Week in Review – IoT, Security, Autos

Achronix in TSMC’s IP program; Flex Logix eFPGA silicon; Rambus adds SerDes PHY; Synopsys 7nm Ethernet PHY; Ford fleet.


Achronix Semiconductor joined Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing’s IP Alliance Program, part of the foundry’s Open Innovation Platform. Achronix’s Speedcore eFPGA IP is available today on TSMC 16nm FinFET Plus (16FF+) and N7 process technologies, and it will be soon available on TSMC 12nm FinFET Compact Technology (12FFC).

Cadence Design Systems announced that its digital and signoff full flow and custom/analog tools have achieved certification on TSMC’s N6 and N5/N5P process technologies. The Cadence tools have attained the latest N6 and N5/N5P Design Rule Manual (DRM) and SPICE certification, advancing next-generation mobile application development. Cadence and TSMC are working with customers on N6 design starts both on production designs and test chips. Additionally, Cadence and TSMC have active N5/N5P customer engagements underway.

Flex-Logix Technologies reports that it has received working first silicon of its validation chip for the EFLX 4K eFPGA IP cores running on GlobalFoundries’ 12-nanometer Leading-Performance (12LP) FinFET platform and newly announced 12LP+ solution. The chip is currently in characterization.

Marvell announced a family of high-port-count, ultra-low-latency automotive switches with multi-gigabit routing throughput capabilities. This portfolio includes the industry’s first high-port-count aggregation switch, offering all ports at gigabit capacity enabling clustering of safety critical sensor data in an advanced driver-assistance system and data transfer over a high-speed PCIe host uplink. Marvell’s latest automotive offering also includes a differentiated switch with integrated 100BASE-T1 PHYs and routing and security features that can be utilized in large gateway applications to connect multiple domain controllers. Marvell’s automotive switches, based on the Arm Cortex-M7 architecture, can implement advanced protocols and security software on switch, offloading the external host processor. Marvell also announced that its automotive Ethernet switch software has achieved Automotive SPICE Level 2 certification. This accreditation underscores Marvell’s commitment to providing world-class automotive software capabilities and processes. Specifically, ASPICE Level 2 provides car manufacturers the confidence to employ Marvell’s software in crucial applications, spanning ADAS and L3/L4 autonomous driving, as well as secure central gateways.

Mentor, a Siemens Business, reports TSMC certified Mentor’s Calibre nmDRC, Calibre nmLVS, Calibre YieldEnhancer, Calibre PERC, and Analog FastSpice Platform, and now for the latest version of DRM and SPICE on TSMC’s N5, N7+, N5P and N6 processes. The company also announced that its Tanner analog/mixed-signal (AMS) design tools – the Tanner S-Edit schematic capture tool and the Tanner L-Edit layout editor – are now certified for TSMC’s interoperable PDKs (iPDKs) for a broad range of TSMC specialty process technologies for high-volume analog IC designs.

Rambus announced a portfolio of high-speed memory and SerDes PHYs for next-generation applications on TSMC’s N7 process technology. Leveraging almost 30 years of high-speed interface design expertise and using leading process technology, Rambus offers GDDR6, HBM2, and 112G LR PHY IP available for licensing. These solutions enable demanding applications for 5G, ADAS, artificial intelligence, data centers, high-performance computing, machine learning, and networking. The company taped out its 112G XSR SerDes PHY on a 7nm process node optimized for PPA to support data center, networking, HPC, AI, and ML applications.

Synopsys announced its DesignWare 112G Ethernet PHY IP on TSMC’s N7 process supporting true long-reach channels for up to 800G networking applications. The DesignWare 112G PHY, based on Synopsys’ silicon-proven 56G Ethernet PHY available in multiple FinFET processes, delivers PAM-4 signaling for more than 35dB channel loss across optical, copper cables, and backplane interconnects. The company also announced a collaboration with TSMC to develop a broad portfolio of DesignWare interface IP, logic libraries, embedded memories, and one-time programmable (OTP) non-volatile memory (NVM) IP on TSMC’s 5-nanometer FinFET Plus (N5P) Process. The DesignWare IP for TSMC’s N5 process will enable designers to achieve aggressive performance, density, and power targets for their mobile and cloud computing designs. Also, Synopsys achieved certification for dozens of new features to the Synopsys Digital and Custom Design Platforms on TSMC’s most advanced 5nm process technology, required for HPC and mobile chip designs. In addition to certification of HPC and mobile design flows, Synopsys has also achieved the certification for its design tools on TSMC’s N5P and N6 process technologies, enabling early customer design work.

