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APAC firms look to edge for faster response but worry over data security

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Taoyuan City taps edge computing to manage its streetlights.


(Image: Taoyuan City Government)

Organisations in Asia-Pacific are seeking out edge computing in search of faster response and cost savings, but they also have concerns about security and latency when large volumes of data are processed on such platforms.

A primary, and often cited, benefit of edge deployments are the rapid response times that would not be possible if data is sent back to a centralised network for processing.

Taiwan’s Taoyuan City, for instance, turned to edge technology in rolling out smart streetlights in its Qingpu district, using HPE’s Edgeline EL10 Internet of Things (IoT) Gateway.

The Taiwanese city has ambitions of becoming a smart city and is looking to deploy and integrate multi-sensor information from edge products into a centralised platform to deliver better citizen services.

“Certain citizen intelligence applications and services require an almost immediate response time [and] this cannot be achieved if data needs to be transmitted back to a centralised cloud for processing,” a spokesperson for Taoyuan City Government’s Public Works Department told ZDNet.

For applications that operate in an outdoor environment, network connectivity also might be affected by external factors such as weather and road construction, the spokesperson explained, noting that edge computing powered by machine learning algorithms were able to mitigate disruptions in network transmissions.

In addition, processing data via edge technology reduced the amount of information that had to be transmitted over a network, offering cost savings in network and cloud storage, she said.

See: Edge computing: The state of the next IT transformation

To address customer concerns about outdoor or physical attributes, vendors such as HPE have designed their products to withstand various external factors such as dirt, humidity, temperatures, and vibration.

Jason Tan, HPE’s Asia-Pacific general manager of its IoT enterprise solution group, said the vendor’s edge products were built to operate in environments with temperatures as high as 70 degrees Celsius as well as operate “fan-less”, which provides more flexibility in site deployment.

When asked about the initial concerns that the Taoyuan government may experience when deploying the edge technology, the spokesperson pointed to the need to closely monitor such systems.

“Intelligent edge solutions typically require massive data processing and network connectivity. Hence, ensuring regular system updates as well as stability of the various decentralised devices is critical,” she said.

“Furthermore, as citizens increasingly rely more on such services, we need to ensure the data collected from multiple sensor devices is stored properly and securely.”

According to Zhen Ke, principal engineer of Alibaba Cloud’s IoT business unit, customer concerns about the accuracy of edge computing and latency of the cloud network supporting such devices were not uncommon.

As each node operates independently, data disparity and ensuring data is properly synchronised have been cited as potential challenges with regards to edge computing.

Alibaba addressed such concerns by adopting an integrated approach, instead of treating each node as an independent and isolated function, Zhen said.

“While we are empowering the edge, data will still be fed back to the cloud to ensure data consistency and synchronisation. This [will allow users] to tap cloud’s scalability and flexibility to better address dynamic needs,” he said, adding that Alibaba also leveraged AI and machine learning to enhance the entire compute process.

Also: What you need to know before implementing edge computing

Tan noted that HPE’s edge systems supported unmodified enterprise software from its partner community, including Citrix, SAP, GE Digital, and Microsoft. This meant that enterprise customers could use the same application stacks at the edge, in datacentres, as well as cloud.

“[It] simplifies the sharing of critical data and insights from the edge across locations to enable data correlation, deep learning, and process coordination,” he said. “For instance, selected predictive maintenance data from several oil rigs can be aggregated and analysed in a central location to enable intelligent maintenance scheduling across oil rigs.”

He added that the emergence of blockchain technology also paved the away for distributed learning capabilities on edge computing platforms, thereby enabling each node to process their learning and decision making using blockchain and ensure data integrity and consistency.

Key considerations before going to the edge

Taoyuan City’s streetlight management edge deployment is still currently in its pilot phase and the government has plans to deploy more streetlights over the next few phrases of the project, according to the spokesperson.

She noted that the city government is hoping to introduce more innovative services by analysing the data collected in the deployment, spanning parameters such as air quality, climate indicators, and image analysis processing.

