Week In Review: IoT, Security, Autos

Sony concept e-car; Synopsys acquires Tinfoil; Cadence preps for Bluetooth LE Audio.


Internet of Things
Sensors that see in the dark, look deep into our faces and hear the impossible, were all part of ams’ CES lineup this week. ams announced that it has designed an advanced spectral ambient light sensor (ALS) for high-end mobile phone cameras. The ALS, called the AS7350, identifies the light source and makes an accurate white balance under low-light and other non-ideal conditions. Accurate white balance is one technique photographers use to make professional looking photographs. Also announced was ams’s ultra-sensitive near infrared (NIR) image sensor called CGSS130 sensor, which makes high-performance depth maps by detecting reflections from very low-power IR emitters used in 3D sensing systems. The sensors that can be used in payment, face recognition and AR/VR applications, according to a press release. (CGSS stands for CMOS Global Shutter Sensor.) A full system is available (illumination, sensor and software) to create a mobile 3D optical sensing system. ams AS3460 Digital Augmented Hearing companion chip and an Earbud Innovation Demo kit showed noise cancellation for loose- and closed-fit earbuds. A press release says the noise canceling feature can be used for tinnitus treatment, speech (and hearing) enhancement to help users understand speech under noisy conditions (such as a cocktail party) and selective noise cancellation that can still allow important noise, such as an ambulance’s approach.

Cadence is making the Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3) available to Tensilica HiFi DSPs (digital signal processors) in time for the launch of Bluetooth’s LE (Low Energy) Audio. LC3 maintains high audio quality while reducing bit rates resulting in lower power use. With reference code from licensed from Fraunhofer IIS, HiFi DSPs can be used designs for LE Audio, which is designed for headphones, earbuds and hearing aids and will include multi-streaming.

Synopsys has signed a definitive agreement to acquire some IP assets and R&D engineering talent with experience in IoT, automotive and consumer markets from Santa Clara, Calif.-based INVECAS, an IP and design services company. “With this acquisition, Synopsys is broadening our DesignWare IP portfolio to address the requirements of consumer, IoT and automotive designs and adding a strong R&D engineering team to meet the growing IP needs of our customers,” said Joachim Kunkel, general manager of the Solutions Group at Synopsys in a press release. INVECAS is keeping its HDMI IP and ASIC Design Solutions businesses.

SiFive and CEVA are joining forces to help customers create ultra-low-power domain-specific Edge AI processors, as announced at CES this week. The aim is to produce the right SoC mashup of commercial RISC-V CPU processor IP and CEVA’s digital signal processing cores and AI processors for each customer tailored to their specific markets without dark silicon lurking to drag the energy use up. “We are focusing more on the domain-specific design aspects,” said James Prior, head of global communications for SiFive, in an interview with Semiconductor Engineering. “We’ve got a concept design that could be further fine-tuned to a specific market application.” Both companies bring pre-proven IP that SiFive says can speed up the design and test process. The Edge AI SoCs are supported by CEVA’s CDNN Deep Neural Network machine learning software compiler that creates fully-optimized runtime software for the CEVA-XM vision processors, CEVA-BX audio DSPs and NeuPro AI processors.

Synopsys is acquiring Mountain View, Calif.-based Tinfoil Security, a move that will expand the Synopsys Software Integrity Group’s DAST and application program interface (API) security testing. Dynamic application security testing (DAST) is black box method used to find security flaws by hacking a device or system from the outside.

Sony showed off an electric concept car the Vision S at CES 2020 that will not be produced but instead is being used as a fully working prototype to demonstrate a massive infotainment system playing Sony media and other concepts for car OEMs and Tier 1 designers and developers.

Synopsys announced it is now supporting NXP’s S32G Vehicle Network Processors with a Synopsys automotive Virtualizer Development Kit (VDK), which provides virtual prototyping for Tier 1 and automotive OEM designers to develop software before final silicon is available.

Arm is working with Siemens to bring Siemen’s PAVE360 platform together with automotive Arm IP. The purpose is to simulate and validate ARM-based automotive systems before the vehicle is built. “PAVE360 can help with functional safety verification and validation of systems, with compliance being shown under complex scenarios using realistic sensor data and vehicle dynamics, and exercising system and SoC functional safety capability,” according to the press release.

ANSYS announced new partnerships this week. ANSYS and BlackBerry revealed at CES 2020 that they are offering a combo of their ISO 26262 ASIL D-level-certified development environment and RTOS (real-time operating system) for Tier 1s and automotive OEMs to use in designing connected and autonomous vehicles. Specifically ANSYS SCADE’s embedded software development environment and BlackBerry’s QNX’s Neutrino real-time operating system will be combined. FLIR Systems and ANSYS are also combining FLIR Systems’ automotive thermal cameras with ANSYS’ VRXPERIENCE to improve road hazard detection in low-light conditions and further beyond headlights. AEye and ANSYS are working on autonomous driving. AEye is putting ANSYS’s driving simulation systems ANSYS SPEOS and ANSYS VRXPERIENCE in its Intelligent Detection and Ranging (iDAR) platform to create a way to road test iDARs virtually.

OptimalPlus is using AWS (Amazon Web Services) to make its analytics platform for optimizing semiconductor and automotive high-volume manufacturing available to customers.

At CES, Intel’s Mobileye’s CEO Amnon Shashua spoke about Mobileye’s VIDAR for the first time, said Intel on its website. VIDAR will be using cameras sensors to achieve lidar-like performance in full-stack autonomous driving. Shashua said he thinks by 2025, “we’ll be able to price a self-driving system end-to-end: sensors, hardware, cables, everything below $5000.” Intel also previewed “Tiger Lake” mobile PC processors built on Intel’s 10nm+ process. These chips will be built into Intel’s Xe graphics architecture, which Intel will ship this year.

NXP introduced a new S32G vehicle network processors at CES for service-oriented gateways for OEMs to provide services and collect data from the car and car users. The chip have ASIL D MCUs and built-in security in the form of NXP’s Hardware Security Engine (HSE), supports Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) for trusted key management, root of trust supporting secure boot, among others.

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