Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Telit speeds up LTE for IoT with new series of single mode modules

By Nick Flaherty

Telit has launched a series of five dedicated single-mode LTE modules for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The IoT-optimized LTE modules are compliant with the newly approved Release 13 standard set by the 3GPP, the collaborative standard setting body for cellular technology. They will begin sampling later this year with commercial availability set for early 2017 to meet US operator launch schedules.
Cat M1 and NB1 standards were devised to address specific needs of IoT applications, offering optimized power consumption and enhanced coverage. The new portfolio is being fast-tracked to address the pressing need in the US market for migration paths away from 2G as well as strong global demand from the industry for Cat M1 and NB1 modules to enable of a wide variety of brand new product concepts.

The new LTE UE Category M1 modules offer peak downlink and uplink data rates of 1Mbps. This generation of enhanced machine type communication (eMTC) products support power saving mode and extended discontinuous reception (EDRX), which together allow the module to wake up periodically, exchange small amounts of data with the network and return to sleep, providing for years of battery life. The NE866 for the European market is a 3GPP Release13 eMTC product capable of delivering long battery life of ten years or more while offering peak data rates of 250Kbps downlink and 20Kbps uplink.

  • Two ME910 LTE UE Category M1 cover major US mobile operators
  • Two ME866 LTE UE Category M1 cover major US mobile operators
  • One NE866 LTE UE Category NB1 for the European market
The ME910 modules are optimized in cost, size and power consumption to be applied as direct drop-in replacements in devices already designed for the GE910, CE910, UE910 and HE910. They are part of the popular xE910 form factor, the company’s most versatile and comprehensive product family and the only in the market to include the full range of cellular technologies (GPRS, UMTS, HSPA, CDMA, EV-DO and LTE CAT-x). ME866 and NE866 modules are drop in replacements for 2G and 3G members of the 15mmx25mm and 15mmx19mm xE866 miniature IoT module family, ideal for devices with stringent size constraints. Dual-mode variants of the xE910 M1 family are planned for release in short succession to address regional requirements like GPRS fallback for Europe and Voice over LTE (VoLTE) for North America.

“Our customers and new IoT adopters already understand the different benefits Release 13 brings and are therefore looking for a complete portfolio of compliant modules, rather than a single product from module vendors claiming to be pioneering the new 3GPP standard. For starters, the standard includes two branches: M1 and NB1. Then, when you add to that, the fact that the NB1 specification allows for three different deployment scenarios which are not directly compatible with one another, you start to see the multitude of possibilities,” said Mike Ueland, President of Telit Americas. “What all this means is that in order to ensure you retain the device deployment flexibility you enjoyed with LTE Cat 1, for example, we are announcing a broad portfolio of Cat M modules here today.”

The modules use software from deviceWISE to make it easy to add them to a network and send data to the cloud, customer apps, back-end systems and servers. 

Two factor security IP designed into IoT microcontroller

By Nick Flaherty

eWBM is looking to gain a foothold in the competitive market for microcontrollers for the Internet of Things (IoT) with two factor authentication technology. 

Two factor authentication is more common for websites and apps, using a separate mobile phone number to confirm logins and changes. Designing the technology into a microcontroller gives IoT node and system developers more security options at a time when cybersecurity is a key issue. ST and Atmel (now part of Microchip) are both pushing their IoT security solutions. 
"With the increase in IoT security breaches, we needed to collaborate with a proven IP provider to deliver a microcontroller with superior security capabilities," said Stephen Oh, CEO at eWBM, a fast growing Korean fabless semiconductor company delivering cutting-edge technologies for both IoT and image processing devices. The company, little known in the West, is creating new concept of system-on-chip (SoC) products targeting wearable devices, smart metering, and home automation with security as the key factor.

Its MS1000 32bit microcontroller integrates a combination of DesignWare Security IP from Synopsys to perform secure boot, secure authentication, real-time integrity monitoring, secure storage for management of keys and other sensitive information, and hardware acceleration. The DesignWare tRoot Secure Hardware Root of Trust provides the security functions for Trusted Execution Environments, which enable connected devices to securely start up, identify, authenticate and communicate. 

Alongside an ARM Cortex-M3 core, the MS1000 has a separate CPU for security processing, which maximizes its security capabilities such as secure boot, real-time integrity monitoring and protection for side-channel attacks without compromising the performance of the main CPU. It also contains an embedded cryptographic hardware accelerator which improves the speed of encryption and decryption for secure communication protocols and secure data storage. 

