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Getting smarter, connected and more secure – Mike Ballard Global Home Automation and Security Leader – Microchip Technology

As the world responds to new challenges, the next generation of end electronic products will need to meet high expectations and deliver even higher levels of security, explains Mike Ballard, Global Home Automation and Security Leader for Microchip Technology


It takes more than using the latest embedded devices for customers to develop ground-breaking products which deliver real change. Selecting a new device is only the start, and engineers working in Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of all sizes must be able to realize the potential that can be unlocked by each new part.  To do this, OEMs need to understand how to integrate the functions and capabilities provided by the latest devices into their application. They will also need a deep knowledge of their market and the trends that are happening within it to succeed.

Daily life is becoming a smarter and more connected experience for developers as well as for end users. And, as the levels of sophistication and connectivity continue to grow, the need to deliver smarter advanced security for connected applications is also growing.


Driven by market intelligence

Microchip identifies and understands the needs and trends across multiple markets, now and into the future. To help customers to respond to these trends, the technology values of each new solution must be conveyed accurately, clearly and quickly.  The insights gained from monitoring different trends can benefit clients of all sizes, from major multi-nationals to the start-ups which drive grass-root innovation. Technology is moving fast and the path to developing new products and applications should be made as smooth as possible.

Microchip’s wide partnerships with clients of every size across every market sector gives us insight into the unique needs of various applications.  This insight enables our business units to create new devices that meet our client’s needs for current and yet-to-be-realized end products.


Technology is a moving target

As technology continues to evolve, security must evolve at the same speed or faster and engineers must deliver secure connection to MCUs as well as to cloud servers.

The growth of cloud connectivity leaves OEM products more open to the risk of attack. For developers, this means that the products they create must keep their IP secure and maintain high levels of security for the users. The challenge is to bring emerging technologies to OEM customers in a way that puts safety at the forefront of technology.

To deliver the products of the future, the speed of development must be combined with an understanding of how technology is moving across different markets. When the first smartphones came out, consumer expectations changed dramatically. The first touchscreen excited the market, but that technology is now integrated into products at the lower end of the market. Cutting-edge technologies which are developed for high-end applications will soon be scaled to reach lower-cost devices.

The reality is that today’s high technology will become mainstream in three or four years. Product developers must envision where they should be heading and understand what they should be avoiding.


Game changing technologies

Today, the technologies which are providing the biggest disruption to the user experience are facial recognition, voice commands, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).  Scaling these technologies from high-end to individual applications in the mass market can deliver a more customized user experience and simultaneously drive higher expectations.

What will these future applications do? Your front door may be able to recognize you and unlock itself automatically. A large trend in the U.S. is the video doorbell that already allows you to talk to someone who is standing at the door when you are in another location. The combination of facial recognition and machine learning could also mean that your coffee maker will recognize you and then make the type of coffee that you prefer.

New drivers for technology are also coming from unexpected sources. The Covid-19 lockdown changed the world in just a few weeks and new market trends are appearing. So how will the electronics industry respond to these changes?

As working from home becomes the new norm, the risk of leaving home resulted in fewer cars on the road and a significant reduction in carbon emissions. Companies may embrace this concept more in the future and products may be needed to enable people to work together even when we are separated. The University paradigm may also changing as classes are moving online; and, there is a rise in the use of home-based products for health monitoring and even virtual healthcare appointments.

Will the long-term result of these changes be that business moves to a more communication-based model? Will using a ride-sharing app on your phone replace owning a car?  And will the new products be able to learn on their own and write their own code?


Creating the future

Engineers have great ideas for applications that respond to new opportunities. However, they often do not have the internal design resources and expertise to develop them. Working closely with a major global partner, like Microchip, can make a real difference in delivering the performance expected of next-generation products to the right markets at the right time.

To enable companies to create products which break new ground, they must have access to the resources which support advanced development as well as to proven software and a solid security platform. The wide partnerships that Microchip has in virtually every sector of the market gives us market insight that we share with our customers directly or through third-party partners.  It is important for engineers to be able to have the building blocks for new devices and to implement the security which protects their users as well as their products and reputation. This means that all the secure elements of a new product or application must be connected to deliver the most robust levels of security.

