Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Wearables market; ransomware dispute; BMW & JLR.


Achronix Semiconductor selected the Rambus GDDR6 PHY for its next-generation Speedster7t line of field-programmable gate arrays. The Rambus GDDR6 PHY is used in advanced driver-assistance systems, artificial intelligence, graphics, machine learning, and networking applications.

Arm and Marvell Technology Group will work together on design and development of Marvell’s next-generation ThunderX server processor technology. The companies committed to collaborating in this area through 2022. Arm and Marvell have been working together to provide an alternative to x86 processors for servers. Marvell’s ThunderX2 is based upon the Armv8-A architecture.

Mentor, a Siemens Business, said the Calibre platform’s Physical Verification Suite possesses scalability on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. New benchmarks were achieved during scaling experiments on 5-nanometer test chips and a full reticle-sized 7-nanometer IC production design on Azure. Calibre scaled out on more than 4,000 CPUs, it was said.

Synopsys reports collaborating with GlobalFoundries on developing a broad portfolio of DesignWare IP for the foundry’s 12-nanometer 12LP finFET process technology. The Synopsys Fusion Design Platform is certified by Samsung Electronics for Samsung’s 5-nanometer Low Power Early process, fabricated with extreme ultraviolet lithography technology. Faraday Technology selected the Synopsys SpyGlass Design Handoff Kit for ASIC design service and production.

Internet of Things
International Data Corp. estimates 49.6 million wearable gadgets were sold during the first quarter of this year, a 55.2% increase from a year earlier. Apple shipped 12.8 million wearables in Q1, representing year-over-year growth of 49.5% and accounting for a 25.8% share of the market. Moving into second place with 13.3% market share was Xiaomi, taking a little market share away from Apple, according to IDC. Huawei Technologies took third place with 10% market share. Samsung Electronics was fourth during Q1, while Fitbit was in fifth place.

Amazon Web Services made available two managed services for the Internet of Things. IoT Things Graph, announced last November, enables developers to visually create IoT applications, without writing code. AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr detailed the service in a blog post. AWS also rolled out IoT Events, making it easier for companies to respond to events from IoT applications and sensors.

Eaton introduced the Power Defense line of molded-case circuit breakers, which incorporate predictive maintenance and real-time monitoring, using next-generation IoT technology to support fail-safe buildings and processes.

Insitu, the drone unit of Boeing, is planning a 15% reduction in workforce, which would mean the elimination of about 225 positions. “Our market has become more challenging, and with that we’ve seen an increased need to reduce costs,” Insitu CEO Esina Alic told employees this week. The company this spring lost a competition to supply drone scouts to the U.S. Army for the Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System program.

At the re:MARS 2019 conference in Las Vegas, Amazon unveiled its Pegasus warehouse robot, intended to hasten shipments to customers. The company has extended its one-day delivery service for Amazon Prime subscribers to a wider variety of products. Amazon also debuted a new Prime Air drone design. “We’ve been hard at work building fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes,” Amazon’s Jeff Wilke wrote in a blog post. “And, with the help of our world-class fulfillment and delivery network, we expect to scale Prime Air both quickly and efficiently, delivering packages via drone to customers within months.”

Arun Goyal, founder and managing director of Octal IT Solution, writes about precision agriculture in this analysis. BI Intelligence forecasts agricultural IoT device installations will reach 75 million units by next year, growing 20% a year. The smart agriculture market will reach $15.3 billion by 2025, compared with $5 billion in 2016.

Micron Technology touts its Authenta memory security technology in this blog post. Authenta is meant to provide “self-healing” measures in operation; the company tested that secure memory capability with factory robots that were hacked. “That kind of self-healing could be a game-changer for protecting industry as well as for securing home devices,” says Jeff Shiner, Micron’s IoT solutions marketing director. He adds, “There have been a lot of hacks that brought hospitals to their knees. A self-healing piece of equipment could make it so that maybe the lights would go off, but the cardiac arrest unit would still run. It could be that solution.”

The National Security Agency is disputing reports that its stolen EternalBlue tool was used in the ransomware attack on the Baltimore City government computers and networks. Representative C. A. (Dutch) Ruppersberger, D-Md., says the secretive agency denied the tool was involved in the cyberattack, although four contractors hired by the city confirm the involvement of EternalBlue. The congressman was the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2011 to 2015.

