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Will Intel Start Tunneling Transistors?

February 9, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is looking at tunneling transistors and spintronics and slowly rejecting the need for speed.

According to the Intel’s William Holt, who leads the company’s technology and manufacturing group, Intel will soon have to start using fundamentally new technologies.

He named tunnelling transistors and spintronics as good candidates, but both would require changes in how chips are designed and manufactured, and would likely be used alongside silicon transistors.

Holt said that the technology will not offer speed benefits over silicon transistors and chips may stop getting faster. Instead the tech would improve the energy efficiency of chips, something important for many leading uses of computing today, such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and robotics.

Speaking at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco said: “We’re going to see major transitions… The new technology will be fundamentally different.”

Holt said that the status quo can only continue for two more generations, just four or five years, by which time silicon transistors will be only seven nanometres in size.

Tunnelling transistors are far from commercialization. They take advantage of quantum mechanical properties of electrons that harm the performance of conventional transistors and that have become more problematic as transistors have got smaller.

Spintronic devices could hit the market next year. They represent digital bits by switching between two different states encoded into a quantum mechanical property of particles such as electrons known as spin.

Spintronics will appear in some low-power memory chips in the next year or so, perhaps in high-powered graphics cards.

“Particularly as we look at the Internet of things, the focus will move from speed improvements to dramatic reductions in power. Power is a problem across the computing spectrum. The carbon footprint of data centres operated by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies is growing at an alarming rate. And the chips needed to connect many more household, commercial, and industrial objects from toasters to cars to the Internet will need to draw as little power as possible to be viable,” Holt said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google Fiber To Be Free For Some

February 5, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Fiber has announced free gigabit Internet service to residents of selected public housing projects connected to its fiber optic service in U.S. cities.

The program debuted at West Bluff, an affordable housing community in Kansas City, Mo., where 100 homes have been connected to Google Fiber. Across the Kansas City area, Google is now working with affordable housing providers to connect as many as nine properties that could reach more than 1,300 local families.

Google described the program as an extension of its work with ConnectHome, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Obama administration.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a conference call that under the ConnectHome program, up to 200,000 children in affordable housing in 28 different U.S. cities are expected to be connected to fast Internet. Google Fiber is expected to be a part of those connections in Atlanta, Durham, N.C., Nashville and San Antonio, he said.

There will be no cost to local housing authorities, their residents or HUD. Google will absorb the costs of the free service and there will be no fees or contract.

The Kansas City area was the first Google Fiber location in the nation, starting in 2012. Today, the service is available in two other cities — Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah — with work under way in six others. Normally, residents in Kansas City pay $70 a month for Google Fiber fast Internet service.

In addition to free Internet, eligible residents will work with ConnectHome partners like Connecting for Good and Surplus Exchange to be able to purchase discounted computers and learn new computer skills, Google said.

In Austin, Google plans to complement free Internet service for some families with investments in computers labs and digital literacy classes. Plans for other cities were not announced.

 

 

FCC Approves Use Of BYOCB

February 1, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

In a sweeping change of course directed at a tightly controlled television industry, cable and satellite operators in the United States will now be obligated to let their customers freely choose which set-top boxes they can use, according to a proposal announced by the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday.

The move is expected to have wide-ranging implications for large technology companies looking to get their brand names into every consumer’s living room. For example, under the new rules, Google, Amazon and Apple would now be allowed to create entertainment room devices that blend Internet and cable programming in a way the television industry has until now resisted. Next-generation media players, including the Chromecast, Fire TV and Apple TV, would now be granted permission to line the backs of their devices with coaxial inputs and internal “smart access card” equivalents integrated right into device firmware with a simple subscription activation process.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut investigated the cable set-top box market last summer and found that the cable industry generates roughly $19.1 billion in annual revenue from cable box rentals alone.

Meanwhile, the cost of cable set-top boxes has risen 185 percent since 1995, while the cost of PCs, televisions and smartphones has dropped by 90 percent. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler admits that these economies of scale don’t need to remain so unbalanced any longer.