By using the standards-compliant DesignWare Security IP, eWBM achieved Fast IDentity Online (FIDO) universal two-factor (U2F) certification for the microcontroller, demonstrating a robust single-chip solution that protects data from external attacks without requiring peripheral components.

"Synopsys was the only provider offering a comprehensive portfolio of security IP solutions that enabled us to implement the required hardware-based security features," said Oh. "It took only days to integrate and enabled us to deliver a robust, certified security microcontroller on schedule. Due to our success using the DesignWare IP, we immediately chose Synopsys for our new MS500/MS300 microcontrollers, and we expect the high-quality, widely deployed DesignWare IP to continue to meet our design needs."

"Currently we are working on developing Bluetooth security modules, IoT bridge modules, and gateway solutions with global partners, and also developing platforms for home automation, smart automotive, smart metering systems, FinTech, and many other applications with domestic and foreign solution companies," he added. 

The DesignWare TRNG IP provides standards-compliant, high-quality true random numbers that are crucial elements for security standards and protocols. The TRNG is fully digital and combines a whitening circuit with a noise source that provides automatic seeding of the random number stream. The configurable DesignWare Security Protocol Accelerator (SPAcc) reduces bus traffic and offers increased throughput by supporting efficient data sequencing as well as parallel processing of encryption and hashing cryptographic operations.

"Security is fundamental to the growth of the IoT, and incorporating security at the lowest levels of the SoC design helps protect devices through their lifecycles," said John Koeter, vice president of marketing for IP and prototyping at Synopsys. "Synopsys delivers a broad range of security IP solutions, including the tRoot Secure Hardware Root of Trust, TRNGs and SPAccs, which enable companies such as eWBM to create highly secure systems that protect connected devices from evolving threats."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Latest power news ... Renesas eyes Intersil ... Solid battery on a chip ... New thermal materials

By Nick Flaherty
Power News from EETimes Europe
August 23, 2016


Renesas in talks to buy Intersil
.Renesas in talks to buy Intersil
Thermal nanomaterial startup sees €1.5m backing
.Thermal nanomaterial startup sees €1.5m backing
Mercedes concept car shows direction of battery and charging technology
.Mercedes concept car shows direction of battery and charging technology
MIT spin-out shrinks lithium batteries
.MIT spin-out shrinks lithium batteries


Flexible solar cells on a roll
.Flexible solar cells on a roll
3D silicon wafers boost photovoltaic cell production
.3D silicon wafers boost photovoltaic cell production
High temperature solid battery leads to 'battery on a chip'
.High temperature solid battery leads to 'battery on a chip'
Graphene micro-supercapacitor powers flexible electronics
.Graphene micro-supercapacitor powers flexible electronics


Highly integrated 600V power module cuts costs
.Highly integrated 600V power module cuts costs
First USB-C chips for Power Delivery 3.0 specification
.First USB-C chips for Power Delivery 3.0 specification
Low ESL in DC link capacitor for new IGBT modules
.Low ESL in DC link capacitor for new IGBT modules


Fuel gauging for all

Power Trends: The art of power - Artesyn Embedded Technologies

Power Trends: Analog Devices powers ahead



Adjustable linear current regulators target automotive LED lighting

60W programmable DALI LED driver dimmable to zero

Flyback transformer matches specs of TI analogue input module

Mini power supplies for the smart home and office with EN60335 certification


SiLabs: CMOS isolated gate drivers enhance power supplies

Linear Technology: 12V/100A Hot Swap Design for Server Farms

Intersil: Optimizing Battery Accuracy for EVs and HEVs

Infineon: Intelligent Over Temperature Protection for LED Lighting Applications

Cybersecurity researchers design a chip that checks itself for sabotage

By Nick Flaherty

Cybersecurity researchers in New York have developed a chip that can detect sabotage in its own manufacture.

While software viruses are easy to spot and fix with downloadable patches, deliberately inserted hardware defects are invisible and act surreptitiously. For example, a secretly inserted "back door" function could allow attackers to alter or take over a device or system at a specific time. 

So Siddharth Garg, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and fellow researchers are developing a unique solution: a chip with both an embedded module that proves that its calculations are correct and an external module that validates the first module's proofs.

