Adesto Touts ReRAM for Automotive [Byline]

With the automotive market presenting potential opportunities of ever-emerging memories such as ferroelectric RAM (FRAM), magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM), and resistive RAM (ReRAM), Adesto Technologies is working hard to make sure that the latter makes the grade.

It recently unveiled new research demonstrating the potential of ReRAM for high-reliability applications such as automotive. The research was led by Adesto Fellow Dr. John Jameson, who shared the results at the ESSCIRC-ESSDERC 48th European Solid-State Device Research Conference earlier this month, and indicates that ReRAM could become a widely used, low-cost, and simple embedded non-volatile memory (eNVM) because it uses simple cell structures and materials that can be integrated into existing manufacturing flows with as little as one additional mask.

Read my latest for EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

New Uses Vie for GDDR6 Supply [Byline]

TORONTO — The “G” still stands for “graphics,” but new use cases driving the need for GDDR memory technology have nothing to do with pixels.

In fact, applications such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which need ultra-fast memories, have shorted gamers of their GDDR supply, so it’s probably a good idea that makers of the technology are ramping up delivery. Micron Technology recently began volume production of its 8-Gb GDDR6 memory, which, of course, is aimed at the graphics market but also automotive and networking segments.

Some of the emerging uses cases for GDDR memory are still graphics-driven. In the growing automotive memory market, it’s to support increasingly visual dashboards and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that must be responsive to a driver’s actions immediately, while autonomous vehicles need high-performance memory to process the vast amounts of real-time data. Other emerging applications include augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Finally, video is always hungry for memory as 4K gets more widely adopted and 8K nips at its heels.

Read my full story on EE Times. 

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Intel’s 3D XPoint Plans Clearer Than Micron’s [Byline]

TORONTO — What the future holds for 3D XPoint — now that Intel and Micron have announced plans to end their joint development program — depends on who you talk to.

Or who you don’t talk to. Micron, for its part, isn’t offering any more guidance right now beyond what was stated in a joint news release issued earlier this week. “The companies have agreed to complete joint development for the second generation of 3D XPoint technology, which is expected to occur in the first half of 2019,” the statement reads. “Technology development beyond the second generation of 3D XPoint technology will be pursued independently by the two companies in order to optimize the technology for their respective product and business needs.”

Intel is still bullish on the technology. In a telephone interview with EE Times, Bill Leszinske, vice president of Intel’s non-volatile memory solutions group, said it makes sense for Intel to continue on its present path.

Read my full EE Times story

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

NOR Flash is Road Tested [Byline]

TORONTO — As cars get smarter and demand more memory, many technologies are angling for the driver’s seat, but it’s safe to say NOR flash at least gets to ride shotgun.

As a successor to EEPROM in many applications thanks to its programmability capabilities, NOR flash is finding new opportunities in application areas that need fast, non-volatile memory, including communications, industrial and automotive. The latter, of course, is getting a lot of attention thanks to autonomous vehicle development.

Macronix International, which describes itself as the leading supplier of NOR flash overall, find itself in the third position for automotive. But Anthony Le, senior director of marketing, ecosystem partnership and North America automotive, said the company is confident it will lead that segment in the next two to three years.

Read the full story on EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Ready to get on board with the Cybersecurity Tech Accord? [Byline]

So, you’ve got your organization all set to meet the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You tell yourself you can relax. But have you heard about the Cybersecurity Tech Accord?

Generally, cybersecurity government regulation is exactly that—rules laid out by ruling authorities that generally end up adding to your to do list. But the Cybersecurity Tech Accord is driven by 34 of the world’s largest international companies—this time the private sector is taking on cyberwarfare by making a commitment to create stronger defenses against cyber attacks and to make sure they’re not unwittingly helping governments attack other countries.

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord is more than just a positioning statement. It’s going beyond cybersecurity government regulation in that the participating companies are pledging to empower their employees and clients to better protect themselves, while improving technical collaboration to make cyberspace safer. In most cases, cybersecurity government regulation lays out compliance obligations, but it’s generally up to companies and their IT staff to figure out how best to follow those rules.

Going beyond cybersecurity government regulation

While this so-called “Digital Geneva Accord” has private sector companies taking the initiative, it requires those in the trenches of IT to go the extra mile—the Cybersecurity Tech Accord puts the onus on everyone in the organization to make good cybersecurity part their culture. And while it’s not obligatory, your employer could soon decide it should follow this accord as a good corporate citizen.

The good news is that accord starts at the design level. It vows that the signers “will protect against tampering with and exploitation of technology products and services during their development, design, distribution and use.” This means you can expect more security by design in the software and hardware you deploy, although already intelligent devices such as modern multi-function printers come equipped with their own embedded security smarts to better defend your network at large.

