You are here


Ethernet: The Highway for Automotive Electronics?

What happens when technology from the fast paced communication industry makes a move into the traditional automotive industry? Semiconductor marketers and even the automotive industry are talking about revolutionary changes inside and outside the vehicle. 

What kinds of changes?  Ethernet and sensors.  There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm over the prospect of cars with Ethernet networking capabilities and multiple ports for streaming video, driver-assist cameras, real-time diagnostics and autonomous driving.  Ethernet is touted as being a faster, and ultimately cheaper, network solution for the operational information collected by sensors as well as providing more bandwidth for the infotainment needs of each passenger.    

After attending DAC last week, I was quite bullish myself.  Companies such as Synopsys are reporting significant design activity focused on automotive applications.  Synopsys offers their DesignWare ARC SEP Processor for ISO 26262 safety compliant solutions as well as a sensor IP subsystem for small, low power devices. 

Ethernet is already ubiquitous in the communication world, providing not only experienced design knowledge but also large-volume manufacturing.  Large volumes lead to economies of scale and lower costs compared to other automotive network options.  Cadence has a long history of designing Ethernet IP and developing standards which will make adoption in the automotive industry much smoother.

IOT, Priming The Market

No matter who you talk to, from material vendors to OEMs, semiconductor equipment suppliers, designers, fabless companies, IDMs, or foundries, IoT is a popular subject. Every industry publication you may read or conference you attend, IOT is at the forefront of every discussion. This was certainly true at DAC last week. I was on a breakfast panel session sponsored by GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Synopsys on Tuesday morning. The big question is, will IoT be the next driver that will take the industry to its next growth phase? There was a lively discussion of the opportunities for IoT. Semico believes that IoT devices will exceed mobile connections by 2018. However, there are some significant caveats that should be pointed out. The main inhibitors that were discussed were:

Terrifying Robots: Part 8

The next robot is a lawn mower.  Of course.  Because what robots really need is a fast rotating 12” cutting blade

(source: CNET)

Like many of the robots in this series, this little LawnBott looks like a cute little toy on first glance.  In fact, it looks a little too small to be a useful tool, and at $2,800 its probably not going to be used by my neighbors.  

Thank goodness. 

As with other consumer-orientated robots, this little creature uses apps and a smartphone for controls and scheduling.  Though it seems a little sinister that its so quiet you can schedule it to mow your lawn at night.  As Tony said, the Tuilleries Garden in Paris uses goats to cut their grass.  If its good enough for them, its good enough for me.  

BTW, do you have some sheep?  My lawn needs a mowing.

Terrifying Robots: Part 7

What sorcery is this?  Watch this video, and see how fast these little robots can move.  If we were playing a game of capture the flag, I’d report this robot as, well, a robot.  (Flag capture and return in 5 seconds?! Hacking!)

What is our obsession with creating robots that can build things?  Have none of you seen The Terminator?

Now consider, I don’t know if you’ve read Google’s terms of service, but basically they’re creating Skynet.  Sooner or later, someone is going to combine Google’s Skynet with all these robots, and the next day we’re all going to wake up in the Matrix, in a perpetual state of 1999, because according to these bots, human civilization peaked before the rise of smart phones.  

Think about it, we’re going to live in a simulation without smart phones.  

Talk about terrifying.  

Crowd Funded: Seriously? A Toothbrush?

When most people talk about the connected home, they tend to scoff at different product ideas.  Take this Smart Toothbrush, on  Most of us would probably roll our eyes at the idea of a connected toothbrush, yet it still has over 20 days to go to fundraise, and yet its already funded ($87K at the time of this writing). 

So what makes this product so special that people are willing to spend $99 - $200 USD on a toothbrush?  

Well, first of all, its sleek and minimal for an electric toothbrush.  There are no bulky parts that stick out, so for aesthetics alone, this is a winner.  Second, this company really focused on the application, or the “why” we need this type of product.  They created not just graphs that show our brushing habits, but games for children that make brushing more fun in general.  