Garg's configuration keeps tabs on a chip's performance and can spot telltale signs of Trojans. It uses a verifying processor that can be fabricated separately from the chip. "Employing an external verification unit made by a trusted fabricator means that I can go to an untrusted foundry to produce a chip that has not only the circuitry-performing computations, but also a module that presents proofs of correctness," said Garg.

The chip designer then turns to a trusted foundry to build a separate, less complex module: an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit), whose sole job is to validate the proofs of correctness generated by the internal module of the untrusted chip.

Garg said that this arrangement provides a safety net for the chip maker and the end user. "Under the current system, I can get a chip back from a foundry with an embedded Trojan. It might not show up during post-fabrication testing, so I'll send it to the customer," he said. "But two years down the line it could begin misbehaving. The nice thing about our solution is that I don't have to trust the chip because every time I give it a new input, it produces the output and the proofs of correctness, and the external module lets me continuously validate those proofs."

An added advantage is that the chip built by the external foundry is smaller, faster, and more power-efficient than the trusted ASIC, sometimes by orders of magnitude. The VC setup can therefore potentially reduce the time, energy, and chip area needed to generate proofs.

"For certain types of computations, it can even outperform the alternative: performing the computation directly on a trusted chip," Garg said.

The researchers next plan to investigate techniques to reduce both the overhead that generating and verifying proofs imposes on a system and the bandwidth required between the prover and verifier chips. "And because with hardware, the proof is always in the pudding, we plan to prototype our ideas with real silicon chips," said Garg.

To pursue the promise of verifiable ASICs, Garg, abhi shelat of the University of Virginia, Rosario Gennaro of the City University of New York, Mariana Raykova of Yale University, and Michael Taylor of the University of California, San Diego, will share a five-year National Science Foundation Large Grant of $3 million.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Industry approaches peak IoT

By Nick Flaherty

The embedded industry is reaching 'peak IoT'.

The second quarter of 2016 saw incumbent tech companies pursue multiple transformational big-ticket deals according to the latest figures from EY. At the same time, private equity (PE) buyers set an all-time value record, and, a key indicator, non-tech buyers nearly doubled their value year-over-year while Chinese buyers already surpassed their full-year 2015 value level.

In all, 2Q16 was the third-highest-value quarter ever, with more deals at or above US$1 billion than in any previous quarter. The dramatic increase in non-tech companies buying up IoT, cloud and big data companies is reminiscent of the boom times of the semiconductor business where Chinese clothing conglomerate Nanya and even Coca-Cola were looking to invest in fabs.

At 1,039 deals, 2Q16 volume rose 4% sequentially and 2% year-on-year, driven by IoT activity. So far this year, 2016 has seen 2,041 deals, 2% ahead of 2015’s post-dotcom-record pace (only the year 2000 had more deals). The non-tech-buyer volume rose 28% year-on-year to 159 deals, and the value jumped 95% over 2Q15 to US$21.3 billion. 2016 now leads 2015’s non-tech-buyer pace by 27% in volume (306 deals vs. 241 in 2015) and 25% in value (US$38 billion vs. US$30.5 billion).

Digital transformation from cloud, mobile, social and big data analytics technologies motivated high-value dealmaking in 2Q16, helping 2016 to nearly catch up with 2015’s record pace — despite equity market volatility that has often derailed dealmaking in prior years.

"Because technology is an industry in major transformation, we expect 2016 technology M&A to continue at this near-record pace for the foreseeable future, driven by the disruptive digital technologies that the industry is itself bringing to market," says Jeff Liu, EY Global Technology Industry Leader for Transaction Advisory Services

Though both quarters round to the same US$127.2 billion in disclosed value, 2Q16 bested 2Q15 by US$55 million, only 4Q15 (US$189.8 billion) and 1Q00 (US$228.4 billion) posted higher values.

  • Big-ticket deals: With 28 deals at or above US$1 billion, 2Q16 blew past the prior record of 20 such deals (set in 4Q15). Three deals rose above US$5 billion, including one megadeal over US$25 billion.

  • PE buyers: US$25.7 billion in disclosed-value tech deals by PE buyers made 2Q16 the highest-value PE quarter on record — by only US$85 million. And with 95 deals, it’s the second-highest-volume PE quarter, falling just shy of 3Q10 (99 deals).

