Thursday, January 25, 2018

Intel, Huawei and DT complete 5G NR over-the-air test

Intel, Deutsche Telecom and Huawei conducted an over-the-air test showcasing 5G interoperability and development testing (IODT) based on the Release 15 NSA 5G NR specification.

The test used Huawei's 5G commercial base station and Intel's third-generation 5G NR Mobile Trial Platform. The configuration was based on the largest C-band cell bandwidth defined by the 5G NR standard, incorporating the latest Massive MIMO multi-antenna and beamforming technology. Massive MIMO uses a large array of antennas to provide precise control of a beam to improve network coverage and to reduce overall network interference.

Ford acquires Palo Alto-based Autonomic for cloud platform for mobility apps

Ford Motor Company announced its acquisition of Autonomic, a start-up based in Palo Alto, California that is developing an open cloud-based platform "for connecting and empowering tomorrow’s mobility systems." Financial terms were not disclosed.

Autonomic said it is working on building blocks for smart mobility applications and services. Ford said the acquisition will accelerate the automaker’s mission to establish the Transportation Mobility Cloud platform and support its plans to scale up other key mobility initiatives, including the drive toward full connectivity, Chariot and non-emergency medical transportation.

Ford also announced the acquisition of TransLoc, a Durham, North Carolina-based provider of demand-response technology for city-owned microtransit solutions.

“We believe transportation done right – as part of a systems approach – can bring life back to our cities,” said Marcy Klevorn, president, Ford Mobility. “By accelerating our delivery of mobility services through the changes we are making today, we are enabling that revival, enhancing our competitiveness and creating long-term value for Ford shareholders.”

Ford has outlined a strategy with the following components:


  • Transportation operating system: The company’s open, cloud-based platform – the Transportation Mobility Cloud that manages information flow and basic transactions between a variety of components in the transportation ecosystem – will be expanded beyond Ford to include other automakers, suppliers, partners and cities; a developer network to build and support the system also will be launched.
  • Connectivity: Preparing to deliver digital services to personal, fleet and city customers, Ford’s mobility team will deliver on the company’s commitment of 100 percent connectivity of new vehicles in the United States by 2019 and push toward its goal of 90 percent connectivity globally by 2020.
  • Ride sharing: Chariot, the cornerstone of Ford’s microtransit solutions, will see an acceleration of city launches globally this year; launches will be based on a major shift in focus to the unit’s enterprise business, which provides employee transportation services for businesses. Just last week, Ford announced the launch of service in Columbus, Ohio – Chariot’s fifth city.
  • Non-emergency medical transportation: Tapping into the growing healthcare transportation market, Ford Mobility will expand its non-emergency medical transportation operation from a Southeast Michigan pilot with Beaumont Health into a full business serving multiple medical systems.
  • Vehicle Management as a Service: Founded in 2017, Ford Commercial Solutions is leveraging vehicle connectivity to deliver data services and fleet optimization to the commercial segment, building on the automaker’s historical strength in serving fleet customers. Ford Commercial Solutions will expand its offerings globally this year.


SES-14 and Al Yah 3 satellites reach orbit despite Ariane 5 anomaly

An Ariane 5 rocket launched from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) suffered an anomaly during the second stage separation process. Ground tracking stations lost telemetry contact with the rocket and its two satellite payloads shortly after the second stage separation. An investigation is underway. The CEO of Arianespace issued an apology. Two hours later, Arianespace confirmed that both of the satellites in its payload reached orbit and are communicating.

The mission carried SES-14, the second of SES' hybrid satellite to be launched. SES-14 was equipped with C-band wide beams will help cable and IP operators gain more viewers in Latin America, as well as provide maritime managed connectivity service across the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, HTS spot beams are designed for in-flight connectivity aboard commercial aircraft over the Atlantic provided by Global Eagle, Gogo and Panasonic. The satellite is also hosted a NASA scientific payload called "GOLD" that will enable scientists to study the border between earth and space. SES-14 is the first high-power satellite in the 4-tons class. It was built by Airbus.

The Ariane 5 mission also carried the Al Yah 3 satellite for the United Arab Emirates operator
Yahsat (Al Yah Satellite Communications Company), which is the first company in the Middle East and Africa to offer Ka-band services reaching 60% of Africa’s population and over 95% of Brazil’s population from its geostationary position at at 20° West Longitude. The Al Yah 3 satellite carries 53 active Ka-band user beams and four gateway beams, and produces approximately 8.0 kilowatts of payload electrical power. It was built by Orbital ATK using its new GEOStar-3 hybrid platform.

