Tag: mitsubishi

VW locking is a doddle to break

vwHitler’s favourite car company, VW, is in hot water over its electronic key which has a security vulnerably which makes it easy for hackers to open the car doors.

According to Wired,  security researchers found they can  use software defined radio (SDR) to remotely unlock hundreds of millions of cars.

Led by Flavio Garcia at the University of Birmingham in the UK, the group of hackers reverse-engineered an undisclosed Volkswagen component to extract a cryptographic key value that is common to many of the company’s vehicles.

When combined with the unique value encoded on an individual vehicle’s remote key fob—obtained with a little electronic eavesdropping, say—you have a functional clone that will lock or unlock that car. VW has apparently acknowledged the vulnerability and has changed some of the numbering on new parts.

The UoB also found another security hole which affects Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Fiat, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, and Peugeot.

It exploits a much older cryptographic scheme used in key fobs called HiTag2. The hacker has to do some electronic eavesdropping to capture a series of codes sent out by a remote key fob. Once a few codes had been gathered, the encryption scheme can be encyrpted in under a minute.

When the attacks might appear a bit convoluted, it is thought that they are behind a rash of car thefts, including a few in the US as hackers exploit the power of 1990s-era automotive-grade encryption with cheap hacking gear.

Mitsubishi bails out Renesas

Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric is stepping in to prop up chipmaker Renesas Electronics.

The company told Reuters that it would provide $185.5 million in loans to the failing chipmaker. Renesas makes microcontroller chips used in cars, which explains the Mitsubishi link.

But lately Renesas has struggled to turn a profit in its system LSI chip business against rivals such as Samsung.

Renesas was the product of successive mergers of the chip divisions of its major shareholders Mitsubishi, Hitachi and NEC. The company said that it will reduce its workforce by 12 percent and halve the number of Japanese plants.

Mitsubishi Electric executive officer Hiroki Yoshimatsu said that after the cheque clears, his company will no longer bail out Renesas as there are no plans to provide further loans.

He said that it will give Renesas the cash to move forward their restructuring plan and return the company to profitability.

Mitsubishi Electric owns a 25 percent stake in Renesas. It did not say if Hitachi and NEC were going to help out.

NEC is due to report its April-June results today so we will know if it has stumped up any cash. 

DRAM prices soar in wake of quake

Prices of DDR3 to the contract market – that is to say the PC OEMs,  are steadily rising following the problems caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

DRAM Exchange said that prices have risen by over three percent, while Taiwanese manufacturer Nanya has forecast that its prices will rise by up to five percent.

The problem is due to shortages expected on silicon wafers, as we reported earlier this week.

OEMs are panicking because they anticipate a shortage of DRAM, although actually there is an oversupply of products right now.

DRAM Exchange said that DDR3 2GB contract prices rose to $17 and anticipates further price rises in April.

It’s not just supply of silicon wafers that’s the problem – Hitachi Chemical and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical make over 80 percent of resin used in modules, while there are shortages of other raw materials used in the manufacture of both the chips and printed circuit boards.

Japanese supercomputer will test nuclear earthquake resistance

Japanese research institutes and businesses have joined forces to develop a supercomputer program that will test the earthquake resistance of nuclear power plants.

Industry heavyweights Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Tokyo Electric Power and Takenaka Corp are working with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the University of Tokyo to simulate the effect of powerful earthquakes on nuclear facilities. Nuclear power is appealing but a 6.8 Richter scale quake struck Niigata prefecture in 2007, causing a dangerous radioactive leak at a nuclear power plant.

Supercomputers can be used from complex medical simulations of the human body up to figuring out the velocity Pringles are fired into their tubes.

According to Japanese daily Nikkei (subscription), a conventional way to test quake resistance is using seismic simulators with miniature power plant models placed on top. But a supercomputer should accurately predict the resistance of a power plant thoroughly, from the building itself to the joinings between equipment and components. 

The idea is that with the right simulations in place, Japanese business will have a competitive advantage over foreign, earthquake-prone rivals such as Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia, who are all showing interest in the technologies.

For now the researchers are using a Fujitsu supercomputer but by 2013 they will switch to a next-gen machine being developed by the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, Riken, called Kei. 

Japan gives electric cars a boost with power chip development

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan will work alongside a host of big names in the manufacturing industry to develop a power chip which will allow a 10 percent increase in the distance that an electric car can travel, as well as reducing weight.

