Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

Foxconn chip venture; six levels of AVs; automotive cybersecurity standards; falling rockets.


Pervasive computing — IoT, edge, cloud, data center, and back
Foxconn (also known as Hon Hai Technology Group) is forming a joint venture (JV) with Yageo Group, a component production and process management company for EVs and other high-end electronics, to focus on the development of semiconductors under $2 USD, which they call “small ICs.” Through the JV, a new company called XSemi will develop semiconductors to provide a stable supply to both companies and other customers. According to a press release. “Hon Hai has built capabilities within semiconductor equipment, design services, IC design in 5G, AI, CIS (CMOS Image Sensors), and display driver, foundry fabs, and advanced packaging.” Yageo brings component production and sales. “Yageo aims to create a one-stop shop for its customers,” said Yageo chairman Pierre Chen in the press release. “That and through this joint venture, we will further provide the services and products that meet customers’ need for supply chain optimization.” Yageo will add to its passive components into semiconductors. The JV will be based in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

In April, Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer known for assembly of Apple products, announced it was scaling back a $10 billion project in the U.S. state of Wisconsin to $672 million that was initiated in 2017 that was supposed to provide 13,000 jobs. Now that number has been pared down to 1,454.

Synopsys completed its acquisition of MorethanIP, an IP provider based in Germany that specializes in Ethernet Digital Controller IP, time-sensitive networking (TSN), fibre channel IP, industrial networking, and high precision time-stamping for eCPRI and 5G wireless. The Ethernet IP, which supports data rates from 10G to 800G, will augment Synopsys’ DesignWare Ethernet Controller IP portfolio. The addition of the MAC and PCS for 200G/400G and 800G Ethernet in DesignWare provides a low-latency, high-performance Ethernet IP offering for networking, AI, and cloud computing SoCs.

A research team from Fraunhofer IIS and Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) developed neuromorphic hardware that can detect early signs of atrial fibrillation and help reducing the risk of stroke. The team devised low-power algorithms for a wearable ECG. the chip circuit, and the ReRAM memory. Part of the wearable’s chip sleeps when not in use to save power.

PsiQuantum and Globalfoundries will build a full-scale commercial 1 million-plus qubit quantum computer. The two companies are now manufacturing the silicon photonic and electronic chips for the Q1 system.

RF chip designer Qorvo has acquired NextInput, a Mountain View, California-based company that makes field of force-sensing solutions for human-machine interface (HMI). NextInput’s MEMS-based sensors are in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and other applications.

Automotive & transportation
The levels of automated driving are now six, not five. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) announced that the new standard is six levels of autonomous driving:

  • Level 0: No Driving Automation
  • Level 1: Driver Assistance
  • Level 2: Partial Driving Automation
  • Level 3: Conditional Driving Automation
  • Level 4: High Driving Automation
  • Level 5: Full Driving Automation

The levels in Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles J3016_202104 have been widely adopted by the industry to describe levels of autonomy in moving vehicles. Also in the update, SAE clarified the differences between SAE Level 3 and SAE Level 4, including the role of the fallback-ready user, the possibility of some automated fallback at SAE Level 3, and the possibility of some alerts to in-vehicle users at SAE Level 4. Levels 1 and 2 are now “Driver Support Systems” while SAE Levels 3-5 are “Automated Driving Systems.”

The International Alliance for Mobility Testing and Standardization (IAMTS) is starting the process to develop best practices for automotive cybersecurity testing and validation, specifically for autonomous vehicles. Participation will come from cross-regional (U.S., Europe, Asia) and cross-stakeholder (industry, certification & testing, proving grounds). Members from Cybellum, TÜV SÜD, CATARC, IEEE, and Tallinn University of Technology are participating. “A common problem in security requirements is that they are too abstract and, thereby, underspecified. In the automotive domain, many only prescribe processes and methods but do not show how security can be achieved in a concrete system,” stated Eddie Lazebnik, lead for the IAMTS working group and head of strategy at Cybellum, in a press statement. “In the case of automotive cybersecurity testing, for anyone interested in UNECE WP29 readiness, contributing to the IAMTS efforts to create additional cohesion within the industry is paramount for success.” The IAMTS efforts should fit in with regulatory work around the globe to define cybersecurity requirements for AVs and other mobility systems. Other efforts include Europe’s UNECE Regulation No. 155 Cyber security and cyber security management system and Regulation No. 156 Software update and software update management system; the United States’ NHTSA, which is gathering public comments on its updated draft cybersecurity best practices; and other ongoing work in regulatory and standardization bodies.

