Week in Review – IoT, Security, Autos

Arm TechCon; broken security; Nissan CEO.


Arm TechCon got under way with a series of announcements. Arm is a founding member of the Autonomous Vehicle Computing Consortium, along with General Motors, Toyota Motor, DENSO, Continental, Bosch, NXP Semiconductors, and Nvidia. More information on the consortium is available here. “Imagine a world where vehicles are able to perceive their dynamically changing environment, communicate seamlessly with each other, roadside infrastructure and digital services networks, while transporting their occupants – or even cargo – safely and autonomously. Drivers will become passengers, free to utilize their time productively for leisure or work, vehicles will become on-the-move content consumption platforms, and mobility will become both safer and much more sustainable,” Dipti Vachani, Arm’s senior vice president and general manager, Automotive and IoT Line of Business, wrote in a blog post.

Arm also touted its Total Compute approach to IP design with use-case-driven, optimized systems. It announced the company’s extension of its strategic partnership with Unity Technologies, enhancing the performance of Arm technology in the Unity real-time 3D development platform. “Since we announced the Cortex-A73, we’ve gradually increased machine learning performance generation-over-generation and today, we’re working to significantly broaden our CPU coverage for ML. In order to enable this new digital world, we need to push compute to a higher level, which is why we’ve added Matrix Multiply (MatMul) to our next-generation Cortex CPU, “Matterhorn,” effectively doubling ML performance over previous generations,” Ian Smythe, Arm’s vice president of marketing, Client Line of Business, wrote in a blog post.

The Mbed OS ecosystem is now supported by Analog Devices, Cypress Semiconductor, Maxim Integrated Products, Nuvoton Technology, NXP, Renesas Electronics, Realtek Semiconductor, Samsung Electronics, Silicon Labs, and u-blox. Arm announced the new Mbed OS Partner Governance model, based on direct feedback from silicon provider partners. The company also is organizing monthly Product Working Group meetings to discuss adding capabilities to Mbed OS. “We recently joined the Mbed ecosystem to expand our global IoT chipset footprint, given its flexibility and ease of use,” Ben Hur, senior vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. “Mbed OS provides the functionality for Samsung Exynos i processors to securely develop at scale, and by participating in the Mbed Governance Product Working Groups we will help bring new, exciting capabilities to the forefront.”

CEO Simon Segars announced Arm Custom Instructions, a new feature for the Armv8-M architecture. Arm Custom Instructions will initially be implemented in Arm Cortex-M33 CPUs starting in the first half of 2020 at no additional cost to new and existing licensees, enabling SoC designers to add their own instructions for specific embedded and IoT applications without risk of software fragmentation, according to the company. Arm’s Dipti Vachani said in a statement, “We have engineered Arm Custom Instructions to fuel closer hardware and software co-design efforts toward achieving application-specific acceleration while unlocking greater device differentiation.”

Synopsys introduced VC Functional Safety Manager, a FMEA/FMEDA and fault classification automation technology enabling architects, IP designers, and verification engineers to accelerate their functional safety verification with productivity gains up to 50% compared with traditional manual and error-prone functional safety verification point tools. “Arm strongly believes safety will be critical to the successful deployment of advanced ADAS and autonomous solutions,” Neil Stroud, Arm’s senior director of technology strategy, Automotive and IoT Line of Business, said in a statement. “With ISO 26262 compliance and functional safety verification requirements increasing for semiconductor companies targeting automotive applications, automation, and fast verification engines, such as the Synopsys Z01X digital fault simulation technology, are essential to accelerate time-to-compliance.” The electronic design automation company also announced that Arm, Samsung, and Synopsys collaborated on certifying the Fusion Design Platform for Samsung Foundry’s 5LPE process with extreme ultraviolet lithography technology. Arm Artisan Physical IP and POP IP also are ready for the next-generation Arm-based processor.

