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Week In Review: Design, Low Power

Nvidia’s Arm acquisition off; Intel’s foundry ecosystem; Infineon gets NFC patents; quantum co D-Wave to go public in SPAC deal.

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Nvidia’s proposed acquisition of Arm is officially off. The deal faced significant pushback from regulatory agencies in the UK, USA, and Europe, which feared it would reduce or limit competition in areas like data center. Nvidia indicated it would continue working with Arm, and it will retain a 20-year Arm license. (SoftBank will retain the $1.25 billion prepaid by Nvidia.) SoftBank said it will start preparations for a public offering of Arm by March 31, 2023.

Concurrently, former CEO Simon Segars stepped down, and Rene Haas appointed as CEO and member of the board of directors. Haas has served as president of the Arm IP Products Group since 2017 and joined the company in 2013. “Rene is the right leader to accelerate Arm’s growth as the company starts making preparations to re-enter the public markets,” said Masayoshi Son, Representative Director, Corporate Officer, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp. “I would like to thank Simon for his leadership, contributions and dedication to Arm over the past 30 years.”

Tools & IP
Intel Foundry Services launched its Accelerator ecosystem alliance to partner with EDA, IP, and design services companies on solutions optimized for IFS processes and packaging technologies. The Intel process-specific IP portfolio includes standard cell libraries, embedded memories, general purpose I/Os, analog IP, and interface IP. The founding companies in the EDA Alliance are: Ansys, Cadence, Siemens EDA, and Synopsys. In the IP Alliance: Alphawave, Analog Bits, Andes, Arm, Cadence, eMemory, M31, SiFive, Silicon Creations, Synopsys, and Vidatronic. In the Design Services Alliance: Capgemini, Tech Mahindra, and Wipro.

Intel will also be pouring $1 billion into early-stage startups and established companies building technologies for the foundry ecosystem in a collaboration between Intel Foundry Services and Intel Capital. The fund will prioritize companies building IP, software tools, chip architectures, and advanced packaging technologies. Intel also announced partnerships with several companies focused on enabling modular products with an open chiplet platform and supporting design approaches that leverage multiple ISAs, including x86, Arm, and RISC-V.

The CXL Consortium will incorporate the assets of the Gen-Z Consortium and the Gen-Z specification. The Gen-Z specification will be posted as an archive on CXL Consortium’s public website for five years. Compute Express Link (CXL) is an interconnect for high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity between the host processor and devices such as accelerators, memory buffers, and smart I/O devices. The Gen-Z interconnect is designed to provide memory-semantic access to data and devices via direct-attached, switched, or fabric topologies. “We are excited about the future of the computing industry with industry-leading companies focused on developing a single specification to advance interconnect technology,” said Hiren Patel, president, Gen-Z Consortium. “By consolidating all technology assets within a single organization, our member companies can dedicate resources to one industry organization and eliminate the risk of duplicated efforts moving forward.”

Memory
Rambus reported fourth quarter and fiscal year 2021 financial results. For the quarter, revenue was $91.8 million, up 48.3% from the fourth quarter last year. For the full year, revenue was 328.3 million, up 33.3% from the previous year. “Rambus delivered an outstanding fourth quarter contributing to an exceptionally good year, driven by excellent execution and record product revenue,” said Luc Seraphin, chief executive officer of Rambus. “The record cash generation fuels our ongoing strategic investment in scaling the business, returning value to stockholders, and extending our product roadmap to enable continued profitable growth.”

sureCore introduced its new technology for in-memory computing. The company said the solution, called CompuRAM, embeds arithmetic capability deep within the memory array in a way that is compatible with its existing silicon-proven, low-power memory design.

PUFsecurity uncorked the latest generation of its PUFrt, which combines a hardware root of trust with parent company eMemory’s secure one-time programmable memory (OTP) and quantum-tunneling physical unclonable function (PUF). PUFrt provides essential functions like secure storage, root key generation, and high-quality entropy for secure operations with a flexible storage configuration allowing for various usage scenarios, from purely key storage, to a comprehensive bootloader code. Arm selected PUFrt for the secure sub-system in its reference implementation of the Armv9 confidential compute architecture.

