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CrowdStrike’s Update Downfall: Who Dropped the Ball?

CrowdStrike’s Update Downfall: Who Dropped the Ball?

By Junko Yoshida

Last Friday’s worldwide IT outage, traced to CrowdStrike, galvanized everyone from corporate board directors and their information security officers to IT managers, cyber security experts and the public at large.

The cause was a faulty update from CrowdStrike, deployed to computers running Microsoft Windows.

The defective updates, which grounded flights, disrupted banking and healthcare services and 911 emergency call centers, made the high-tech industries sit up and wonder:

How did we let this happen?

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Chip Vendors Boost SDV Software. Is It Enough?

Chip Vendors Boost SDV Software. Is It Enough?

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
Renesas and NXP are rolling out software-defined vehicle development platforms. A platform encompassing hardware, software and cloud-based tools is a huge advancement compared to past offerings to the automotive industry. But no one dares to promise their effectiveness in a real world where OEMs design SDVs with hardware and software from multiple vendors.

To serve the plans of OEMs designing software-defined vehicles (SDVs), Renesas has unveiled an SDV development platform called “ROX” (R-Car Open Access),” boasting that it integrates “all essential hardware, operating systems (OS), software and tools” automakers need to rapidly develop next-generation vehicles “with secure and continuous software updates,” said Renesas.

Similarly, NXP Semiconductors announced earlier this year “CoreRide” designed to address the complexity, scalability and costs carmakers face as they transition their creaky E/E architecture to newer software-defined vehicle architectures.

This initiative by the two leading automotive chip suppliers illustrates their urgent perception that they must minimize the impact of the software crisis facing many car OEMs.

Read More »Chip Vendors Boost SDV Software. Is It Enough?
How does Graphcore fit into SoftBank's AI play?

How Does Graphcore Fit into SoftBank’s AI Play?

By Peter Clarke

What’s at stake:
At stake is the future of the most important part of the deep technology sector. That is, if you believe that the AI revolution currently permeating the world is going to build on — and be more important than the transistor, the computer and the Internet. Nvidia is the dominant AI-hardware player seeking to expand in multiple directions. Masayoshi Son, the founder and CEO of SoftBank Group, wants to transform his company into an AI full-stack powerhouse.

Graphcore Ltd. (Bristol, England) has been acquired by Japan’s SoftBank Group, finally confirming rumors of a deal that had circulated for several months.

We don’t know the purchase price but it is expected to have been less than the $700 million of venture capital raised by Graphcore since its formation in 2016; speculations put the price at about $500 million. As such, this feels like a distressed sale despite the positive gloss that CEO Nigel Toon has put on the deal.

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The SDV and Its Unintended Challenges

The SDV and Its Unintended Challenges

By Junko Yoshida

The software-defined vehicle (SDV) is “all the rage,” if you are to believe press-release headlines and media coverage (including this publication).

A voice of prudence is Phil Koopman, professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who recently published an article, “Architectural Coupling Killed the Software Defined Vehicle” on his Substack newsletter.

Despite its provocative headline, Koopman writes, “I don’t think the SDV is actually dead.”

However, as carmakers stampede toward the SDV cliff, Koopman warns that they might be throwing together vehicle architectures that inevitably become too complex to manage.

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Can AI pave the way for multi-die systems?

Can AI Pave the Way for Multi-die Systems?

By Ron Wilson

What’s at stake:
There is growing discussion of AI in chip design. Could this be mainly marketing, or could it reflect a new weapon in the EDA armory? If the latter, AI could take on some of the most intractable challenges of designing multi-die systems.

Global industry is placing huge bets that artificial intelligence will create a step-function increase in productivity. From customer service to materials handling, from bond trading to medical research, this faith thrives across a broad domain. But what exactly do these faithful mean when they say AI? There are many species in that phylum. And how exactly will AI — demonstrably excellent at pattern recognition and parlor games, but with fundamental limitations when it comes to accuracy and predictability — make knowledge workers more productive?

The EDA industry, with its witheringly complex tasks, massive data sets, vastly skilled practitioners, and utter intolerance of error, offers an excellent laboratory for exploring these questions. The emerging field of high-performance multi-die modules in particular includes some of the most formidable challenges. And among the tasks in this area, the challenge of multi-physics analysis of modules — analyzing the interacting electromagnetic, thermal, and mechanical properties of a module design — can be most daunting. This may be a great place to ask our questions.

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Maelstrom of Change Hitting Automotive Industry

A Central-Compute SoC for SDVs? Really?

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
Consider the Volkswagen Group’s desperate move to partner with Rivian in hopes of designing its future software-defined vehicle platform. Or Volvo’s catastrophic software failure with its new Volvo EX90 electric car. These stories confirm the huge — and persistently unfillable — software deficit afflicting many car OEMs. So, where should carmakers go to fix their software problem?

The Ojo-Yoshida Report recently had Chet Babla, senior vice president, strategic marketing at Indie Semiconductor, as the guest in our latest episode podcast of “Chat with Junko and Bola”. Although we didn’t intend to talk with Babla about specific examples like VW and Volvo, our conversation reveals the maelstrom of change hitting the automotive industry.

Read More »A Central-Compute SoC for SDVs? Really?

How a Small MEMS Foundry Crashed the CHIPS Act

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
The CHIPS and Science Act has created the opportunity — and federal subsidies — for semiconductor companies both big and small to return chip production capacity to the United States. But thus far, the Department of Commerce’s decision-making process has been shrouded in mystery. The latest announcement of Rogue Valley Microdevices getting the grant gives us a glimpse into the federal government’s inner workings.

Likely ingredients necessary to horn into federal funding action? Chutzpah, street cred, and experience in the technology biz.

Without the power of major market share, what does it take to horn into federal funding action?  Likely ingredients include chutzpah, street cred, and experience in the technology biz. These qualities exist emphatically at Rogue Valley Microdevices (Medford, Oregon), a pure-play MEMS foundry founded by Jessica Gomez, once a lab operator at Standard Microsystems (SMSC) in Long Island, New York. Gomez worked at a small aging fab — attached to the then SMSC’s headquarters — where the company made MEMS inkjet printheads. 

Gomez’s journey started with a local community college science degree. She gained first-hand operational experience at SMSC and went on to run a foundry service at a short-lived MEMS company in California. This background convinced Gomez that she could establish her own MEMS foundry. She launched Rogue Valley Microdevices (RVM) in 2003.

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VW’s Software Crisis isn’t VW’s Alone

By Junko Yoshida

It’s easy to pick on Volkswagen.

The dizzying array of Volkswagen’s recent partnerships, joint ventures and investments is all over the map – in geography and business focus. Worse, all this churn shows no apparent thread, at least to outsiders like myself, that might help VW to knit the tangle together. 

Paired with VW’s frequent reorganizations and management changes in recent years, such deals beg the conclusion that the organization is in disarray, throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. Maybe things aren’t that bad. Maybe it just looks bad.

Read More »VW’s Software Crisis isn’t VW’s Alone