In deciding the volume and type of data that should and should not be analysed at the edge, she said the Taoyuan government assessed the network transmission bandwidth of the field device as well as the data management centre.

It also considered the immediacy of the application service, whether it required real-time processing and feedback, and whether edge computing could support the required speed and security, she noted.

She added that, compared to traditional datacentres, outdoor environments are harsher and edge deployments in such situations would need to consider factors such as weather, dust conditions, temperature as well as stability of power supply to the device.

“At the same time, the solution is deployed over a large number of streetlights, which limits resources in terms of processing power and configuration,” she said. “Hence, the ability to analyse the smallest function and need is an important consideration when designing an edge computing deployment.”

Alibaba’s Zhen also noted that edge computing is restricted by its physical limitations of requiring space to house the hardware. Apart from relying on a robust cloud to provide the computing resources required for more intensive processing and analysis, he added that AI is essential to enhance such deployments.

“Edge computing is for business applications requiring speed in processing, response, and action, and AI plays an integral role here,” he said. “Data can typically be analysed at the edge for faster responses and quicker actions, whereas for AI training and analysis, the large volume of data will usually be processed at the cloud.”

Alibaba last month announced a partnership with Intel to jointly develop “data-centric” computing products, including a Joint Edge Computing Platform, which features the chipmaker’s software, hardware, and AI technologies as well as Alibaba Cloud’s IoT offerings.

China’s Chongqing Refine-YuMei Die Casting (YuMei) was the first customer to deploy the new Alibaba-Intel edge product, using the platform to identify defects while parts were cast rather than have to wait until the end of the manufacturing line before they were manually inspected.

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2021 Cadillac CT5 Review: Personality Matters

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For all the luxury sedan segment may be dwarfed by sales of lavish SUVs, that hasn’t made the category any less competitive. On the one side, the German mainstays bring reputation and refinement to the party; on the other, comparative upstarts like Genesis, Lexus, and Acura claw back attention with imaginative risk-taking. What to make, then, of the 2021 Cadillac CT5 somewhere in the middle?

I like Cadillac’s styling, with the CT5’s blend of angles and LEDs making for a handsome sedan from most angles. As with the most recent Escalade, the CT5 isn’t quite as vocal in its aesthetic as its predecessor: the grille feels like it could be a little larger; the side proportions a little beefier. 18-inch alloys are standard, with 19- and 20-inch versions available. I’d say step up at least one size, as the regular wheels look a little small to my eyes.

The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and is good for 360 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. They’re certainly healthy numbers, and a fair sight more than the 237 hp / 258 lb-ft the standard 2.0-liter turbo-four delivers.

What you can only get on the CT5 V-Series, though, is Cadillac’s upgraded performance suspension and Magnetic Ride Control. The electronic limited-slip differential and Performance Traction Management system are exclusive to the V, too.

It leaves the regular CT5 with independent MacPherson strut front suspension and independent 5-link rear, and it’s all tuned on the soft side. Where the V-Series can flip from comfort to sport at the touch of a drive mode button, switching between Tour and Sport in the standard car is less dramatic. The 10-speed holds lower gears for longer, and the engine sounds louder, but it doesn’t have the sharpened dynamics which leave the CT5-V feeling poised and eager.

The multi-valve dampers on the CT5 simply aren’t so adaptable. It’s not that the sedan can’t hustle, it just doesn’t really encourage that. Long-distance cruising would be a joy in this Caddy, and pickup in a straight line is as urgent as the power figures would lead you to expect. Where some luxury sedans encourage leaving the family at home and playing on the backroads occasionally, though, the CT5 just doesn’t inspire the same.

Doubling down on that road trip ethos is the interior. The CT5’s cabin has plenty of space – for passengers, at least, though the 11.9 cu-ft trunk is a little small – and there’s no shortage of equipment. Premium Luxury trim comes with 14-way power front seats, leather, keyless start, a wireless phone charger, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and ambient lighting as standard. You get rear parking assistance and cross traffic alerts, forward collision alerts, blind zone warnings, and front pedestrian braking too. That’s all for $40,795.