  • China: Chinese buyers recorded their highest-value tech quarter ever with US$32.3 billion in disclosed-value deals. It brought their YTD total to US$47.4 billion, which already is 19% ahead of their entire 2015 value of US$39.9 billion.

  • Hidden gems: Large incumbent tech companies that continue to scale down their focus drove divestitures to slightly more than 175 deals in 2Q16, the highest volume level we’ve seen yet. Disclosed value remained roughly equal to 1Q16, at US$16.7 billion. Three deals rose above US$1 
  • billion, including two with Chinese buyers.

The number of deals driven by Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics technologies increased at a faster pace than all others for both 2Q16 and YTD, well above the single-digit pace of overall global volume increases.

IoT volume rose 28% YOY for 2Q16 and 26% YTD; big data analytics volume rose 13% for the quarter and 29% YTD. In all, 6 of the 10 deal-driving technologies saw 2Q16 volume increases, the other four being cloud/SaaS, health care information technology (HIT), gaming, and payments and financial services.

Large incumbent tech companies pursuing transformation drove the biggest disclosed-value deals of 2Q16, but the quarter encompassed a diverse array of disruptive technology targets — and most of those appeared among the 28 big-ticket deals.

Friday, August 19, 2016

SEGGER gives BBC Micro:bit commercial boost

By Nick Flaherty

SEGGER has introduced J-Link support for the low cost BBC micro:bit embedded board providing developers a path to using a production grade IDE for their next project.

SEGGER offers the capability to upgrade the firmware on the BBC micro:bit DAPLink to a J-Link OB (On Board). This firmware makes the on-board debug solution on the BBC micro:bit compatible to J-Link, allowing users to take advantage of all J-Link features such as ultra fast flash download and debugging speeds and the free-to-use GDBServer as well as application development using an IDE.

“Adding J-Link debug capabilities to the BBC micro:bit broadens its exposure to an even larger audience. The micro:bit eco-system is improved significantly by making professional tool options available to developers,” says John Leonard, Product Marketing Manager at Nordic Semiconductor.

J-Link is supported in all major IDE’s; IAR EWARM, Keil MDK, Rowley Crossworks, SEGGER’s own Embedded Studio and other Eclipse/GDB based offerings. This gives students and developers flexibility in their choice of IDE.

The SEGGER J-Link is the most popular family of debug probes on the market. It is tool chain independent and works with free GDB-based tool chains such as Embedded Studio, and Eclipse, as well as commercial IDEs from: Atmel, Atollic, Coocox, Cosmic, Freescale, IAR, KEIL, Mentor Graphics, Microchip, Phyton, Rowley, Renesas, Tasking and others. With the J-Link family, investments in the debug probe are preserved when changing compiler or even CPU architecture.

J-Link supports multiple CPU families, such as ARM 7, 9, 11, Cortex-M, Cortex-R, Cortex-A as well as Renesas RX100, RX200, RX600 and Microchip PIC32; there is no need to buy a new J-Link or new license when switching to a different yet supported CPU family or tool-chain. SEGGER is also continuously adding support for additional cores, which in most cases, only requires a software/firmware update and unlimited free updates are included with even the baseline model of the J-Link family. All J-Links are fully compatible to each other, so an upgrade from a lower-end model to a higher-end model is a matter of a simple plug-and-play.

Full product specifications are available at:

For more information on J-Link OB for BBC micro:bit go to:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

ZTE makes move to dominate IoT and 5G

By Nick Flaherty

Showing the close link between the Internet of Things and the next generation of cellular technology, ZTE has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China Unicom, the major Chinese operator. 

The two will work together to develop cooperative projects and conduct research on application scenarios, product demands, service applications, market development and other related fields. They will also look at possible future directions of 5G and IoT, looking at reserch into network development and evolution requirements for new business models.

In 5G, both China Unicom and ZTE will focus on research and investment in 5G network architecture, Mobile-Edge computing (MEC), cross-layer optimisation, bearer and other key 5G technologies to promote 5G development strategies and standardisation. In IoT, both parties will research and verify key IoT technologies and implement research and development of service solutions and products to promote technological development and industrial cooperation.

ZTE is a long-term partner of China Unicom, and the agreement is for research and development (R&D) and technologies, aiming to take a leading position in the industry. In addition, China Unicom will call upon other operators to jointly promote future network development, technological research and business models.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Cuttable displays could boost embedded designs

By Nick Flaherty

A research group in Japan has developed new electronic displays that can be cut into any shape with scissors.