This week in Huawei – President Donald Trump asserted that the U.S. government will sort out differences with the United Kingdom on the use of Huawei equipment in 5G wireless networks. Meanwhile, the Chinese company cut or canceled component orders to its biggest suppliers, the Nikkei reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing says its Huawei orders have declined in the weeks since the U.S. Department of Commerce prohibited American chip vendors from doing business with Huawei. “It certainly will have some impact in the short term,” TSMC Chairman Mark Liu told reporters at the company’s annual general meeting in Hsinchu, Taiwan. He added that the foundry’s profit outlook for 2019 remains unchanged, thanks to chip orders for new smartphones and for 5G cellular communications. Canalys reduced its 2019 forecast for smartphone shipments by 4.7% due to the U.S. ban on doing business with Huawei. The research firm now predicts 1.35 billion smartphones will be shipped this year, down 3.1% from 2018’s 1.3931 billion units, after earlier estimating that 1.417 billion smartphones would be shipped in 2019. The Chinese government says it is compiling an “unreliable entities list” of foreign companies and people in retaliation for the U.S. restrictions on Huawei and ZTE. The Ministry of Commerce said it would designate foreign companies, individuals, and organizations that “do not follow market rules, violate the spirit of contracts, blockade and stop supplying Chinese companies for noncommercial reasons, and seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.” The U.S.-China trade war has American manufacturers questioning whether they should have operations or partners in China, this analysis notes. Huawei is planning to sell its 51% stake in Huawei Marine Systems, an undersea telecommunications cable business, to Hengtong Optic-Electric, a vendor of optical communication network products. A letter of intent was signed with Huawei Tech Investment; financial details weren’t revealed. Finally, Nokia said it edged ahead of Huawei in 5G commercial business with 42 orders to the Chinese vendor’s 40 orders. Ericsson has publicly announced 19 5G orders, of which eight are live.

Twitter purchased London-based Fabula AI, which specializes in using machine learning to detect the spread of misinformation online. Financial terms weren’t revealed. The acquisition will supplement an internal research group developing ways for leveraging machine learning across natural language processing, recommendation systems, reinforcement learning, and graph deep learning. The British startup was founded in 2018 and refers to its patented AI system as “geometric deep learning.”

One-third of CEOs surveyed said they would fire an employee responsible for a data breach, although 76% of executives said cybersecurity breaches are inevitable. Nominet Cyber Security commissioned the survey of 400 C-suite executives in the U.S. and the U.K. When it comes to cybersecurity strategies, 59% of the respondents said there was a lack of technology in their enterprises, 46% cited reluctance to accept advice, 44% blamed a lack of budget, and 41% responded that they had a lack of people resources.

An industry research team found that only 4,183 security flaws among 76,000 vulnerabilities discovered in the past decade were exploited in the wild – that’s just 5.5% of the total. Most of those vulnerabilities exploited in the wild have a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) severity ranking of 9 or 10.

Tripwire surveyed IT professionals in Europe, with 34% of the respondents acknowledging that their organization had a data breach due to an unpatched vulnerability. That compared with an average of 27% cited in the 12th edition of Verizon Enterprise’s Data Breach Investigations Report, released last month. While a majority said deploying a security patch is done immediately or within a week, 19% said those deployments happen within a month and 16% said those happen within two weeks. “That leaves a gap that hackers can exploit,” this analysis notes.

About 440 million Android users in the past year downloaded applications from Google’s Play Store that contained the BeiTaPlugin advertising library, which shows aggressive, out-of-app ads. Lookout reports the advertising library was embedded in 238 applications. Those affected applications were removed from Google Play or updated, it was said.

U.S. police departments are offering discounted or free Ring doorbells to citizens, with the proviso that the homeowners and other recipients would provide the police with video surveillance footage for investigations. The Amazon-owned company issued a statement this week on such deals with law enforcement. “Ring customers are in control of their videos, when they decide to share them and whether or not they want to purchase a recording plan. Ring has donated devices to Neighbor’s Law Enforcement partners for them to provide to members of their communities,” Ring said. “Ring does not support programs that require recipients to subscribe to a recording plan or that footage from Ring devices be shared as a condition for receiving a donated device. We are actively working with partners to ensure this is reflected in their programs.”

Fortinet says its multi-cloud security offerings have been adopted by Aspire Global, MediaKind, MLP Finanzberatung SE, and Nubank. Gartner estimates that half of enterprises will unknowingly expose some of their infrastructure-as-a-service storage services, network segments, applications, or application programming interfaces to the public by 2021, compared with 25% in 2018. Fortinet continues to expand the capabilities of its Fortinet Security Fabric to address these potential vulnerabilities.