Intel's data centric revenue grew 21% in Q4

Intel reported Q4 2017 revenue of $17.1 billion and record full-year revenue was $62.8 billion. Excluding McAfee, fourth-quarter revenue grew 8 percent year-over-year with data-centric revenue up 21 percent, and full-year revenue grew 9 percent year-over-year.


  • Data-centric businesses, which accounted for 47% of Intel's fourth-quarter revenue, an all-time high.
  • The Data Center Group (DCG), Internet of Things Group (IOTG) and Programmable Solutions Group (PSG) all achieved record quarterly revenue. 

"2017 was a record year for Intel with record fourth-quarter results driven by strong growth of our data-centric businesses," said Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO. “The strategic investments we've made in areas like memory, programmable solutions, communications and autonomous driving are starting to pay off and expand Intel's growth opportunity. In 2018, our highest priorities will be executing to our data-centric strategy and meeting the commitments we make to our shareholders and our customers."

Qualcomm launches 5G Pioneer initiative with Chinese brands

Qualcomm is launching a "5G Pioneer" Initiative supported by leading Chinese manufacturers of smartphones to introduce 5G devices as early as 2019.

Representatives from Lenovo, OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE and Wingtech Technology Co. joined Qualcomm in the announcement.

“5G will bring massive new opportunities to the mobile industry, and we are excited to work with these manufacturers on this 5G Pioneer Initiative,” said Cristiano Amon, president, Qualcomm Incorporated. “Qualcomm Technologies has close relationships within China’s mobile and semiconductor ecosystem, and we’ll continue to work with this ecosystem to drive innovation as we move from the 3G/4G era to the 5G era.”

Cumulus raises $43 million for its open networking

Cumulus Networks, which offers a Linux operating system environment for open networking, announced $43 million in new funding. Cumulus plans to expand its sales force and invest in growing its marketing programs, with a particular focus on reaching new customers in EMEA and Asia Pacific.

Cumulus's mission is "to free customers from expensive proprietary network stacks and bring the automation, agility and scalability of web-scale networks to companies of all sizes."

The company cited the following recent milestones:

  • During 2017, the company signed over 350 new customers and now serves more than 800 customers, including over a third of the Fortune 50.
  • Growth outside the U.S. was particularly strong. Cumulus tripled its business in the Asia Pacific region and more than doubled its business in EMEA during 2017.
  • Cumulus Networks debuted in the Visionaries quadrant of the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Center Networking.
  • In October 2017, Cumulus was inducted into the Innovation Hall of Fame by JP Morgan Chase.
  • During 2017, the company released new solutions including NetQ, a telemetry-based fabric validation system; Host Pack, software essentials for the host enabling web-scale networking for containers, microservices and more; and Cumulus in the Cloud, a personal virtual data center to build and test network designs and operations.

The new funding round was led by Telstra Ventures. All existing investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures and Sequoia Capital participated. This brings total funding to $129 million.

“There’s a striking variety in our customer base, which ranges from large financial and healthcare institutions, to breakout SaaS stars, to some of the world’s largest Internet companies,” said Josh Leslie, CEO of Cumulus Networks. “But the common thread running through them is that they are challenging the status quo of networking in their organizations and reaping huge operational benefits as a result. We’re honored to partner with Telstra in this journey. We are excited to use this investment to bring modern, scalable networks to even more organizations around the world, particularly to service providers who are beginning to move into the networking space.”

Cumulus Networks is based in Mountain View, California.

Microsemi's quarterly sales hit $468.7 million, up 7.6% yoy

Microsemi reported net sales for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2018, ended 31-Dec-2017, of $468.7 million, up 7.6 percent from the $435.5 million reported in the first quarter of 2017. GAAP gross margin for the first quarter of 2018 was 61.6 percent, inclusive of the effect of non-cash purchase accounting charges related to profit from acquired inventory of $5.2 million and $2.4 million in inventory charges related to the closure of a non-strategic operation. GAAP gross margin was 63.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017 and 64.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017. Non-GAAP gross margin for the first quarter of 2018 was 63.2 percent.

