Latest Developments in the Embedded Marketplace

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Solar Power Now Has Economic Advantage and is Looking at a Boom in US

There are several new economic indications that solar energy may be on the verge of a major boom. Deutsche Bank, for example, has produced a 175 page report that suggests solar generated energy will be the dominant source of energy worldwide within the next 15 years. Not only that, but the solar industry will generate $5 trillion in revenue in that time while displacing fossil fuels. The analysts at Deutsche, led by Vishal Shah, state the solar market potential is massive. Even today, at only 1%(130GW) installed of the possible 6,000GW, it still produces $2 trillion annually. They also predict that in the next 15 years, the market in solar will increase 10 fold.

Now a new report from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi—which one would normally expect to be a big player in oil and gas—says that “fossil fuels can no longer compete with solar technologies on price,” and that the majority of the $48 trillion needed to meet global energy demand over the next 20 years will come from renewables.

“Cost is no longer a reason not to proceed with renewables,” the report says. In some instances, the price of renewables are remarkably low. “The latest solar PV project tendered in Dubai returned a low bid that set a new global benchmark and is competitive with oil at US$10/barrel and gas at US$5/MMBtu.” This was a 200MW bid by ACWA Power at $00584/kwh (5.84c/kwh) without subsidies. Of course, sunnier countries will have lower costs, but over time even cloudier places will see solar eclipse dirty sources.

The growth in photovoltaic was evident at all scales of deployment, from smaller residential installations to massive utility-scale solar farms. Only natural gas accounted for a larger percentage of new generating capacity than solar, but the gap was only 10%. Some further statistics: The US installed 6,201 MW of solar PV in 2014, up 30% over 2013, making 2014 the largest year ever in terms of PV installations. Solar provided roughly one third of all new electric generating capacity in the US in 2014 and more than one third of all new electric generating capacity in the US came online in the same year. By the end of 2014, 20 states eclipsed the 100 MW mark for cumulative operating solar PV installations and California alone is home to 8.7 GW.


Cypress, Spansion Merger Creates $2 Billion Player in MCUs and Specialized Memories for Embedded

    Cypress Semiconductor and Spansion have announced that they have closed the merger of the two companies in an all-stock, tax-free transaction valued at approximately $5 billion. The merger is expected to achieve more than $135 million in cost synergies on an annualized basis within three years and to be accretive to non-GAAP earnings within the first full year after the transaction closes. The combined company will continue to pay $0.11 per share in quarterly dividends to shareholders.

    Cypress President and CEO T.J. Rodgers said, “We closed this merger even more quickly than originally anticipated, accelerating our strategic and financial roadmap. From Day One, the new Cypress will capitalize on its expanded product portfolio and leadership positions in embedded processing and specialized memories to significantly extend its penetration of global markets such as automotive, industrial, consumer, wearable electronics and the Internet of Things.”

    “Consider the automotive market, where Cypress has a dominant position in capacitive touch-sensing controllers and SRAMs for infotainment systems, and Spansion is the leading supplier of flash memory and microcontrollers for infotainment, body and climate control systems, instrument clusters and advanced driver assistance systems,” Rodgers said. “The new Cypress will be the number three chip supplier worldwide of memories and microcontrollers to this business.” 

    “Spansion’s exceptional team and technology leadership in high-performance memory and MCUs will complement Cypress’s strong capabilities. This merger was an important step forward in Spansion’s transformation into a global embedded systems leader,” said Kispert, CEO of Spansion and a member of the Cypress board of directors. “Together, we can significantly enhance our value to our customers and deliver a more robust and broader product line to meet their embedded requirements.”


PICMG Ratifies PICMG 3.7 AdvancedTCA Extensions Specification for Telecom & Data Center Applications

    PICMG has announced the adoption of the AdvancedTCA Extensions (PICMG 3.7) specification. PICMG 3.0 AdvancedTCA (ATCA) was originally created in 2003 to meet the needs of the telecom market for an open standard computing platform. To better address markets other than telecom, and to utilize the available depth in server cabinets, PICMG developed a set of extensions to the existing ATCA specification. The extensions include; a dual-sided shelf that can hold up to 28 Front Boards (existing ATCA boards) in a 19” cabinet, new board types, additional power and cooling, options for data center optimized  input voltage range, and an increase in the Base Interface bandwidth. All of these extensions to ATCA were developed with backward compatibility in mind.

    The original ATCA specification allows for boards that are more than one slot wide, but gives almost no information about how to make them. The ATCA Extensions specification gives detailed implementation information and examples for wider boards that can dissipate up to 800 watts each.

    There has been lot of interest in increasing the size of an ATCA board to accommodate physically larger DIMMs and bigger processor heat sinks. Changing the board size would break backward compatibility and fragment the ATCA market. A better solution is a dual-sided shelf defined in PICMG 3.7. The ATCA Extensions dual-sided shelf can be viewed as two ATCA systems back-to-back with common mechanics, Hardware Platform Management and power input.

