RTC June Industry Insider

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New EEMBC Benchmark Targets Improved Performance of the 'Things' on the Internet of Things

EEMBC, the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium has announced its focus on a benchmark to ensure optimum efficiency of edge nodes (end points) on the Internet of Things (IoT). This new benchmark, currently in development within EEMBC's IoT working group, aims to provide a standardized, industry- created and -endorsed method to provide application developers with accurate, reliable information that allows them to quickly and equitably compare the efficiency of system solutions targeted at IoT end-point applications.

An edge node, referred to as the 'thing' of the IoT, has four primary parts: 1) the sensors or transducers; 2) the processing (e.g. security, compression, protocol stack, data analysis); 3) the interfaces connecting the transducers and microcontroller; and 4) a communication mechanism used to send/receive information between the edge node and the network. When designing an edge node device, battery-life is often one of the most important factors because of the need for portability and flexibility in placement. Therefore, the new EEMBC benchmark will provide a method to reliably determine the combined energy consumption of the platform, taking into consideration the real-world effects of the 'thing' parts. This approach enables the optimized selection of the microcontroller and radio-frequency component (e.g. Bluetooth and ZigBee).

"Due to the diversity of IoT edge node applications, several configuration profiles are needed to represent the most popular functions, adding to the value and usefulness-and complexity- of the benchmarks" said Mark Wallis, co-chair of the EEMBC IoT working group and system architect at STMicroelectronics. "These multiple configuration profiles will allow black-box comparisons of corresponding products, and white-box comparisons of platforms which may be used for other applications not covered by existing profiles, but similar enough for the benchmark to give a useful indication of the expected performance and energy efficiency of the platform."

Current active working group members include Analog Devices, ARM, Freescale, Imagination Technologies, Microchip, NXP, Silicon Labs, STMicroelectronics, Synopsys, and Texas Instruments.


PLINY Aims to Develop a Predictive Engine to Auto-Complete and Auto-Correct Code

GrammaTech has announced it has begun work on PLINY, a technology to automatically detect program defects, suggest program repairs, and complete program drafts based on code and specifications mined from vast repositories of existing code. PLINY is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) Mining and Understanding Software Enclaves (MUSE) program. MUSE is an initiative that seeks to gather hundreds of billions of lines of publicly available open-source computer code to mine in an effort to create a searchable database of properties, behaviors, and vulnerabilities. PLINY is a joint effort among GrammaTech, Rice University, the University of Texas-Austin, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"If successful, PLINY has the potential to be a transformative technology," said David Melski, VP of Research at GrammaTech. "It has the potential to change the way programming is done, the way programming is taught, and who does programming. It could give the power to express computation to people who don't currently have it."

GrammaTech's role in the PLINY project focuses on analyzing code to extract program elements that represent computational paradigms, as well as identifying syntactic and semantic features that characterize the program elements. Accurate identification and characterization of program elements is essential to enabling organization and search of PLINY's code database. GrammaTech's CodeSonar static analysis tool will be at the center of the effort to generate features. CodeSonar provides extraordinary scalability, an ability to analyze diverse code samples, and an analysis engine with proven capabilities for discovering subtle program properties.


LPWAN IoT Connectivity Standard over ISM Spectrum Published

 The Weightless SIG has announced the publication of version 1.0 of the new Weightless-N open standard based on a low power wide area star network architecture. Operating in sub-GHz spectrum using ultra narrow band (UNB) technology, Weightless-N offers best in class signal propagation characteristics leading to excellent range of several kilometers even in challenging urban environments. Very low power consumption provides for exceptionally long battery life measured in years from small conventional cells and leading edge innovation in design minimizes both terminal hardware and network costs.

Central to the Weightless proposition is its status as an open standard. Weightless is differentiated from all alternative proprietary LPWAN technologies by uniquely enabling a competitive, free and fair market that does not lock developers into using particular vendors or network service providers.

Any company is able to develop both low cost base stations and terminals using royalty free Weightless technology. Networks can be owned and operated independently by any company or, typically, IoT terminal devices and applications can be produced for use cases that will rely on connection to networks operated by third parties. A Weightless terminal device can be produced for less than two dollars with a Weightless base station bill of materials of less than $3000.

Weightless-N is designed around a differential binary phase shift keying (DBPSK) digital modulation scheme to transmit within narrow frequency bands using a frequency hopping algorithm for interference mitigation and enhanced security. It provides for encryption and implicit authentication using a shared secret key regime to encode transmitted information via a 128 bit AES algorithm. The technology supports mobility with the network automatically routing terminal messages to the correct destination. Multiple networks, typically operated by different companies, are enabled and can be co-located. Each base station queries a central database to determine which network the terminal is registered to in order to decode and route data accordingly.

The complete specification is available to Weightless SIG Members for immediate download from the organization's website.