Renesas Electronics introduced the HD 1080p RAA278842 LCD controller with 4-lane or dual 2-lane MIPI CSI2 input supports up to 1 gigabit per second per lane to interface with the latest generation of application processors, automotive cameras, and graphics processors. The controller also supports a 150 MHz single-channel OpenLDI interface, and a variety of video interfaces and LCD panel sizes with resolutions up to 1920 x 1080.

Silicon Labs brought out a line of automotive-qualified timing devices designed to meet the demanding clocking needs of in-vehicle systems. The new AEC-Q100-qualified timing devices include Si5332 any-frequency programmable clock generators, Si5225x PCIe Gen1/2/3/4/5 clocks, Si5325x PCIe buffers, and Si5335x fanout clock buffers. These timing devices help automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers simplify clock tree design, reduce system points of failure, increase system reliability, and optimize the performance of high-speed serial data transfer. The devices target a wide range of automotive applications, including camera sub-systems, radar and LiDAR sensors, ADAS, autonomous driving control units, driver monitoring cameras, infotainment systems, Ethernet switches, and GPS and 5G connectivity. The chip company also introduced highly integrated, secure Wireless Gecko modules that reduce development cost and complexity, making it easier to add mesh networking connectivity to a wide range of Internet of Things products. The new MGM210X and BGM210x Series 2 modules support leading mesh protocols (Zigbee, Thread and Bluetooth mesh), Bluetooth Low Energy, and multiprotocol connectivity. They offer a one-stop wireless solution to improve mesh network performance for line-powered IoT systems ranging from smart LED lighting to home and industrial automation.

Internet of Things
The Wireless Broadband Alliance and the LoRa Alliance issued a white paper showing how Internet of Things market players can gain access to new IoT use cases by combining two unlicensed connectivity technologies. The white paper was developed with inputs from mobile carriers, telecommunications equipment manufacturers, and advocates of both connectivity technologies, Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN.

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Department of Aerospace Engineering combined a DJI S1000 octocopter with an off-the-shelf nail gun to make a tool for autonomous roofing. The drone was able to match the angle of roof slopes and achieved accuracy of within three centimeters on target shingles.

Zira debuted an Industrial IoT platform with data integration, a marketplace, and AI-driven process automation. The technology was developed by the same team that came up with the Lightapp energy and process optimization software. Zira clients include 3M, Bimbo Bakeries, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Nikon, Pepsi, and WestRock.

This article offers nine IoT security principles, including follow a secure-by-design approach, research the threat landscape, have a clear cybersecurity governance strategy, ensure the organization has appropriate cybersecurity resources, and keep a close eye on IoT devices.

A team from Stanford University won the Keysight IoT Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Keysight Technologies. The design team won the grand prize of $50,000 in cash and $50,000 worth of Keysight test equipment for the university with their entry, “Immersible Internet-of-Things Sensors for Cloud-based Water Quality Monitoring.”

At least 70 countries are now engaging in disinformation campaigns, and many of them are much smaller than China, Iran, and Russia, the biggest players in disinformation, according to a report by the Oxford Internet Institute, a department of Oxford University. Facebook remains the top social network for spreading disinformation, the institute reports, despite its efforts to root out disinformation, along with Twitter and YouTube. Ben Nimmo of Graphika, a firm that analyzes social media, said countries are emulating the blueprint Russia used to disrupt the 2016 election in the U.S., while resorting to new techniques and technologies.

Cyberattacks are more likely to originate with criminals funded by enemies of the U.S. than those enemies themselves, according to Mike Rogers, the former director of the National Security Agency, speaking at a conference in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Cyber criminals are a much bigger threat than nation-states,” he said, adding, “Some states are creating relationships with (cyber) criminals, giving them money, tools, and targets. I suspect that will grow, and it won’t just be the Russians.”