Wireless & IoT
Infineon Technologies closed the acquisition of an NFC patent portfolio from France Brevets and Verimatrix. All patents are related to near field communication (NFC) technologies: either technologies embedded in an IC such as Active Load Modulation (ALM) or technologies that enhance NFC usability at the user level. “The acquired patents will not only increase our visibility in connectivity and IoT but is another step towards our IP leadership in device authentication,” said Thomas Rosteck, President of Infineon’s Connected Secure Systems division.

The MIPI Alliance updated the MIPI Camera Serial Interface 2 (MIPI CSI-2) interface. CSI-2 v4.0 adds an always-on imaging solution that operates over as few as two wires to lower cost and complexity for ultra-low-power machine vision applications. It also adds multi-pixel compression for the latest generation of advanced image sensors and RAW28 color depth to provide improved image quality and signal-to-noise ratio. It targets applications in multiple application spaces such as mobile, AR/VR, drones, IoT, medical devices, industrial systems, automobiles, and client devices such as tablets, notebooks, and all-in-ones.

Keysight’s S8704A Protocol Conformance Toolset was used to submit a 5G new radio (NR) release 16 (Rel-16) test case for verifying mobility enhancements in 5G NR devices to 3GPP. “Access to a comprehensive suite of test cases via common software and hardware tools allows users to accelerate design validation and capture early revenue opportunities,” said Muthu Kumaran, general manager of Keysight’s device validation solutions business. Additionally, vivo expanded its use of Keysight’s 5G device test solutions to accelerate verification of designs that support 5G NR Rel-16 features.

Infineon Technologies and SensiML teamed up to offer a process to capture data from Infineon XENSIV sensors, train machine learning models, and deploy real-time inferencing models directly on ultra-low power PSoC 6 MCUs using the SensiML Analytics Toolkit and ModusToolbox. “Through this collaboration, we look forward to offering a complete suite of the right tools to enable developers and design challenge participants to create tomorrow’s smart IoT devices for a variety of sectors,” said Steve Tateosian, Vice President of IoT Compute and Wireless Business Line of Infineon.

Quantum computing
Quantum computing company D-Wave will go public through a merger with special-purpose acquisition company DPCM Capital. D-Wave is building both annealing and gate-model quantum computers. It also offers quantum cloud service, hybrid solvers, and software development tools. “Today marks an inflection point signaling that quantum computing has moved beyond just theory and government-funded research to deliver commercial quantum solutions for business,” said Alan Baratz, CEO, D-Wave. “We are working with our customers to identify applications with high likelihood of quantum value and to translate those problems to run on the quantum computer and then validate that value. We expect this ‘value creation and validation’ to accelerate as an increasing number of diverse use cases emerge—creating a robust cycle of product delivery, application development, and market growth.” The transaction is expected to result in $340 million in gross proceeds, including a $40 million PIPE, with participation from PSP Investments, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, NEC Corporation, Yorkville Advisors, and Aegis Group Partners. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022. D-Wave will trade on NYSE under the symbol QBTS.

Duke University and IonQ researchers said they have invented a new quantum computing operation with the potential to accelerate several key quantum computing techniques and contribute to scaling quantum algorithms. The new quantum gate is a way to operate on many connected qubits at once and leverages the multi-qubit communication bus available on IonQ and Duke Quantum Center (DQC) quantum computers. It could lead to efficiency gains in solving several quantum algorithms applicable to chemistry, finance, and machine learning.

People
Flex Logix co-founder Cheng Wang has taken on the role of Senior VP and Chief Technology Officer. Previously he was Senior VP Software and Engineering. The company also hired Randy Allen as VP of Software/Softlogic as well as Mike Schroeder as VP People.



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