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embedded news: Renesas to buy Reality AI to enhance AIoT, plus more

Our weekly roundup from the embedded world.


This week’s news inbox has been overflowing, especially with embedded world 2022 coming up in Nuremberg, Germany next week. Here’s a selection of that news, featuring AIchip Technologies, Atonarp, Avnet, EMD Electronics, ETSI, Indoor Robotics, Kandou, Lynceus, Metawave, Microchip Technology, NOVELDA, Reality AI, Renesas Electronics, Sequitur Labs, Silicon Catalyst, STMicroelectronics, TDK InvenSense, TouchNetix

Renesas Electronics announced it is to acquire Reality Analytics (Reality AI) in an all-cash transaction. The acquisition will significantly enhance Renesas’ endpoint AI capability, providing more flexibility and efficiency for system developers to make their products AIoT (artificial intelligence of things) ready and to market faster. The Reality AI acquisition allows Renesas to expand its in-house capability to provide comprehensive and highly optimized endpoint solutions both from the hardware as well as the software perspective. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, U.S., Reality AI offers a wide range of embedded AI and tiny machine learning (TinyML) solutions for advanced non-visual sensing in automotive, industrial and commercial products.

Renesas CK-RA6M5_CK-RX65N_LTE
(Image: Renesas)

Renesas Electronics also announced two new cloud development kits, CK-RA6M5 and CK-RX65N, providing a complete connectivity solution for the RA and RX families of 32-bit MCUs. The cloud kits are the first to be equipped with Renesas’ RYZ014A Cat-M1 module, a certified Sequans Communications based LTE cellular module that offers the ability to establish wireless connection between MCUs and cloud services quickly and securely without a gateway. Users can rapidly develop IoT cloud products without having to design their own complex circuitry and software stacks, ready to connect to global cloud service providers such as AWS Cloud and IoT services.

STMicroelectronics has introduced new inertial sensors that enable AI training inside the sensor using an embedded intelligent sensor processing unit (ISPU). The ISM330ISN always-on 6-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) for movement and position sensing features built-in intelligence to enable smart devices to perform advanced motion-detection functions in the sensor without interaction with the external MCU. ST’s approach integrates a specialized processor, the ISPU, in a small area directly on the sensor chip, optimized for machine-learning applications. This enables a 50% smaller footprint module consuming 50% less power than a typical co-packaged MCU. Developers can program the ISPU using ST’s NanoEdge AI Studio.

STMicroelectronics also announced the ST4SIM-201 embedded SIM (eSIM) for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, which meets the latest standards for 5G network access, M2M security, and flexible remote provisioning and management. Compliant with ETSI/3GPP release 16, the ST4SIM-201 can connect to 5G standalone (SA) networks. It can also connect to 3G and 4G networks and low-power wide-area (LPWA) technologies such as long-term evolution for machines (LTE-M) and narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT).

Microchip LX34070 IC
(Image: Microchip)

Microchip Technology has announced the LX34070, an IC purpose-built for EV motor control applications. It includes differential outputs, fast sample rates and features that make it functional-safety-ready for ISO 26262 compliance in the Automotive Safety Integrity Level–C (ASIL–C) classification. The LX34070 inductive position sensor solution offers numerous advantages compared to magnetic resolvers and linear voltage differential transducers (LVDTs), at a fraction of the cost. By using PCB traces rather than transformer-based magnetic windings and coil structures, it has negligible size and mass compared to alternatives that weigh as much as a pound. Accuracy is improved since the LX34070 does not depend on magnet strength, and the device improves robustness by actively rejecting stray magnetic fields.

ETSI MEC white paper
(Image: ETSI)

The ETSI MEC (multi-access edge computing) group has released a new white paper which aims to describe the deployment options related to MEC federation, especially from an architectural point of view. With a key focus on ETSI MEC implementations, it also aims to provide an open approach taking into account other standards and technologies, including those from 3GPP SA Working Group 6 and GSMA OPG. The paper introduces some key considerations, i.e., connection between MEC systems, multi-domain orchestration and collaboration among operators and with cloud providers and third parties. An understanding of all these aspects will be beneficial for the future deployment of MEC federation and edge capability exposure in these heterogeneous environments.

Indoor Robotics, an indoor drone technology company that recently launched its Tando drone, announced the closing of a $15 million in series A funding, which will enable further product development. The Tando uses multiple sensors and proprietary algorithms to accurately map and navigate in any indoor space, allowing it to autonomously navigate above or around any items in its path, enabling it to secure and monitor large areas. Tando docks on the ceiling and functions as a security camera when not in flight. In addition to office buildings, it is currently being used to secure and monitor warehouses, data centers, malls, and retail establishments by well-known enterprises.

(Image: AIchip) (Click to enlarge)

AIchip Technologies announced that its high-performance computing ASIC services are now taking 3nm designs and targeting its first test chip for Q1 2023. The new service targets TSMC’s latest N3E process technology. Its design technology and infrastructure was completed during the current quarter and its design methodology will soon be available.  Other assets in place include a complete library of best-in-class 3rd party IP covering DDR5, GDDR6, HBM2E, HBM3, PCIe5, and 112G SERDES IP from Tier 1 providers. Alchip earlier announced to select customers the availability of its 3nm MCM, CoWoS and InFO advanced packaging capabilities and its latest APLink 5.0 (Advanced Package Link) die-to-die IP that is UCle 1.0 compatible.