As well as $3.5k for the V6 and $2k for all-wheel drive, my test car had the $1,350 navigation and Bose 15-speaker audio, the $1,090 Climate Package with heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel, and the $600 Lighting Package with LED cornering headlamps and illuminated sill plates. $500 adds auto high-beams, lane-keep assistance, and following distance indicator, and $625 gets the Dark Moon Metallic paint. In all, with $995 destination, you’re looking at $51,455.

All the pieces are there, but I wish there was a little more oomph in how they were put together. The CT5’s cabin seems solid and the switchgear generally feels sturdy, but there’s little of the aesthetic consideration that rivals deliver. Shared parts with the rest of GM’s brands, combined with sober finishes that border on dour, feel neither special nor particularly luxurious.

It all works, it just doesn’t go beyond that to delight. Cadillac’s infotainment system feels like just what you’d find in a recent Chevy or GMC (because, funnily enough, it is) whereas the new Escalade serves up something a lot more unique. The chromed switchgear is too clearly plastic when you touch it, while the 10-inch touchscreen looks tagged on rather than integrated. A fully-digital driver’s display is optional, but the smaller standard panel – sandwiched between analog dials – could benefit from nicer graphics. Again, it does the job, it just doesn’t make itself memorable.

Super Cruise is finally available on the CT5, though the $2,500 option was absent from my test car. It’s the enhanced version, too, which can automatically change lanes for you. Honestly, if I was buying a CT5, it’s the option that would be top of my list.

As for economy, the V6 with AWD is EPA rated for 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, for 21 mpg combined. Conspicuous by its glaring absence is any sort of electrification; for a Caddy EV we’ll have to wait for the Lyriq crossover, which is still some way out.

2021 Cadillac CT5 Verdict

So many of my complaints about the CT5 could be boiled down to “just commit more, Cadillac.” There are hints at greatness throughout, but it seldom quite feels like the automaker goes the whole way and delivers on them. The styling is handsome but falls short of gravitas; the cabin is spacious and well-equipped, but feels bland; and the driving dynamics, especially with the twin-turbo V6, are promising yet not quite as engaging as the sum of the parts would lead you to expect.

That adds up to a problem, because rivals aren’t making the same mistakes. BMW’s 3 Series is more engaging, Genesis’ G70 takes more styling risks, and Mercedes’ C-Class has more comfort. Importantly, all three are just more memorable than the CT5.

Cadillac is quick to point out that its sedan is aggressively priced compared to its competitors, particularly the Germans, and that it outweighs them on things like power and standard equipment. Problem is, in focusing on comparisons, the CT5 has forgotten to factor in Cadillac’s own inherent charm: that singularly American presence and borderline-excess. The result is a car that’s good in many ways, but not great, and that’s just not enough in this segment to rise above the crowd.

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Lincoln Zephyr Reflection is the bold car design we’ve been waiting for

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Lincoln has revealed its latest concept car, and the Zephyr Reflection is a striking reminder that “American Luxury” can be darn handsome too. Unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2021, the shapely sedan is focused entirely on Chinese tastes, Lincoln says, and pushes beyond some of the more monolithic cues of the automaker’s current line-up.

The goal, Lincoln claims, was to draw in a younger audience. The grille gets a starburst pattern, and is considerably larger than usual, extending into the leading edge of the hood and down deep into the lower fascia.

It’s bisected with a line that links the narrow headlamps, and then trails back into the sharply creased shoulder-line. Flush door handles and high-end trim like tinted chrome, copper, and satin silver add some sparkle, while a trunk-spanning light bar joins the slimline clusters. A blacked-out A-pillar give the Zephyr Reflection a profile like no other Lincoln sedan in the range right now.