This week in Huawei – bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress would authorize the spending of $1 billion to enable rural and small wireless providers to replace networking equipment from Huawei Technologies, ZTE, and other Chinese companies that present a national security risk. The bill is similar to one passed by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in July. Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said Thursday that the company is making 5G base stations without any American components. He added that Huawei is willing to license 5G technology to a U.S. company to alleviate security concerns. Skyworks Solutions and Qorvo stand to lose business with Huawei, even if the Trump administration ends its ban on American chip companies doing business with the embattled Chinese company, according to Susquehanna Financial Group. Those two companies offer radio-frequency semiconductors, often used in smartphones. Meanwhile, the government of Norway said it would not prohibit Huawei from being involved in the equipping of its 5G wireless networks, a stance that puts the country at odds with the U.S. Finally, Huawei’s chief financial officer returned to a court in Vancouver, B.C., saying her human rights have been violated since she was detained by Canadian authorities last December, following a request by the U.S. government. Meng Wanzhou is fighting her extradition to the U.S. to face criminal charges.

Facebook reports it has suspended tens of thousands of applications for violating restrictions on gathering personal information of users and other privacy issues. The process began last year with the revelations about Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy in the U.K. that improperly scooped up and used Facebook user information without the permission of those users.

Chubb’s Third Annual Cyber Report asserts that small businesses need to educate their employees about cybersecurity, since a cyberattack and a data breach could financially cripple small companies.

A Russian citizen pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to charges about his involvement in a number of hacking cases, including the breach of 83 million customer accounts at JPMorgan Chase during 2014. Andrei Tyurin, 35, of Moscow, faces sentencing of up to life in prison for admitting to six felony counts, including bank fraud, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, and wire fraud. He will be sentenced in February.

Zscaler CEO Jay Chaudhry downplays his company’s competition with Palo Alto Networks, which has criticized other cybersecurity software vendors, including CrowdStrike, Fortinet, and Symantec, in addition to Zscaler. “To do cloud security right you need to have purpose-built architecture. You can’t take the legacy boxes and stick them in a cloud and say it’s cloud security,” Chaudhry said in an interview. “That would be like taking DVD players and putting them in a data center and calling it a Netflix service.”

“Deepfake” videos will proliferate in the year ahead, as the U.S. presidential election draws nearer, according to Hao Li, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Southern California. “It’s still very easy you can tell from the naked eye most of the deepfakes,” he says, “But there also are examples that are really, really convincing.” He adds, “Soon, it’s going to get to the point where there is no way that we can actually detect [deepfakes] anymore, so we have to look at other types of solutions.”

U.S. retailers are still an attractive target for cyberattacks, according to an International Data Corp. report commissioned by the Thales Group. “Retailers have a deep well of customer data that includes what people buy, what they’re interested in, shopping habits, how they’re using mobile apps, and more,” says Leslie Hand, vice president of retail insights at IDC. “When this data is coupled with the payment information retailers also collect, you’ve got a perfect storm that creates very lucrative opportunities for cybercriminals. Securing data in this environment is increasingly complicated and retail organizations must be vigilant in protecting against new security loopholes.”

Ford Motor announced it will bring a fleet of self-driving cars to Austin, Texas, for testing in the downtown area and in East Austin. All vehicles will have a safety driver at the wheel. The vehicles will arrive in the capital of Texas before the end of this year. Ford has been testing its autonomous vehicles in Miami-Dade County and Washington, D.C. “At Ford, we think self-driving vehicles have an important role to play in the future of our cities. As we continue to move towards the commercial launch of our self-driving vehicle services, we are expanding our testing operations in Austin in collaboration with Argo AI,” Sherif Marakby, CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, wrote on Medium. “This includes working closely with city and state officials and community partners to help ensure we are properly integrating our plans into the wider transportation system.”

Aptiv and Hyundai Motor are forming a joint venture to develop autonomous driving technology. Ownership of the JV will be split down the middle. The companies will contribute engineering services, research and development, and intellectual property valued at a total of $4 billion. The goal is to develop Level 4 and Level 5 production-ready self-driving systems for commercialization, offering those systems to fleet operators and robotaxis by 2022. Work will begin next year.

A downpour during the 2018 CES sidelined a number of companies that wanted to show off their self-driving chops. AdaSky, which offers far infrared cameras (also called thermal cameras) wasn’t daunted by the pouring rain. It showed how clearly its technology could identify people in the vicinity of their vehicle, even hundreds of feet away. Another technology that could be getting a closer look is from WaveSense, which develops ground-penetrating radar, this analysis notes.

