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ARM Shows Off 10nm Chip

May 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

ARM’s collaboration with TSMC has finally born some fruit with the tapeout of a 10nm test chip to show off the company’s readiness for the new manufacturing process.

The new test chip contains ARM’s yet-to-be-announced “Artemis” CPU core which is named after a goddess who will turn you into deer and tear you apart with wild dogs if you ever see her. [The NDA must have been pretty tough on this chip.ed]

In fact things have been ticking along on this project for ages. ARM discloses that tapeout actually took place back in December last year and is expecting silicon to come back from the foundry in the following weeks.

ARM actually implemented a full four-core Artemis cluster on the test chip which should show vendors what is possible for their production designs. The test chip has a current generation Mali GPU implementation with 1 shader core to show vendors what they will get when they use ARM’s POP IP in conjunction with its GPU IP. There is also a range of other IP blocks and I/O interfaces that are used to validation of the new manufacturing process.

TSMC’s 10FF manufacturing process is supposed to increase density with scaling’s of up to 2.1x compared to the previous 16nm manufacturing node. It also brings about 11-12 per cent higher performance at each process’ respective nominal voltage, or a 30 per cent reduction in power.

ARM siad that comparing a current Cortex A72 design on 16FF+ and an Artemis core on 10FF on the new CPU and process can halve the dynamic power consumption. Currently clock frequencies on the new design are still behind the older more mature process and IP, but ARM expects this to improve as it optimizes its POP and the process stabilizes.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Intel’s PC Group Hit The Hardest

May 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s restructuring axe seems to be falling on its PC client division and software areas with more than 12000 jobs to go.

Our well-placed sources are confident that the PC group will be the hardest hit. This is all because the PC market has stopped growing and Intel has to find its way to new markets to supplement loss of this business.

Latest research data from IDC indicates that in 2016 PC market will decline from 275.8 million units in 2015 to 260.8 million units in 2016 and the current projections for 2017 show the PC market slightly decreasing to 257.9 million units. At its peak PC market was at 364.0 million units, but this was in 2011 when things were rosier, kids were polite to their parents, and rock stars played decent music. These times are clearly behind us and Intel knows it.

The PC group downsize is being supervised by Dr. Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala who is Intel’s number two. He is the bloke who was paid $25 million dollars to defect from Qualcomm. Murthy has already done a high level clean up at PC client group and is believed to be thinking about dusting the top of the corporate bookshelf next.

Another team which will be pummeled is Rene James’s old software outfit. People from software services and the security division formerly known as McAfee are expected to mostly go the same way as the artist formerly known as Prince.

Murthy’s also wants to get Intel to the right course with IoT market. Marketing for that area is expected to grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020. Intel wants the piece of that cake, and perhaps a few tea and biscuits to go with it and it will be interesting to look the fight in this promising land market.

There is still no killer app to help the IoT market which defines it. IoT right now is nothing and everything.

Courtesy-Fud

 

MediaTek To Spin-Off Virtual Reality Unit

May 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek is so confident about its VR plans it is going to spin off its VR division to form an independent company in June.

A recent Chinese-language Economic Daily News report claims that Mediatek wants the spun off business to drive VR sales. It all sounds pretty good but MediaTek have sort of denied the rerport.

Well we say sort of denied it. What it has told the Taiwan Stock Exchange  that it was not the report’s source, which is not quite the same thing.The spin off could go ahead, but MediaTek is denying that it told the EDN its cunning plans. But then again the EDN did not name its source either. Without a denial from the company we are none the wiser.

MediaTek’s VR unit was set up between end-2015 and early-2016 to focus on the development of the company’s VR solutions for handsets, the EDN thought.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Chromebook Outpacing Mac Notebook In U.S. Sales

May 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

More personal computers powered by Google’s Chrome OS shipped in the U.S. during the first quarter than those built on Apple’s OS X in the same period, IDC  has confirmed.

“Chrome PCs overall, including Chrome desktop units like the Chromebox, out-shipped all Apple personal computers, desktop plus notebook, in the U.S. for Q1,” said Jay Chou, one of several IDC analysts who track device shipments, in an email reply to questions.

Chromebooks, the inexpensive notebooks that run Chrome OS, also out-shipped Apple’s MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks in the U.S. The first-quarter battle wasn’t even close, according to the notebook-only shipment numbers Chou provided.