Led by Masayoshi Higuchi, the Electronic Functional Macromolecules Group at the Research Center for Functional Materials in Japan used a polymer with electrochromic properties that can be sprayed onto a flexible substrate to form a coating layer stable against moisture and oxygen. The new display requires only a few seconds of electrical input to switch visual information, and the display will last even after power supply is discontinued, making it suitable for low power IoT applications.

The next stage is to increase the display area and make it capable of showing multiple colours. The team is also working on a way for people to freely change the colours of various objects/items, e.g. windows, the interior or exterior of motor vehicles and buildings, umbrellas and sunglasses, and can display letters and symbols as appropriate.


TI cuts USB Type-C footprint in half

By Nick Flaherty

Texas Instruments (TI) has launched a multiport USB Type-C and Power Delivery (PD) minidock reference design that provides audio, USB data, power and video support in half the footprint of previous implementations.

This new reference design can be powered by a traditional power adapter, USB Type-C adapter or notebook computer, offering end users flexible, intelligent functionality. The reference design provides a fully tested, verified plan for a 2- by 4-inch dock, at least 50 percent smaller than existing docking solutions.
At the core of the USB Type-C and Power Delivery Minidock with Video and Charging Support Reference Design (TIDA-01243) is the TPS65982 USB Type-C and PD controller. The TPS65982 enables dual-role port USB Type-C functionality, capable of delivering 60 watts of power and supporting DisplayPort Alternate Mode and USB data transmission. In addition, the design uses the TPS65986 USB Type-C and PD controller, HD3SS3212 SuperSpeed multiplexer, TUSB321 dual-role port controller and HD3SS460 Alternate Mode multiplexer, which work together to provide dual-role port capability for power, data and video transfer.
The design allows for autonomous PD negotiation for both source and sink, eliminating the need for an external microcontroller and by combining the highly integrated TPS65982 with other USB Type-C components in an optimized circuit, the minidock reference design allows engineers to develop up to 50 percent smaller docking stations.

The minidock also supports USB 3.0 or 4K resolution video and digital audio through various output options with DisplayPort and HDMI.

All the chips in the design are compliant with the current USB Type-C and PD standards, simplifying and speeding engineers’ design cycles. The design also combines the complete solution of TI USB Type-C and PD-compliant ICs, including port controllers, data multiplexers, DC/DC converters, load switches, field-effect transistors (FETs), signal conditioners and circuit protection, easing product selection and purchasing during design implementation.
The minidock TI Designs reference design (TIDA-01243) is now available for download. Additionally, an evaluation module allows designers to quickly evaluate and implement their minidock designs. The USB-CTM-MINIDK-EVM is available today for US$499 from the TI store and authorized distributors.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Vital end-to-end encryption for embedded IoT applications uses Amazon

By Nick Flaherty

Securing the Internet of Things is a key challenge that is vexing many designers.Developing a secure end-to-end solution all the way to the cloud can be extremely challenging with lots of different hardware and software involved. Often the IoT node developers leave this for the gateway, leaving the end points vulnerable.

This is why the Embedded Blog has focussed not only on the hardware and software of the embedded node, but the links up to, and through, the cloud such as crypto accelerator cards - Kalray Launches Krypto128 Accelerator Card. So Microchip's launch of an end-to-end security IoT module that connects directly to Amazon Web Services IoT (AWS IoT) is highly significant.
Microchip used its acquisition of Atmel to work with AWS to use the AWS mutual authentication IoT security model. This should help companies to implement these security best practices from evaluation through to production. The solution adds a high level of security, simplifies the supply chain, and is now one of the fastest ways to connect to the AWS Cloud. 

Currently, third-party manufacturers of devices that connect to AWS IoT service must take specific actions to comply with the advanced security model. First, they must pre-register their security authority to AWS servers in order to establish a trust model. Second, for each IoT device they must generate unique cryptographic keys that are mathematically linked to the pre-registered security authority. Finally, the unique device keys must remain secret for the life of the device. In volume production, the generation and secure handling of these unique keys can be a daunting challenge in the chain of manufacturing especially where third-parties with different trust and compliance levels are involved.
All of this is a bit of a nightmare, to say the least, and one key reason why IoT security has been such a big issue.