And if you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ve struggled with getting your kid to brush their teeth regularly

Third, if you’re in the market for an electric toothbrush, its relatively affordable.  While you can find some electronic toothbrushes for about $40, there are also many that are $100+.  

PG&E: Zero Net Energy

The second guest keynote speaker at Semico’s Smart Lighting IMPACT event  was Carolyn Weiner,  Manager, Core Products, from PG&E, where she spoke about the zero net energy goals PG&E has for California and what that means for the industry.  

Perhaps expected, PG&E is focused on a “greener” future.  Perhaps unexpectedly, their goal is to reduce power consumption in CA by 60% by 2020.  And even more astounding, they’re seeking to have all new residential construction in CA be zero net energy by 2020, and all new commercial buildings being zero net energy by 2030.  These are lofty goals, but if anything this conference showed us, they’re entirely possible with the right leaders behind the effort, because the technology is readily available today. 

And if you think this isn’t important, keep in mind that lighting alone in CA makes up about 25% of the energy load in the commercial building market. 

The road isn’t going to be easy.  There are several stumbling blocks along the way. 

A few challenges PG&E is investigating include: variability in energy savings across different types of buildings, interoperability, the technical expertise required to install, and proper commissioning. 

So what is one major aspect PG&E thinks builders should focus on in order to reduce energy?  Daylight. 

Cisco: The Industrial Internet of Things

Last week’s Semico IMPACT event was full of interesting speakers discussing the Internet of Things and how Smart Lighting is the “Trojan Horse” of connectivity and intelligence.  Our first guest keynote speaker of the day was Prasanna Venkatesan,  Vertical Business Solutions Leader, IoT Group,  Cisco. Hecame right out and said maybe we shouldn’t be focusing on the residential Internet of Things because there are too many shakeups in that market segment.  Instead, Cisco sees more initial opportunity in the Industrial Internet of Things. 

But first, some lighting statistics.  One fifth of the world’s global electricity usage is from lighting, which equals about 70% of the world’s passenger vehicle emissions.  That is why lighting is such an important market to focus on, especially LED lighting, which has the potential to reduce the US lighting energy consumption 50% by 2020. 

Cisco expects that LED lighting will have 52% of the market by 2021.  Now, couple that with the fact that most lighting today is analog, and the market is ripe for a “digital disruption.”

Terrifying Robots: Part 6

This robot is a mix between adorable and terrifying.  Its slow, almost ponderous crawl forward before it pauses to split open its head and do a little twirl before withdrawing all its limbs and rolling down hill...only to show that on flat land it can easily chase down a little kid.

No I'm just kidding, theres nothing adorable about this thing.  In fact, are you with me in thinking that with the high pitched noise its making, we're looking at the first generation of Screamers? 

Reduce Energy Consumption with Intelligent Lighting Systems

In the United States alone, the Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2011, we used 461 billion kWh to light our residential and commercial properties. That equals about 12 percent of the total electricity consumed in North America.

Our first response to these numbers is to reiterate to ourselves that we should be turning off the lights when the rooms are empty. But that really depends on the light bulb you have installed. For example, with an incandescent light bulb, you have a 90 percent energy loss when it’s on, so keep that thing off as much as possible. Halogens, too, should be turned off whenever possible. Yet, when it comes to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), they can consume more energy by being turned on and off than by just staying on, depending on how often you turn them off (Hint: If you’re coming back into the room in 15 minutes, leave it on).

The recommendations are confusing, and if you’re like me, you don’t pay attention to the type of light you have in the room. And maybe, like me, you hear your father’s voice yelling in your head to “turn off that light” every time you leave the room. Bad advice, since now I’m turning on and off my hallway CFL light bulb a few dozen times a night as I pass in and out of rooms.

Terrifying Robots: Part 5

You know what I just love about this pole dancer?

No, not the jazz hands.

Not the outfit either. 

The dance? It does dance better than I do, but no. 

What I love is that it has facial recognition software so it can pick out the people in the mirror and stare intently into their eyes while it does its thing. 

This is especially so creepy because its devling into the "uncanny valley," a phenomenon that happens when a creation looks very close to human, but there is something "off" about it, that makes us uncomfortable. 

(source: CNET)