Apple shipped an estimated 1.17 million Mac notebooks in the U.S. during the first three months of 2016; IDC said 1.6 million Chrome OS notebooks shipped in the same span.

In other words, 37% more Chromebooks shipped than Mac notebooks.

Last week, Tom Warren of The Verge reported that Chrome OS hardware had out-shipped OS X-equipped Macs after speaking with one of Chou’s colleagues. Subsequently, numerous other outlets, including blogs and mainstream media websites, picked up Warren’s report.

IDC’s shipment data for Chrome OS and OS X systems were estimates generated using information from vendors and Asian component suppliers. Google, which developed Chrome OS, does not reveal shipment numbers: Most Chromebooks originate from third-party OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), including Acer, Asus, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. And although Apple disclosed global Mac sales in its April 26 earnings call with Wall Street, it did not break down that figure by geographic region.

That IDC’s numbers were estimates only was clear when comparing the research firm’s forecast to Apple’s stated sales for the first quarter. Prior to April 26 — when Apple said it had sold 4.03 million Macs worldwide – IDC had projected global Mac shipments at 4.47 million, or about 10% too high.

 

 

 

Facebook Implement Changes To ‘Trending Topics’ Amid Criticism

May 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc said that it had made some tweaks to the procedures for its “Trending Topics” section after a news report alleging it suppressed conservative news prompted a U.S. Congressional demand for more transparency.

The company said an internal probe showed no evidence of political bias in the selection of news stories for Trending Topics, a feature that is separate from the main “news feed” where most Facebook users get their news.

But the world’s largest social network said in a blogpost that it was introducing several changes, including elimination of a top-ten list of approved websites, more training and clearer guidelines to help human editors avoid ideological or political bias, and more robust review procedures.

Earlier this month, a former Facebook contractor had accused the company’s editors of deliberately suppressing conservative news. The allegations were reported by technology news website Gizmodo, which did not identify the ex-contractor.

The report led Republican Sen. John Thune to write a letter demanding that the company explain how it selects news articles for its Trending Topics list.

Two days after Thune’s letter, Facebook published a lengthy blogpost detailing how Trending Topics works even though it rarely discloses such practices. Previously, it had never discussed the inner workings of the feature, which displays topics and news articles in the top right hand corner of the desktop homepage for its more than 1.6 billion users.

Facebook said its investigation showed that conservative and liberal topics were approved as trending topics at nearly identical rates. It said it was unable to substantiate any allegations of politically motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources.

But it did not rule out human error in selecting topics.

“Our investigation could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies,” Colin Stretch, Facebook’s General Counsel, wrote in a company blogpost.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg met last week with more than a dozen conservative politicians and media personalities to discuss issues of trust in the social network.

 

 

Are Transparent Displays On The Horizon?

May 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Almost every sci-fi telivision program has tablets and monitors which are transparent and it seems that Samsung has finally build them. The only problem is that they are not that great to use.

Samsung unveiled the first commercial installation of its cutting-edge mirror display at an upscale hair salon in Seoul, South Korea. The 55-inch display units act as a mirror while playing media over the mirrored image.

The display represents a (90%) transparent layer over an underlying mirror, and is a genuinely transparent display. The Planar LookThru OLED Series offered something similar but cost too much for the great unwashed to use.

Using Intel 3-D camera technology, Samsung’s displays can also show customers in different hair styles, colors and trends, allowing the hairdressers at the Leekaja Hairbis’ Jamsil salon to provide customized, interactive consultations with their clients. Samsung expects mirror displays to be used in retail, interior design, furniture and fashion markets in the future. Similar 55-inch Samsung mirror displays will be available for purchase worldwide in fall 2016.

The Samsung mirror display ML55E provides 90 per cent  transparency and 55 per cent reflectivity, designed to minimize visual distraction and provide clarity, both in the reflective mirror surface and in the media content overlays.   It has been suggested that the technology could be a money spinner –  one study shows the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays is expected to rise to $16 billion by 2020, with TV and industrial/professional use to make up half of the market share.

But the tech is still pretty expensive. One unbranded transparent OLED screen will set you back $1190.00. But there is another problem. Transparent OLED displays might work in sci-fi movie directors, but that is because they allow the camera to interact better with actors in a hard to film situation. Practically though see-through displays which have no touch capability are all really only useful in the exhibition sector.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft To Make Switching Between IE11 And Edge Browsers Easier

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft announced that it will introduce changes in this summer’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update to simplify switching from Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) to Edge, and back.