The support which helps customers capitalize on using the latest technologies and devices enables applications to be delivered across different markets. The size of these customers ranges from major companies with significant resources and revenue, to smaller start-ups where the focus is on innovation and individualism. This could include a university student who may be using an easy-to-use maker board to develop their revolutionary new application.

A new device may do a million things. Microchip’s role is to connect the dots between shaping the capabilities of each new device and helping customers to keep pace with technology when they are creating that new device.

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Taking formal methods mainstream

In academia, we refer to computing science. In industry, we refer to software engineering. An engineer is a skilled technician who develops and applies scientific knowledge to solve technological problems. Too often in practice software people must resort to skillful tinkering as opposed to sound engineering. That’s why at Verum, we’ve dedicated ourselves to the development and application of scientific knowledge to solve the technological problems underlying this phenomenon. To meet these challenges head on, we’re developing a language that enables building reactive systems at industrial scale. The language offers built-in verification and allows for reasoning about both the problem and the solution. It’s complemented by tooling that automates every development aspect from specification, construction, and documentation to verification and validation. In this talk, we’ll present what we’ve achieved and what will come tomorrow, when we stop tinkering in software development.
Rutger van Beusekom holds an MSc in mechanical engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology. From 1999-2005, he worked as a software engineer at Philips CFT. From 2005-2007, he was a software engineer and team lead at Philips Research. Since 2007, he’s been at Verum, in the roles of consultant, software engineer, team shepherd, architect and CTO, working together with and at ASML, Ericsson, FEI, Philips and other customers.
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Developing for safety and security

Software systems have exploded in complexity, leading to an enormous increase in the number of vulnerabilities available for exploitation by bad players. This effects safety as safety and security are inexorably linked. Cars today have one hundred million lines of code, but should we be proud or ashamed? Developing systems that need to be safe and secure will require a shift in thinking away from huge monolithic to minimalistic, component-based that enables components to be fully validated and tested, to eliminate vulnerabilities. This talk explains how we need to change software development to make security and safety the main criteria.
Chris Tubbs is an industry veteran with 46 years’ experience in the avionics, simulation, medical, automotive and software industries. After 15 years in the aerospace industry managing safety-critical systems, he co- founded companies in the simulation and medical-imaging markets in the roles of commercial and managing director. He then spent eight Years in the automotive industry in Germany and the Netherlands as a development and business development manager, after which he joined Green Hills Software in 2008. He was promoted to Director of Business Development EMEA in 2012, since when he has specialized in safety and security.
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Remodeling legacy software

Have you ever considered remodeling your kitchen, while continuing to cook in it? It may not sound obvious, but that’s exactly what this talk is about. Within Kulicke & Soffa, high-tech pick & place machines are developed for the semiconductor industry. For the development of these machines, a software stack is used, the development of which started more than a decade ago. Over the course of years, different machine types were developed from this codebase, which led to a situation where alternative flows are implemented in various areas of the code base. Therefore, the decision was made to group product-type-specific code. Constrained by feature development, that should continue in the same code base. Remodeling while cooking! This talk will take you through the remodeling and the challenges that come with it.
Corné van de Pol is a software architect and trainer at Alten Nederland. This gave him the opportunity to work for a range of companies, including Philips, Vanderlande, ASML and Kulicke & Soffa. He enjoys learning and helping others and with over 10 years of experience as a professional software engineer, he got specialized in agile software development and object-oriented design and clean code.
Erik Onstenk is lead software architect at Kulicke & Soffa Netherlands. He joined Kulicke & Soffa (formerly Assembléon) in 2007. Over the years, he worked on the control software of the entire machine portfolio. His current focus is redefining the reference architecture to better suite recent developments and facilitate future expansions.
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Why high process compliance is no guarantee for good software quality

In the automotive industry, Aspice is used for measuring an organization’s capability to develop high-quality software. Companies supplying software to automotive manufacturers  are required to have a minimum maturity level to ensure that they deliver that high quality. Still, having high-quality processes in place and complying with them is no guarantee. To see why that is and what else is needed to assure high quality software, we first need to understand the many different aspects of software quality and the influence they have. In this talk, Ger Cloudt will present a holistic view on software quality using the 1+3 SQM approach, addressing the consequences of high or low quality for each of the four defined quality types.