But should your organization sign on to this new digital accord, you many find yourself getting out of your comfort zone for the greater good and better cybersecurity.

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord makes four commitments

So just what are you committed to if your employer decides to sign on to this Cybersecurity Tech Accord?

The early supporters of this initiative, including Cisco, Facebook, HP, HPE, Microsoft and Trend Micro, have outlined four key areas for adopters to focus on. The first is on building a stronger defense against online attacks and recognizes everyone deserves protection around the world, regardless of what motivated the cyberattack. Second, these companies will make sure they’re not part of the problem by making sure their products aren’t tampered with or exploited to help governments launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens and enterprises.

The third commitment is where creating a culture of good cybersecurity comes into play, as accord supports are will more do more capacity building by empowering developers as well as users of their technology to be to better protect themselves. It may include collaborative work on new cybersecurity practices as well as new features that customers can integrate into their own products and services.  Finally, the Cybersecurity Tech Accord calls for collective action by building existing relationships and creating new partnerships within industry and society at large to improve technical collaboration and minimize the potential for new online threats.

The new normal is always changing

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord reflects new normal of data privacy and security is multifaceted. Legislation such as GDPR and Canada’s own Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) are fostering the concept of privacy by design, while technology vendors have realized that exponential rise in cybersecurity threats require an automated response powered by artificial intelligence and machine.

But this new accord also reflects that reality cybersecurity must be not only be embedded in your IT infrastructure. It must also be weaved throughout the culture of the organization and also be a collaborative endeavor with other organizations. Having a modern operating system with a strong security foundation is a starting point. If your IT team develops apps either for internal employees or external customers, a DevOps culture could strengthen your security and is in spirt with the Cybersecurity Tech Accord.

What this new industry-led initiative is a heralding, however, is the embedding of data privacy and security into the culture of the organization, which means you may find yourself acting as cybersecurity evangelist and teacher for your fellow employees and your customers.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors. A revised version of this article was published on Tektonika Canada.

The future of sustainable business requires greener IT [Byline]

Building a sustainable business is more top of mind for organizations of all stripes, and the future of sustainability depends much on green IT procurement.

But when you’re already scrambling to keep up with cybersecurity threats, compliance pressures and doing more within an already tight budget, being a sustainable business can easily sink to the bottom of the to do list. Old computer monitors accumulate in storage areas, outdated PCs sit gather dust in unused cubicles, and empty printer cartridges pile up, all threatening to end up in a land fill for the sake of expediency.

Old technology is stockpiling more quickly than ever faster, as sleeker devices are needed to run the applications and connected, digital workspaces. Employees expect the latest mobile devices, so they can be productive wherever and whenever. Your IT procurement now must take the entire lifecycle of hardware into account, and there’s increasing pressure to be sure the supply chain you’re purchasing from is also green and ethical. The future of sustainability means everyone must do their part.

Building a sustainable business is more than just recycling computers

Dr. Vanessa Thomas has been looking at the environmental effects of all this digital technology. In a presentation at the FWD50 conference last year, she said she no longer separates social activism from her computer science work, fully aware the impact of digital technology is more wide-reaching than you think – it’s not just about recycling old PCs. In addition to the obvious hardware such as computers, smartphones and printers, there’s also cabling, including deep see internet cabling. But digital software tools also have an impact on the future of sustainability, including email services, online banking and enterprise collaboration tools.

Thomas says hardware and software both affect the environment because they rely on each other – the software dictates the characteristics of the hardware and hardware dictates how the software is used. And it’s not just the disposal of digital devices that impact the environment – every digital device is made up of a unique mix of natural resources. Extracting and processing precious metals exact a cost and take a toll on the environment. Mines can have accidents and surrounding water can be contaminated, while manufacturing facilities are use rely on large amounts of freshwater.

The future of sustainability also depends on digital services

It’s not just that the old hardware must be safely disposed of but also being aware of the planned obsolescence of electronics through software programming and that building up IT infrastructure changes the environment and disrupts wildlife. The online services we consume require more electricity for not only the devices we use, but the data centres that must be always running – the amount of energy they require is doubling every four years, said Thomas. Not only do they draw lots of power, but a lot of water is required to cool them.

All this IT and digital services have a bigger footprint than the airline industry, she said, and it’s not something energy efficiency alone can solve. Digital technology means there’s a higher demand for resources and electricity despite shrinking devices, especially with the focus on the knowledge economy. E-waste has been the fastest growing waste stream for the last decade, she said, and the effects are happening too fast for academics to study. Most consumers don’t know what to do with their old devices, which accumulate quickly given the lifespan is about two years. They often end up in a drawer, although recycling facilities are ubiquitous today. Working PCs and smartphones are also donated for shipping overseas, but the result is that devices from developed countries end up in dumping grounds on the other side of the world.