Instead, the AT88CKECC development kit will allow customers to meet the security standard of AWS’ mutual authentication model and easily connect to the AWS IoT platform during the evaluation and engineering phase. Then the AWS-ECC508 device assists with meeting security standards during the prototyping and pre-production phase. Finally, devices will be customised for production stages to ensure information security in customer applications.

Customers simply solder the device on the board and connect it over I2C to the host microcontroller which runs an AWS Software Development Kit (SDK). Once this is complete, there is no need to load unique keys and certificates required for authentication during the manufacturing of the device as the AWS-ECC508 is pre-configured to be recognised by AWS without any intervention. All the information is contained in a small (3x2 mm), easy to deploy, crypto companion device.
The ECC508 device has strong resistance against environmental and physical tampering including countermeasures against expert intrusion attempts. In addition, the device features a high quality random number generator, the internal generation of secure unique keys and the ability to seamlessly accommodate various production flows in the most cost-effective manner. A typical IoT device consists of a small 8-bit microcontroller, and is battery powered. It is typically constrained for resources such as central processing unit (CPU) performance to provide low latency responsiveness, memory and code space for security protocols and for how much power they consume in order to preserve battery life. The ECC508 device has a low-power processor-agnostic cryptographic acceleration for compatibility with the widest range of resource-constrained IoT devices.

The AWS-ECC508 kit (AT88CKECC-AWS-XSTK, above) is available today priced at $249 each. The AWS-ECC508 (ATECC508A-MAHAW-S and ATECC508A-SSHAW-T) is available in UDFN and SOIC packages and is available today for sampling and volume production.

See for more information

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Kalray Launches Krypto128 Accelerator Card

By Nick Flaherty

French chip designer Kalray has moved into the data centre market with a programmable accelerator for high speed encryption.

The Krypto128 card is based on the second generation of MPPA processor called Bostan which combines high computing performance with real-time processing and low power consumption. The card can replace up to eight Xeon processors to cut costs.

Kalray started back in 2012 by integrating 1024 digital signal processing cores on a single chip to provide the same performance as FPGAs.  The Bostan chip integrates up to 288 C/C++ programmable CPU cores and 128 crypto co-processors with a fully deterministic and real-time architecture. 

The company is aiming at two main markets with its Krypto128 card. The first market concerns storage computation pipelines, which include algorithms such as compression, encryption, erasure coding and integrity checks. This computation pipeline can be found at several places in the data center, either in the main server, if SSDs are attached to it, or in the storage proxy I/O server - or even in the all-flash array cabinet storage server. In any of these cases, this suite of computation on the data before writing or after reading to or from the SSDs requires numerous cycles of the main processor and can be offloaded easily on the Krypto128 PCIe card.

Kalray has customer use cases in which a Krypto128 card can offload and replace up to 8 Intel Xeon E5 2630v3 @2.4Ghz when implementing a Lz4 compression, an AES128 encryption, an erasure coding (8 to 10) and a CRC 32 bits on 4K block of data, resulting in a significant 3 x system cost reduction.

A key advantage is that the Bostan chip is fully programmable in C and C++ so that customers can easily use a wide range of algorithms such as AES256/126, Sha256/128 and CRC32. Depending on which algorithm is implemented, performance of up to 60Gbits of bandwidth can be achieved.

"Kalray is fully committed to offering solutions to our customers that help them to quickly introduce SSD technology, with all its latency benefits, into their data center," said Eric Baissus, CEO of Kalray. "And, more importantly, this gives them the possibility to scale up the technology in a cost effective manner."

The second market targeted by the Krypto128 concerns IPsec and OpenSSL transparent acceleration into VPN routers or secure gateways. These are commonly found in the network between, for instance, a private enterprise data center located at the customer premises and a remote public cloud where the customer may rent some hardware services. Performance in these use cases is phenomenal and can go up to 120Gbits of bandwidth.

Kalray provides all the basic software modules required to implement those functions. Communication between the main server and the Krypto128 card is mainly based on the standard socket API with an AF_ALG extension interfacing with MPPA specialized engines, which in turn enables transparent acceleration for either the storage computation pipeline or OpenSSL and IPsec stack. Kalray also offers all software acceleration engines implemented on the MPPA high-speed I/O processor, from crypto, Sha, CRC and compression, to erasure coding. In addition, the customer is able to customize and add new features.