The FCC says its focus will be primarily on improving day-to-day television experience. In the past, the burdensome requirements of long-term contracts tethered to clunky, unsightly cable and satellite boxes has been a major source of customer complaints.

Wheeler has also said that access to specific video content shouldn’t be frustrating to the average consumer in an age where we are constantly surrounded by a breadth of information to sift through. “Improved search functions [can] lead consumers to a variety of video content that is buried behind guides or available on video services you can’t access with your set-top box today,” Wheeler says.

The FCC is expected to vote on the proposal on Thursday, February 18th. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s full statement on the commission’s new proposal can be found here.

Courtesy-Fud

LG Release Patch For Android Devices Data Theft Bug

February 1, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

LG has issued a fix for a security flaw in an application preinstalled on millions of its Android G3 smartphones that researchers found could be used to steal a variety of data.

The application, called Smart Notice, is a kind of multifunctional widget, managing contacts, notifications, and weather and traffic alerts.

Researchers from BugSec and Cynet, two computer security companies, found that they could attack a person’s phone by sending them a contact with malicious JavaScript contained in the name field, according to avideo.

Once the code was on the phone, any information stored on its SD card, such as private images and chat logs, could be stolen.

“The root cause for the security problem is the fact that Smart Notice does not validate the data presented to the users,” BugSec and Cynet wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

The researchers found a variety of ways to trigger their malicious code and carry out actions, such as opening a phishing site that tries to steal a person’s Gmail credentials or prompt a person to download a remote access trojan.

“With a little tweak, we were able to load external scripts from a remote host and ‘refresh’ our code every few seconds, giving us the ability to have active command and control over the LG phone and send new payloads,” the companies wrote.

It was also possible to conduct a denial-of-service attack that could only be stopped by doing a hard reset of the phone, they wrote.

 

 

Facebook Exploring A Dedicated Video Service

January 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is contemplating the development of a dedicated service or page where users will be able watch videos and not be bothered by other content.

The social network continues to see surging interest in video. During one day last quarter, its users watched a combined 100 million hours of video. Roughly 500 million users watch at least some video each day.

That’s a lot of video and a lot of viewers, and Facebook wants to capitalize on it.

“We are exploring a dedicated place on Facebook for when they just want to watch videos,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday during a conference call to discuss Facebook’s quarterly financial results.

But he was tight-lipped on how the video might actually be presented.

Asked if a stand-alone video app is in the cards, he mentioned the success of Messenger and a Facebook app for managing Pages. “I do think there are additional opportunities for this and we’ll continue looking at them,” he said.

Facebook wants to encourage more video viewing because it keeps users on the site longer, helping it to sell more ads.

“Marketers also really love video and it’s a compelling way to reach consumers,” COO Sheryl Sandberg said during the call.

Zuckerberg has been watching the growth of video for osme time. At a town hall meeting in November 2014, he predicted, ”In five years, most of [Facebook] will be video.”

And it’s likely that most of that video will be consumed over mobile networks.

Among Facebook’s heaviest users — the billion people who access it on a daily basis — 90 percent use a mobile device, either solely or in addition to their PC.

It’s financial results for the fourth quarter were strong. Revenue was $5.8 billion, up 52 percent from the same period in 2014, while net profit more than doubled to $1.6 billion.

 

 

 

Intel Going 10nm Next Year

January 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is reportedly going to release its first 10nm processor family in 2017, expected to be the first of three generations of processors that will be fabbed on the 10nm process.

Guru 3D found a slide which suggest that Chipzilla will not be sticking to its traditional “tick-tock model.” To be fair Intel has been using the 14nm node for two generations so far – Broadwell and Skylake. Kaby Lake processor architecture that is due later this year, will also use 14nm .