Mentor, a Siemens Business, is working with Arm to leverage the 64-bit Arm Neoverse-based server platform to run EDA software for designing next-generation Arm-based processors. Mentor announced that its Questa simulation tools are optimized to run on the platform, in cloud-based environments or in an on-premise parallel regression grid. “To enable our customers to realize the cost, performance, and power-efficiency features of Arm server technology, Mentor is pleased to add 64-bit Arm support for our industry-leading Questa simulation software,” Joe Sawicki, executive vice president of IC EDA for Mentor, said in a statement. “The clear benefits of Arm-based processor technology, together with the advanced functionality of Mentor’s Questa verification flow, delivers a step-function in verification-per-dollar and verification-per-watt for IC designers.”

Cadence Design Systems collaborated with Samsung Foundry and Arm to deliver a complete, high-performance digital implementation and signoff full flow for the rapid implementation of the next-generation Arm “Hercules” CPU using the Samsung Foundry 5nm Low-Power Early (5LPE) process technology. The Cadence flow that has been optimized for the Samsung Foundry 5LPE process can enable customers to deliver mission-critical, high-performance, and high-quality designs to market faster. A corresponding rapid adoption kit has also been developed to facilitate easy use of the 5LPE flow for customers.

Renesas Electronics unveiled the Renesas Advanced (RA) Family of 32-bit Arm Cortex-M microcontrollers. RA MCUs deliver the ultimate combination of optimized performance, security, connectivity, peripheral IP, and easy-to-use Flexible Software Package to address the next generation of embedded solutions. To support the new family, Renesas has built a comprehensive partner ecosystem to deliver an array of software and hardware building blocks that will work out of the box with RA MCUs. The RA Family ecosystem will help accelerate the development of IoT applications with core technologies such as security, safety, connectivity, and human-machine interfaces. Designing with RA MCUs makes it easy for engineers to develop Internet of Things endpoint and edge devices for industrial and building automation, metering, health care, and home appliance applications. The RA Family is PSA Certified Level 1 and includes the RA2 Series (up to 60 MHz), RA4 Series (up to 100 MHz), RA6 Series (up to 200 MHz), and the dual-core RA8 Series, to be released later.

Internet of Things
Verizon Communications and NEC conducted a field trial of non-purpose-built-fiber that could be used as distributed sensors to collect traffic data. The field trial paired NEC’s optical sensor technology using artificial intelligence software with Verizon’s fiber-optic network. The collection of city traffic patterns, road capacity, road conditions, and vehicle classification information could prove to be useful in developing smart cities.

The Toyota Research Institute is employing virtual reality technology to train robots as in-home helpers. These home robots could be especially useful for seniors who want to live independently. The training emphasizes the flexibility capabilities of such robots, rather than teaching them to memorize the layout of a home.

ADLINK Technology uncorked its ADLINK Edge IoT offering, helping customers worldwide with their IoT deployments. “ADLINK Edge can quickly and securely connect, stream and control operational data – whatever industrial equipment, systems, databases, or cloud platforms are already used,” ADLINK’s Lawrence Ross, General Manager of Software & Solutions, said in a statement. “Using that data, our end-to-end industrial IoT solution enables rapid, real-time intelligent decision-making empowered by AI, analytics tools, and machine learning. This means our partners and customers can quickly find and use the data they need to achieve real business value and ROI whether their objectives are optimizing efficiency, predictive maintenance or identifying new business models.”

Altair Semiconductor says its ALT 1250 chipset is validated for narrowband IoT and CAT-M by NTT DOCOMO.

The cybersecurity industry model is broken, Tony Bradley writes. Cybersecurity companies are being acquired by bigger enterprises, while some startups have successful initial public offerings. “In other words, cybersecurity is a very lucrative business, but buying more of it does not guarantee you will be secure. In fact, it often doesn’t actually deliver on its promise,” he notes. Bradley concludes, “It’s time for organizations to recognize that the technology ecosystem and the threat landscape have evolved, and that a new approach is necessary for more effective cybersecurity.”

Google’s Project Zero team detected an unpatched vulnerability in the Android mobile operating system, affecting the company’s Pixel 1 and 2 phones, the Huawei P20, Samsung’s Galaxy S7, S8, and S9 phones, and other mobile devices. The zero-day exploit affects Android 8.x and later versions of the OS. The flaw was discovered and patched on earlier Android versions in 2017. However, newer versions of the OS have yet to be patched.

