Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

The great EV ramp

EV-related developments are everywhere. California’s move to ban sales of new internal-combustion vehicles by 2035, and the US government’s sweeping embrace of clean-energy, are in lockstep with recent moves by the auto industry and related supply chains, as well as cutting-edge research.

One of the big breakthroughs is the ability to charge an EV in 10 minutes without harming the battery. Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory have developed an extremely fast charging technology, using different types of charge protocols, as well as advanced electrolytes that allow lithium ions to move back and forth much faster. At the same time, they claim they can minimize the degradation associated with fast charging. “We’ve significantly increased the amount of energy that can go into a battery cell in a short amount of time,” says Eric Dufek, in a presentation at the recent American Chemical Society meeting. “Currently, we’re seeing batteries charge to over 90% in 10 minutes without lithium plating or cathode cracking.”

Honda and LG are teaming up to build a $4.4 billion lithium-ion battery plant in the US (location still unknown), with mass production expected in 2025. And Toyota announced a $2.5 billion additional expansion in its North Carolina battery plant to support BEVs.

Renesas uncorked a new generation of How-IGBTs (silicon insulated gate bipolar transistors) targeted at next-gen EV inverters. Based on the AE5 process, the new device achieves a 10% reduction in power losses versus the current generation, a power saving that will help save battery power and increase driving range. Mass production is anticipated in the second half of 2023.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was selected to lead a new Energy Frontier Research Center to focus on polymer electrolytes for next-gen storage devices, such as fuel cells and solid-state electric vehicle batteries.

Securing rare earth minerals for clean energy is an urgent priority, particularly as supply chains move away from China. Volkswagen and Canada signed an agreement for raw materials for their battery supply chain, including lithium, nickel and cobalt. Talon Metals, meanwhile, is proposing a nickel mine in Minnesota, but environmental and tribal concerns need to be overcome first. There are similar problems in North Carolina lithium mines.

Road to autonomy

California legislation targeting Tesla’s “self-driving” claim has passed the Senate and now headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom for signature. The legislation prohibits dealers and manufactures from using language in marketing materials that “lead a reasonable person to believe, that the feature allows the vehicle to function as an autonomous vehicle.”

Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle unit, recalled and updated software in 80 self-driving robotaxis following a June crash in San Francisco. The public NHTSA filing stated “the software may, in certain circumstances when making an unprotected left, cause the ADS to incorrectly predict another vehicle’s path or be insufficiently reactive to the sudden path change of a road user.”

Today’s most advanced vehicles, which fall short of Level 5 autonomy, use a fourth-generation network to navigate through traffic, stream music and videos, and download updates that affect the function of the car, among other activities. 5G/6G networks are expected to enable these activities to be completed faster and more securely, while also enabling vehicle-to-vehicle communication and communication between the car and smart city infrastructure — features that will be critical to reaching L5.

The automotive industry’s transition towards self-driving technology means cars are increasingly equipped with features that measure driver alertness and engagement, among many other data points. Executives say so driver monitoring features save lives and spur innovation, while simultaneously raising significant technical, legal, and ethical questions.

Acquisitions and new products

Renesas plan to acquire India-based Steradian Semiconductors, a fabless semiconductor company that provides 4D imaging radar solutions operating in the 76 to 81 GHz band with a small form factor and high power efficiency. Renesas plans to leverage these solutions to develop automotive radar products combining ADAS SoCs for processing radar signals, power management ICs (PMICs), and timing products, together with software for object recognition.

IP artery is teaming up with SiMa.ai, integrating Arteris’ FlexNoC interconnect IP into the SiMa.ai machine learning SoC (MLSoC).

Siemens-operated EDA’s simulator-independent Questa Verification IP solution now supports the new Compute Express Link (CXL) 3.0 protocol.

Apple‘s Sept. 7th launch event is expected to feature the new iPhone 14, as well as new Apple Watch models. Of particular note is a possible game-changing satellite connectivity for emergency communications.

Leading tech companies like Apple, Samsung, and Konka are forging ahead and investing heavily in making microLED modules for AR glasses, smart watches, televisions, digital signage, and automotive displays a reality. Here’s where the massive investments are going

Security

The US Air Force is pursuingA a $500 million program to design, build, test and deliver anti-tamper solutions, including “parts, hardware, firmware, software, materials, data, etc., incorporated into the platform or system protecting against open source or classified attacks.”

Riscure won a grant from The Netherlands to continue research and further improve fuzzing capabilitiesan automated technique to identify security vulnerabilities that can compromise a device’s entire security chain.

It’s almost impossible to create a completely secure chip or system, but much can be done to raise the level of confidence about that security.

NIST maintains a dashboard of CVEsor Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, and include links to CISA’s new vulnerabilities added to the Known Exploited Vulnerability Catalog.

Keep up on hardware-related security-related academic research hereincluding topics such as hardware Trojan benchmarks, row hammer, side-channel attacks, injection attacks, and securing heterogeneous integration at the chip/chiplet, interconnect, and packaging levels.

Federal Research Paywalls Gone

There will be no more paywalls for federally funded research, according to new US policy guidance. “The American people fund tens of billions of dollars of cutting-edge research annually. There should be no delay or barrier between the American public and the returns on their investments in research.” Full implementation is expected by the end of 2025.

Upcoming Events

Industry events can be found TIMESincluding these September conferences: ARC Processor Summit, AI Hardware Summit, Edge AI Summit, Women in Semiconductor HW, CadenceLIVE India, MIPI Devcon, and more.

Further Reading

Semiconductor Engineering’s just-published Auto, Security and Pervasive Computing newsletter can be found TIMES. Topics include Level 5 and 5/6G; driver monitoring complexities; designing for chip security; new gas sensors; FMEDA; secure provisioning; eFPGA adoption; Honda rolling-PWN attack; SerDes; autonomous vehicle security; securing open-source HW root of trust; structured grids; IoT sensors.

Find all of our recent newsletters here.

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