Researchers continue to find cybersecurity flaws in microchips, such as the ZombieLoad vulnerability in Intel processors made since 2011, this analysis notes. Although the flaw came to light in April 2018, it took nearly a year for the chipmaker to reproduce the flaw and to fix it. “The tension underlines the challenges of dealing with hardware flaws. These are often far more expensive and difficult to address than software issues, opening a vulnerability window that can affect billions of chips. That puts everything from servers in data centers to tablet computers and mobile phones at risk of being hacked,” Martin Giles writes.

The Government Accountability Office criticizes the Census Bureau’s plans for mitigating cybersecurity risks with the 2020 Census. Among other issues, the GAO reports the bureau is “relying heavily” on a single contractor, T-Rex Solutions, to integrate, test, and scale systems to be used in next year’s census.

Candidates for federal office are prohibited from accepting free or discounted cybersecurity services. Under the same federal law, political parties are barred from providing cybersecurity assistance to candidates, considered to be an “in-kind donation.” Area 1 Security, a Silicon Valley company, wants to offer discounted cybersecurity services to 2020 presidential candidates, a proposal under consideration by the Federal Election Commission.

BMW Group and Jaguar Land Rover agreed to work together on developing next-generation electric drive units for battery-powered electric vehicles. Their forthcoming electric motors will not need rare earths, the minerals often imported from China. This joint effort, based in Munich, Germany, will yield the fifth generation of BMW’s eDrive technology, which will be incorporated next year in the iX3 SUV.

Toyota Motor and Subaru are expanding their technology collaboration, making a deal to develop an electric vehicle platform that will be used in a new compact SUV model. Both companies will produce a version of the electric SUV.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles walked away Wednesday night from its proposed merger with Renault, valued at €33 billion (about $37.2 billion). The French government, which holds a controlling equity stake in Renault, asked for a delay in the merger process, just as the Renault board was about to vote on the transaction. Fiat Chrysler said in a statement, “It has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully.” Trade disputes, technology disruptions, and slowing worldwide sales of vehicles are challenging the automotive industry, prompting mergers and partnerships among the old-line manufacturers, this analysis notes.

Apple is acquiring Drive.ai, a developer of self-driving shuttles, The Information reports, citing two people briefed about the situation. The proposed transaction is reportedly structured as an “acqui-hire” deal, where Apple will take on dozens of Drive.ai engineers.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra defended the agreement to sell its assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, to an obscure electric vehicle manufacturer, a deal that may take months to complete. “We remain thinking it’s a strong possibility and think people should focus on opportunity and maybe every now and then a little optimism wouldn’t hurt anyone,” she told Reuters, adding, “We vetted many opportunities.”

Shanghai-based NIO is forming a joint venture with China’s government to receive new capital. The electric vehicle manufacturer is establishing a joint venture with Beijing E-Town International Investment and Development, a state-owned fund. E-Town Capital will invest $1.45 billion in NIO China, the joint venture, in exchange for a minority equity stake. The move comes after NIO reported a net loss of $390 million for the first quarter of 2019.

Tesla continues to go through corporate drama, causing some investors to lose faith in the company. Its stock price fell below $200 a share, after starting 2019 at $310.12 per share, although the TSLA shares have rallied this week. Can Tesla survive all of its problems, many of which seem to be self-inflicted? CEO Elon Musk gathers praise and derision for his leadership of the EV startup. “Tesla is Elon. And Elon is Tesla,” says Brian Johnson, Barclay’s automotive analyst. The company said its Model 3 vehicles made in China will sell for $47,529 and up. It is taking pre-orders in China on the Model 3, promising delivery in six to 10 months.

Cadillac unveiled the CT4-V and CT5-V sedans, which will be available in 2020. Both models feature the SuperCruise advanced driver-assistance system, suited to commuting in rush-hour traffic and for long highway drives. Both sedans will have a 10-speed automatic transmission and GM’s MagneRide magnetic ride control technology.

The U.S. rejected requests from GM and Volvo Cars for exemptions from the 25% tariff on their SUVs manufactured in China, to be sold in the States.