The slide tells us pretty much what we expected. The first processor family to be manufactured on a 10nm node will be Cannonlake, expected to launch in the year 2017. The following year, Intel will reportedly launch Icelake processors, again using the same 10nm node. Icelake will be succeeded by Tigerlake in 2019, the third generation of Intel processors using a 10nm silicon fab process. The codename for Tigerlake’s successor is unknown.  When it comes out in 2020 it will use 5nm.

 

architecture CPU series Tick or Tock Fab node Year Released
Presler/Cedar Mill Pentium 4 / D Tick 65 nm 2006
Conroe/Merom Core 2 Duo/Quad Tock 65 nm 2006
Penryn Core 2 Duo/Quad Tick 45 nm 2007
Nehalem Core i Tock 45 nm 2008
Westmere Core i Tick 32 nm 2010
Sandy Bridge Core i 2xxx Tock 32 nm 2011
Ivy Bridge Core i 3xxx Tick 22 nm 2012
Haswell Core i 4xxx Tock 22 nm 2013
Broadwell Core i 5xxx Tick 14 nm 2014 & 2015 for desktops
Skylake Core i 6xxx Tock 14 nm 2015
Kaby lake Core i 7xxx Tock 14 nm 2016
Cannonlake Core i 8xxx? Tick 10 nm 2017
Ice Lake Core i 8xxx? Tock 10 nm 2018
Tigerlake Core i 9xxx? Tock 10 nm 2019
N/A N/A Tick 5 nm 2020

Courtesy-Fud

Intel’s New Core Processor Enhances Security

January 22, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has unveiled a new version of its 6th-gen Core family of chips aimed at enterprises.

Launched today, 6th-gen Core for business comprises a choice of the same Skylake chips revealed last year, as well as Intel vPro chips, but packaged up and targeted for business users with new features and a full business device refresh that will see new form factors.

The 6th-gen Core chips remain largely the same, particularly in terms of specs, but one of the biggest new features is the integration of Intel Authenticate, a solution that has been designed to make business systems more secure.

Authenticate is built onto the 6th-gen Core platform and is designed to “dramatically improve identity security” via true multifactor authentication technology. This sees user information, IT policy and credential decisions stored in computer hardware, making it harder for hackers to penetrate systems in the cloud.

The Intel Authenticate firmware can properly identify those trying to access systems and protect authentication factors, such as PIN entry, proximity Bluetooth and biometrics, being accessed by the wrong people.

Another feature new to the 6th-gen Core is Intel Unite that looks to expand workplace transformation solutions by doubling the offering of wireless and wired docking designs.

Intel said that Unite will “transform existing conference rooms” by bringing together the firm’s Core vPro processor functions and wireless capabilities so that workers can interact with meeting content in real time from any location. It is said to make life much easier for the average employee to work seamlessly between the home and the office.

The Core chip family was revealed at IFA in Berlin last year and is made up of Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 chips aimed at all types of desktop devices across the market, including gaming towers, traditional PC towers, all-in-ones, mini PCs, portable all-in-ones and the Intel Compute stick.

These processors promise up to 60 percent better performance over the previous 5th-gen Core chips, with six times faster 4K video transcoding, 11 times better HD graphics performance, and the ability to be overclocked via full range base clock tuning.

What’s special about Skylake is that it is the first mainstream Intel desktop platform to support DDR4 memory, and is claimed to deliver 30 percent better performance than a three-year-old PC based on Ivy Bridge architecture, 20 percent better performance than a two-year-old PC (Haswell), and 10 percent better performance than a one-year-old PC (Broadwell).

Skylake is the successor to the chipmaker’s Broadwell architecture, and was unveiled at Intel’s Developer Forum last year. It is touted to deliver significant increases in performance, battery life and power efficiency.

Processors based on the Skylake architecture have a new chip design, despite being fabbed on the same 14nm process as Broadwell, making Skylake a ‘tock’ iteration in Intel’s ‘tick-tock’ chip architecture cadence.

Courtesy-TheInq

HP To Add Virtual Reality To Chromebooks

January 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

HP has high hopes of Virtual Reality on Chromebooks.