GAAP operating income and net income for the first quarter of 2018 were $59.5 million and $47.9 million, respectively, and included restructuring, facility closure and other related charges of $6.4 million and acquisition-related costs of $1.4 million. Non-GAAP operating income for the first quarter of 2018 was $150.8 million, up 13.6 percent from the $132.7 million reported in the first quarter of 2017.

"We kicked off the first quarter of fiscal 2018 with 8 percent year-over-year sales growth and 17 percent EPS growth," said James J. Peterson, Microsemi's chairman and CEO. "We are on a clear path to exceed our long-term 35 percent operating margin target as we leverage customer engagements, share gains and revenue growth into industry-leading profitability."

Deutsche Telekom rolls fiber to business parks

Deutsche Telekom is kicking off the second phase of a roll-out of fiber-optic lines to business parks across Germany.  The carrier plans to connect 7,600 enterprises through this campaign. The fiber upgrade will enable Internet connections of up to1 Gbps.

“Business parks are at the heart of our fiber-optic build-out strategy. We are thinking nationwide, urban and rural, north, south, east and west. The decisive factor for us is customer demand, and we are pleased to be able to offer our business customers fiber-optic lines in a further 33 communities across the country,” says Hagen Rickmann, Director for Business Customers at Telekom Deutschland.

The German towns and cities whose business parks are being upgraded include: Amberg, Bielefeld, Bochum, Bonn, Braunschweig, Bremen, Cologne, Dippoldiswalde, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Flörsheim, Frankfurt, Frechen, Großbeeren, Hamburg, Hermsdorf, Hildburghausen, Hürth, Kelkheim, Kriftel, Langen, Leipzig, Lindlar, Lübeck, Mannheim, Markkleeberg, Nienburg, Oldenburg, Pinneberg, Planegg, Potsdam, Sandersdorf-Brehna and Seevetal.

Cable Mergers and Spinoffs - Bigger is Better?

Nearly 15 months have passed since AT&T and Time Warner announced their $109 billion-dollar merger agreement. For most of 2017, the companies were confident that their merger would pass regulatory review by the Department of Justice and by the FCC. As the first big to face scrutiny from the income Trump administration, the presumption was that regulators would take a pro-business, hands-off approach especially since the companies do not compete in the same markets and hence would not be constricting the competitive field.  The predicted completion date was “by the end of 2017.” The deadline has now passed.  The new target is “by mid-2018.” 

What’s the hold-up? In late November, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a legal case to block the proposed AT&T + Time Warner merger, apparently on the grounds that the size of the combined company will but smaller players at a competitive disadvantage. So, the logic is that bigger is better, and, as a corollary, smaller is weaker. For AT&T and Time Warner to get to that mid-2018 merger completion date will now require a legal victory in a U.S. District Court.

The official response from AT&T is this “(the) DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent. Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market. We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently” -  David R. McAtee II, Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel, AT&T Inc. 

For network operators – bigger is better, especially with content

Since the time the proposed acquisition was announced in October 2016, AT&T has been arguing that the primary driver for the deal is to bring content and distribution under one roof. The merger will combine Time Warner's library of content and ability to create new premium content with AT&T's extensive customer relationships, world’s largest pay TV subscriber base and scale in TV, mobile and broadband distribution.

As a reminder, Time Warner, which was formed in 1990 through the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications, encompasses many premium media properties, including HBO, New Line Cinema, Turner Broadcasting System, The CW Television Network, Warner Bros., CNN, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Adult Swim, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Animation, Castle Rock Entertainment, Cartoon Network Studios, Esporte Interativo, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It also owns 10% of Hulu.

The basic idea driving the merger is for Time Warner to act as the content arm for AT&T, providing mobile and fixed broadband line subscribers with valuable material as part of a packaged service bundle. Consumers presumably would purchase an AT&T service bundle based on the perceived quality and value of the package rather than simply the lowest price for mobile connectivity. This will allow ARPU to rise and ensure a 'stickiness' factor that goes beyond the latest mobile handset deals, currently a leading cause for subscriber churn.

So, until we hear otherwise or until the courts rule that the merger is impermissible, the presumption is that “bigger is better” and that AT&T and Time Warner will continue to pursue their business combination.

A mobile + cable merger in Sweden

Earlier this week, another merger was proposed also on the premise that bigger is better. Tele2 and Com Hem agreed to a merger that will create the second largest mobile telephony and fixed broadband provider in Sweden (after Telia) and the market leader in digital TV. Com Hem’s shareholders will receive as merger consideration SEK 37.02 in cash plus 1.0374x new B shares in Tele2 for each share in Com Hem. This values the deal at about US$3.3 billion.

