Week In Review: IoT, Security, Autos

Apple acquiring edge AI startup; Cadence and Broadcom on to 5nm; 2020 ISA cybersecurity goals.


The United States signed trade agreements with the China (phase one agreement) and North American countries Mexico and Canada this week. The SIA (Semiconductor Industry Association), which represents the U.S. semiconductor industry, applauded the agreements. Still to be worked out is the second part, or phase two, of the U.S.’s agreement with China.

AI/Edge M&A
Apple is acquiring edge AI startup Xnor.ai for somewhere around $200 million, reports Geekwire. Xnor.ai comes out of AI2, a non-profit incubator focusing on artificial intelligence started by the late Paul Allen, a Microsoft founder. Xnor.ai’s product is a platform that software developers with little experience in AI can use to put AI into device-centric apps. Part of Xnor’s lower-power/cost formula was to reduce precision to a single bit, avoiding 32-bit floating point operations. Crunchbase and Geekwire gives hints about what Xnor does; the Xnor website no longer has any information on it.

The United States National Security Association (NSA) found a spoofing vulnerability in Windows 10 (CVE-2020-0601) and shared it with Microsoft, a break from NSAs’ usual practice of not revealing vulnerabilities it finds. The NSA found the vulnerability in the way Windows CryptoAPI (Crypt32.dll) validates Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) certificates. Attackers can trick a system into trusting them, and then obtain sensitive information, such as financial information, or run malware on a targeted system. Microsoft also disclosed multiple Windows RDP bugs, CVE-2020-0609 and CVE-2020-0610.

The ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance (ISAGCA) put out its 2020 goals for increasing state cybersecurity. The ISAGCA is part of ISA, the International Society of Automation, which provides standards for automation engineers. ISAGCA wants to get more worldwide governments to adopt its standards (ISA/IEC 62443), make a matrix that cross references other security standards to ISA principles, and create a reference guide for industry on “system lifecycle phases and stakeholder roles to specific automation cybersecurity knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to manage each phase,” according to a press release.

Synopsys has joined the Autonomous Vehicle Computing Consortium, an industry consortium started in October 2019 that is dedicated to making self-driving vehicles safe, producible at scale and affordable. Synopsys says it will work on recommendations for system architectures and computing platforms. Other members of the consortium are Arm, Bosch, GM, Continental, Toyota, Nvidia, NXP, Denso, Renesas, and Veoneer.

Synopsys completed its acquisition of some of eSilicon’s IP, including TCAMs (ternary content-addressable memory) and multi-port memory compilers (now part of Synopsys’ DesignWare Embedded Memory IP portfolio) and High-Bandwidth Interface (HBI) IP (now part of Synopsys’ Interface IP portfolio. The acquisition also adds R&D engineers to Synopsys’ team.

Cadence has completed its acquisition of AWR Corporation from National Instruments this week. AWR Corp specializes in high-frequency EDA software called Microwave Office for use by microwave and RF engineers working on wireless, high-speed wired, broadband, aerospace and defense, and electro-optical applications. Cadence is paying $160 million and will gain 110 AWR employees. According to a press release, flows from AWR’s technology, once integrated with Cadence’s computation software, will be “tightly connected with the NI LabVIEW and PXI modular instrumentation systems and semiconductor data platform,” which is as part NI’s and Cadence’s strategic alliance. National Instruments acquired AWR in 2011.

Cadence and Broadcom are expanding their collaboration from 7nm to 5nm, Cadence announced this week. The two companies have worked on networking, broadband, enterprise storage, wireless and industrial applications.

Imagination Technologies is opening a new design center in Romania to focus on IP designed for AI and computer vision.

Tesla China may be setting up a design center in China and is recruiting car designers for it via WeChat, reports Car And Driver.

Walmart is adding stock-checking robots to 650 more stores, Bloomberg reports. The robots scan shelves and alert employees when an item is out of stock. The devices are made by Bossa Nova, a San Francisco-based robotics company. NCR Corp. will install and maintain the robots.

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