Sharing electric scooters is so 2018. Mobility pioneers are now sharing pogo sticks. Maybe. Sweden’s Cangoroo will offer shared pogo sticks as a micromobility option in Malmö and Stockholm this month, with plans to expand to San Francisco and London. Like shared e-scooters, the pogo sticks will rent for $1 at the outset, with a use charge of 30 cents a minute. Cangoroo insists that it is a real, serious startup, and its shared pogo sticks are not a joke. The company came out of Sweden’s ODD Company, which also spun off the Wheelys Café coffee cart business. ODD has a reputation for introducing products that are, well, odd and even silly.

Bird has reportedly agreed to acquire Scoot, a smaller competitor in the on-demand e-scooter business, TechCrunch reports, citing unnamed sources. Bird and Scoot declined to comment on the report. Scoot has a license for on-demand scooter rentals in San Francisco, while Bird was recently permitted to offer monthly scooter rentals in SF, for $24.99 a month.

Uber Copter, a helicopter service between Lower Manhattan and John F. Kennedy International Airport, is scheduled to begin on July 9. The eight-minute flight will cost between $200 and $225 per passenger. Uber Elevate plans to extend the service to other cities. Uber Copter will only be available to Platinum and Diamond members of the Uber Rewards loyalty program.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is touting the Great Lakes State as a frontier in mobility technology through its PlanetM initiative. The program offers PlanetM Mobility Grants for pilots and for testing technology.

Volkswagen Group is starting a new advertising campaign in the U.S., with print and video ads that do not include any apologies for the company’s misdeeds and missteps of recent years. The “Rebirth” campaign features the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz, an electric minivan that will go into production in 2022.

Changan Ford, the main Chinese joint venture of Ford Motor, was fined about $25 million by the State Administration for Market Regulation, citing Changan Ford for setting minimum prices for its vehicle dealers in Chongqing, where the joint venture makes its headquarters.

Infineon Technologies agreed to acquire Cypress Semiconductor for about $10.1 billion, including debt. The chipmakers expect to close the transaction by the end of 2019 or in early 2020. The merger will produce the world’s largest supplier of automotive chips.

Google will fill out its cloud and data analytics portfolio with the $2.6 billion cash acquisition of Looker Data Sciences, a business intelligence platform. This deal will help the Google Cloud Platform be more competitive with AWS and Microsoft Azure. The proposed acquisition is expected to close later this year. Looker had raised $280.5 million in private funding from Alphabet’s CapitalG, Kleiner Perkins, Institutional Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Premji Invest, Cross Creek Advisors, First Round Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Sapphire Ventures, and PivotNorth.

Imperva, a cybersecurity portfolio company of Thoma Bravo, agreed to acquire Arlington, Va.-based Distil Networks, which provides bot management offerings. Financial terms weren’t revealed. Distil had received more than $60 million from such investors as Bessemer Venture Partners, Triangle Peak Partners, MI Ventures, Foundry Group, TechStars, ff Venture Capital, IDEA Fund Partners, and Correlation Ventures.

Cisco Systems agreed to acquire Sentryo of Lyon, France; financial details weren’t disclosed. Sentryo provides anomaly detection and real-time threat detection for Industrial IoT networks. Cisco expects to complete the purchase by the end of October this year. The startup had raised €12 million (about $13.5 million) from European investors.

Baltimore-based TrackOFF, a data privacy startup, was acquired by Avast Software. The sale price was not disclosed. Avast makes its headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic, and has offices in California, Florida, and North Carolina. It is a cybersecurity company with worldwide operations.

Thoma Bravo acquired Autodata Solutions Group of London, Ontario, Canada, with offices in Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon. Autodata provides research and software to the automotive industry.

CrowdStrike Holdings increased the price range on its initial public offering, from $19-$23 a share to $28-$30 a share. It will sell 18 million shares and trade on the Nasdaq as CRWD. The cybersecurity company would have an initial market capitalization of $5.7 billion at the midpoint pricing, compared with $4.1 billion anticipated earlier. Goldman Sachs is the lead underwriter.

Volkswagen is seeking a dual listing for its Traton trucks business, planning to sell shares on the Frankfurt and Nasdaq Stockholm exchanges. The timing of the initial public offering is up in the air.

Cambrium Networks of Rolling Meadows, Ill., filed for a $75 million IPO. The company offers wireless broadband networking infrastructure and is owned by Vector Capital. Cambrium plans to trade on the Nasdaq as CMBM. J. P. Morgan is the lead underwriter. The company posted a net loss of $1.5 million on revenue of $242 million for 2018.


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