Com Hem operates a fiber-coax network serving approximately 1.5 million residential customers across Sweden. The company was established in 1983 and has approximately 1,200 employees. Its head office is in Stockholm.

Tele2, which was established in 1993 and is based in the Kista Science City, Stockholm, Sweden, operates an extensive mobile network across Sweden and has interests in The Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Croatia, and Germany.

The combined company will have a customer base of 3.9 million mobile customers, 0.8 million broadband customers, and 1.1 million digital TV customers in Sweden. Its 4G network will cover the entire country while its broadband network will cover almost 60 percent of Sweden’s households.
In presenting their merger to investors and to the press, Tele2 officials spoke of “evolving customer needs” and the appetite for digital content. As with the AT&T + Time Warner deal, there is an impetus to bring mobile, broadband and TV content under one roof.  

Some Service Providers are downsizing

One network operator moving in the opposite direction. Altice, the French operator led by business tycoon Patrick Drahi, who is known for ownership of his French cable operator Numericable.
Through a series of deals, in 2013 Drahi acquired SFR, France’s second largest mobile phone and internet provider from Vivendi. In late 2014, Altice acquired Virgin Mobile France for €325 million. The following year, Altice acquired Portugal Telecom and sold Cabovisão to Apax France. The hunger to grow bigger continued with a bid to acquire Bouygues Telecom, the third largest telecoms company in France. This merger was rejected by Bouygues Telecom. By then, Drahi had his sights on the U.S. cable market. In May 2015, Altice spent $9.1 billion to acquire a 70% controlling stake in Suddenlink Communications, which valued the seventh-largest U.S. cable company. This was soon followed in September 2015 with a $17.7 billion deal to acquire Cablevision, the dominant cable operator in the New York metropolitan area market. This deal was consummated in June 2016, making the new Altice USA into the #4 cable operator in the U.S. with more than 4.6 million Cablevision and Suddenlink customers across 20 states.

Many of the deals were accomplished with private equity debt. Now, 18 months after the transaction was completed, it appears that Altice has a case of indigestion. Perhaps bigger is not better, or maybe compelling content synergies have not been found across these diverse markets. Is there enough content synergy between France and New York to truly make one Altice brand?

This week, Altice N.V. announced a corporate restructuring centered on the separation of Altice USA from Altice Europe. The separation is to be effected by a spin-off of Altice NV’s 67.2% interest in Altice USA through a distribution in kind to Altice NV shareholders. Following the spinoff, the two companies will be led by separate management teams. Patrick Drahi, who will retain control of both companies, issued the following statement: “The separation will allow both Altice Europe and Altice USA to focus on their respective operations and execute against their strategies, deliver value for shareholders, and realize their full potential. Both operations will have the fundamental Altice Model at their heart through my close personal involvement as well as that of the historic founding team."



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Telstra tests 400G in Melbourne with Ciena, Ericsson

Telstra, Ericsson, and Ciena demonstrated 400 Gbps speeds over 61.5 GHz spectrum on Telstra’s transmission network in Melbourne, attaining what the companies termed "the highest spectral efficiency per fibre pair ever achieved in a live environment." This implies that a maximum 30.4 terabit per second (Tbps) bandwidth is possible on Telstra’s transmission network in Melbourne. The highest previous mark was 25.6 Tbps.

Ciena said that result was made possible through the deployment of software programmable 400Gbps wavelengths using Ciena’s WaveLogic Ai modem technology on the 6500 Packet-Optical Platform, in combination with Ciena’s Blue Planet Manage Control Plan (MCP) and Liquid Spectrum applications. Ericsson provides end-to-end systems integration.

Telstra has deployed Ciena's programmable coherent modem technology, which offers up to three times data capacity and enables up to 60 percent reduction in power per bit compared to the modem technology currently deployed in the Telstra network.