    PICMG 3.7 meets the market need for increased board space and power while maintaining backward compatibility with existing ATCA boards and software. This will speed adoption because a large selection of blades is already available. The new board types defined in ATCA Extensions will allow for much higher performance systems, and extend the life of ATCA products. A presentation explaining many of the features of ATCA Extensions can be found in the “AdvancedTCA” section of the PICMG web site,


Lumeta Announces Strategic Partnership with Nordisk Systems

        Lumeta, a specialist in network situational awareness, has announced a new strategic partnership with solution provider Nordisk Systems. As part of the Security solution offered by Nordisk, the Lumeta network situational awareness platform empowers Nordisk’s customers with authoritative network infrastructure and cybersecurity analytics upon which they can build a strong network security program.

        Because of the constant state of network change, IT professionals require complete and accurate visibility into the shape and scope of a network in order to maintain security, compliance and availability. The Lumeta network situational awareness platform recursively indexes a network to provide an accurate cybersecurity posture of network architecture and network segmentation policies, violations and vulnerabilities.

        “Nordisk has decades of proven experience. Lumeta’s technology along with Nordisk’s consulting expertise and Security Assessments provide the foundational elements of any secure network infrastructure,” said Pat Donnellan, CEO at Lumeta. “We look forward to delivering opportunities together.”

        “Our goal is to help our customers keep their data safe and secure from internal and external threats,” said Deney Dentel, President and CEO at Nordisk Systems. “Lumeta will identify 100% of network connections and devices, giving customers the strong intelligence required for vulnerability management and risk mitigation.”


Certified Intel Industrial Solutions System Consolidation Platform   

A fanless, embedded computer is the first hardware platform to be certified for the Intel Industrial Solutions System Consolidation Series. The MXE-5301 from Adlink supports a wide temperature range and offers a fanless and cable-free design, making it suited for industrial applications. Intel’s industrial workload consolidation platform with the MXE-5301 enables the combination of several applications—or workloads—and their respective host operating systems into a single computing solution. What were once multiple, separate systems can now be combined into just one platform using advanced hypervisor technology that allows host operating systems to coexist. For the customer, workload consolidation reduces the number of individual devices, allowing a single, smaller footprint and lowered system and environmental complexity.

In addition to the current collaboration on the workload consolidation program, Adlink is also announcing its promotion by Intel to Premier Member in the Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance. From modular components to market-ready systems, Intel and the 250+ global member companies of the Alliance provide the performance, connectivity, manageability, and security developers need to create smart, connected systems. Close collaboration with Intel and each other enables Alliance members to innovate with the latest technologies, helping developers deliver first-in-market solutions.


IBM Acquires AlchemyAPI, Enhancing Watson’s Deep Learning Capabilities

IBM has acquired AlchemyAPI, a provider of scalable cognitive computing application program interface (API) services and deep learning technology. The acquisition will accelerate IBM’s development of next generation cognitive computing applications. The acquisition also significantly expands the Watson ecosystem, welcoming 40,000 developers who have innovated on the AlchemyAPI platform to the IBM Watson developer community. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

IBM will integrate AlchemyAPI’s deep learning technology into the core Watson platform, augmenting Watson’s ability to quickly identify hierarchies and understand relationships within large volume data sets. The technology is expected to enhance Watson’s ability to ingest, train and learn the “long-tail” of various data domains – including general business and target industries, as well as address the need to manage constantly evolving ontologies.

In addition, the acquisition will greatly expand the number and types of scalable cognitive computing APIs available to IBM clients, developers, partners and other members of the Watson ecosystem. This includes language analysis APIs to address new types of text and visual recognition, and the ability to automatically detect, label and extract important details from image data.

Watson is a commercially available cognitive computing capability representing a new era in computing. The system, delivered through the cloud, analyzes high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language, and proposes evidence-based answers. Watson continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions.

IBM is delivering new Watson services and APIs through the Watson Zone on Bluemix, the company’s digital innovation platform that enables developers to rapidly build, deploy and manage apps across any combination of public, private and hybrid cloud.  Thousands of developers, entrepreneurs, data hobbyists, students and others have already built more than 7,000 apps powered by Watson to date.


Driverless Car Completes Cross-Country Trip

A self-driving car has completed a 3,500-mile trip from San Francisco, California to New York, setting the North American record for longest drive ever by a driverless car. Delphi Automotive’s self-driving car, which is modeled after a 2014 Audi SQ5 and debuted at CES 2015, features six long-range radars, four short-range radars, three vision-based cameras, six lidars, a localization system, intelligent software algorithms and a full suite of Advanced Drive Assistance Systems.

The car can manage four-way stops, merge onto highways, and steer around unexpected presences in the roadway, such as a bicyclist. And it seemed to do all this fine along its record-breaking trip, as there were no incidents reported. Although there were several humans in the car in case precautions were needed.

Delphi described the trip as the car’s “ultimate test” as it would be “challenged under a variety of driving conditions from changing weather and terrain to potential road hazards - things that could never truly be tested in a lab.” Delphi gathered more than 2 terabytes of data that it can use to improve its future automated driving systems.

Admittedly,  Delphi’s test involved mostly highway driving, so there was minimal exposure to difficult scenarios that can pop up in city and even urban driving. But this also isn’t Delphi’s first rodeo. Delphi has driven back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles numerous times, testing its system all the way down I-5. And ABC News reports that the only time a human driver needed to take over the car on a recent eight-mile test drive was when the car had to unexpectedly merge into another lane due to road construction.