Intel Intends to take Mobileye Public

Above: Autonomous Driving car in front of Mobileye’s HQ in Jerusalem

the Intel announced its intention to take Mobileye public in the United States in mid-2022 via an initial public offering (IPO). Intel will remain the majority owner of Mobileye, and the two companies will continue as strategic partners, collaborating on projects in the automotive sector. The Mobileye executive team will remain, with Prof. Amnon Shashua continuing as the company’s CEO. Recently acquired Moovit as well as Intel teams working on LiDAR, radar development and other Mobileye projects will be aligned as part of Mobileye.

Jerusalem-based Mobileye provides computer vision chips, data analysis, localization and mapping solutions for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and autonomous driving. On August 2017 Intel completed the acquisition of Mobileye for $15.3 billion. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said that the acquisition of Mobileye has been a success. “Mobileye has achieved record revenue year-over-year with 2021 gains expected to be more than 40% higher than 2020. An IPO provides the best opportunity to build on Mobileye’s track record for innovation and unlock value for shareholders.”

In 2021, Mobileye shipped its 100 millionth EyeQ system-on-chip (SoC), scaled autonomous vehicle (AV) test programs across multiple cities around the world covering the U.S., Europe and Asia, unveiled its production robotaxi, and secured 41 new ADAS program wins across more than 30 automakers. Moovit is a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) solutions provider that complements Mobileye’s solutions. The Tel aviv-based company was acquired by Intel on May 2020, for approximately $900 million.

The Mobileye executive team will remain, with Prof. Amnon Shashua continuing as the company’s CEO. Intel currently owns 100% of Mobileye shares and is expected to retain majority ownership following the completion of the IPO. Intel said it has no intention of spinning off or otherwise divesting its majority ownership interest in Mobileye.

Mobileye revenues surged 124% to $ 327 million

Intel’s Mobileye revenue in the second quarter of 2021 totaled $ 327 million, according to the quarterly report released by Intel last week. It represents an increase of 124% year-over-year, but a decrease of 13% compared to the previous quarter. Among all of Intel segments, the Mobileye division posted the highest annual growth in the second quarter .

During the second quarter, Mobileye closed 10 additional design wins in the automotive industry, for over 16 million total lifetime units. The most significant win was with Toyota, in which Mobileye and the german tier-1 supplier ZF  will develop for the Japanese automaker an advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) based on a new automotive radar developed by ZF and Mobileye’s computer-vision chip, EyeQ4. The system is intended to be integrated into several of Toyota’s models in the coming years.

Last week, Mobileye began test drives of AVs in New York, the first to receive a permit from the authorities to conduct such trials in the city. In the conference call following the quarterly report, Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger said Mobileye is leading the AV industry. “With vehicles in Israel, Germany, Detroit, Tokyo, Shanghai, and coming soon to Paris, Mobileye has the largest global footprint in the AV industry, enabled by our unique REM distributed mapping technology.”

According to Gelsinger by year end there will be over 1 million vehicles providing telemetry for dynamic crowd-source mapping. “It’s a unique and powerful advantage of Mobileye.”

Intel and Mobileye develop LiDAR in a Chip

Mobileye announced during CES 2021 this week that it has produced the first prototype of an Automotive LiDAR sensor based on Intel’s Silicon Photonics technology. The new sensor is planned to be installed in its Autonomouse Driving systems in 2025, when the market will be ready for a mass deployment of AVs. According to Prof. Amnon Shashua, President and CEO of Mobileye, the new sensor is based on Frequency-Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology and Doppler-style algorithms as opposed to the current Time of Flight sensors.

The FMCW sensor provides 4D velocity relative measurements for a distance of up to 300 meters. Its high resolution detection capability reaches 600 points per degree, created by 2 milliom laser pulses per second (2M PPS). The idea is that current approaches and available sensors are too expensive for consumer AVs. Mobileye needs Radars and LiDARs that are both better and cheaper. To reach L5 autonomy it propose three levels of redundancy in the forward-facing field of view (FoV), and for the rest of the FoV, 2 levels of redundancy.

In this scenario, the EV system consists of 360⁰ camera coverage, 360⁰ Radar cocoon and one forward-facing LiDAR sensor. In fact, Intel owns a unique Fab capable of putting active and passive optical elements on a chip together, including lasers and optical amplifiers, loaded onto a photonic integrated circuit, PIC.

