The Denali party by Cadence at Ruby Skye was, as always, the social highlight of DAC last night. Rocking away to the 70’s classics by the house band it inspired a few of us to go back in time and don some 70’s fashion in the photo booth! For the sake of decency I’ll not show you the results Here's a more suitable photo
Between that and the Stars of IP party that was held on Tuesday night as well, the show floor was certainly quieter this morning as a result of people enjoying themselves last night! Needless to say this intrepid reporter was up and bright in time to be ready for the keynotes that started at 9am.
The main theme of today for me was security. It’s a growing concern in the system design community across a range of segments, from IoT to automotive and even servers. It’s been one of the key areas that this year’s DAC has addressed and it literally took centre stage on Wednesday with a keynote discussion on cyber threats to connected cars. Craig Smith of Theia Labs and Jeff Massimilla of General Motors spoke at length about the fact that cars are networks on wheels, and they should be secured as such.
We heard yesterday that OTA updates for cars may be available as soon as 2016. Today that vision was expanded, whereby updating your car’s software could become as routine as getting an oil change. The potential this brings for making the driving experience a whole lot safer is huge. However the cynic in me thinks of the way cars are now nigh-on impossible to take care of DIY style, and I imagine even tiny software updates may require a trip to an OEM-approved mechanic.
Jeff Massimilla made a good point about the need to get ahead of the curve on cyber security for cars. If attacks start coming in at a greater level than security then it would be devastating to the whole movement, as people would (justifiably) lose trust in the machine and the software. When you consider the predictions that automotive will become a $240b industry by 2020 then every manufacturer will need to make sure their connectivity is secure from hacking.
All the talk of security reminds me of the history of locks. In the entire history of mankind there has only been a brief period, 70 years in the 18th and 19th centuries, where you could put something under lock and key and have complete, unwavering certainty that no intruder could get to it. Since the 1850’s, the feeling of ‘perfect security’ has remained elusive. With that said, the speakers were in consensus that it’s important we differentiate between real auto security threats and unwarranted ones. The latter have the potential to spread panic and misconceptions if not addressed quickly.
Security was also on the mind of Synopsys CEO Aart de Geus who was forthright in his conversation with Ed Sperling at the DAC booth. Talking about differences between hardware and software, he mentioned two key areas. The first is that software isn’t subject to the same rigorous standards as hardware; if an error is found in a product you can patch things quite quickly, but with patch after patch things can increase in complexity.
Also, in terms of software security you have people who proactively try to hack software, which doesn’t happen with hardware. When asked about IoT, he likened it to putting kitchen windows into a bank vault. A vault should only have one door, a pretty thick one, and these small devices are essentially punching holes in the security of the network. Unless something is developed and standardized across all endpoints as a minimum, the security of the entire network can become compromised. Similarly, there have been examples of some enterprising criminals smashing the tail light of a car and gaining straight access to the bus that way. As the level of connected devices in the network rises, significant challenges with security are appearing. As a positive example he singled out ARM’s TrustZone, which has been built up systematically to build trust with partners and their own experience in developing highly secure systems. In terms of where it fits in, security is an angle in the software space and can actually be considered as a part of the quality assurance of the software in best practices.
And so with that the DAC exhibition is over for another year and will be moving to Austin in 2016! For those who are sticking around tomorrow there are still conference events underway in the meeting rooms, like the designer track. Here are some of the standout talks:
Tomorrow I’ll bring you a highlight of the ARM Connected Community partners, and give them the opportunity to give some insight on their experience of the show.