The ministry will work alongside Toyota Motor, Mitsubishi Electric and Nippon Steel to develop a prototype by 2014 ahead of the target for bringing the car to market in 2018, according to sources close to Nikkei (subscription needed).

It is hoped that the joint public and private scheme will boost the competitiveness of the Japanese auto industry by upgrading its environmental technology.

It is planning, for starts, a power chip – used to deliver power at uniform speeds – by first developing a silicon carbide material as a chip substrate.

Nippon Steel and Denso will develop the chip, which Toshiba, Fuji Electric Holdings and Mitsubishi Electric will use to make inverters before installing them in electric cars manufactured by Toyota, Honda, Nissan and others.  It’s believed that mid range models of the cars could retail at around $35,000-40,000.

By developing an inverter equipped with a power chip it is claimed that power loss could be reduced by two-thirds which would mean the car could travel further.  The technology would also be highly resistant to both heat and high voltage meaning that the usual water-cooling method would not be necessary, as a small fan could be used instead, helping to reduce weight.

It is thought that the reason so many high profile firms are involved is that the price for development would be too risky for just one company to take on. With this in mind the Ministry will provide assistance to the tune of $42.6 million to develop the chip in its fiscal 2011 budget request, having already approved $31 million in 2010.

Mitsubishi affiliate to ramp OLED mass production in 2011

Lumiotec, an affiliate of Mitsubishi  will be the first to mass produce organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels at the turn of the year.

In January it will begin mass production and plans to produce 60,000 of the panels for the year. The factory used will be the Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture in Japan. It will make five different flavours of OLED panels in two colours, white and yellow, according to Nikkei (subscription).

Lumiotec is majority owned by Mitsubishi, at 51 percent, and was set up in 2008 to test the water with selling just OLED panels. It wants to promote OLED in commercial settings as designer lighting.

The 145mm square panel will go on sale for 30,000 yen, pre-tax, which is roughly $365. It’s pricey but it has been slashed in half since samples started shipping earlier this year. If the business goes well Lumiotec may become a fully-fledged firm rather than a development company – we’ll see in 2011. 

Mitsubishi develops carbon nanotube high-end speakers

Mitsibushi Electrics has developed a prototype speaker with carbon nanotube-based cones, which are said to offer the same audio quality as existing high-end materials but at a lower cost.

According to nikkei.com, the company hopes that the cones will set the ball rolling for less expensive speakers. It hopes to push these into the public domain for use in TVs and cars.

The speakers works by incorporating plastics and nanotubes, which are said to give the same sound quality as those which use metal and ceramics and are more expensive.  According to the company they also deliver high-quality sounds in a wide range of pitches.

The company’s high-end speakers, which cost several hundreds of thousands of yen, use cones made of boron carbide. And because they are produced in a vacuum unit, the process can become pricey.The carbon nanotube-based cones, however, can be manufactured at lower cost as the new materials can be incorporated into a plastic injection molding, which is comparable to a high-velocity metal diaphragm.

The company said the development of new materials and the optimum formulation of resin carbon several would make these speakers succeed. It said it’s new speakers were comparable to the widespread use of titanium metal diaphragm velocity higher than 5000m.

It also said these new speakers were closer to the source of sound reproduction unity thus accurately being able to reproduce the sound. They also have a woofer speaker vibration plate material for the equalisation of high notes in songs.

CEA calls for universal 3D glasses standard

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has called for a universal standard in 3D to be adopted, saying that the technology will not become widespread unless a universal set of 3D glasses is developed.

3D has become the next big thing, ever since Avatar revitalised the idea in 2009, and now we are seeing 3D everywhere, from the cinema and home TV to video games and even the odd porn flick. One of the biggest put-offs, however, is the glasses. Let’s face it, no one likes them and no one wants to have a drawer full of them because each brand has its own take on it.

The CEA hopes to address this problem by introducing a standard set of glasses. It is currently working towards this aim with the giants in the industry, such as Sony and Samsung, focused on creating a set of universal infrared active shutter glasses, which can be used for all 3D TVs.

“The feeling is that to make a real market then you need replacement glasses, you need third-party glasses,” said Brian Markwalter, vice-president of Research and Standards at CEA, in an interview with PCR

“What you want is a situation where you can take your active glasses from your house to somebody else’s and have them work. The feeling is that 3D is going to be event-driven, with sports games and stuff, so if you have six people over to watch something in 3D you don’t want to have to buy six pairs of $150 glasses.”