The goals for the future radar chip are also very agressive: It will be a software-defined imaging radar eqipped with 2,304 virtual channels based on 48 by 48 transmitters and receivers. This radar will be able to detect motorcycles beyond 200m, old tire on the road, 140 meters away and low and small hazards on the road.

Electrified employee? Don’t sweat it. It’s only a VR…

Above: Engaging learning at Intel. “Young people today live and breathe technology. It can’t be ignored”

Virtual reality (VR) is often associated with gaming and leisure. Intel, however, decided to take the technology in another direction – training employees (mainly in the operation and safety), as an alternative for the oldschool classrooms or educational software. Intel’s Corporate Services Learning & Development group is responsible for about 250 courses designed for large target populations at Intel sites around the world.

Adva Goldman, manager of the group, told Techtime that about 11,000 Intel employees receive every year an electrical safety course developed by her team. “We decided to develop new technological tools for tutorials, since studies have shown that experiential and active learning is significantly more effective than frontal lectures or the use of educational software that keep students passive.”

Accurate digital model of the electrical room

“Young people today live and breathe technology. That cannot be ignored. We must adapt to the environmental and technological changes,” said Goldman. “About eighteen months ago, we conducted an experiment: we developed a course in electrical safety with the help of Compedia, which takes place using a virtual reality accessory in which the employee personally experiences performing real tasks.

As part of the course, we created an accurate digital model of the electrical room at Intel. The employee will perform tasks similar to the ones he’ll deal with during his daily routine, such as maintenance activities but also will be asked to deal with new situations. We’ve designed the tasks with failures and challenges that the employees must identify and overcome in order to progress in the course.

Adva Goldman: “When the experience is very realistic, the knowledge will remain over time”
Adva Goldman: “When the experience is very realistic, the knowledge will remain over time”

“The experience is very similar to reality. As one of the electricians who made a mistake during the course told us: ‘Oh my God, I almost died. I will never forget it!’”. The course was enthusiastically welcomed and Intel has set up 6 VR rooms around the world. But then came 2020: exactly when it seemed that the training division at Intel had developed a successful method for training employees, the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily delayed the project. These VR rooms are now closed, since most of Intel’s employees are now working from home.

The game of training

But according to Adva, the group has not stopped working, and is developing additional VR courses for the day after the corona virus. Meanwhile the training team decided to take an innovative gaming approach: “We developed a learning experience in Ergonomics which is built in the format of a computer game that will be distributed to all Intel employees by the end of this month. We also exploring additional ideas, such as using a personal VR kit that can be sent to employees’ homes, and will replace some of the need for dedicated VR rooms. We also study the use of Augmented Reality combined with Virtual Reality. There is clearly a change in the perception of training at Intel.”

Intel and Lightbits Labs enter into a Strategic Collaboration

Above: Avigdor Willenz, founder of Lightbits Labs, Habana Labs, Annapurna and Galileo Technologies

Intel Corp. and Lightbits Labs from Kfar-saba, Israel, will co-develop new storage solutions for the data center. Intel announced an agreement for a strategic partnership includes technical co-engineering, marketing collaboration and an investment of Intel Capital in Lightbits Labs.  “The data center is being transformed,” said Remi EL-Ouazzane, Intel’s Data Platforms Group chief business development officer. “Our hardware capabilities coupled with Lightbits NVMe over Fabrics software gives our joint customers an exceptional economic solution.”

Lightbits NVMe/TCP protocol separates storage and compute without touching the network infrastructure or data center clients, and thus enables to reduce the latency of direct-attached NVMe SSDs by up to a 50%. Its LightOS provides a software-defines management of the entire distributed database. According to the agreement, Lightbits Labs will enhance LightOS for Intel’s technologies, to create an optimized software and hardware solution. The system will utilize Intel hardware solutions such as Optane memory, 3D NAND SSDs based on Intel QLC Technology, Xeon processors, Intel Ethernet Network Adapters and its FPGAs.

In addition to the technical collaboration, Lightbits and Intel are collaborating to provide complete solutions. They already started: Lightbits Labs demonstrated LightOS NVMe over Fabrics TCP (NVMe-oF/TCP) storage with remote direct memory access (RDMA)-class performance, when accelerated with the Intel Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapter with ADQ technology. It reported the results: up to 30% improvement in response time, up to 50% reduction in average latency and up to 70% throughput increase.