David Robertson, Director of IP and Transport Engineering at Telstra, says: “Over the next five years we forecast traffic on our network will grow by five times. We are investing in our network and developing these innovations to meet this growing demand by providing unprecedented levels of scale, automation and intelligence. This technology will be deployed in our domestic transmission network and we will look for opportunities to use it in Telstra’s international subsea cable network, which is the largest in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Emilio Romeo, Head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, says: “We are proud to be supporting our long-term partner Telstra with end-to-end systems integration expertise to deliver innovative solutions that will ultimately improve overall efficiency of the network. Deployment of these technologies will help Telstra to prepare for the ever-increasing demand for data. This will give Telstra the ability to predict and address connectivity and capacity challenges as they emerge, enabling them to respond and allocate capacity across paths in real time.”

Steve Alexander, Ciena’s Chief Technology Officer says, “As high-bandwidth applications become further ingrained in our daily lives, the implementation of a more intelligent and adaptive network – one that lets operators eliminate complexity by combining intelligent automation, real-time performance monitoring, and the ability to continuously tune their network – is critical. These accomplishments will prepare Telstra’s network to better respond to customer demands.”

Telefónica launches 5G Technological Cities project

Telefónica introduced its 5G Technological Cities project, which will see the initial deployment of 5G capabilities in the cities of Segovia and Talavera de la Reina. Nokia and Ericsson are named as technology partners.

Telefónica's plan is to build 5G living laboratories over the next three years (2018-2020) in each of these cities.

The company expects 5G will increase the speed and obtain peaks from 1 Gbps to as many as 10 Gbps (more than 3 times the current speed of fibre in the home) and reduce the latency, achieving a minimum of between 1 and 5 milliseconds, as well as providing high capacity, with the possibility of having up to 100 times more connected devices.

Telefónica has a partnership with Nokia (in Segovia) and Ericsson (in Talavera de la Reina) as its technological partners for the 5G network deployment project.

"With the 5G Technological Cities project, Telefónica is turning the technology of the future into reality and providing a constant service for people. This is why we will perform the technological deployment and use cases in parallel, so that we will serve people with the new technologies, one of Telefónica’s clear objectives,” stated Luis Miguel Gilpérez, CEO of Telefónica España.

Windstream extends core network to content and media customers

Windstream has expanded its nationwide core network into the Columbus, Ohio, market.

The carrier reports increased customer demand,  primarily within the content and media industries in this market.

Windstream said it completed its Columbus turn-up of multiple terabyte connectivity within just 30 days from customer order to acceptance – a testament to the company’s agility and commitment to rapidly addressing cloud connectivity and networking needs.

Windstream’s optical SDN footprint now exceeds more than 50 markets across the United States, enabling a rapidly growing number of transport customers – including large enterprise organizations, international carriers, ISPs, hyperscale cloud operators, streaming content providers, etc.

“Our nationwide SDN deployment gives Windstream a solid programmable network that supports intent-based, on-demand automation of wavelength services – ideal for enterprises, content providers, large-scale e-commerce houses and more – in a fast-growing number of markets,” said John Nishimoto, Windstream vice president of transport product management. “In addition to consistently driving down service installation intervals, we’re delivering value to our customers today that networking-as-a-service proponents have been promising for years.”



  • In October 2017, Windstream announced a major expansion of its SDN Orchestrated Waves (SDNow) transport service.

    SDNow, which is a high-speed optical wave service delivered using a centralized, programmable SDN environment – is now available in 50 markets across the U.S., including major cloud connectivity and peering locations in the United States.  The service was first launched in May.

    The Windstream network leverages multi-vendor service orchestration and automated provisioning. This enables customers to order SDNow 10G point-to-point circuits for 1,500 long-haul route combinations, with delivery in 20 days.

    “This SDNow expansion brings the benefits of SDN-provisioned service to even more transport customers across our national footprint – a definite game-changer for Windstream,” said Joseph Harding, executive vice president and enterprise chief marketing officer at Windstream. “With its accelerated 20-day service delivery, SDNow will allow Windstream customers to advance their cloud migration and digital transformation efforts with the increased speed, agility and efficiency required for business innovation and success.”

Cisco to acquire Skyport for ultra secure servers

Cisco announced its intent to acquire Skyport Systems, Inc., a start-up based in Mountain View, California that offers "hyper-secured" servers for delivering trusted computing and policy enforcement at the application edge.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

Skyport's SkySecure converged system brings together zero trust compute, virtualization and a full stack of security technologies. It logs all traffic at a forensically auditable level, enabling users to see where traffic originates, where it is headed, whether it was allowed or not, what policy allowed or blocked it, and when and who put that policy into action. Remote management capability allows users to secure branch infrastructure without firewalls, proxies, MPLS or other security measures.

