MIPI Alliance Introduces Sensor Interface Spec for Mobile and Embedded Systems

The MIPI Alliance, an international organization that develops interface specifications for mobile and mobile-influenced industries, has introduced a sensor interface specification for mobile, mobile-influenced and embedded systems applications. The new specification, named MIPI I3C (or MIPI i3c), was developed with the participation of vendors from across the sensor and mobile ecosystems. The name MIPI SenseWire will be used to describe the application of I3C in mobile devices and the use of the I3C interface for mobile devices connecting to a set of sensors, directly or indirectly.
The proliferation of sensors has created significant challenges to product designers. The challenges are particularly demanding in the handset market, where smartphones often require as many as 10 sensors and more than 20 signals. Yet as these requirements continue to grow, phone architectures can’t scale to deliver the design, cost and performance efficiencies manufacturers need to add more sensors to their products.

In general, SenseWire incorporates and unifies key attributes of I2C and SPI while improving the capabilities and performance of each approach with a comprehensive, scalable interface and architecture. The specification also anticipates sensor interface architectures that mobile, mobile-influenced, and embedded-systems industries will need in the future. The specification should make it easier for system designers to connect and manage sensors in a device, improve time to market for these implementations and enable a greater number of sensors to operate in a device while minimizing power consumption and reducing component and implementation costs. It will also help manufacturers combine multiple sensors from different vendors to enable new features while supporting longer battery life.
The technical features of the MIPI I3C specification include a two-pin interface that is backward compatible with the I2C standard and provides data throughput capabilities comparable to SPI. The technical attributes explain the name for the specification, MIPI I3C, which is derived from its compatibility with I2C.
The new technology can facilitate in-band interrupts within the 2-wire interface, which drastically reduces device pin count and signal paths, and facilitates incorporation of more sensors in a device. On standard CMOS I/O, it supports a minimum data rate of 10 Mbit/s with options for higher performance high-data-rate (HDR) modes, offering a substantial leap in performance and power efficiency compared to existing options. It also offers multimaster support, dynamic addressing, command-code compatibility and a uniform approach for advanced power management features, such as sleep mode.

Green Hills and MEN Mikro Form Partnership to Develop Pre-Certified Safety Platforms

Green Hills Software and MEN Mikro Elektronik have announced a partnership to develop pre-certified safety platforms for applications in the industrial and transportation sectors. This cooperation will enable customers to focus on the development of their own applications, confident in the knowledge that they can achieve required safety certifications while minimizing risk and cost.

Under the agreement, the Green Hills European Technical Centre in The Netherlands will provide a range of services, from assisting customers through the industrial safety (IEC 61508) and transportation (EN 50128) certification process to offering a complete, turn-key safety board support package (BSP) service. Green Hills Software has a unique and unmatched safety and security pedigree that includes the completion of many certified projects to IEC 61508 SIL 3 (industrial), EN 50128 SWSIL 4 (railway), EAL 6+ High Robustness (security), DO-178B Level A (avionics), ISO 26262 ASIL D (automotive) and FDA Class III (medical) over a period of more than a decade.

By adopting Green Hills Software’s safety-certified Integrity RTOS, developers are able to run applications containing software of multiple levels of safety-criticality (and non-critical software) concurrently on a single processor. The Integrity secure separation kernel architecture enables consolidation of functions on a single processor that, until now, may have been implemented with a more costly hardware design using physical separation. System consolidation offers a lower production cost and a better energy footprint.

MEN Mikro Elektronik’s computer solutions are used in harsh mission- and safety-critical environments found in the transportation (rail, road, air, sea) and industrial (automation, power & energy, medical) markets. MEN provides its customers advice and support as well as system design, configuration and environmental qualification in accordance with industry standards. The company’s core competencies encompass ARM, Power, and x86 processor architectures, development rules for safe applications, analogue I/O design and FPGA technology.

Kontron Launches New IoT Microsite

Kontron provides a comprehensive overview of the many and varied segments of the “Internet of Things” at its new website, iot.kontron.com. Visitors can quickly get an overview of the areas and products in which Kontron is engaged in the IoT. The resulting potential savings that companies can achieve, while also increasing sales, are graphically illustrated. “The Internet of Things promises in future to network people with billions of smart devices, in order to exploit the data generated in this way to optimum effect. On our new website we illustrate these possibilities, as well as the benefits for companies. In a separate news section ‘Stay Connected’, we also inform the user about important coming developments or events on this topic,” says Daniel Piper, Senior Marketing Manager EMEA at Kontron.

Since its very beginnings, the Internet has been connecting computers worldwide, resulting in a continuous exchange of data between computers, servers, workstations and PCs, as well as embedded-computers. Current-day IT products have integrated microcontrollers and systems-on-chips (SoCs) and already provide information automatically to host networks. The vision for the next stage of development is the complete networking of the environment, including data collection and exchange with individuals – known as the “Internet of Things”. According to some experts, a billion devices will be networked with the IoT by 2025. “At the moment, the market is still heavily fragmented as a result of incompatible systems. IoT concepts such as predictive maintenance, big data and analytics require an integrated approach. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of cooperation between hardware and software suppliers, service providers and communication infrastructure providers,” says Jens Wiegand, CTO of Kontron.