Markwalter is not wrong about the 3D’s future as event-driven. The BBC has pondered broadcasting parts of the 2012 Olympics in 3D and other major events are sure to follow. That is, of course, providing a large enough population actually has access to 3D. Or wants it.

The CEA’s first draft of the universal 3D standard should be available in November, aimed at allowing manufacturers to adopt it in time for 2011. Some companies may not be on board with the idea as it means that third-party companies can make cheaper 3D glasses than the big brand names, resulting in lost profits.

Perhaps an easier way to solve the problem is to simply build 3D TVs that don’t require glasses, like the ones Intel, Mitsubishi and TCL are working on.

Apple, Sony, Dell, others sued over pixellation

A law suit started in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall division, alleging a number of big vendors breached patents relating to LCD displays.

Positive Technologies Inc alleges that Sony, Apple, HP, Acer, Gateway, Dell, Asus, Lenovo, MSI, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Viewsonic and Kobo infringe three patents it owns.

Those are 5,444,457 – DC integrating display driver employing pixel status memories; 5,627,558 – DC interating [sic] display driver employing pixel status memories; and 5,831,588 – DC integrating display driver employing pixel status memories.

Positive Technologies claims it developed several methods in the field of adaptive displays used in LCD display fields “which enabled LCD displays to exhibit the response times necessary to be commercially viable for use as modern display panel technology in a variety of different products sold to consumers”.

Inventor Robert Hotto has come up with a number of ideas licensed by companies including AT&T, Apple and Toshiba, the claim said. He claims credit for the liquid crystal printer. DARPA gave him a grant of $650,000 to develop and commercialise drive controllers using his invention, but a number of companies have declined to license the patents above.

The filing states: “To date, multiple third parties have licensed Positive Technologies’ display drive control IP.”  Those include LG Electronics, Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp, Vizio, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Benq and NEC.

The defendants named in the action are alleged to infringe one or more claims of the patents-in-suit.

Therefore, Positive Technologies wants the companies to pay damages, including treble damages, for infringing the patents it owns.

EU fines 10 chip companies €331 million for cartel

The European Union has today fined 10 chip makers a total of €331 million ($403 million) for price-fixing.

The EU had been investigating these companies for rigging the DRAM market between 1998 and 2002 in what was considered a substantial price cartel.

The companies include South Korea’s Samsung, which received the biggest fine of €145 million ($177 million). Another South Korean firm, Hynix, was fined €51.5 million ($63 million).

A number of Japanese firms were part of the cartel. Hitachi was fined €20.4 million, while Toshiba and Mitsubishi received fines of €17.6 million ($21.6 million) and €16.6 million ($20.4 million) respectively. NEC was fined €10 million ($12.3 million), while Nanya received the lowest fine of 1.8 million. Extra fines were given to joint deals between Ellpida, NEC, and Hitachi, which combined added another €10 million ($12.3 million).

There was only one European company in the mix, Germany’s Infineon, which received a €56.7 million ($69.8 million) fine.

American firm Micron escaped a fine by blowing the whistle on the cartel to the European Union in the first place.

This was the first case where companies accused of price fixing co-operated with the EU, and so the fines were reduced by 10 percent due to saved money and time in the investigation.  Some of the companies also received an additional 18 to 45 percent off their fines as part of a leniency measure, which shows that the total fines would have been substantially higher. The Commission said the 10 companies “clearly and unequivocally acknowledged their respective liability”.

“This first settlement decision is another milestone in the Commission’s anti-cartel enforcement. By acknowledging their participation in a cartel the companies have allowed the Commission to bring this long-running investigation to a close and to free up resources to investigate other suspected cartels. As the procedure is applied to new cases it is expected to speed up investigations significantly,” said Commission Vice President and Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia.

TechEye previously covered EU investigations in this area back in February when the fines were first rumoured. Yesterday we announced that the EU had stepped up its plans to bring the matter to a close. Today the fines are even higher than anticipated, even with the substantial reductions the firms received for cooperation.

In many ways the reductions were probably a lot larger than necessary, considering they all still participated in illegal activity. Micron got off scot-free, which isn’t really fair to the others, even if it did rat them all out. The massive 55 percent reduction in Infineon’s fine could be seen as a little biased, considering the place Germany has within the European Union.

Regardless of what we might think about the extent of the fines, today brings to a close a long-standing case that has tarnished the names of some of the biggest companies in the DRAM business.