Sealevel Systems and ADLINK Announce Partnership for Computer-on-Module Solutions

Sealevel Systems, Inc. and Adlink Technology have announced a partnership designed to provide industry-leading computing and I/O solutions for OEMs using Adlink's computer-on-module (COM) and Sealevel's custom carrier board technology. The agreement comes as a result of a number of successful collaborations between the two companies across vertical markets, including oil and gas, military and automotive applications. 

Adlink's COM products provide the generic computing engine along with storage, Ethernet, keyboard/mouse and display common to most applications. The modular architecture allows future upgrade of the processor subsystem and offers superior life cycle management of systems and applications. Adlink's computer-on-modules are available based on COM Express, Qseven and SMARC specifications.

Sealevel's custom carrier boards provide the application-specific circuitry particular to a customer's unique application. Common I/O carrier board features can include serial, digital and analog I/O, all of which can be designed to meet the I/O count, voltage ranges and connector types required by the application. 


ARM and Enea Demonstrate Reference Platform for Network Function Virtualization

ARM and Enea have showcased  an ARM-based reference platform for Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization (OPNFV). This demonstration of an early developer release on the ARM architecture brings unique value to the NFV vision, enabling processing efficiency and cross-platform flexibility and choice.

"This is a tremendous leap forward in delivering the NFV vision across a wide range of highly-integrated, workload-optimized ARM networking SoCs, available via the common OpenDataPlane (ODP) interface layer," said Charlene Marini, vice president of embedded marketing, ARM. "This application-ready platform is also the enabling layer for the Intelligent Flexible Cloud framework that will transform the network infrastructure over the next decade."

The open source, carrier-grade NFV Infrastructure platform supports a set of example Virtual Network Function (VNF) applications. The collaboration of Enea and the ARM ecosystem of silicon partners will provide the initial building blocks of the platform, including OpenStack, OpenDaylight, Open vSwitch, KVM and the ODP built on a Linux foundation. The focus is on creating an application-ready platform based on the ARM architecture and OpenDataPlane moving the industry towards a standardized open source framework to support the flexibility, greater automation and scalability that is required for network infrastructure moving forward while enabling underlying processing efficiency.

This initial release will be incorporated into the integration and testing processes of the Linux Foundation's OPNFV project. This will enable the broader OPNFV community to participate in performance and reliability optimizations and validating VNF applications on the ARM architecture.


NXP and Qualcomm Accelerate Adoption of NFC and Security in Mobile, Wearable and IoT Devices

NXP Semiconductors has announced that Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, will integrate NXP's near field communication (NFC) and embedded secure element (eSE) solutions across Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, 600, 400 and 200 processor-based platforms.

Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. The agreement will enable the rapid introduction of NFC and eSE on Snapdragon-based devices to meet market demands for increased functionality in a broad range of consumer applications. New reference designs expand the reach of NFC beyond the smartphone and into other applications such as home automation, consumer electronics, automotive, smart appliances, personal computing and wearables.

The availability of NXP's NFC and eSE solutions for Snapdragon platforms will help accelerate the deployment of secure transactions into a myriad of new applications, such as mobile payments and digital identity for mobile, automotive and Internet of Everything (IoE) segments, complementing Qualcomm Technologies' advanced security solutions. The new offering will feature the NQ220 module, which was derived from the recently launched NXP PN66T module. The NQ220 is designed to enable service providers to easily deliver new applications by simplifying the process of deploying credentials to devices, significantly reducing design costs and time-to-market considerations for mobile wallets and additional applications such as prepaid payment, transit and access control. The NQ220 reference design is available now through NXP sales channels, please contact NXP sales for further information.


Hacktivism Professionalizing and Going after Bigger Targets

New research from leading market analysts, Juniper Research, suggests that the rapid digitization of consumers' lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, increasing to almost four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015.

The research, entitled The Future of Cybercrime & Security: Financial & Corporate Threats & Mitigation, has found that the majority of these breaches will come from existing IT and network infrastructure. While new threats targeting mobile devices and the IoT (Internet of Things) are being reported at an increasing rate, the number of infected devices is minimal in comparison to more traditional computing devices.

The report also highlights the increasing professionalism of cybercrime, with the emergence of cybercrime products (i.e. sale of malware creation software) over the past year, as well as the decline in casual activist hacks. Hacktivism has become more successful and less prolific - in future, Juniper expects fewer attacks overall, but more successful ones.

"Currently, we aren't seeing much dangerous mobile or IoT malware because it's not profitable", noted report author James Moar. "The kind of threats we will see on these devices will be either ransomware, with consumers' devices locked down until they pay the hackers to use their devices, or as part of botnets, where processing power is harnessed as part of a more lucrative hack. With the absence of a direct payout from IoT hacks, there is little motive for criminals to develop the required tools."

The research noted that leading OTT (Over The Top) players such as Apple, Google and Amazon were in pole position to capitalize on this transition, with each now offering cloud-based solutions both for personal storage and premium content access. It argued that if consumers are tied into multiple products from an OTT, those consumers becomes increasingly reluctant to churn away from one element of the brand, as he/she loses access to content across their devices.