<p>A pause in orders and the rapid snapback in demand for at-home technologies of all sorts got that big snowball started down the mountain.</p>

Analogic Systems (Peabody, Mass.) has developed a bomb-detection system that makes clever use of DSP technology to go beyond the capabilities of conventional X-rays.

Through this intensive development project, we look forward to enhancing the capabilities of our innovative FasTrack system so that it is fully optimized for TSMC's current and future 300-mm automation requirements,” stated Mihir Parikh, chairman and CEO of the fab automation systems supplier.

Under the project, extensive performance testing will be conducted to integrate the FasTrack system's ability to significantly increase tool utilization and fab throughput, the two partners said. Specific targets for improvements in automated material handling systems (AMHS) were not disclosed at this time.

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Cars are rapidly becoming software-defined, and that is starting to change the automotive industry’s technology, business models, and even its very structure. Similar changes have taken place in other industries. It is now time for the auto industry to face changes and disruptions.

My definition of software-defined” means that a large majority of car functionality is now implemented by software applications that run on the required processors, memory and sensors. Additionally, most of the functionality is defined by how well the human-machine interface is implemented in software. We are also expecting expanded software capabilities for more advanced ADAS and autonomous vehicle functionality. All of the software will require advancing connected car systems for remote updates, cybersecurity, data collection and infotainment for the occupants.

Two distinct software categories are used — embedded software clients in cars plus software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms that are delivered via cloud software platforms. The software client platforms are dominant now in the auto industry, but SaaS platforms are on the rise and will play a much more important role in the future.

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The next table is a summary of my perspectives on how automotive software will change in the next decade. In the table five category of players are listed—software developers, cloud computing providers, Tier 1 suppliers, auto OEMs and auto dealers. To show recent evolution and future projections, the columns have summaries for three time periods — 2010s, now and 2030s. The content in the table are explained below for each player category.

Software developersThe software developers include the many companies that provide system software, middleware, and automotive application programs to the auto OEMs — usually via Tier 1 suppliers. These companies have developed software platforms for the auto industry. Each software platform is initially a cost-center” due to high initial investment and long development time. The most common business model for software platform clients are royalty per unit shipped. The unit royalty varies by software category. The Tier 1 or OEM will also pay for tailoring the software platform to a vehicle’s hardware and system configuration, which is usually a profitable business to software developers.

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After the software platform sales revenue exceeds development cost the software platform becomes a profit-center” and usually with high profitability — especially when the platform is used in many vehicles with similar hardware systems.

Software maintenance or fixing bugs during the cars’ long life is usually a profitable business because the OEM or Tier 1 customers pay for software maintenance for multiple years. The OEM and Tier 1 customers will also pay for updating many software platforms — usually when a car model is updated.

The V850ES/SA2 and V850ES/SA3 microcontrollers-the first to use NEC's V850ES core-are optimized for low-power, battery-operated portable and handheld applications such as two-way radios and audio players.

Shige Ishikawa, assistant general manager for System LSI, said the MCUs offer 21-MIPS performance at 17 MHz with operating voltage as low as 2.2 volts and power consumption of 30 milliwatts at 2.5 V. Their high-performance/low-power ratio is 700 MIPS/W, he said.

Memory includes 256 kbytes of flash reprogrammable from a single power supply, 256 kbytes of ROM and 16 kbytes of RAM. Mask ROM and flash PROM versions are available.

The V850ES/SA2 comes in a 100-pin, 14- x 14-mm plastic LQFP with a 0.5-mm pitch. The V850ES/SA3 is packaged in a 12- x 12-mm, 121-pin plastic FBGA with a 0.8-mm ball pitch.

The flash versions should be ready by the fourth quarter, priced at $13.50 and $15, respectively, in 10,000-unit volumes. The mask versions will be available in the second quarter of 2002, priced at $6.70 and $8.50.

But there's no sign that the relationship between universities and industry will change. IBM's Extreme Blue program, in which top students are wined, dined and introduced to top executives during their internships, is viewed as such a success that its numbers have doubled throughout its three-year history. Next year, it should incorporate about 200 interns.

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