Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

SMIC on DOD blacklist; Intel Labs Day; Ericsson on 5G — 60% world access in 2026.


The United States Department of Defense added China’s SMIC to its blacklist for its alleged cooperation with the Chinese military, reports Reuters. U.S. investors are asked not to invest in SMIC, among 35 other companies based in China on the list.

Intel Labs launched the Private AI Collaborative Research Institute with Avast and Borsetta, to advance and develop technologies in privacy and trust for decentralized AI. Nine research projects are funded, spread over eight universities. One goal is to find a way to access private data across separate entities and glean information that can be shared from the data and used for AI training while that data remains private — called confidential computing or federated learning. “Federated learning and homomorphic encryption are two security-focused research initiatives that expand on today’s confidential computing to eliminate additional barriers that prevent free and full sharing and use of data,” according to Intel Labs Day 2020. Through the research, Intel Labs hopes to find techniques that viable on the edge.

Intel Labs also unveiled a machine programming debugger of code, called ControlFlag, that will eventually automatically find bugs and fix them. Intel Labs explained its machine programming project as a code debugger that is self-supervised.

China’s Chang’e-5 landed on moon, took some samples, and will rendez vous with the Chang’e-5 orbiter before returning to Earth. These samples will be the first brought back from the moon since the 1970s.

The iconic Arecibo Observatory telescope collapsed on December 1st when main cable failed. The observatory is in Puerto Rico and is under the care of the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Pervasive computing — Data centers, cloud, 5G, edge
5G is progressing, concludes Ericsson in its November 2020 mobility report, projecting that by 2026 four out of every ten mobile subscriptions will be 5G. “By the end of this year, more than 1 billion people — 15 percent of the world’s population — will live in an area that has 5G coverage rolled out. In 2026, 60 percent of the world’s population will have access to 5G coverage, with 5G subscriptions forecast to reach 3.5 billion,” according to a press release.

Synopsys and Samsung Foundry announced a signoff flow for 5 nm and 3 nm that focuses on 5G, AI, and high-performance computing SoCs. The flow uses using Synopsys’ Fusion Design Platform.

Xilinx acquired Falcon Computing Solutions, whose high-level synthesis (HLS) technology for compilers Xilinx plans to integrate into its Vitis platform. Still in the works: AMD has agreed to purchase Xilinx.

Rockley Photonics, which makes integrated photonic solutions for data centers, used Cadence’s system analysis and custom tools to design a system-in-package for hyperscale data centers. The complex system-in-package is made up of discrete chiplets connected through a high-speed 112G PAM4 serial interface.

Orbotech, a KLA company, released new tools for roll-to-roll direct imaging and laser cutting of flexible printed circuit (FPCs) that can be used to make FPCs found in some 5G smartphones, automotive, wearables, and medical devices.

Renesas announced it added 22 low-power MCUs to its RA2L1 group of MCUs for IoT applications that have a human-machine interface (HMI), such as touch screens in home appliances, industrial and building automation, medical and healthcare, and consumer IoT. The Arm Cortex-M23-based MCUs have Renesas’ second-gen capacitive touch sensing unit, which senses through acrylic or glass panels more than 10 mm thick. Other HMI choices are proximity sensing (hovering) and 3D gestures to support hygiene or safety limitations, says Renesas in a press release.

Andes Technology and Imperas are beefing up Andes Custom Extension (ACE) developer environment with access to Imperas’ fast simulators. Andes makes extensible 32/64-bit RISC-V CPU cores. Before silicon is available, software teams can start building software using the ACE environment with Imperas’ simulators.

California-based startup BrainChip said in an email announcement that it completed RTL of its Akida Neuromorphic System-on-Chip (NSoC). The company’s manufacturing partner Socionext America (SNA) will complete the physical device design and pass it along to TSMC to create masks and fabricate the wafers.

Edge AI development software company Cartesiam announced the availability of classification libraries for direct implementation of AI on Arm Cortex-M MCUs. The libraries are part of NanoEdge AI Studio V2, the integrated development environment that streamlines creation of machine learning and inferencing for IoT and edge. NanoEdge V2 also has anomaly detection and classification already in industrial IoT (IIoT) embedded devices in production with via NanoEdge AI Studio V1. Cartesiam also launched its Use Case Explorer, a free web-based platform where teams can download real datasets and try NanoEdge AI Studio V2 on representative use cases.

STMicroelectronics is adding FreeRTOS thread-aware debugging to its STM32CubeIDE, a free development environment for embedded systems that need an RTOS (real-time operating system). FreeRTOS is a simplified, lightweight open source RTOS used by both hobbyists and professionals. The debugging helps bring up systems that need cybersecurity and has wireless connectivity, user-interface graphics, and multiple operating modes.

Semiconductor analytics company PDF Solutions said it has closed its deal to acquire Cimetrix, which specializes in connectivity and control equipment for smart factories. Cimetrix has customers among the world’s largest semiconductor device makers and capital equipment manufacturers.

People, companies
Imagination has hired Tim Whitfield as its chief of engineering.

Silicon Integration Initiative named Leigh Anne Clevenger as director of OpenStandards, effective January 1, 2021. Jerry Frenkil, who served in role since 2015, will continue as an Si2 advisor.

Current U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai says he will step down when the new U.S. president is inaugurated in January 2021.

The Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) announced its 2020 award winners via video conference, although the group declined to name a lifetime achievement winner this year because it preferred an in-person award. AMD’s Lisa Su passed the baton of the GSA chair to Arm’s Simon Segars, who pledged to continue Su’s efforts to broaden membership and leadership over more markets and geographies, including reaching out to Google and Apple. Under Su’s leadership, the GSA board expanded to include software companies, such as Microsoft, and large multinational semiconductor companies. The membership has risen 15% in the last two years. Segars also spoke about adding an interest groups for AI. Prominent in the ceremony was GSA’s initiative to increase representation of women in the industry. The Women’s Leadership Initiative — launched through Su, GSA CEO Jodi Shelton, and other industry leaders’ efforts — is a practical set of career-building resources to help women succeed on an equal footing. That includes pay equity, spelled out in a CEO pledge played during the ceremony. Awardees were Jaya Jagadish, CVP, Silicon Design Engineering, AMD India Engineering Lead for the Rising Women of Influence Award; Cerebras Systems (Start-Up to Watch); SiFive (Most Respected Private Semiconductor Company); Nvidia won three awards for respected, well-managed company $5 Billion in Annual Sales. Inphi made a good showing. For other awards, see the video of the ceremony.

Videos of the week

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