The automaker has been thinking about lighting a lot, it seems, with new welcome patterns and ambient lighting promised. The same goes inside, with glowing controls that only appear on touch-surfaces when they’re required. A huge, dashboard-spanning display dominates the dashboard, and can be split into three virtual sections.

As for the UX, that’s a new system being called Lincoln Constellation. Themed around the night sky, it’ll have three different versions – Normal, Sport, and Zen – each with unique animations and graphics.

What Zephyr Reflection doesn’t appear to be, however, is anything more than a styling exercise at this stage. Lincoln’s announcement is conspicuously absent of any sort of powertrain discussion, instead focusing entirely on the design of the sedan. That “hints at the future of Lincoln’s design philosophy and signature features ahead of the production model debut later this year,” the automaker says.

China is aggressively pushing EV adoption – and, indeed, Lincoln is using Auto Shanghai 2021 to debut the locally-produced version of its Corsair PHEV there – but though we’re expecting full-electric Lincoln news soon, it doesn’t seem like the Zephyr Reflection will be the model for that. Indeed, look closely at the dashboard display render, and there’s clearly a little gas pump icon there, suggesting this is a PHEV at best.

Of course, trying to read into production plans from a concept car is usually a shortcut to confusion, and so we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out Lincoln’s actual production plans. Certainly, sedans are still popular in the Chinese market, as is the concept of “American Luxury” itself, meaning whatever the Zephyr Reflection evolves into will likely be more of a hit there than it would be in Lincoln’s home market.

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Genesis Electrified G80 is more than just a luxury EV sedan

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Genesis promised us an all-electric model, and now we get to see just what that is, with the Electrified G80 giving the luxury automaker its first pure EV. Unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2021 today, it takes the well-received G80 sedan and gives it an all-wheel drive electric makeover.

Gone is the usual choice of 2.5-liter or 3.5-liter turbocharged gas engines, and indeed the rear-wheel drive option. However the Electrified G80 can switch between RWD and AWD depending on road conditions, with a Disconnector Actuator System (DAS) selectively decoupling the drive shaft.

The result is 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, Genesis says, in AWD mode. As for range, on the NEDC test you’re looking at over 310 miles, though we’d expect the US EPA numbers to be lower than that. Something that’s particularly impressive is 350 kW DC fast charging support which – if you find a suitably potent charger – could mean going from 10-percent to 80-percent in 22 minutes.

The underlying architecture supports 400/800V switchable modes, to suit different charger types. Just as exciting, though, is the inclusion of V2L (Vehicle to Load) support, effectively turning the Electrified G80 into a huge battery on wheels that’s capable of powering a home in the case of a grid outage or similar. In that situation, Genesis says, the EV can deliver 3.6 kW – more, it suggests, than the typical household requires.

On the outside, the changes from the internal combustion G80 are subtle. The Crest Grille switches from its usual mesh, with an inverted G-Matrix pattern instead. In the upper right corner is a door for the charging port; open that, and as well as a place to plug in, you’ll also find some Two Lines chrome detailing to harmonize with the exterior styling.

Inside, meanwhile, Genesis has blended traditional materials with some eco-minded treatments. There’s natural dyed leather on the seats, console, and rear seat armrest, for example, while the wood uses recycled timber. Recycled PET – the sort of plastic used in water bottles – features in other fabrics.

The GV80 SUV donates its Active Noise Control-Road system, which promises extra cabin hush by analyzing road noise and then creating opposite sound waves to cancel it out. There’s also Genesis’ Electronic Control Suspension with Road Preview system, which uses a front-facing camera to scan the asphalt ahead and preemptively adjust the suspension settings to iron out potholes and bumps.

Though Genesis is debuting the Electrified G80 in China – its first vehicle launch, it points out, outside of South Korea – it will be bringing the EV to the US and Canada, it’s confirmed. More information on localized specifications for that version will be shared later in the year, Genesis says, in addition to news on the other BEVs the automaker has planned.

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