This week in Huawei – Republican senators are telling Microsoft that the national security issue attributed to Huawei Technologies is “real and urgent.” Five senators sent a letter to Brad Smith, the president and chief legal officer of the software and services company. Smith had said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek that Microsoft has asked U.S. regulators to explain the reasons for the government blacklisting of Huawei and other Chinese companies, and their response was – unresponsive, to say the least.

The Department of Homeland Security is keenly aware of the lack of cybersecurity professionals. Jeanette Manfra, the assistant director for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency within DHS, said at a San Francisco conference that the agency is placing priority on training cybersecurity professionals. “It’s a national security risk that we don’t have the talent regardless of whether it’s in the government or the private sector,” she said. “We have a massive shortage that is expected that will grow larger.”

The implementation of next-generation 911 systems will largely depend on federal, state, and local governments upgrading their computer systems to deal with the digital transformation in emergency services, this analysis notes. Those computers are generally outdated and mostly impervious to cyberattacks due to their age. The national switchover to fully digital 911 systems may cost upwards of $12 billion. Right now, 911 call centers are infrequently targeted by hackers. Those call centers will have to adjust to handling different types of data and sharing it across jurisdictions, according to John Zanni, CEO of Acronis SCS. “All of that means integration across networks, which means you need to think even more deeply about how you secure those systems,” he says. “The more elaborate those systems become, the more they become the targets for bad actors.”

More than one-third of industrial plants have no response plan for cyberattacks, according to a survey by Siemens and the Ponemon Institute. Their report sampled 1,726 employees of industrial companies around the world. Just 42% of those respondents said their readiness for cyberattacks was “high.”

A year ago, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless announced the formation of Project Verify, an effort enabling smartphone users to log into applications without creating a new account or setting a new password. The project is now called Zenkey. While the aspirations are the same, the implementation will take some time, this analysis notes.

Optiv Security warns in its 2019 Cyber Threat Intelligence Estimate report that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers are impersonating each other in attempts to hide their online tracks. Financial institutions, government, health care, and retail are the leading targets of attacks that include cryptojacking and ransomware, along with the staples of botnets, distributed denial-of-service attacks, malware, and phishing. A hacking group backed by China’s government is going after U.S. government agencies, Check Point reports. The Optiv report is available here.

The Trump administration this week added 28 Chinese organizations to its blacklist, citing their involvement in human rights violations. Dahua Technology and Hikvision, two leading suppliers of video surveillance systems, are among those cited. AI startups in China are also accused of helping to spy on Chinese citizens. These include Megvii Technology (also known as Face++), SenseTime Group, and Yitu Technologies.

The board of Nissan Motor on Tuesday named Makoto Uchida, a 16-year veteran of the company, a senior vice president, and the head of its Chinese operations, as its new CEO. Ashwani Gupta, the chief operating officer at Mitsubishi Motors and a former executive at Renault, was named Nissan’s chief operating officer. Jun Seki, a senior vice president at Nissan, will become vice chief operating officer. The naming of Uchida is seen as positive for the Nissan Renault Alliance. The three executives will take up their posts effective on January 1. Meanwhile, Nissan management is still roiled with internal disruption since the arrest of former chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn nearly a year ago and this year’s resignation of his successor as CEO.

Work is going on in Israel and Sweden on advanced technology in charging the batteries of electric vehicles, this analysis notes. Electreon, an Israeli startup, has come up with copper coils under pavement that transmit recharging wireless energy to EVs on a test track outside of Tel Aviv. Sweden is putting together a similar project on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, using the Electreon technology to recharge an airport shuttle bus and an electric truck.

Alphabet’s Waymo division is bringing self-driving vehicles, three Chrysler Pacifica minivans, to Los Angeles for testing, the first such project in the City of Angels. Car companies need to have a permit from the state Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct such tests. Not clear at this point is whether Waymo will share its data with the L.A. Department of Transportation.

