Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

Truck chip woes; Bolt recall; Linux vulnerabilities; radar-on-a-chip telemetry; free Waymo robotaxi rides for feedback.


The chip shortage continues to affect automotive OEMs around the world. Ford is cutting production of its F-150 pickup truck. It is not just passenger car production that is affected. The transportation industry will see chip shortages with 5+ month lead times through the end of 2021, according to ABI Research. Some of the shortages will be in telematics chips, due to high demand when 3G sunsets and the Canadian electronic logging device (ELD) Mandate for truck drivers, who are not supposed to drive more than 13 hours consecutively. Other shortages will be felt by the truck and trailer OEMs, who can’t get the chips for modules. “Connectivity, security, and integration are key elements of commercial transport today. Upwards of 17 compute modules are needed for a heavy-duty vehicle and everything from safety systems to engine control and telematics are impacted by these semiconductor delays,” said Susan Beardslee, principal analyst, Supply Chain Management and Logistics at ABI Research.

Self-driving car company Waymo is expanding its autonomous ride-hailing tests in San Francisco by opening up rides in certain city neighborhoods to interested members of the general public who live in San Francisco. The rides are free, but the rider must give feedback. Called trusted testers by Waymo, these rider-volunteers will have access to a ride-hailing app to hail a ride from Waymo’s autonomously driven all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicles. A safety driver will ride along in San Francisco, although Waymo is already offering autonomous rides without a safety driver in in Phoenix, Arizona. Waymo is owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Separately, Waymo announced it won’t try to sell lidar sensors anymore. The company had intended to sell the sensors to non-competing industries such as robotics and farming.

Although the 73% of the 70 million new cars that will ship globally in 2027 will have embedded connectivity, only 43% of those will have an active infotainment subscription installed, according to ABI Research. Over-the-air (OTA) updates are the reason why carmakers need the connectivity in the cars, but they are instead looking at apps, in-vehicle payments, on-demand features, and in-car advertising for revenue stream, according to ABI Research.

The digital radar company Uhnder will be using proteanTecs’ Universal Chip Telemetry (UCT) monitoring on its digital automotive radar-on-a-chip to monitor the chips’ state. Circuits built into the chip monitor for faults and conditions. A cloud-based app and machine learning looks at the UCT data and delivers alerts on faults and other data for OEMs to use in data-driven OTA updates, ECU fault diagnostics, and predictive maintenance.

Electric car and energy-storage system company Tesla filed an application earlier this month with the U.S. State of Texas’ Public Utility Commission to sell electricity to customers in Texas. Texas is on its own isolated energy grid, which had massive problems earlier this year delivering power during a freak cold snap.

General Motors is recalling the EV Chevy Bolt’s batteries in certain 2019, 2020-2022 model year vehicles because the batteries have a flaw that could set the car on fire. “In rare circumstances, the batteries supplied to GM for these vehicles may have two manufacturing defects – a torn anode tab and folded separator – present in the same battery cell, which increases the risk of fire” according to GM’s web site. LG Chem, the battery maker, shares slid nearly 10% on Monday after the news broke.

Foxconn and its subsidiary FIH Mobile have established a joint venture with Stellantis to deliver automotive smart cockpit solutions. The agreement forms the entity Mobile Drive, which will focus on automotive infotainment and telematics. Artificial intelligence-based applications, navigation, voice assistance, e-commerce store operations, and payment services integration are some of the products Mobile Drive will pursue.

Intel has an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to provide foundry services to DOD as part of the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes – Commercial (RAMP-C) program. The program aims to strengthen the domestic chip industry in the U.S. for secure supply of chips for DOD.

The U.S. president met with big tech companies to discuss to how to discuss cybersecurity in the wake of attacks this year. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will work with the private sector Google, IBM, Microsoft, to name a few, to establish a security framework for the technology toolchain. Also, Wiz, a cybersecurity firm, discovered a vulnerability in Microsoft Azure that makes it possible for intruders to change entries on databases online and in the cloud.

Cybersecurity company Trend Micro used its own data lake to study how often devices running Linux were being attacked and with what type of attacks. Looking at over 50 million attack detections, “detections arose from systems running end-of-life versions of Linux distributions,” according to the company’s writeup of findings. CentOS versions 7.4 to 7.9 had the majority of detections (44%), CloudLinux Server (more 40%), and Ubuntu almost 7%. Linux is ubiquitous, in everything from IoT devices to web servers, says the company.

Pervasive computing — IoT, edge, cloud, data center, and back
NAND flash revenues are up 10.8% quarter over quarter thanks to demand from data centers and consumers buying notebooks, according to TrendForce.

Achronix had successful first-pass silicon on its new FPGA for data and AI acceleration. The company used Synopsys’ design and verification tools, along with IP. The 7nm Speedster7t FPGA supports massive data processing for high-performance applications, such as hyperscale data centers.

People, companies
Analog Devices completed its acquisition of Maxim Integrated Products after China’s State Administration for Market Regulation approved the deal.

On Semiconductor, now known as onsemi, will acquire silicon carbide (SiC) producer GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) for $415 million in cash. GTAT will give onsemi’s a secure source of SiC, which is used in EV power supply and charging infrastructure.

Flex Logix appointed Lee Leibig as its vice president of sales for AI inference. He formerly was a sales VP for broadband semiconductors at Broadcom.

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