Ford and BMW are investing in solid-state batteries to increase range, while reducing cost, according to an AP story. The companies are putting a $130 million funding round in Solid Power, a company working on sulfide-solid-state batteries. Solid state uses solid-ion conducting, instead of the liquid electrolyte. Solid Power is based in Denver, Colorado.

The MIPI Alliance has completed its MIPI Automotive SerDes Solutions (MASS) set of interface standards for automotive displays. The specifications are built on upon MIPI A-PHY SerDes interface, MIPI Display Serial Interface 2 (MIPI DSI-2), and VESA Embedded DisplayPort and DisplayPort (VESA eDP/DP).

Stellantis — the company formed out of the merged Peugeot S.A. (PSA) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) — had a strong 1st quarter despite semiconductor shortages. The company had net revenues of €34.3 billion ($41.4 billion USD). Consolidated shipments of 1,477 thousand units, or 1,567 thousand units. “In our first quarter since the Merger, Stellantis posted strong Q1 2021 revenues with the diverse brand  portfolio driving increased volumes, positive pricing, and improved product mix, despite the headwinds from the  global semiconductor crisis,”  said Richard Palmer, Stellantis CFO, in a statement. The presentation from the quarterly report press event said the company is “continuously monitoring global semiconductor shortage, resulting in loss of ~11% of planned production, or ~190k units; limited visibility of full year impact, but expected that Q2 2021 will be worse than Q1 2021, with some improvement in H2 2021.”

Infineon announced its SiC-based automotive-qualified power module for EV traction inverters, which can save power over a silicon version. The power module has Infineon’s CoolSiC MOSFET technology, which Infineon says offers higher efficiency in inverters with longer ranges and lower battery costs, for vehicles with 800 V battery systems and larger battery capacity. “The 800 V system of the Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) represents the technological basis for the next generation of electric vehicles with reduced charging time”, said Jin-Hwan Jung, head of the Electrification Development Team at Hyundai Motor Group, in a press release. “By using traction inverters based on Infineon’s CoolSiC power module, we were able to increase the range of the vehicle by more than five percent because of efficiency gains resulting from the lower losses of this SiC solution compared to Si based solution.”

NI is acquiring ADAS simulation company monoDrive to boost its autonomous vehicle development and its reach in ADAS and simulation markets. NI also is embarking on a strategic collaboration with Ansys to work on advanced simulation. “Ansys’ simulation solution enables sensor vendors to simulate the fundamental physics of their radars, LiDARs, and cameras from design through manufacturing,” states an NI press release. “Together, NI and Ansys will help solve the complex challenge of recreating real-world simulation to validate sensors and inject data into software and hardware under test in real-time. This shared focus will provide customers with critical insights into how products will perform in market by bridging the worlds of simulated and physical test with more precise outcomes.”

General Motors reported strong first-quarter results, with revenue of $32.5 billion and net income of income of $3.0 billion (EBIT-adjusted of $4.4 billion). CEO Mary Barra told shareholders in a letter that GM, despite a slower first quarter, is reaffirming its guidance for the full year. “We see results coming in at the higher end of the $10 billion to $11 billion EBIT-adjusted range,” wrote Barra. GM is working on an EV Hummer, a redesign for its Bolt EV and Volt hybrid, building EV brands for Honda, and working on a high-volume battery-electric Silverado that will have an estimated 400 miles of range on a full charge for certain configurations. GM continues to work on battery technology, charging stations, and Super Cruise, a hands-free driver-assistance system. GM’s Cruise has an agreement with Dubai to deploy up to 4,000 self-driving Cruise Origin taxis by 2030.

A university research team has reported an IC hardware vulnerability in the fix for speculative execution, which was a cause of Spectre and the similar Meltdown vulnerability. Intel has issues press statements that points developers to the a programming fix.

Synopsys will showcase its new Intelligent Orchestration security automation system that helps teams select the right security tests and perform them at the right time — at RSA Conference, which starts on May 17.

Falling Chinese rocket debris has been a concern since the launch of the Chinese space station. The debris is expected to hit Earth on May 8th. Rocket debris is essentially uncontrollable and hard to track, but China is not the only culprit who leaves junk in space after a launch that is doomed to return. The United States has its share, and Russia ranks number one.

People, companies
The KLA Foundation pledged to donate $550,000 to help supply treatments for COVID-19 patients in India, and has established an internal fund for employees that has already raised $36,000.

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