Harley-Davidson is shipping its LiveWire motorcycles to dealerships, hoping to attract attention from millennials, young consumers who consider environmental issues in their purchases. The electric motorcycle is priced at $29,799, which is nearly as much as the sticker price on a Tesla Model 3. Those millennials, for now, seem more interested in electric bicycles and electric scooters, which are lower-priced than that new e-cycle.

PepsiCo is trying out 15 Tesla Semi trucks at its Frito-Lay plant in Modesto, Calif. The company ordered 100 Tesla Semis in 2017 as part of its corporate initiative to lower its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2030. Meanwhile, Anheuser-Busch is getting into the California electric truck demonstration race with 21 BYD battery-electric beer delivery trucks. The beverage manufacturer also ordered 40 Class 8 electric trucks from Tesla and hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks from Nikola. In other news, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into why the Smart Summon feature on Tesla cars apparently is causing crashes in parking garages and lots. Meanwhile, CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla is working on the sounds of cocoanuts, flatulence, and goats in their car horns.

The Uber Copter service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport is now open to all Uber Technologies users, not just the members of its elite club. The Uber app will book a ride on the helicopter leaving from Lower Manhattan, and an UberX ride to the heliport, for $199.82.

Foster City, Calif.-based Zoox is testing autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas, having received permission for public testing from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles early this year. The startup is already testing its AVs in San Francisco and surrounding communities. The company uses Toyota SUVs to test its self-driving hardware and software.

Volkswagen Group is in discussions with other manufacturers about sharing its Premium Platform Electric technology, which is going into Audi and Porsche EV models for 2021. Audi will make at least three EVs based on VW’s modular MEB platform. Volkswagen is planning 20 EVs for the world market, beginning with the Audi E-Tron introduced last year, and continuing into the 2025 model year.

Proterra of Burlingame, Calif., the electric bus manufacturer, reports Miami-Dade County is purchasing 33 of its 40-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 models. The company says this is the “largest electric bus order on the East Coast.” The well-funded startup has factories in Greenville, S.C., and in City of Industry, Calif.

LiDAR technology is making its way through a number of different applications, including those in advanced automotive electronics. At the same time, it is upending research and technology in archaeology, this analysis notes. Researchers are using LiDAR sensors in airplanes and drones to look at terrain that has been covered in jungles for centuries, and in other areas where the work of ancient civilizations is not apparent to the human eye. Takeshi Inomata, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona, got a free online map from Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, covering 4,440 square miles of terrain in the states of Tabasco and Chiapas.

Austria’s AMS vows to find a way to acquire Germany’s Osram after its $4.9 billion bid for the manufacturer of lighting and sensors fell through. AMS needed to get 62.5% of Osram’s shares and fell short, with 51.6%. The Austrian MEMS vendor will keep its 19.99% equity stake in Osram while it plans a new takeover approach.

Dialog Semiconductor agreed to acquire Creative Chips, a vendor of microchips for IoT devices, for $80 million. “The acquisition of Creative Chips is instrumental for Dialog, giving it a strong foothold in the Industrial IoT market, while still highly complementary to Dialog’s current mixed-signal business,” Dialog CEO Jalal Bagherli said. Dialog will pay an additional consideration of $23 million, based on revenue targets over the next two years. Creative Chips is projected to have 2019 sales of about $20 million. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Alteryx of Irvine, Calif., purchased Feature Labs, a data science software startup that came out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Feature Labs software automates feature engineering for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.

Tesla acquired Canada’s Hibar Systems, a specialist in high-speed battery manufacturing systems for EVs. The Ontario-based company was founded in 1974 and has at least 50 employees. Hibar was awarded a $2 million grant from the National Research Council of Canada in April to develop lithium-ion battery manufacturing systems. Tesla may have bought the Canadian company to develop its own battery cells.

San Francisco-based Dedrone acquired DroneDefender from Battelle Memorial Institute.

Accenture is acquiring Nytec, a Kirkland, Wash.-based product innovation and engineering company. Financial terms of the transaction weren’t revealed. Nytec will become part of Accenture Industry X.O.



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