Automotive Opportunity and Security Challenges for Silicon Companies

SecureRF recently participated as an exhibitor at the GSA Silicon Summit, held April 19 in San Jose, California. The event offered attendees a great opportunity to connect with many of the leading and emerging players in the semiconductor ecosystem and also learn about new trends in the industry. While a number of interesting topics were discussed, many presentations and most of the chatter revolved around emerging opportunities in the automotive industry.

Multi-billion dollar growth opportunity
Perhaps the main reason the automotive segment received so much attention at the GSA Silicon Summit is that for semiconductor companies it represents a big market that will only get much bigger. Lakshmi Mandyam, Vice President, Automotive at Arm, pointed out in her presentation that the automotive opportunity for silicon companies could nearly double from $5.9 billion in 2017 to $10.3B by 2023.  With the general semiconductor industry growing in the low single digits, the dollars associated with the automotive market are too big and too important to ignore.

Numerous analysts have noted the positive impact of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, sophisticated infotainment systems, and increased connectivity will have on the semiconductor market, and a number of presenters and attendees reiterated those themes. But a quote Mandyam shared from Audi put the disruption in automotive in useful perspective: almost 90% of automotive innovation comes from electronics and software. In other words, not only is the disruption underway important to players in the semi market, but it reflects the paramount importance and priority the automotive market has placed on technology as a strategic driver of value.

Security is a major concern
Along with the exuberance around the market opportunity, we heard plenty of caution about the challenges that come with more connected electronics in cars zipping along the freeway at 60 miles per hour. For example, we can expect many more sensors, including intelligent sensors and updateable components (with over-the-air updates) in automotive applications, according to Ondrej Burkacky of McKinsey. The proliferation of such connected devices presents a security challenge. As Bill Morelli, Senior Research Director, IHS Markit noted, with growth you have “more things to attack and greater potential harm.”  And as Ritesh Tyagi, Head of the Silicon Valley Automotive Innovation Center at Infineon noted in his remarks, the “connected to ‘world’ needs high security.”

The semiconductor industry has its eyes wide open about the opportunities and the challenges associated with a more connected automotive industry. We had many discussions about how our fast, small-footprint, and low power authentication and identification solutions can achieve the difficult task of securing the many, very small 8-, 16- and 32- bit processors in automobiles. We found conference attendees to be responsive to our message and eager to find paths to capture the exciting growth ahead. We know there is much to be done, but we left the GSA Silicon Summit excited to work with our semiconductor partners and to do our part to help them solve the industry’s security challenges.