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Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

Arm’s future; EU mobile data tells COVID-19 story; DARPA bug fest; Rambus, Flex Logix IP.

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Arm‘s parent company, Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank, reportedly is considering a sale or IPO of its Arm subsidiary, which it purchased in 2016 for $32 billion in cash. Considering that Arm chips are in most smart phones, as well as an increasing number of computers and IoT and edge devices, this development is being closely followed by most of the tech world. Last week, Softbank directed Arm to take spin off its IoT groups and concentrate on chips. “SoftBank is weighing various options to raise money from Arm, including a full or partial sale of the company, or a share offering,” says an article in the Nikkei Asian Review. The U.S./China tension is a complicating factor.

Pervasive computing — data center, edge, IoT
The European Union’s  European Commission released a report of findings about mobility and COVID-19 spread, gleaned from anonymized data provided to the Joint Research Centre by 14 mobile network operators in 19 EU Member States and Norway. “The data has provided clear evidence on the impact of mobility on the spread of the virus,” according to the EU’s press release. “It shows that mobility alone can explain the initial spread of the virus in Italy, France and Spain. The results also show that the containment measures taken by governments and regions, including physical distancing and mobility restrictions, were efficient in limiting the spread of the virus.”

Rambus added IP for 112G XSR/USR PHY on TSMC’s 7nm into its high-speed interface IP portfolio. The PHY, which can be used for die-to-die (D2D) and die-to-optical engine (D2OE) connectivity over Extra Short Reach (XSR) and Ultra Short Reach (USR) channels, may enable chiplets and co-packaged optics (CPO) architectures for data center, networking, 5G, HPC and AI/ML applications.

JEDEC Solid State Technology Association released its JESD79-5 DDR5 SDRAM standard for intensive cloud and enterprise data center applications.

To offer narrow band cellular and ultra-wide band technologies to its STM32 microcontrollers and secure MCUs, STMicroelectronics has signed two M&A agreements — to acquire BeSpoon, an ultra-wide band specialist, and the cellular IoT connectivity assets of Riot Micro. STMicroelectronics also introduced its STM32 Discovery Kit to simplify IoT-node connectivity by offering the hardware — sensors and MCU, a qualified port of FreeRTOS, and a ready connection to AWS (Amazon Web Services).

Faraday Technology launched Ariel, a new IoT SoC development platform built on UMC’s 40uLP logic process and Infineon’s SONOS eFlash technology. Included are a Cortex-M4 core, 1MB embedded flash, USB OTG, 12-bit ADC, 10-bit DAC, built-in security, and comprehensive SDK support.

Flex Logix has announced it has designed EFLX eFPGA (embedded FPGA) IP Emulation Models for Cadence’s Palladium Z1 Enterprise Emulation platform. Customers will be able to emulate how their products will function before silicon is available, according to a press release.

AI
China could gain supremacy in artificial intelligence (AI) while being the world’s top producer of rare earth materials — not a good thing for United States, warned the U.S. attorney general in a speech. William Barr, the U.S. attorney general, chided American big tech companies for working with China. Barr believes that many of the economic spoils from AI will go to whomever gets there first. Concern about China is the focus of U.S. federal government officials, according to an article in NextGov, which pointed out three high-level officials’ recent speeches about the danger China poses to U.S.

Tenstorrent, an AI startup, achieved first-pass silicon success for its Grayskull AI processor SoC using Synopsys’ DesignWare PCI Express 4.0, ARC HS48 Processor, and LPDDR4 IP.

Security
The U.K., U.S., and Canadian governments think that COVID-19 vaccine researchers may have been attacked by Russian cyber spies. In other fun, Twitter accounts of prominent people were hacked this week by a social engineering attack.

Arm Research will be working with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on the Automatic Implementation of Secure Silicon (AISS) program. During the four-year program, Arm Research and other participants will focus developing a secure extensible reference platform, a secure verification and implementation reference flow and a fully attested device management workflow supported by an associated design and provisioning infrastructure, according to an Arm press release.

DARPA has gone live with its Finding Exploits to Thwart Tampering (FETT) Bug Bounty program. Pre-approved ethical hackers and cybersecurity researchers will have access to instances of the SSITH secure processors from July to September 2020. The System Security Integration Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program is an effort to break the cycle of constant patching of security vulnerabilities. According to DARPA, “The goal of the program is to develop ideas and design tools that will enable system-on-chip (SoC) designers to safeguard hardware against all known classes of hardware vulnerabilities that can be exploited through software, such as exploitation of permissions and privilege in the system architectures, memory errors, information leakage, and code injection.”

Microsoft sent out patches to its Windows Domain Name Servers (DNS) servers to fix a critical-rated remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability (see CVE-2020-1350).

New Mirai vulnerability variants have been found for routers, IP cameras, DVRs, and other products from multiple vendors, according to an article on DarkReading. The Mirai remote code execution has been around for a while, but these exploitable vulnerabilities are combination of new and old flavors.

AMD and Google Cloud have produced Confidential Virtual Machines (VMs) for Google Compute Engine. The VMs will run on AMD EPYC processors, which have advanced security features. Customers will have the option to encrypt data in-use as it is being processed, as opposed to when at rest and in-transit.

Automotive
Rohde & Schwarz and TSN Systems collaborated to gain precise timing measurements for in-vehicle networks using automotive Ethernet 100BASE-T1. The test setup monitors an automotive Ethernet 100BASE-T1 communication link.

Mobileye, an Intel company, now has a permit to test its self-driving automotive technology in Germany.

Edge-computing company ADLINK Technology is teaming up with Japanese self-driving car software company Tier IV and vehicle platform company AutoCore to design functional safety middleware for autonomous cars and mobile robots.

Swedish company IAR Systems updated its static code analysis tool C-STAT, which is an add on to its IAR Embedded Workbench, to extended coverage for the MISRA C Coding Standard. C-STAT now support the MISRA C:2012 Amendment 1.

People & Companies
Katy Crist, director of marketing and communications at Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL), was appointed to the SEMI Foundation Board of Trustees. Crist currently co-chairs the SEMI Workforce Development/Diversity & Inclusion Council.

NVIDIA named John Dabiri, the Centennial Professor of aeronautics and mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), to its board of directors.

VITEC, a company that develops end-to-end IP for video streaming, has selected Codasip’s Bk5 RISC-V-based core for its digital video solutions.

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