Skyport Systems team will join Cisco's Data Center – Computing Systems Product Group, which is led by Senior Vice President and General Manager Liz Centoni and the Service Provider – Networking Group led by Senior Vice President and General Manager Jonathan Davidson.

Investors in Skyport included GV (formerly known as Google Ventures), Cisco Investments, Thomvest Ventures, Northgate Capital, InstantScale, Index Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures and Intel Capital. The company raised at least $67 million in funding over several rounds.

In June 2016, Skyport announced interoperability between its SkySecure platform and Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) solution. The goal is to provide application-layer and system-level security and policy controls needed to extend the trust boundary from a system-level root-of-trust to the network edge. Skyport said its interoperability with Cisco ACI also mobilizes security policies, enabling them to follow workloads throughout their lifecycles, and lets users deploy and maintain secure administrative workstations, jump hosts and multi-zone DMZ architectures as an integral part of an overall security framework.


  

Tigera raises $10 million for secure app connectivity

Tigera, a start-up based in San Francisco, announced $10 million in new funding for its secure application connectivity for the cloud-native world.

Tigera is an open core enterprise software company delivering solutions for secure application connectivity.

Its newly launched enterprise solution, CNX, secures application connectivity using a proprietary ZT-Auth technology, which enables the enterprise to adopt a Zero Trust approach to application connectivity.

Tigera said it has been selected by each of the big four public cloud providers as the network policy provider for their managed Kubernetes offerings. Tigera’s software is integrated into AWS Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes, Microsoft Azure Container Service, Google Container Engine and IBM Cloud Container Service.

Comcast increases dividend 21% and stock repurchases by $5 billion

Comcast increased its dividend by 21% to $0.76 per share on an annualized basis. In accordance with the increase, the Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.19 a share on the company’s common stock, payable on April 25, 2018 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on April 4, 2018.

The company also said it plans to repurchase at least $5.0 billion of its common stock during 2018, subject to market conditions.

Samsung Foundry builds a collaborative ecosystem

Samsung Electronics is launching an ecosystem program to foster collaboration between the Samsung Foundry and customers. The goal is to deliver competitive and robust System on Chip (SoC) designs based on certified key design components including Process Design Kit (PDK), reference flows with Design Methodologies (DM), Intellectual Property (IP), and ASIC design support.

The Samsung Advanced Foundry Ecosystem (SAFE) program has three elements:

  • EDA/DM: Provides extensively tested PDKs and reference flows (with design methodologies) that are backed by Samsung Foundry’s certification.
  • IP: Provides a full set of silicon qualified, application specific IP offerings from the early stage of process technology development. Customers can view a full list of IP solutions offered through SAFE™ by accessing Samsung Foundry’s B2B site, CONNECT 
  • Design Services: Connects mid- to small-sized companies with qualified ASIC design services and support. Using design service partners of SAFE™, customers will benefit from easy access to process technology information, competitive price conditions, and committed resources for their SoC design success.

F5 posted revenue of $523.2 million - up 1.4% YoY, growing software sales

F5 posted revenue of $523.2 million for its first quarter of fiscal 2018, up 1.4% from $516.0 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2017. GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2018 was $88.4 million, or $1.41 per diluted share, compared to $94.2 million, or $1.44 per diluted share in the first quarter of fiscal 2017. Excluding the impact of stock-based compensation, amortization of purchased intangible assets, and non-recurring tax expenses, non-GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2018 was $141.6 million, or $2.26 per diluted share, compared to $130.3 million, or $1.98 per diluted share in the first quarter of fiscal 2017.

“We continue to see momentum with our software offerings, driven by customers deploying our solutions on-premises and in the public cloud,” said François Locoh-Donou, F5 President and Chief Executive Officer. "The organizational changes and go-to-market initiatives we began to put into place last year are gaining momentum and we expect to see increasing benefits as the current year progresses.

“Our recent State of Application Delivery report highlights a number of emerging trends across the global application landscape. It is clear, applications and related services are taking an increasingly important role as digital transformation reshapes the modern enterprise. We are well positioned to benefit from these broader industry trends as customers require more multi-cloud support, IT automation, and application security.”

Sequans teams with SoftBank on LTE-M and NB-IoT in Japan

Sequans has established a technology collaboration with SoftBank to accelerate the deployment of LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies in Japan. Specifically, SoftBank is conducting interoperability testing of Sequans’ Monarch LTE-M/NB-IoT platform with SoftBank’s network equipment.

