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Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

Zoox robotaxi; Telechips automotive SoCs with ARM; hackers’ global attacks; blacklists.

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Automotive
Austin, Texas-based automotive startup Uhnder raised $45 million in Series C funding for its digital radar-on-chip.

Telechips, a fabless semiconductor company that works on automotive SoCs, is using Arm’s IP to design its Dolphin5 SoC for ADAS (advanced drive assistance systems) and digital cockpits with in-vehicle infotainment (IVI). Dolphin5 will include the Arm’s Mali-G78AE graphics processor with functional safety capabilities, Cortex-A76 processor, and Ethos-N78 NPU (neural processing unit). Telechips will use ARM Flexible Access, which provides access — without up-front licensing commitment — to various Arm IP safety packages.

Zoox unveiled its bi-directional level-5 robotaxi this week. The company, which has been partnered with Nvidia since 2017 and went through Nvidia’s incubator program, is using Nvidia’s platform for software-defined vehicles with a centralized architecture.

Market research firm Trendforce says EV market (both plug in hybrids and battery electric vehicles) reached about 2.4 million units, a 19.8% increase YoY, with Tesla holding the lead in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

Ford Motor Company’s Spin unit will put Drover AI’s sensor, camera, and onboard computing system PathPilot into its Spin Insight e-scooter platform. PathPilot will be used AI to identify bad behavior in scooter users, including driving on sidewalks, lanes keeping, and improper parking. The ADAS will warn the riders of pedestrians and help with route finding.

With new tools for lidar, Synopsys released its version 9.1 of LightTools illumination design software. “Engineers developing lidar systems can more easily perform time-of-flight analysis. And development of advanced applications for AR/VR, displays, and medical devices is improved with LightTools’ comprehensive polarization analysis,” said Stuart David, vice president of engineering in Synopsys’ Optical Solutions Group, in a press release.

FormFactor, which supplies electrical test and measurement tools for semiconductor manufacturing, is working with T.I.P.S. Messtechnik, a supplier of high-voltage probe cards, on test systems for devices, specifically power semiconductors used in electric vehicles. The collaboration is part of FormFactor’s MeasureOne partnership, that includes Keysight Technologies.

Another option for manufacturing the 2.5D and 3D multi-die chip designs used in automotive, hyperscale computing, and 5G communications now exists. Samsung Foundry certified Cadence’s system analysis and advanced packaging design tool flow for implementation, verification, and signoff of 2.5D, 3D multi-die chips. The flow, which Samsung calls the Multi-Die Integration (MDI) advanced packaging reference flow, incorporates Cadence’s Celsius Thermal Solver, Clarity 3D Solver, Voltus IC Power integrity Solution, and Sigrity SystemSI and Sigrity Broadband SPICE technologies, among others. The flow was verified on eight SerDes differential pairs across a 46mm x 32mm interposer, according to a Cadence press release.

Industrial IoT
OptimalPlus, now part of NIjoined the Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP), an alliance of manufacturing companies working on open standards and platforms for smart manufacturing. OptimalPlus will contribute expertise in big data analytics and the automotive industry. The goal of the OMP collaboration is to create a manufacturing reference architecture to make all the bells and whistles of smart factory interchangeable and open, including IoT connectivity, data structures, and data sharing. Launched in 2019 by BMW and Microsoft, OMP is under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation and has Anheuser-Busch InBev, BMW Group, Bosch Group, Microsoft, and ZF Friedrichshafen on its steering committee. OMP has working groups in ATS core services, IoT connectivity, manufacturing reference architecture, and semantic data structuring.

Pervasive computing — Data centers, cloud, 5G, edge
Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) is using Synopsys’ VCS Fine-Grained Parallelism (FGP) technology on its Arm-based Graviton2 servers to simulate SoCs. Synopsys says its VCS FGP technology is optimized for multi-, many-core CPU platforms on the cloud. “AWS has been an early adopter of Synopsys’ functional verification solutions to accelerate the development of our next-generation datacenter chips,” said David Brown, vice president, Amazon EC2, AWS, in a press release.

Arm says it is moving its production-level EDA to AWS’ Arm-based Graviton2 servers, and that Arm used the service for the first time on its Cortex-M55 CPU, which was released in February 2020. “Our goal ultimately is to move most of our design work to Arm-based cloud services over the next several years,” writes Rene Haas, president, IPG at Arm, in a blog/press release.

Sofics and Hardent have joined Mixel’s MIPI Central, an one-stop shopping ecosystem for developers using MIPI IP. Sofics provides electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection and analog and specialty digital I/Os while Hardent makes video compression IP.

3D NAND manufacturers will soon have a new production tool for better visibility and measurement into the hundreds of millions of deep, high aspect ratio channel holes, which connect layers. Onto Innovation’s Aspect System uses infrared critical dimension (IRCD) technology instead of the traditional optical critical dimension (OCD) technology. Aspect System and AI-Diffract Software from Onto gives high fidelity profile measurements 10 times faster than R&D labs’ X-ray diffraction, says the company in a press release. The system has been purchased by one leading memory manufacturer and more sales are expected in Q1 2021. Read more about 3D NAND business in our special report.

Security
Many departments in United States’ federal government and other entities around the globe were attacked by hackers last week, by accessing SolarWinds Orion product a backdoor that communicates via HTTP to third party servers. American intelligence agencies believe the hackers were working for the Kremlin. Microsoft admitted it had been affected by the hacks but had isolated the code and deleted it.

Separately, the U.S. government blacklisted SMIC on its entity list. The list, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the Department of Commerce  includes Huawei. BIS says it is taking this action to protect U.S. national security, because it says SMIC has too close a relationship to China‘s military industrial complex.

Military/aerospace
U.S. White House issued directive six of its Space Policy Directives this week to clear the way to use nuclear power on the moon and to power other space missions. Called SNPP (space nuclear power and propulsion), nuclear power has before used before in the space program to power probes going long distances, such as Voyagers, New Horizons to Pluto, and Curiosity Mars rovers, explains Space.com. Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) is the technology used to take heat from radioactive decay of plutonium-238 and convert it to electricity — SNPP may someday include a fission reactor sometime in the distant future.

Russia launched an anti-satellite missile test, its third this year.

China will open its radio telescope — called the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) — now the world’s largest after the collapse of Arecibo, to the international science community, reports Space.com.

Standards
The Accellera Systems Initiative’s Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) Working Group completed work on UVM-2020 1.0 reference implementation, which the group focused on aligning with IEEE 1800.2-2020. “The changes in the 2020 LRM are primarily fixes to a small number of API that were erroneously specified in the earlier version in 2017,” said Mark Strickland, UVM Working Group chair in a press release.  “Along with implementing these LRM updates, the new reference implementation addresses some errata that have existed in the UVM-1.2 implementation.” The UVM-2020 1.0 reference implementation can be downloaded for free from Accellera.

3GPP is extending the timeline for Release 17, next 5G specification, because the original scheduled slipped during new work requirements and limitations from COVID-19 pandemic, according to a story in Fierce Wireless.

Video of the week

Job, Event and Webinar Boards: Find industry jobs and upcoming conferences and webinars all in one place on Semiconductor Engineering. Knowledge Center: Boost your semiconductor industry knowledge. Videos: See the latest Semiconductor Engineering videos.

 



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