The Krypto128 card is a single width, full height, half-length PCIe programmable card with 16 lanes of  Gen3 PCIe and typically consumes 25W.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Additive manufacturing technique protects sensors

By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Germany have used techniques more suited to 3D printing to protect sensors in harsh environments.

O.R. Lasertechnologie in Dieburg, Germany has used an additive manufacturing technique called DMD (“Direct Metal Deposition”) to protect the sensors with a hard alloy to significantly extend their lifetimes, for example in pipelines of the oil and gas industry.

Industrial sensors are deployed to precisely and reliably monitor temperatures, flow rates, and pressure over long periods of time and can be subject to extreme stresses while doing so. Each day, about a million barrels of crude oil, or 160,000 cubic meters, pass through a pipeline with a diameter of one meter. That is equivalent to 1850 liters per second. Onshore gas pipelines have an extremely high internal pressure of 100 bars, which can even reach 200 bars or more in offshore pipelines. Sensor elements used to monitor the flow suffer considerable wear as a result of corrosion and abrasion. This shortens their lifetimes and necessitates costly repairs.

The way to protect such sensors from wear is to coat it with a cobalt-chromium-based alloy called Stellite. This is usually applied in composite layers with a total thickness of several millimeters but the intense heat applied during the process results in considerable mingling of the sensor’s material with the cladding.

Instead, the DMD system uses relatively low laser output levels starting at 200 W, but with a high deposition rate of up to 5000 mm³/h. The laser only minimally melts the surface of the sensor, and only at scattered points. Metallic powder, with grain sizes between 45 and 90 µm, is fed coaxially to the laser beam and permanently fuses with the object’s surface. The advantages of this approach include precise deposition of the material, low heat penetration, and an undistorted, crack-free coating. Track widths between 200 µm and 2 mm are possible.

The team of the R&D department of OR LASER spent a year collaborating with the Fraunhofer Institute to develop a highly efficient, easy-to-install powder nozzle that works with high repeatability and is suitable for automated processes.

The coaxial arrangement also permits deposition of material independently of the direction of cladding, so that the workpiece can be freely rotated in all directions and, if required, even “grow” in three dimensions. Moreover, the laser parameters can be dynamically adjusted to changing conditions on the fly.

In order to prevent oxidation and the formation of tiny bubbles, the work is done in a shielding atmosphere of argon, a noble gas. The resulting surface quality is like new, free of pores and cracks, very close to the required final contours, and neat. The sensor itself is hardly affected by this “minimally invasive” technique, while its resistance to wear is greatly improved.

The system is completely manufactured in Germany, and the nozzle is the first of its kind to enable a combination of wire- and powder-based laser cladding.

Top ten MEMS sensor suppliers in 2015 as market struggles

By Nick Flaherty

Market researcher IHS Markit has just released their ranking of micromachined MEMS sensor suppliers for 2015.

Despite the demand for sensors for the Internet of Things, MEMS sensor revenue declined by 3.4% in 2015 with slow growth expected to start from 2017, says Marwan Boustany, senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS Markit. While microphones and other MEMS categories grew, other categories declined -- most notably, motion sensors. 
Source: IHS Markit

The three leading MEMS sensor suppliers globally, based on 2015 revenue, were STMicroelectronics at 17.85 percent, Knowles at 17.32 percent and InvenSense at 17.26 percent.

With less potential for organic volume growth due to slowing end-product markets, market-share competition will dominate in 2016. MEMS suppliers will therefore focus more on sensor improvement (power and performance), portfolio expansion and innovation (new sensor categories), acquisitions (rapid capability integration), new business models such as software services based on sensors and expansion into new product categories such as unmanned drones and smart homes.
Drones that use motion sensors began to take off in 2015. While this is a segment with a lot of potential, regulatory issues may have an as yet unclear impact on future sales volume, especially when the potential for delivery drones from Amazon are considered.

Home environmental monitoring, using gas, humidity and temperature sensors, show good opportunity for growth. This segment is led by smart home products from Nest and Honeywell, as well as carbon-monoxide detection regulations and growing consumer adoption of air-purifiers.
STMicroelectronics is still the revenue leader for consumer MEMS, thanks to its business across a wide range of sensor types. The company’s consumer MEMS revenue lead continued to erode at a fast rate last year, with competitors growing share, the company’s first-place revenue lead has narrowed from $100 million in 2014 to around $10 million in 2015. STMicroelectronic’s motion sensor revenue continued to decline in 2015, however it was helped by its growing success with 6-axis inertial measurement units (IMUs) used mainly by manufacturers in China.

