Tesla superchargers starting in 2024.


UC San Diego and Purdue University researchers highlight a hidden feature of Intel processors that can be used to protect against attacks, including Spectre. “With a small change in how we generate code we can now run two threads together on the same processor core, and it is impossible to leak data through the branch predictor, or to induce mispredicts to launch a Spectre attack,” said Hosein Yavarzadeh, a UC San Diego Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Ph.D. student and lead author of the paper.

University of Florida researchers address electronic counterfeiting in this recently published open access report, focusing on various anti-counterfeiting methods such as LDO-based odometer classifying ICs as new or aged, the use of PUFs, and the use of camouflaged digital gates.

Awareness about potential security vulnerabilities is increasing, but so is the complexity with heterogeneous integration and the increased reliance on semiconductors in critical applications.  This roundtable of experts discussed the impact of heterogeneous integration, more advanced RISC-V designs, and a growing awareness of security threats. 

CISA and other U.S. government agencies published an updated StopRansomware Guide, touting a one-stop resource to help organizations reduce the risk of incidents.

Gartner named Synopsys a leader in the “Magic Quadrant for Application Security Testing.”

Axiado introduced the AAX3000 and AX2000 trusted control/compute units (TCUs), claiming a “new category of forensic-enabled cybersecurity processors” that pack more security features into a single chip.

Pervasive Computing

Quadric debuted its Developer Studio, an online collaborative development environment for Chimera general-purpose neural processing units (GPNPUs). The platform integrates machine learning with DSPs, which speeds up construction of complex signal chains.

Flex Logix’s CTO explored key transformer compute requirements at this week’s Embedded Vision Summit, highlighting improvements over traditional CNNs.

MIPI DevCon is returning to Silicon Valley on June 30, offering MIPI specification training and networking for developers, system architects, and engineering managers.

Foldable smartphones shipments are expected to reach 19.8 million units in 2023, a YOY growth rate of 55% according TrendForce. The new Google Pixel Fold is a recent entrant, featuring a Google Tensor G2 chip with security core, 7.6-inch screen, 10-bit HDR video, dual screen translation (later this year) and more.

Electronic waste is a massive problem, particularly in the medical electronics sector. Researchers at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland developed a biodegradable electrocardiogram (ECG) with removable and reusable electronics.  “The skin patch is made of plant-based materials (i.e. nanocellulose) which degrades in soil and repulps in water through a controlled process for easy recycling. Both the conductors and ECG electrodes, which are visible in the skin patch were realized using carbon ink,” VTT says.

Fig. 2: Hybrid wearable ECG patch consists of removable and reusable electronics and biodegradable single-use skin patch. Source: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Drone swarm attacks don’t just happen in movies The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory recently demonstrated a high-power microwave directed energy defense weapon called THOR (Tactical High-power Operational Responder), specifically engineered to defend against drone swarms.  “The THOR team flew numerous drones at the THOR system to simulate a real-world swarm attack,” said Adrian Lucero, THOR program manager at AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate. “THOR has never been tested against these types of drones before, but this did not stop the system from dropping the targets out of the sky with its non-kinetic, speed-of-light High-Power Microwave, or HPM pulses.” (To see what a drone attack may look like, check out the beginning of the movie, Angel Has Fallen).

Fig. 3: THOR, high-power microwave counter drone weapon. Source: Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) 


Find upcoming chip industry events here, including:

  • Hardwear.io Security Trainings & Conference, Santa Clara, CA: May 30 – June 3
  • Apple Developer Conference June 5-9
  • RFIC Symposium, San Diego, CA: June 11 – 13
  • MIPI DevCon 2023: Mobile and Beyond, San Jose, CA: June 30

Upcoming webinars are here.

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