TDK auto-awake Ultrasonic ToF Sensors
(Image: TDK InvenSense) (Click to enlarge)

TDK said its InvenSense CH201 ultrasonic time-of-flight (ToF) sensors have been integrated into the Kaadas K9-F 3D Face Push-Pull WIFI smart door lock, enabling its face recognition functionality to automatically unlock for recognized users, recently launched into the consumer market. InvenSense’s SmartSonic family of ultrasonic ToF sensors integrates a MEMS PMUT (piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducer) with an ultra-low power SoC in a miniature reflowable package. The ToF sensor provides millimeter-accurate and robust range measurements to targets at distances up to 5m, in any lighting condition, including full sunlight, and independently of the target’s color and optical transparency.

Human presence sensor developer NOVELDA has launched upgraded ultra-wideband (UWB) proximity sensor, to be shown at Sensors Converge 2022. The new sensors offer absolute range and a wide field of view and are user-configurable for both distance and sensitivity. They enable reliable detection in the zone of interest and are always detected inside the zone, never outside. With scalable settings from 0.5 meters to 1.5 meters, they are suited for close-range indoor applications. The sensor ensures a fast response with a latency time of less than 0.25 seconds for device activation or deactivation. NOVELDA said its UWB wireless sensors function efficiently without interference in the proximity of other radio frequency (RF) devices.

TouchNetix force-release-image
(Image: TouchNetix)

TouchNetix has added a new pure force-sensing chip to its aXiom family of HMI chips, the AX54A-Force, a small-sized chip to complement smart touch surfaces, touch button clusters and other solutions where touch functionality is integrated. TouchNetix’ integrated force-sensing technology enables accurate and reliable measurements of force on the touchscreen or surface from 0.1 Newton (10 g) to 20 Newton (2000 g). It also offers multi-force position sensing down to a spatial separation of 1.5 cm. The superior sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the aXiom chips enables detection of the smallest force signals, with extremely fine precision, according to the company.

Kandou, developer of high-speed, energy-efficient chip-to-chip link solutions, announced that its Matterhorn USB-C multiprotocol retimer with USB4 support is deployed in products from five of the top six PC OEMs. These products, the first of which recently received USB4 compliance certification, include laptops and mobile computing devices sold worldwide by companies in the U.S., China, Japan and Taiwan. The company said Matterhorn is the only commercially available USB4 retimer to work across all system-on-chip (SoC) platforms, and is also being implemented in designs that will be deployed in desktop and gaming platforms available to consumers later this year.

Carl McMahon - Lynceus
(Image: Lynceus)

Lynceus, a provider of AI-powered predictive process control, announced the appointment of Carl McMahon as its head of global customer operations. David Meyer, CEO of Lynceus, said, “Our technology illuminates what’s impacting the quality in-line, in real time; we bring data to the surface about defects you otherwise wouldn’t know about until it’s too late. Having validated our approach with several key industry stakeholders, we are extremely well-positioned to expand our outreach and Carl is the ideal person to do so. His experience in semiconductor manufacturing automation, process knowledge, broad network, and proven record of success will move us to the next level.”

Avnet is launching its MaaXBoard 8ULP starter kit featuring the i.MX 8ULP processor from NXP Semiconductor, facilitating the development of ultra-low power, secure, intelligent edge applications. Implemented as a compact system-on-module (SOM) plus carrier board, this platform includes a multifunction development interface plus well supported communication and expansion interfaces, to maximize its overall utility for developers of new custom products. A unique aspect of this board is its debug subsystem which supports remote USB access to three UARTs, 16bit I/O expander-based remote control and monitoring, plus an option of using integrated SWD/JTAG or 10-pin header debugger interface.

Sequitur Labs announced that its EmSPARK security suite has been implemented into the Atonarp ASTON mass spectrometer platform for in-situ semiconductor manufacturing. The security suite provides Atonarp with a complete security solution including secure boot, secure firmware updates and device failure recovery. In conjunction with its partner Variscite, the security solution uses the company’s i.MX8 based system on module (SoM) to provide device security and protect AI models on Atonarp products.

Silicon Catalyst has added EMD Electronics as its 10th strategic partner. In addition to EMD Electronics gaining a first-hand view of early-stage companies targeting the AI, big data, IoT and 5G semiconductor application markets, the companies will work together to screen and select entrepreneurial teams developing innovative electronic materials required for next-generation semiconductor devices. EMD Electronics is the North American electronics business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, operating across the life science, healthcare and electronics segments.

Metawave, a developer of high-end sensing and perception solutions for terrestrial and aerospace mobility applications, has secured $26 million in convertible and debt financing as a prelude to a Series B funding, to deliver its MARCONI 77GHz and POLARIS 24GHz product lines –beamformer chip and antenna module solutions to address the increased demands for long-range aerial sensing and advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) to detect vehicles, motorcycles, pedestrians, and other objects at longer range with high resolution and accuracy. To date, Metawave has raised over $60M in funding from financial and strategic investors.

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