Governments provide a guide for green IT

Governments are grappling with the challenge of e-waste and the impact of digital technology through public policy as well as their own best practices. They also have immense purchasing power that can influence change, said Thomas.

Globally, there are several efforts underway in the form of both green procurement and waste management policies. For example, the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation, an organisation under the purview of the country’s Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, is charged with catalysing green technology deployment as a strategic engine for socio-economic growth in line with the National Green Technology Policy 2009. Meanwhile, the UK outlined five years ago how government information and communications technology will contribute to green commitments and deliver financial savings as well as efficient, green practices.

The drawback of these policies and regulatory systems are that they aren’t integrated, said Thomas, so there are loop holes. And while there are no easy answers, she believes there’s space to find solutions and refine the current questions. She said organizations need to examine how they management electronics procurement and waste, expand green procurement to digital services, and assess digital projects for their long-term energy demand.

Build a sustainable business a bit at a time

Given the picture Thomas has painted, committing to creating a sustainable business may seem too daunting.

But there are ways you can contribute to the future of sustainability as part of your everyday job, and it’s less overwhelming if you break it down into different projects. There’s also technology vendors with programs in place to support green procurement and e-waste management. There are even companies that have been specifically founded to tackle the challenge reduce digital technology turnover. For example, the goal of Fairphone is to foster positive social and environmental impact from the beginning to the end of a phone’s life cycle, and recently launched a pilot program for companies.

And although building a sustainable business is more than just recycling your PCs, it’s a good starting point. Recycling your ink cartridges on your fleet of printers is a good start too. Overall, think about sustainability by taking these four steps:

  • Develop a framework: Having a broad set of principles ensures your procurement guidelines are fair, socially and environmentally sound, and economically viable. Companies such as HP offer tools and guides to help with the process, including carbon footprint calculators, a materials strategy, and an action plan for environmental sustainability in office printing.
  • Evaluate products: HP breaks down products into four categories: PCs and monitoring, servers and storage, printing and imaging, and print cartridges.
  • Evaluate vendors: This step includes a life cycle analysis, the supply chain and end-of-use services.
  • Create checklist: This might include looking for products that Energy Star qualified, other certification programs, and screening out harmful elements, such asbestos or ozone-depleting substances.

In the longer run, building a sustainable business is very much about participating in the circular economy – recycling is not enough.

Being a sustainable business isn’t just about being better for the environment. It’s about better corporate social responsibility too, and it’s better for the bottom line.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors. A revised version of this article was published on Tektonika Canada.

Canadian SaaS companies are rejuvenating Ottawa’s tech scene [Byline]

The nation’s capital is tech sector is experiencing a renaissance due in part to Canadian SaaS companies.

Nearly two decades ago, Ottawa was poised to become a technology powerhouse, fuelled by a strong telecom sector that included Newbridge Networks and its numerous spinoffs, Corel CEO Michael Cowpland’s belief he could take on Microsoft by buying WordPerfect, and a general feeling the city could be more than a sleepy government town as the Feds were shedding jobs to balance the books. The concept of Canadian SaaS companies was yet to be born.

By the new millennium the dot com bubble had burst, Nortel was in disarray and once promising Newbridge spinoff CrossKeys were shutting its doors. While the city’s tech sector has continued to grow steadily, it’s only been recently that Ottawa has caught a second wind. And like many other cities, it’s been due in part to startups. Local stars include Shopify, a wildly successful e-commerce platform, and Halogen Software, a provider of cloud-based talent management software.

However, enterprise software is also fueling the tech renaissance in the nation’s capital, and Ottawa has become a hub for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) startups. The worldwide market for public cloud services was forecast to reach $204 billion by the end of last year putting the nation’s capital front and center of Canadian SaaS companies. More broadly, Canadian SaaS startups are garnering worldwide attention and investment. For example, Salesforce acquired SaaS startups Golnstant from Halifax, Rypple from Toronto, and Radian6 from Fredericton, for a total of half a billion dollars in 2014.

The boom of Canadian SaaS companies in Ottawa demonstrates a recognition by the city of where its strengths lay. For example, Accelerator L-SPARK was formed two years ago to specifically tap into the city’s enterprise software potential, and the city is a welcoming place for startup Canadian SaaS companies and legacy enterprises because past successes have laid the foundation. The legacies of Mitel, Nortel, Newbridge Networks and Cognos groomed experienced executives who are now mentoring new entrepreneurial talent through accelerators and community groups such as Invest Ottawa, Startup Garage and Wesley Clover.

