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Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

Cadence, UMC mmWave reference flow; Maxim Integrated’s ultra-low-power IoT chip; audio chip for ADAS.

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GPU maker Nvidia may be interested in a purchasing Arm, Bloomberg reports, if current owner Softbank, the Japanese investment group run by billionaire Masayoshi Son, is even selling the company. Softbank may have approached Apple to gauge interest, but Apple reportedly said no. The British-based Arm’s instruction set architecture IP dominates the mobile market, especially with Apple is switching from Intel to Arm for its A4 chips.

Pervasive computing — data center, edge, IoT, 5G
Cadence’s millimeter wave (mmWave) reference flow is now certified for UMC’s 28HPC+ process technology. The reference flow is based on UMC’s Foundry Design Kit. The flow includes Cadence’s schematic capture, layout implementation, parasitic extraction, EM analysis and RF circuit simulation, integrated layout versus schematic and design rule checking. A demonstration circuit is included in the flow, which, says Cadence, is highly automated, covering circuit design, layout, signoff and verification. UMC’s 28HPC+ is a high-performance High-k/Metal Gate stack.

Maxim Integrated released its latest Darwin family microcontroller (MCU) — the MAX32666 — for coin-cell-operated IoT devices. The core is a low-power dual Arm Cortex-M4 MCU with floating-point unit (FPU) and Bluetooth Low Energy 5.2 (BLE 5.2). Putting the low power MCU and BLE on one chip will negate the need to use separate chips for power management.

AI
Synopsys shared that its VCS simulation solution with Verdi debug was the tool that startup Graphcore used to verify its second-generation Colossus IPU, the GC200. The IPU, or intelligence processing unit, is claimed to be the most complex microprocessor ever built. It has 59.4 billion transistors and 1,472 independent processor cores. The design is considered to be massively parallel and is used for machine learning.

Security
Jason Oberg, CEO of Tortuga Logic, has been appointed to the board of the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)/Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification (CAPEC). The CWE and CAPEC are sponsored by CISA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Tortuga Logic created a tool that can detect hardware vulnerabilities during chip verification.

Apple is offering hackable phones to security researchers to find iOS vulnerabilities. The controls on the program are tight, however. Researchers have to be part of the Apple Developer Program and have a proven track record in finding security flaws. The phone — always the property of Apple and offered in 12 month increments to researchers — has to stay in a controlled environment, where it can be attached to any tools the researchers want to use. Researchers who find vulnerabilities must coordinate with Apple when to release the news. Apple wants to have a fix ready the same day the news is released. Apple offers a bounty program to pay researchers if they find vulnerabilities.

An attack called Meow is deleting unsecured databases and leaving the word “meow” just for fun, according to an Ars Technica article. Already, 1,000 databases have been deleted.

Automotive
A chip to put audible notifications and sound effects into an ADAS (advanced driver assistance system) and AVAS (acoustic vehicle alerting system) was announced by LAPIS Semiconductor, a ROHM Group company. The new automotive speech synthesis IC in the ML2253x series has a its own system for detecting audio defects plus the amps, communication I/F, logic ICs, and memory. The main MCU isn’t needed to configure voice prompt systems. The chip is also aimed at industrial equipment warning lamps and public transportation information displays.

People & Companies
FormFactor won the best 2019 ATE paper by the TestVision Symposium and presented it at SEMICON West this week. The paper “5G Wafer Test and the New Age of Parallelism” is available here.

ASE Technology joined Apple’s Supplier Clean Energy Program.

Videos of the week:
3 Types Of AI Hardware
All AI chips are not the same, but there are commonalities.
Ins And Outs Of In-Circuit Monitoring
Techniques to predict failures and improve reliability.
EFPGAs Vs. FPGA Chiplets
Which approach works best where.

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