HP wants to add “blended reality” features — including VR and 3D printing — to laptops and desktops running the Chrome OS and operating systems other than  Windows, company executives said this week.

The goal is to expand the capabilities of Chromebooks. Right now the laptops are aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web, though some offline applications are available.

HP is approaching the market for VR in a way that is different from companies like Oculus and Samsung, which provide headsets to view 3D content. On its part, HP wants to provide the tools that can be used to create 3D content.

Beyond VR, a big part of HP’s “blended reality” strategy is 3D printing. HP plans to release a 3D printer this year, and the company has said it wants to make it easier for PC and mobile-device users to create and print 3D objects.

These  features will be delivered to Chrome PCs through Web technologies, said Gus Schmedlen, vice president of education at HP.

More details on the plan will be shared in the future, Schmedlen said, so exactly how HP will build a Chromebook capable of handling Web-based VR remains to be seen.

HP already offers hardware built around its interactive computing strategy. Sprout PCs have projectors and 3D cameras that can scan, create and manipulate 3D images and objects.The 23.6-inch Zvr monitor allows users to modify objects “in thin air” with a stylus-like pointer and 3D glasses.

VR is possible through high-end smartphones and Google Cardboard, but desktops with separate graphics cards are needed for high-end devices like Oculus Rift. Chrome PCs don’t have discrete GPUs yet.

It’s possible that HP could create a Web version of its Workspace software, which allows for the scanning or manipulation of images and video.

 

 

 

 

Verizon Announces Sponsored Data Program

January 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon has announced a sponsored data service named FreeBee Data, which offers mobile users toll-free data either via gigabytes or on a per-click basis.

One of the models, called FreeBee Data 360, is available in beta starting Tuesday. Under the plan, content providers can give some or all their mobile content to consumers via an app or mobile website on a per gigabyte basis without using up a consumer’s data plan.

The other model of FreeBee Data, which goes into beta on Jan. 25, allows a content provider to sponsor specific consumer actions, such as watching a mobile video clip, listening to an audio stream or downloading an app. Content providers are charged on a per-click basis, but the data is free to users. The broad outline of the service is described for businesses on Verizon’s website.

Verizon said per-click participants so far include Hearst Magazines, AOL and Gameday. They will sponsor some free mobile content for 1,000 test subscribers. A commercial version is coming later in 2016.

Verizon described the advantages to content providers as offering the ability to build smarter mobile marketing campaigns. For consumers, access to content and other data, either per click or for an entire app or website, will be free.

AT&T announced a similar sponsored data program in October called Data Perks, which allows customers the ability to accumulate up to 1 GB of free data per billing period. Customers accumulate free data by clicking on special offers from companies like Fandango, Hotel Tonight, Rosetta Stone and others.

The concept of sponsored data has raised concerns from net neutrality supporters who question whether the services violate the spirit of an open Internet. However, supporters of sponsored data say it won’t cost anything to explore the marketing offers and claim the sponsored traffic is not prioritized over other Internet traffic.

 

 

AT&T Switches To Ubuntu

January 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

America’s second biggest telecoms company has announced that it is switching to Ubuntu for its infrastructure.

AT&T, which has been around in its current form since 2005, has selected Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system, “to be part of an effort to drive innovation in the network and cloud”, beating rivals such as Microsoft Azure and IBM to the punch.

John Zannos, vice president of cloud alliances and business development at Canonical, said: “This is important for Canonical. AT&T’s scalable and open future network uses the best of Canonical innovation.

“AT&T selecting us to support its effort in cloud, enterprise applications and the network provides the opportunity to innovate with AT&T around the next generation of the software-centric network and cloud solutions.

“Ubuntu is the operating system of the cloud and this relationship allows us to bring our engineering expertise around Ubuntu, cloud and open source to AT&T.”

Ubuntu will provide a fully supported Ubuntu offering for a range of services across cloud, network and enterprise applications.