The city has already given the Silicon Valley North moniker two decades ago, but in comparison to its California counterpart, Ottawa has lower housing and salary costs and lots of room for businesses to grow. The nation’s capital is also in the top three rankings of Canadian cities for its quality of life, environmental sustainability, and for its suitability for families — giving it broad appeal to entrepreneurs and employees alike.  The nation’s capital alone is home to more than 580 software companies employing 22,000 people. In fact, boasts the highest concentration of talented scientists and engineers in the country.

One challenge that has dogged the Canadian tech sector for decades is attracting the same level of venture capital as U.S. startups. One of the drivers behind L-SPARK was to help Ottawa SaaS enterprise software startups, as well as Canadian SaaS companies, attract investment in Canada rather than having to travel to Silicon Valley to participate in competitive American seed accelerators such as Y-Combinator.

There are signs that more VC money is finding its way to Canada, however. Last year was a bright spot for tech investment in the country, according to the MoneyTree Report from PwC Canada and CB Insights. It bucked a global trend of a 10 per cent decline in VC deals in 2016 and a 23 per cent drop in total funding compared to 2015. Ottawa struck 10 deals in 2016, averaging US$13 million each.

Another indicator of Canada’s healthy SaaS situation was last year’s augural Annual SAAS NORTH Conference, which is returning to Ottawa for a second year in November. The event is expected bring more than 1200 attendees, 400 companies, and 70 speakers together, and will include new features such as roundtables, AMAs (Ask Me Anything), as well as an updated Investor Zone. According to event organizers, the trade show portion is expected to double in size.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors. A revised version of this article was published on Tektonika Canada.

Micron Talks 3D NAND Sans Intel [Byline]

TORONTO — On the heels of shaking up its partnership with Intel, Micron Technology Chief Technology Officer Ernie Maddock took the stage at the J.P. Morgan 16th Annual Tech Forum at the 2018 International CES to field questions about the road ahead.

In a Q&A and session moderated by Harlan Sur, analyst for U.S. Semiconductor and Semiconductor Capital Equipment Research at J.P. Morgan, Maddock emphasized that the update to Micron’s working relationship with Intel is only related to NAND development.

At the top of the week, the companies announced they have mutually agreed to work independently on future generations of 3D NAND. Micron and Intel will complete development of their third-gen 3D NAND technology toward the end of the year and into 2019. Maddock said based on evolving roadmaps and the needs of each company’s respective markets, it made sense to diverge for the next node.

Read the full article over at EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

NVM Express Set for Busy 2018 [Portfolio]

TORONTO — Following on the heels of a major specification update and its eighth annual plug fest, NVM Express is poised to have a busy year as it continues to develop the base NVMe specification while expanding the NVMe Management Interface (NVMe-MI) specification and one for accessing SSDs on a PCIe bus over fabrics.

In June, the NVMe specification got its first major update in nearly three years, putting it on the cusp of becoming the defacto standard for SSD interfaces. Version 1.3 added a significant number of new features, something that hasn’t been done since November 2014, encompassing 24 technical proposals spread across three major buckets that address client, enterprise and cloud features. Most significant was improved support for virtualization so developers can more flexibly assign SSD resources to specific virtual machines, thereby addressing latency.

Meanwhile, the eighth NVMe Plugfest at the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Laboratory last fall offered the first official NVMe Over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) compliance and interoperability transport layer testing for RoCE, Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) over Converged Ethernet, and the Fibre Channel. UNH-IOL fills the role of independent testing provider of standards conformance solutions and multi-vendor interoperability, and the latest plugfest generated 14 new certified products for the base NVMe integrators list and one for the NVMe-MI integrators list. Eight inaugural products were also approved for the newly launched NVMe-oF integrators list, which accepts RoCE initiators and targets, Ethernet switches, as well as Fibre Channel initiator, targets and switches and software.

Read the full story over at EE Times.

Go green with clean tech business solutions [Portfolio]

You’re probably all getting pretty tired of the debate raging on about the role of oil pipelines in our economy, but hopefully some info on clean tech has cut through all the noise. Behind the scenes, Canadian clean tech has been soldiering on, leveraging information technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), and even quantum computing to promote sustainability as modern tech drives us forward.

And with Canada’s Environment Minister as one of 30 committed to the Paris Accord, there are plenty of greenfield opportunities to build business solutions around clean tech in Canada. Better yet: There’s an important role for skilled IT people to play.

Read the full story over at HP Tektonika.