STMicroelectronics was hit hard in the last two years, because Apple shifted its gyroscope business to InvenSense in 2014; however, STMicroelectronics won the Apple Watch business in 2015 with its 6-axis IMU and also increased its share of motion sensors used by Samsung in 2016.

Knowles is still the dominant leader in MEMS microphones, leading the second-ranked suppler (Goertek) by a power of three in units and revenue. In addition to offering a wide range of analog and digital-output microphones, Knowles has also started shipping its VoiceIQ microphones with local processing in 2016, as it seeks to address both mobile and internet of things (IoT) applications.

While MEMS microphone price erosion has led to revenue decline for Knowles, it still ranks second after STMicroelectronics thanks to a favorable shift in Microphone adoption. The company has dramatically narrowed the lead enjoyed by STMicroelectronics -- from more than $100 million in 2014 to just $10 million last year. Knowles provides a large share of MEMS sensors used in Apple’s products, as well as a share in most handsets, tablets and wearable products from other manufacturers.

InvenSense overtook Bosch and moved into third-ranked revenue position in the MEMS market last year. The company leads in consumer motion sensor revenue, thanks to dramatic volume growth for 6-axis IMUs as well as its dedicated optical-image stabilization (OIS) gyroscope. InvenSense is the standout MEMS supplier in terms of motion sensor revenue growth, with 26 percent year-over-year revenue growth, while the other sensor leaders suffer declining revenue.

Apple is the key and dominant source of this revenue for InvenSense, especially as it loses share in Samsung to STMicroelectronics in 2016. The company is increasingly pushing its MEMS microphone products against strong competition and hopes to release an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor in 2017 to capitalise on a rapidly growing segment.

Friday, August 05, 2016

IoT to hit 27bn devices by 2025 producing 2 Zb of data

By Nick Flaherty

If companies can actually make use of data from 27bn devices in the Internet of Things (IoT), they could make over $3tn according to a new report. The challenge is highlighted by the prediction that the data generated will be a stunning 2 Zettabytes (2 Zb).

The report from Machina Research predicts the total number of IoT connections will grow from 6 billion in 2015 to 27 billion in 2025, a CAGR of 16%.

Currently 71% of all IoT connections are connected using a short range technology such as WiFi or  Zigbee, and by 2025 that will have grown slightly to 72%. The big short-range applications, which cause it to be the dominant technology category, are Consumer Electronics, Building Security and Building Automation. That may account for the differences in the predictions in the number o fnodes that will ship:
A key point is that cellular connections will grow from 334 million at the end of 2015 to 2.2 billion by 2025, of which the majority will be LTE. 45% of those cellular connections will be in the ‘Connected Car’ sector, including both factory-fit embedded connections and aftermarket devices. However IoT will account for less than 1% of cellular data traffic. Cellular traffic is particularly generated by digital billboards, in-vehicle connectivity and CCTV.

However, just 11% of connections in 2025 will use Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) connections such as Sigfox, LoRa and LTE-NB1.

The total IoT market will be $3 trillion in 2025. up from $750 bn last year. Just over a third will come directly from end users in the form of devices, connectivity and application revenue. The remainder comes from upstream and downstream IoT-related sources such as application development, systems integration, hosting and data monetisation.
China and the US will be neck-and-neck for dominance of the global market by 2025. China which will account for 21% of global IoT connections, ahead of the US on 20, with similar proportions for cellular connections. However, the US wins in terms of IoT revenue (22% vs 19%). Third largest market is Japan with 7% of all connections, 7% of cellular and 6% of global revenue.
“Every year we take a snapshot of the IoT market, pulling our latest forecasts to examine how the overall market had developed in the year," said  Machina Research CEO Matt Hatton. "This year the top line figures of 27 billion connections and USD3 trillion of revenue continue are eye-catching and the opportunity is substantial. However it's not just a case of rising tides lifting all boats. To take advantage of the opportunities in IoT, suppliers need to understand the key market dynamics and their competitive environment, and develop best practice. Most of what Machina Research does is focused on supporting various players understand and exploit the opportunities we outline in this study”.

The IoT Global Forecast & Analysis 2015-2025 report provides an overview of the total market opportunity in the Internet of Things, based on on-going analysis of the market as presented in the Machina Research IoT Forecast Database.


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