The company also offers quad-play for consumers across fixed-line, broadband, mobile and TV after finalizing the purchase of DirecTV last summer.

“By tapping into the latest technologies and open principles, AT&T’s network of the future will deliver what our customers want, when they want it,” said Toby Ford, assistant vice president of cloud technology, strategy and planning at AT&T.

“We’re reinventing how we scale by becoming simpler and modular, similar to how applications have evolved in cloud data centers. Open source and OpenStack innovations represent a unique opportunity to meet these requirements, and Canonical’s cloud and open source expertise make them a good choice for AT&T.”

The news is a big boost for open source Ubuntu, giving opportunities for some of its largest rollout yet of products including Ubuntu 15.10 Server Edition and Snappy Ubuntu Core for Internet of Things sensors.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Xiaomi Misses Smartphone Shipment Goals

January 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Xiaomi announced Friday it shipped over 70 million smartphones in 2015, short of an ambitious target it had announced last year, amid growing competition and high dependence on the Chinese market.

The Chinese company had forecast last year that it would sell at least 80 million phones during the year. It had sold 34.7 million handsets during the first half of the year.

Growth in smartphone sales is slowing down in China because of saturation of the market, said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. Xiaomi is also facing stiff competition from other players who have copied the company’s strategy based on online sales, content and exclusive apps, he added.

Research firm Canalys said in October that Huawei had overtaken Xiaomi as China’s top smart phone vendor in the third quarter of last year. Xiaomi fell to second place after its shipments shrank year on year. Xiaomi is under tremendous pressure to keep growing as an international player as it slows down in its key home market, the research firm added.

About 90 percent of Xiaomi’s sales have come from China, said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research. The company, which had acquired a star status because of its meteoric growth and aggressive publicity campaigns, has tried to reduce its dependence on the Chinese market, selling in other markets such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

But other than in China and India, its performance in markets it has entered has been lackluster, Shah said. Even in India, it is not among the top five as it faces competition from established local and foreign brands who have been quick to match Xiaomi’s online sales strategy, he added.

Xiaomi offers an app ecosystem, which has proven to be attractive in China where the Google Play store is banned, but this has not helped the company in India and other markets where Google Play is available, Shah said.

 

 

 

Microsoft Rolls Out New Updates For iOS, Android Outlook Apps

January 15, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Outlook users who need to initiate a videoconference will have an easier time with new updates Microsoft announced for the app on iOS and Android.

The updates will allow users to tap a Skype call toggle inside the app’s event creation screen, which will automatically generate a link to a video conference for invitees. When the conference time comes, people who are supposed to participate just need to tap on the Skype link, and the video chat app will open up on their devices.

For those people who don’t have a Skype app installed, Microsoft’s recently released Skype for Web will let them join in on the call, even if they don’t have Skype accounts.

The improvement isn’t all that surprising, given what Google has done with its own calendar invites. When creating an event in Google Calendar, there’s a “create video call” button that allows users to spawn a meeting link through Google Hangouts that works in much the same way as the Skype link.

The updates come on the heels of Microsoft announcing yesterday that it will be rolling out free video conferencing to all users of the Skype mobile apps.

Outlook’s calendar view also received a number of improvements, as the product team works to integrate the features of Sunrise Calendar into the app before closing down that dedicated application. Users can now see their full schedule at a glance by scrolling up or down on the two-week view that’s in the calendar screen. There’s also a new three-day view that lets users see a quick side-by-side look at any three days on the calendar.

Android users got a little extra love with this update, which gives them a quick navigation bar at the bottom of the app that lets them quickly navigate among the different mail, contacts, calendar and files tabs inside the app.

 

Expensive Gaming Desktops, Laptops Gems Of Slumping PC Market

January 14, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

In an increasingly waning PC market, high-priced gaming desktops and laptops are thriving.

PC shipments totaled 71.9 million units during the fourth quarter last year, declining by 10.6 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, according to a study released by IDC on Tuesday.