On its new microsite, Kontron shows how these hurdles can be overcome and how the “Internet of Things” is structured. The user is guided through the world of the “Internet of Things” with the aid of clear topic areas. Following an introduction to the term and an IoT product overview from Kontron, the visitor can explore the various layers of the IoT and networking, as well as the associated security measures and encryption methods employed in the exchange of data. Next, the benefits for companies are illustrated. The processes optimizations facilitated by the IoT are reflected, for example, in the reduced maintenance costs or potential energy savings which could generate enormous gains for companies over many years. The new website is rounded off by a news section, including contact details of the experts at Kontron and information about events.

ETSI publishes European Standards for Intelligent Transport Systems
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has published two European Standards for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS): the specification of Cooperative Awareness Basic Service – EN 302 637-2, and the specification of Decentralized Environmental Notification Basic Service – EN 302 637-3. They define the message sets needed for running Cooperative ITS safety critical applications.

The Cooperative Awareness Service enables the exchange of information between road users and roadside infrastructure, providing each other’s position, dynamics and attributes. Road users may be cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles or even pedestrians while roadside infrastructure equipment includes road signs, traffic lights or barriers and gates. Awareness of each other is the basis for several road safety and traffic efficiency applications. This is achieved by regular exchange of information from vehicle to vehicle (V2V), and between vehicles and road side infrastructure (V2I and I2V) based on wireless networks. EN 302 637-2 specifies the syntax and semantics of the Cooperative Awareness Message (CAM) and provides detailed specifications on the message handling.

EN 302 637-3 defines the Decentralized Environmental Notification (DEN) Basic Service that supports road hazard warning. The Decentralized Environmental Notification Message (DENM) contains information related to a road hazard or an abnormal traffic condition, including its type and position. Typically for an ITS application, a message is disseminated to ITS stations that are located within a geographic area through direct vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, in order to alert road users of a detected and potentially dangerous event. At the receiving side, the message is processed and the application may present the information to the driver if it is assessed to be relevant. The driver is then able to take appropriate action to react to the situation accordingly.

Cypress to Acquire Spansion for $1.6 Billion, Adding NOR Flash Capability
Cypress Semiconductor and Spansion plan to merge in a move the companies call an all-stock, tax-free transaction valued at approximately $4 billion. Cypress will be trading 2.457 Cypress shares for each Spansion share, resulting in a purchase price of roughly $1.6 billion. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015, pending approval by Cypress and Spansion stockholders and review by regulators in the U.S., Germany, and China. Cypress CEO T.J. Rodgers will be CEO of the combined firm with Spansion’s chairman Ray Bingham will continue as non-executive chairman.

The new company, to be called Cypress Semiconductor Corporation, will have annual revenues of more than $2 billion. The combination is expected to create annual synergies of $135 million “achievable over three years”. The merger will be accretive to non-GAAP earnings within the first full year after the close, and Cypress plans to continue payments of its $0.11 quarterly dividend.

Cypress points out that it is the leading producer of SRAMs, and that Spansion is the leading NOR flash provider. Cypress CEO Rodgers says that the combined company: “will be a leading provider of embedded MCUs,” and will have: “synergy in virtually every area of our enterprises.”
Amazon Employs Robots to Increase Efficiency and Cut Costs at Fulfillment Center.

A year ago, Amazon.com workers hiked miles of aisles each shift to “pick” each item a customer ordered and prepare it for shipping. Now the e-commerce giant has deployed more than 15,000 wheeled robots to crisscross the floors of its biggest warehouses and deliver books and other products to employees.
The Seattle-based company now has 109 shipping centers around the globe. Its Tracy, California facility is one of 10 in which Amazon has deployed the robots, using technology acquired when the company bought robot-maker Kiva Systems in 2012.
More than 1,500 full-time employees work at the Tracy center, which has 1.2 million square feet of space – the equivalent of 28 football fields. They are joined by about 3,000 robots, gliding swiftly and quietly around the warehouse. The robots navigate by scanning coded stickers on the floor, following digital commands that are beamed wirelessly from a central computer.

Each of the can slide under and then lift a stack of shelves that is four feet wide and holds up to 750 pounds of merchandise. The system uses bar codes to track which items are on each shelf, so a robot can fetch the right shelves for each worker as orders come in.
Because the robots travel underneath, the shelves can be stacked closely together, which means the warehouse can hold more goods. The Tracy center now holds about 20 million items, representing 3.5 million different products, from bottles of gourmet steak sauce to high-end audio headsets, books and video games. It can ship 700,000 items in a day, but will hold more and ship more by next year. The robots are expected to cut the Tracy center’s operating costs by 20 percent.

Autocam Medical Acquires Southeastern Technology

Autocam Medical Devices has announced the completion of its acquisition through cash transaction of Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based Southeastern Technology (SET), effective November 30, 2014. Like Autocam Medical, SET is a leading contract manufacturer of precision-machined components, assemblies and engineered solutions primarily focused on serving original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the medical device industry. SET serves the orthopedic and spine markets with precision implants and complex instruments. They also machine precision components for other medical applications such as oncology and dental.
With the completion of the transaction, Autocam Medical is situated to become one of the most competitive global medical device contract manufacturing suppliers capable of manufacturing a wide range of precision components and complex assemblies in the marketplace. Projected 2015 sales of the companies will total approximately $100 million. SET will operate under Autocam Medical as the Southeastern Technology division; all employees will be retained.
“SET has a highly competent and engaged team with an excellent reputation for technical and engineering expertise, quality, value, and customer service. We don’t anticipate any changes in SET operations beyond enhancing some IT infrastructure and certain business systems. We’re excited to bring SET aboard and we have high expectations for our future,” said Autocam founder John Kennedy.