China’s NIO electric vehicle startup this week issued $200 million of bonds to continue its EV research and development. The company reported a second-quarter loss of $478.6 million, more than 25% higher than its first-quarter loss. Q2 revenue dropped 8% to $198.4 million. NIO has recorded $5 billion in losses in four years, a figure that took Tesla about 15 years to “achieve.”

A new name and entry in EVs surfaced this week in Los Angeles, and there’s a different business model to go with it. Canoo debuted its prototype. It won’t sell EVs to customers; the cars will only be available for a monthly subscription. The startup will use a contract manufacturer to produce the vehicles. The company was started by two former BMW executives and a Deutsche Bank executive; the three previously worked at Faraday Future, another Southern California EV startup, which has experienced financial and legal challenges in recent years.

India’s automotive industry is in free fall, with car sales down 32% in August, amid a general economic malaise. The Modi government announced a reduction in income taxes for all companies to boost economic activity, this analysis notes.

Automakers are starting to offer subscription packages that may include car insurance coverage, writes Ian Sweeney, general manager of mobility for Trov, an insurance technology company. Tesla is taking that even further, directly offering insurance policies to its EV customers, he notes. The advantage that the auto manufacturers have over the traditional insurance firms is that they have access to the massive amounts of data their vehicles are producing. Some insurance companies are in on the game, providing devices that keep track of driver actions. The well-funded Root Insurance startup is all in on data-driven decisions for insuring motorists.

TomTom reports it has made deals with carmakers worth a total of about €1.6 billion (roughly $1.76 billion). The Dutch navigation company has refocused on its digital maps business since selling its fleet management business to Bridgestone for €910 million.

Facebook agreed to acquire San Francisco-based CTRL-labs, a startup developing devices that can read brain waves, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the deal. The social media network is reportedly paying between $500 million to $1 billion for the company, established in 2015. The startup attracted $67 million in private funding, according to Crunchbase.

Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm, is buying a majority stake in Boston-based Acquia, a developer of digital experience and web content management software, for almost $1 billion, including assumed debt, Bloomberg reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Amazon, Centerview Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and Sigma Prime Ventures are among the Acquia investors, some of whom are retaining equity stakes in the company.

Veeva Systems entered a definitive agreement to acquire Crossix Solutions for $430 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close in November. Crossix provides privacy-safe patient data and analytics.

Fitbit is talking with an investment bank about the possibility of selling the company, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The company is challenged in its transition from fitness trackers to smartwatches.

Advent International is pondering whether to join Bain Capital and The Carlyle Group in acquiring Osram. That bid by the private equity firms is challenged by AMS. Bloomberg had the scoop on that development, which may heat up by the end of September.

Amazon acquired INTL, a startup offering software for cross-border shipment costs and customer clearance. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Bromium of Cupertino, Calif., was bought by HP Inc. Financial terms weren’t revealed. The endpoint security startup had raised around $115 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Forgepoint Capital, Ignition Partners, Highland Capital Partners, Intel Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Meritech Capital Partners. HP had licensed Bromium’s technology since 2017.

Palo Alto Networks completed its $75 million cash acquisition of Zingbox, an IoT cybersecurity startup.

Mercury Systems completed its $100 million acquisition of American Panel Corporation, expanding its position in the avionics market.

Paris-based BlaBlaCar agreed to buy Busfor.com, a bus ticketing platform in Russia and Ukraine. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2019.

Peloton Interactive raised $1.16 billion from its initial public offering, selling 40 million shares at $29 per share, at the high end of an earlier pricing range, $26 to $29. The stock trades as PTON on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. At the IPO price, the company’s market capitalization was more than $8 billion. The stock opened at $27 per share and closed at $25.76, down $3.24 per share and 11.17% for the first day of trading. Technology Crossover Ventures, an existing shareholder, bought up to $100 million in IPO shares, after earlier committing to a $50 million purchase. The offering’s underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase another 6 million shares of common stock. If fully exercised, that option would bring in another $174 million for the company.

Procore Technologies of Carpinteria, Calif., selected Goldman Sachs to lead an IPO for the supplier of a project management platform for construction, Bloomberg reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The offering could value the company at more than $4 billion. Procore raised more than $400 million in venture capital funding, most recently at a $3 billion valuation. Its investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, Dragoneer Investment Group, Tiger Global Management, Lumia Capital, and Iconiq Capital.


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