Week in Review: IoT, Security, Autos

Rambus completes Visa deal; CEVA licensing; Chinese hacking.


Rambus reports completing the sale of its Payments and Ticketing businesses to Visa for $75 million in cash. “With 30 years of experience pushing the envelope in semiconductor design, we look toward a future of continued innovation to carry on our mission of making data faster and safer,” Rambus President and CEO Luc Seraphin said in a statement. “Completing this transaction is a critical step forward in refocusing and accelerating the growth of our core semiconductor businesses.” In other news, Rambus announced the appointment of Necip Sayiner to its board of directors, effective immediately. Dr. Sayiner previously served as executive vice president and general manager of Renesas Electronics, president and CEO of Intersil, and president and CEO of Silicon Laboratories.

Cadence Design Systems brought out verification intellectual property for the NVM Express 1.4 protocol. Cadence VIP for NVMe 1.4 enables designers to quickly and thoroughly verify their storage, data center, and high-performance computing system-on-a-chip designs with less effort and a greater assurance that the SoC will meet the protocol standards. “The design team in our company has successfully used the Cadence VIP for NVMe while developing our products for the flash memory controller,” Takehiko Tsuchiya, group manager, Design Technology Group, Design Technology Innovation Division at KIOXIA Corporation, said in a statement. “The NVMe 1.4 VIP is important for the development of the next generation of our products, supporting the need for a high-performance data interface.”

Astera Labs, working with Synopsys and Intel, announces demonstrating a complete PCI Express 5.0 system, providing 32 gigatransfers per second speeds for next-generation server workloads. “We’re excited to collaborate with Synopsys and Intel to prove to the industry that we are ready for PCIe 5.0 customers and we are actively sampling our retimer SoC now,” Astera Labs CEO Jitendra Mohan said in a statement. “We’ve delivered the world’s first PCIe 5.0 Smart Retimer that provides backwards compatibility, enabling developers to future-proof their systems by leveraging the solution for PCIe 4.0 now and having a pin-compatible solution for PCIe 5.0 when systems are available in 2020. Collaborating with Synopsys and Intel helped accelerate our development process.”

Synopsys also reports introduction of the DesignWare ARC VPX5 DSP and VPX5FS DSP Processor IP that is based on an extended ARCv2DSP instruction set and optimized for a broad range of high-performance signal processing applications, such as radar/LiDAR, sensor fusion, and baseband communications processing. The new ARC VPX5 DSP processors implement a configurable, energy-efficient very long instruction word/single instruction-multiple data architecture that combines scalar and vector execution units to enable a high degree of parallel processing. The Synopsys ARC VPX5FS DSP processor offers safety monitors, lockstep capabilities, and other hardware safety features that help designers achieve the most stringent levels of functional safety and fault coverage without significant impact on power or performance.

Finally, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. presented Synopsys with four “2019 Partner of the Year” awards during the TSMC Open Innovation Platform Ecosystem Forum. The foundry honored Synopsys for Interface IP, joint development of 6-nanometer design infrastructure, and joint delivery of small-outline IC 3D chip stacking and cloud-based productivity offerings.

FogHorn Systems added features to its Lightning Edge AI platform. These include the redesigned VEL Studio visual programming tool, advanced reporting with VIZ dashboards, closed-loop machine learning supported on Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform; and an exploratory data analysis tool.

Internet of Things
CEVA reports completing more than 100 licensing deals for its RivieraWaves line of wireless Internet of Things technologies, covering Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. ABI Research predicts more than 10 billion Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-enabled devices will ship annually by 2023. CEVA acquired RivieraWaves in July 2014.

Vodafone says its networks made 85 million IoT connections in March of this year, compared with 68 million in March of 2018, 54 million in March of 2017, and 38 million in March of 2016. The carrier reported $870 million in IoT sales for its most recent fiscal year. AT&T is partnering with Vodafone to enable customers using narrowband IoT to run services over AT&T’s network in the U.S. and Vodafone’s infrastructure for Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

China tests its hacking tools on domestic targets before extending them into foreign countries, this analysis notes. Instead of old methods like phishing, the country’s hacker corps can now break into iPhone and Android software.

Russian hackers are masquerading as attackers from the Islamic Republic of Iran, British and U.S. official said this week. The Russian group known as Turla employed Iranian tools and computer infrastructure to hack into organizations in at least 20 countries over the past 18 months, the British officials said.