But high-end gaming PCs are the fastest-growing segment alongside all-in-one PCs, IDC analysts said. Gamers upgrade hardware much more quickly than other users and are typically not affected by the industry trends that led to a decline in PC shipments overall.

For one, smartphones and tablets haven’t replaced gaming PCs, as has happened with mainstream PCs, said Lewis Ward, research director for gaming at IDC.

Gamers also aren’t price-sensitive and are willing to spend to get the latest and greatest technologies. Many gaming systems are built by enthusiasts at home.

Though a small share of the overall PC market, gamers also upgrade computers much more quickly than users of regular PCs. Intel last week estimated that gamers refresh PCs roughly every two years. It also estimated that enthusiast gaming PC shipments are growing at about 26 percent per year.

IDC couldn’t provide specific growth numbers for gaming PCs, but said it’s a relatively small segment of the overall PC market.

Top PC makers Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer are chasing the gaming market aggressively with tricked-up PCs. Lenovo is even writing its own game called Game State in order to break into the gamer market.

Virtual reality and augmented reality will likely aid the growth of gaming PCs, said Loren Loverde, vice president at IDC. Virtual reality headsets are usually attached to desktops with the latest graphics cards.

PC shipments otherwise declined due to fewer upgrades than expected. Sales in China, which is usually a source of PC growth, suffered along with its declining stock market.

 

 

 

 

Does Intel’s Skylake Have a Bug?

January 13, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A team of maths experts have found errors in Intel’s Skylake architecture which freezes the chip.

Boffins working for the Mersenne Community, found that the bug surfaced when Intel systems were tasked with hunting for prime numbers, using the Prime95 software.

Depending on the program’s parameters the system freezes but the same software on other intel chips worked fine.

The Mersenne Community records prime numbers and its handcoded assembly language in use for the last 20 years on tens of thousands of machines running 24 hours a day was only stumbling on Skylake powered PCs.

Needless to say they told Chipzilla who wanted to know about system configurations and so on, so it could replicate the issue and diagnose the problems.

Having a look under the Skylake bonnet Intel reported that its engineering department had identified the issue which “only occurs under certain complex workload conditions… [when] the processor may hang or cause unpredictable system behaviour”.

The BIt has released a fix for the issue to hardware partners which will be distributed via BIOS updates for Skylake compatible motherboards. Now users will just have to wait for their motherboard vendors to publish BIOS updates with the Intel fix incorporated.

While most of us will not be devoting shedloads of processing time looking for prime numbers, it is a little odd.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Shutterfly May Have Violated Privacy By Scanning Face Photos

January 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A federal judge has has denied the request to dismiss a civil case against photo-sharing site Shutterfly that claims the company violated users’ privacy by collecting and scanning face geometries from uploaded images without consent.

The first of its kind ruling could open the door to future class-action lawsuits against Shutterfly and other social networks that use facial recognition technology without an opt-in policy.

The civil lawsuit, brought by the law firm Carey Rodriguez Milian Gonya LLP on behalf of Brian Norberg, alleges that Shutterfly violated the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA) by collecting and scanning face geometry in photos uploaded on Shutterfly’s website without the consent of those featured in the images.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Norgle rejected Shutterfly’s argument that only in-person scans of people’s faces are covered under the statute.

The lawsuit alleges that Norberg, “along with potentially millions of others,” was never informed that his facial images would be collected, nor was he informed where the images would be stored, or for how long, which is required under the BIPA, the lawsuit alleges.

In addition to the case against Shutterfly, the law firm is also leading separate claims against other companies on biometric data, including one against Facebook.

Norgle additionally ruled that the collection of face prints from photos is also covered under the statute. The statute, which also covers iris and fingerprint scans, provides for recoveries of $5,000 for each violation.

Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the ruling, while significant, meets a relatively low standard in civil litigation.

“The judge said the plaintiffs will have an opportunity to prove their claims,” Lynch said.

A spokesperson for Shutterfly said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.