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embedded world 2021 DIGITAL round-up

5th March 2021
Joe Bush

This year the embedded world show ventured into uncharted waters and took place as a digital event for the first time in its history. Despite the restrictions in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the show still featured a packed agenda, taking place over five full days. Electronic Specifier takes a look a some of the big news from embedded world 2021 DIGITAL.

Speaking at the opening of the show, embedded world Chairman, Axel Sikora, commented: “I was really happy that we took a very early decision to go all-digital so that all stakeholders had enough time to prepare, and to get things together. A completely digital event is a challenge, but the goodwill and the support of all stakeholders helped a lot.

“Many people have had to overcome fatigue of online events and sitting in front of computers. I believe that with all the different elements that we have compiled into the embedded world 2021 programme, we’ve made a good offering with more but shorter days, more parallel sessions, more interaction with panel discussions, separate Q&A sessions, lots of keynotes and so on.”

The embedded world award 2021

It was Sikora who announced the winners of the embedded award 2021, which is presented at each annual show to showcase innovations within embedded systems. A panel of European judges evaluated the award submissions based on degree of innovation; market relevance; degree of complexity; and future expandability / scalability.

The best three products were

-          SentriX Product Creator from Sata I/O

-          MAX78000 Neural Network Accelerator Chip from Maxim Integrated

-          S32R45 Imaging Radar Processor from NXP Semiconductors

The embedded world exhibition is also an opportunity for emerging startup companies to showcase their technology innovations, and this was celebrated with the Start-Up category award which was scooped by Kudan for its Visual SLAM, an API library for Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM).

Building embedded intelligent systems for a post-pandemic world

Every crisis brings opportunities. COVID-19 has accelerated the digitalisation process, and both the acceptance of and the interest in smart systems has increased significantly. Ease-of-use and high-performance are key features for users today. While large-scale cloud-based systems are already very advanced, embedded intelligence systems are just about beginning to gain traction.

Embedded intelligent solutions combine the best of both cloud and edge. The edge keeps personal data local, enables real-time responses, and provides cost-efficiencies by not requiring centralisation of all data. Meanwhile, the cloud provides device access to an infinite amount of information allowing for better decision-making.

Developers building intelligent products for the IoT edge will face many challenges along the way - finding the sweet spot between performance, power consumption, and cost, while being able to push the envelope on innovation are among those challenges. In his keynote address, Dr Reinhard Ploss, Chief Executive Officer, Infineon Technologies, highlighted the strategies for building power-efficient edge devices that can handle greater data processing, including solutions that bring machine learning inside the microcontroller.

During his address Ploss commented: “The pandemic has been a trigger point to make us think differently. For us at Infineon the IoT is there to provide us as human beings with better performance, to make life better, and in an environmentally conscious way – that’s absolutely essential. And it’s really inspiring to address it. We are fascinated by technology, but we are more fascinated by what we can achieve with it.”

China’s role in the global semiconductor industry

Taking place in Tuesday morning (2nd March), a team of panellist gathered to discuss China’s impact in the global semiconductor value chain. Clearly there is a degree of uncertainty that currently abounds. After four years of trade disputes between the US and China, under the previous administration, it remains to be seen how the landscape will change with the new incumbent in the White House.

In addition, China has set itself the goal of manufacturing 40% of the semiconductors consumed in China itself by 2020, and this share should rise to 70% by 2025. Currently, only 16% of the semiconductors consumed in China are also produced there, of which only about half are produced by Chinese semiconductor companies.

Discussing the status of embedded technologies and economics in China and its global role, were Prof. Dr. Allan He, China Software Industry Embedded System Associations, Prof. Dr. Jiao Jiwei, VP SIWAVE Inc. and Michael Haidar, Global VP, Gigadevice Semiconductor (Chinese semiconductor manufacturer).

The automotive paradigm shift: Connectivity at the core

The automotive industry is undergoing an unprecedented paradigm shift as manufacturers race to develop connected and autonomous mobility solutions. Auto manufacturers now compete on software and must explore new opportunities in addition to evolving their core business. The autonomous vehicle connectivity software paradigm is challenging and for many, is still undefined. Since vehicles are built from many subsystems, they require full interoperability between components, both in and off the vehicle.

Worse, autonomous vehicle designs must last for years so automakers must ensure that their systems anticipate future challenges, including security and safety requirements. Together, these challenges make connectivity a key cost, challenge, requirement and risk point. Pedro Lopez Estepa, Director Automotive, Real-Time Innovations (RTI) offered an overview of the expected automotive software landscape evolution as well as the major architectural decisions that vehicle manufacturers must consider to guide their success.

Engineering smart ecosystems

On the one hand, many standards in software and systems engineering are based on assumptions that are currently no longer fulfilled: Systems are treated as closed, static artefacts, with no autonomy and typically the underlying development process is assumed to be traditional and phase-oriented.

On the other hand, systems in many domains – e.g. Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, energy management – are different: They are open, they do dynamic adaption in an autonomous way and they are large and heterogenous. This influences the systems engineering solutions that are to be applied in order to master these challenges. Prof. Dr. Peter Liggesmeyer, Director, Fraunhofer IESE discussed these challenges and offered some solutions.

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