Founded in 2017, Lightbits Labs worked until mid 2019 in a stealth mode. Only in April 2019 and after raising $50 millions, it exposed it first product. The company was founded by the chairman Avigdor Willenz, the CEO Eran Kirzner and the CTO Sagi Grimberg. Avigdor Willenz is a serial entrepreneur. He is also currently the Co-founder and chairman of Habana Labs, which develops solutions for artificial intelligence and deep-learning computing and was sold to Intel in 2019 for $2 billion. Earlier in his career, he had co-founded Annapurna Labs (sold to Amazon for $370 million).

His first semiconductor’s exit was the selling of his startup Galileo Technologies Marvell in 2001 for $2.7 billion. Eran Kirzner came from PMC-Sierra where he served as VP for Software & Solutions in the Enterprise Storage Division. Sagi Grimberg came from Mellanox Technologies (now owned by NVIDIA). In his last position there he served as the Storage Software manager of Mellanox.

Intel to “Ignite” Startups in Austin, Texas, and Munich

Above: Intel CEO Bob Swan. “It has far surpassed our expectations”

Intel announced the launch of two additional Intel Ignite sites in Austin, Texas, and Munich, Germany, following its success in Tel Aviv, Israel. Intel Ignite is a startup growth program launched in 2019. It is a 12-week program for 10 early-stage startups that receive hands-on mentorship from Intel and world-leading experts. Participating companies will gain access to technology and business leaders.

“We launched Ignite in 2019 both to support early-stage companies on their journey to success and to provide Intel employees with an opportunity to advance our purpose,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. In its first year, the Ignite program’s achievements have far surpassed our expectations and because of its strategic impact, we are expanding its reach.”

Following Austin and Munich, Intel plans to establish the program in multiple cities throughout Europe, North America and Asia. Intel Ignite team chose Austin and Munich because both cities are home to Intel sites with top-tier startup ecosystems. The Ignite program in Munich and Austin will start in the first half of 2021. All three programs will have a physical base at the center of their local startup ecosystem.

Criteria for interested companies include a minimum of $1 million in funding (seed, series A), an experienced founding team, significant IP and a large market opportunity. Intel Ignite General Manager Tzahi (Zack) Weisfeld: “The startups we look for are fearless, pave new paths and are not afraid of taking bold steps. Intel employees engaging with the startups in Ignite are challenged to work more nimbly and creatively, and they gain perspective on how other companies and entrepreneurs operate, producing fast results and significant business outcomes.”

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Intel may Outsource 7-nm Production

Above: Bob Swan, Intel CEO. “We have invested in contingency plans “

Intel took the market by surprise when it revealed last week a plan to intensify outsource production and to move some of its future 7-nanometer devices production to third parties. Immediately following the announcement, Intel’s shares in NASDAQ lost 16%. In fact, Intel published a very good Q2 2020 results: Revenues of $19.7 billion, compared to $16.6 billion last year. It also expects annual revenues of $75 billion in 2020, compared to $72 billion in 2019.

But Intel’s production difficulties overshadowed every thing else. Intel’s, CEO Bob Swan, published a prepared remarks about the issue: “We are seeing an approximate six-month shift in our 7nm-based CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. Our 7nm process is now trending approximately twelve months behind our internal target. We have identified a defect mode in our 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation.”

“Contingency Plan” means Outsourcing Production

“We’ve root-caused the issue and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks, but we have also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further schedule uncertainty.” Trey Campbell, Director of Investor Relations, gave a context during the earning call: “Our priorities in the ideal world is leadership products on our process technology. But the focus will be leadership products. So to the extent that we need to view somebody else’s process technology, and we call those contingency plans, we will be prepared to do that.”

In an answer to an analyst in the call, Swan explained that if the company decide to continue to do all its production inside, it will invest “a little more (in) 10-nanometer and less (in) 7-nanometer. In the event we decide that we’re going to leverage third-party foundries more effectively, we would have a little more 10 and a lot less seven. In the event we’re not there and there’s a better alternative, be prepared to take advantage of it.”

The conclusion is shocking: Intel does not lead the process race anymore, and it is also does not believe in its ability to provide full scale 7 nm production services for its own road map. In this case it has no other option but to outsource TSMC and Samsung, the global leaders in 7 nm process.