 “SoftBank is a leader in promoting LTE for IoT in Japan and its efforts to make the technology ready for connecting objects of all kinds shows its commitment to growing the IoT and to accelerating the deployment of LTE for IoT devices on its network,” said Danny Kedar, VP, IoT Business Unit, Sequans. “We are pleased to collaborate with SoftBank and to enrich the ecosystem with LTE for IoT modules specifically designed for SoftBank’s network and customers.”

F5 adds four to its management team

F5 Networks announced four executive hires, reporting directly to President and CEO François Locoh-Donou:

Kara Sprague will serve in the new role of Senior Vice President, General Manager of Application Delivery Controller (ADC), She joins F5 from the global management consulting firm, McKinsey and Company, where in her thirteen-year tenure she held various leadership positions across their technology practice. Most recently she led the Technology, Media, and Telecom Practice for the Western Region.

Ram Krishnan will be Senior Vice President, General Manager of Security. He joins F5 from CloudPassage, where he was the Chief Product Officer of their SaaS-based cloud workload security solution. Previously, Krishnan served as General Manager for HP’s Applications business and led Symantec’s Risk and Compliance business.

Tom Fountain has been named as the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. He joins F5 from McAfee, where he was Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development. Prior to McAfee, Fountain held multiple leadership roles at Juniper Networks, including General Manager of the company’s Content & Media Business Unit and Vice President of Corporate Strategy.

Ana White has joined F5 as the company’s first Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. She comes to F5 from Microsoft, having successfully led global HR teams for over 18 years across multiple business units. Most recently White acted as GM of Human Resources for Microsoft’s Marketing and Consumer Business organization, with responsibility for their team’s HR strategy, talent management, diversity & inclusion, and organizational capability.

Silicon wars heat up in 2018 – the autonomous vehicle opportunity

Preamble: autonomous vehicles represent an enormous opportunity for the tech industry, including for mobile operators and network equipment suppliers. The first and second parts of this article looked at recent developments at Intel and at Qualcomm, both of which are moving rapidly to consolidate an early lead into a full-fledged platform for autonomous vehicles. This part of the article looks at two other players with newly-announced platforms: NVIDIA and Molex.

NVIDIA building the world's first autonomous machine processor

NVIDIA is pursuing a “holistic” strategy for the autonomous vehicle challenge, choosing to develop silicon, the software stack, the tools, and the development necessary to achieve driverless safety at the ISO 26262 certification level.

At this year’s CES 2018, the company unveiled its NVIDIA AI autonomous vehicle platform for automakers. At the heart of the system is a new NVIDIA Xavier autonomous-machine processor, which the company describes as the most complex system on a chip ever created. The chip, which is expected to begin sampling this quarter, is built around a custom 8-core CPU, a new 512-core Volta GPU, a new deep learning accelerator, new computer vision accelerators and new 8K HDR video processors. The SoC has over 9 billion transistors. Everything on-chip is designed for redundacy and diversity. NVIDIA said it invested $2 billion over four years to develop the chip. Over 2,000 engineers worked on its development.

NVIDIA is not just pitching silicon, but instead talking about process, technologies, and simulation systems, as described below:

Process: Sets out the steps for establishing a pervasive safety methodology for the design, management, and documentation of the self-driving system.

Processor Design and Hardware Functionality: Incorporates a diversity of processors to achieve

fail operation capabilities. These include NVIDIA-designed IP related to NVIDIA Xavier covering CPU and GPU processors, deep learning accelerator, image processing ISP, computer vision PVA, and video processors – all at the highest quality and safety standards. Included are lockstep processing and error-correcting code on memory and buses, with built-in testing capabilities. The ASIL-C NVIDIA DRIVE Xavier processor and ASIL-D rated safety microcontroller with appropriate safety logic can achieve the highest system ASIL-D rating.

Software: including third-party software such as BlackBerry QNX’s 64-bit real-time operating system, which is ASIL-D safety certified, along with TTTech’s MotionWise safety application framework, which encapsulates each application and isolates them from each other, while providing real-time computing capability. NVIDIA DRIVE OS offers full support of Adaptive AUTOSAR, the open-standard automotive system architecture and application framework. The NVIDIA toolchain, including the CUDA compiler and TensorRT, uses ISO 26262 Tool Classification Levels.