Ger Cloudt studied electronics at the University of Applied Sciences in Venlo (the Netherlands). At companies like Philips, NXP and Bosch, he has gained more than 35 years of experience in in-product software development across different industries, including industrial automation, healthcare, automotive, semiconductors, security and building technologies. After having developed software for over 15 years, he became a software development manager, leading numerous engineering teams. During all these years, he developed a vision on what really matters in software development, which he has encapsulates in his book “What is software quality?”.
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Opportunities and challenges of high-throughput 3D metrology equipment for semiconductor process control

With the shipment of its first system to a high-end chip manufacturer, Nearfield Instruments proves that the semiconductor market is very much open to innovative solutions for advanced process control metrology. This first product, Quadra, can measure in-line and in great detail (ångstroms) the on-surface high-aspect-ratio (10:1) features of integrated circuits. The company is now scaling up to deliver dozens of its scanning probe metrology systems per year.

Nearfield founder Hamed Sadeghian foresees the Quadra metrology platform to be the basis for several products and product lines. All of them will solve different problems the semiconductor industry is facing to follow Moore’s Law with its ever smaller and 3D features. Nearfield is expecting to deliver its second product line based on the Quadra platform next year. This system will be able to image, non-destructively, subsurface structures with nano-precision.

In this talk, Hamed Sadeghian will highlight the major requirements for developing non-destructive 3D high-volume manufacturing metrology equipment in the semiconductor industry, the architecture of Quadra (including software) and the challenges faced and overcome. He will also address the impact of the system architecture on the outsourcing strategy to the high-tech supply chain.

Hamed Sadeghian received his PhD (cum laude) in 2010 from Delft University of Technology. Four years later, he obtained an MBA degree from the Vlerick Business School in Belgium. He is the founder (2001) of Jahesh Poulad Co., a manufacturer of mechanical equipment.

Hamed was a principal scientist and Kruyt member of TNO and led a team of thirty researchers in nano-optomechatronic instrumentation at TNO in Delft from 2011 to 2018. In 2016, he co-founded Nearfield Instruments and is currently CEO/CTO at this scale-up that recently shipped its first in-line metrology system to a high-end chip manufacturer.

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Mastering the edge: critical factors to enabling edge computing

There’s no denying that cloud computing has been a top technology over the past two decades. So many of us working from home since the start of the pandemic would have been impossible not that long ago. Even though the cloud is key for today, it can’t handle the technologies of the future. Self-driving cars are a perfect example. They need to make ultra-fast, perfectly accurate decisions. There’s no time to wait for data to be processed in a data center. This is where edge computing comes in. Edge computing cuts across the IoT – from home and work to the most complex of all, the vehicle. Coupled with the rising digitalization that leads to everything connected, high-performance edge compute platforms are transforming ecosystems and the development landscape. In this talk, Maarten Dirkzwager will share why mastering edge computing with the right level of safety and security is critical to enabling next-generation technologies.

Maarten Dirkzwager NXP

Maarten Dirkzwager is responsible for corporate strategy and chief of staff to the NXP management team. He joined the company in 1996 at Philips. After several roles in central engineering, he moved to Philips Semiconductors in Hong Kong in 2005, where he was responsible for the innovation, efficiency and strategy of the discrete back-end factories. In 2009, he moved to the corporate strategy team in the Netherlands where he was involved in the transition of NXP to a profitable high-performance mixed-signal player. In 2015, he played a leading role in NXP’s acquisition and integration of Freescale, which resulted in creating one of the leading semiconductor companies and a leader in automotive semiconductors. In 2017 and 2018, he worked as head of strategy for ASML and AMS, after which he returned to NXP in early 2019.