This week in Huawei – the embattled Chinese company has shipped 200 million smartphones so far this year, 64 days faster than it took in 2018. The American ban on providing technology to Huawei Technologies doesn’t apply to existing devices, which continue to receive Android software updates. The company’s new Mate 30 handset doesn’t have access to Google applications normally installed on Android-based phones. Huawei trails Samsung Electronics in worldwide smartphone sales yet leads Apple in terms of shipments. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is trying to hammer out a policy on denying sensitive technology to China, without creating more problems for American companies, this analysis notes.

SRLabs researchers found a vulnerability in Amazon and Google smart speakers allowing hackers to eavesdrop on unsuspecting users. These cyberattackers can also ask for the password to Google user accounts. In the traditional practice, the SRLabs team provided the information to Amazon and Google before publicly disclosing it.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will initially spend €50 million (about $55.6 million) to construct a battery assembly complex within its Mirafiori factory in Turin, Italy. Work will begin in early 2020. The project is part of the company’s plan to spend €5 billion (around $5.56 billion) in Italy between now and 2021 to launch electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.

Taiwan-based Quanta Computer is supplying autonomous driving technology to Apple for its self-driving vehicle program, the MacRumors website says, based on a DigiTimes report.

Anand Gopalan, the chief technology officer of Velodyne Lidar, will make a presentation on LiDAR technology at the PRECISE Industry Day Conference at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Friday, October 25. “In this formative stage when the industry is working to prove safety cases for autonomous vehicles, automakers need to focus on perception systems that provide greater amounts of clean, measured data points. This can aid in the vehicle’s ability to make more informed and correct decisions. These systems must also provide exceptional accuracy and reliability to address special safety concerns when driving at highway speeds,” Gopalan said in a statement.

Jesse Levinson, the co-founder and CTO of Zoox, dismisses Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Initiatives, saying the EV manufacturer doesn’t stand a chance of offering fully autonomous vehicles in 2020 or the near future. While Levinson praised the Tesla line in general, he said at a conference in San Francisco, “They don’t have enough sensors or computers to do that given any remotely known technology that exists that humans have ever created. And by the way, they’re great cars, the Tesla Autopilot system on the freeway is I think the best out there…I think if Musk focused on that aspect, it would be better received.”

Sweden’s Veoneer reduced its full-year sales forecast, reflecting a generally downbeat business environment for the worldwide automotive business. “The automotive industry faced a volatile and challenging quarter, with light vehicle production being weaker than anticipated in July across most of our major markets,” Veoneer CEO Jan Carlson said in a statement. He added, “We see this challenging environment in our industry, to continue for some time.”

Australia-based Atlassian acquired Code Barrel, another Oz company, which provides the Automation for Jira low-code tool for automating aspects of Atlassian’s low-code Jira issue tracking and project management tool. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

PTC agreed to acquire Cambridge, Mass.-based Onshape for about $470 million, net of cash acquired. The transaction is expected to close in November. Founded in 2012, Onshape raised more than $150 million in private funding. Its investors include Andreessen Horowitz, New Enterprise Associates, North Bridge Venture Partners, and Commonwealth Capital Ventures. Onshape offers a software-as-a-service product development platform, pairing computer-aided design with data management and collaboration tools. It will operate as a business unit within PTC.

Shopify completed its $450 million acquisition of Waltham, Mass.-based 6 River Systems, a provider of warehouse fulfillment robotics. The consideration in the deal was 60% cash and 40% stock.

Amazon acquired Health Navigator of La Grange, Ill., which provides application programming interfaces for online health services. The startup, established in 2014, will join the Amazon Care group, which was launched last month.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based SiTime, a MEMS supplier owned by MegaChips of Japan, filed for a $100 million initial public offering. It plans to trade as SITM on the Nasdaq. Barclays is the lead underwriter. The spinoff reports a net loss of $7 million on revenue of $56 million for the first nine months of 2019.

Postmates considered a direct stock listing, rather than an IPO, according to a Delaware stock authorization filing related to its Series G funding of $225 million, reported by Prime Unicorn Index.

An abandoned submarine base in Marseille, France, built by Nazi German forces during the Second World War, is being repurposed as a data center. Interxion of the Netherlands plans to spend €140 million (nearly $156 million) to turn the “Martha Base” bunker, built in 1943 to house up to 20 U-boats, into a data center to serve corporate clients. The first phase of the project will be completed by March of next year.

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