Algorithms: The NVIDIA DRIVE AV autonomous vehicle software stack performs functions like ego-motion, perception, localization, and path planning. To realize fail operation capability, each functionality includes a redundancy and diversity strategy. For example, perception redundancy is achieved by fusing lidar, camera and radar. Deep learning and computer vision algorithms running on CPU, CUDA GPU, DLA and PVA enhance redundancy and diversity. The NVIDIA DRIVE AV stack is a full backup system to the self-driving stack developed by the automaker, enabling Level 5 autonomous vehicles to achieve the highest level of functional safety.

Virtual Reality Simulation: NVIDIA has created a virtual reality simulator, called NVIDIA AutoSIM, to test the DRIVE platform and simulate against rare conditions. Running on NVIDIA DGX supercomputers, NVIDIA AutoSIM is repeatable for regression testing and will eventually simulate billions of miles.

Based on this platform, NVIDIA published a flurry of press announcements touting its momentum:

Mercedes-Benz unveiled a new in-car infotainment system that uses AI powered by NVIDIA to transform how drivers and passengers interact with their vehicles. The 3D touch-screen displays can be controlled with a new voice-activated assistant that can be summoned with the phrase “Hey, Mercedes.”

Volkswagen is adopting the NVIDIA DRIVE IX platform.

Uber has selected NVIDIA technology for the AI computing system in its future fleet of self-driving cars and freight trucks.
Baidu and ZF, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, to create a production-ready AI autonomous vehicle platform based on NVIDIA’s DRIVE Xavier, ZF’s new ProAI car computer and Baidu’s Apollo Pilot.

Molex is building the in-vehicle network

Molex, which is well-known in the communications field for its electrical and fibre optic interconnection systems, is also jumping into to the autonomous vehicle field.  This week, the Lisle, Illinois-based company is highlighting its new, 10G Automotive Ethernet Network for connected and autonomous vehicles at CES 2018.

The Molex 10 Gbps Automotive Ethernet Network connects Electronic Control Units (ECUs) throughout a vehicle. It offers secure over-the-air software and firmware updates and diagnostics over IP (Dip) to help avoid the need for vehicle recalls and enabling in-vehicle security and diagnostics over IP.  Molex said its platform is compatible with existing network components, and that it provides flexibility for OEMs to accommodate different vehicle profiles.

The Molex 10 Gbps Automotive Ethernet Network incorporates an Aquantia chip optimized for Multi-Gig Ethernet to support data transfers between Electronic Control Units (ECU). Molex is also working with Silicon Valley-based Excelfore, which provides innovative middleware solutions for in-vehicle and vehicle-to-cloud smart mobility networks. This enables over-the-air (OTA) diagnostics, firmware and software updates to different automotive devices, from different vendors, running different operating systems, across multiple networks.

To connect the network to the car’s entertainment system, Molex has formed a partnership with AllGo Systems. AllGo's OTG and Media Solutions support iPhones and Android phones, as well as other smart devices within the car. The idea here is clearly wired and wireless infotainment in automotive cockpit systems. High-resolution navigation data could also be streamed over the in-car network from a head unit running Android to a digital instrument cluster running QNX. The companies envision multiple 4K high-resolution content streams from a network storage device to the head unit and played back on secondary displays.

Molex is also working with Microchip Technology Inc.  on USB Media Modules and USB power delivery solutions for these automotive infotainment systems. The work focuses on the increasing number of USB ports in vehicles, and how USB can deliver more power and bring driver assistance applications to the head unit display.

Finally, let us not forget security. Molex is working with BlackBerry to protect its 10 Gbps Ethernet Automotive Networking platform. This is being developed using the BlackBerry QNX Neutrino SDP 7.0 RTOS, which provides high performance and enhanced kernel-level security based on its microkernel architecture, file encryption, adaptive time partitioning, a high-availability framework, anomaly detection, and multi-level policy-based access control. Communication between modules and other vehicle ECUs and peripheral devices connected to the network will use the BlackBerry Certicom's Managed PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) Service to securely provision and authenticate. In-vehicle connections can be made via Ethernet IP-based devices or LIN, CAN, USB, and other supported legacy communication protocols. As part of the PKI, BlackBerry Certicom’s is providing an efficient and powerful Elliptic-Curve Cryptography (ECC) solution that can also be extended to communications between the vehicle systems and the cloud.