The changes will be aimed at enterprises, the only customer group Microsoft recommends running IE11 in the new operating system.

“We recognize that some enterprise customers have line-of-business applications built specifically for older web technologies, which require Internet Explorer 11,” the company said in a blog post.

Previously, Microsoft included “Enterprise Mode” in Windows 10, a feature that lets an IT staff limit IE11′s operation to specific legacy websites or web apps.

Starting with the Anniversary Update — Microsoft’s name for the one major upgrade it will deliver for 10 this year — the “interstitial” page, one that pops up between running Edge and IE11 when Enterprise Mode kicks in, will vanish.

Currently, a switch from Edge to IE11 opens a page that states, “This website needs Internet Explorer 11″ before IE11 fires up. With the Anniversary Update, the interstitial will no longer appear: IE11 will simply open atop Edge when the user steers to a site or app on the Enterprise Mode whitelist.

The same no-interstitial-page behavior will take place when a worker running IE11 types in an URL that is not on the list: Edge will open without a pause.

Microsoft will also introduce a new group policy for IE11 that will limit the browser’s use to only those sites on the whitelist, barring users from running IE11 for the bulk of their browsing. “Enabling this setting automatically opens all sites that are not included in the Enterprise Mode Site List in Microsoft Edge,” Microsoft said.

IE and Edge have a rapidly-shrinking share of the browser market, but the former will remain important to businesses with older apps and customized internal sites, which unless rewritten will require the older browser. Together, IE and Edge were run by 41.3% of the world’s users in April, a new low that dropped Microsoft into second place behind Google’s Chrome browser.

 

 

 

In-Home Tech Support Companies HelloTech, Geekatoo Merging

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Los Angeles-based startup HelloTech and rival in-home tech support company Geekatoo announced that they have merged, in a sign of consolidation in the hotly competitive on-demand sector.

HelloTech will combine its network of about 150 college students who provide on-demand tech repair to Southern California consumers with Geekatoo’s U.S. network of about 5,000 technicians, the companies said in a joint statement.

The merger connects HelloTech with Geekatoo’s national market and provides Geekatoo with more access to venture capital funding, HelloTech co-founder Richard Wolpert said in an interview.

HelloTech, which launched about a year ago, has raised $17 million from investors, while 5-year-old Geekatoo has raised close to $3 million.

“You could either use capital to expand really quickly or you could merge with a company like Geekatoo that had already spent money doing this,” said Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, which backed HelloTech.

The new company keeps the HelloTech name and will be led by Wolpert. He said the deal was a stock transaction, rather than a cash payment, but declined to provide further details.

Both companies dispatch in-home tech support within hours of a request to fix a wonky printer, install a new TV or troubleshoot WiFi problems, among other services.

HelloTech hit a few bumps last year after launching, with some negative customer feedback that its workforce of predominantly college students was unprofessional.

Wolpert said the company has worked out the glitches. HelloTech has a five-star rating on customer review site Yelp.

Geekatoo Executive Chairman Christian Shelton saw demand for tech services rising as more people add internet-connected devices – such as the smart thermostat Nest or WiFi camera Dropcam – to their homes.

The U.S. tech support industry makes about $30 billion in annual revenue, according to research by Parks Associates, a consulting firm.

“The opportunity is massive,” Wolpert said.

The company’s main competition is Geek Squad, a tech support service founded in 1994 and owned by big-box retailer Best Buy.

HelloTech targets baby boomers with disposable income to spend on new gadgets and someone to help get them up and running.

“There is enormous wealth in the baby boomer generation,” Suster said, and their “digital lives are becoming increasingly complicated.”

 

 

SWIFT Asks Customers To Help Fight Bank Fraud

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Financial transaction network SWIFT is asking its customers to help it end a string of high-profile banking frauds perpetrated using its network.

The SWIFT network itself is still secure, it insisted in a letter to banks and financial institutions. However, some of its customers have suffered security breaches in their own infrastructure, allowing attackers to fraudulently authorize transactions and send them over the SWIFT network, it said.

That’s the best explanation so far for how authenticated instructions were sent from Bangladesh Bank to the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York over the SWIFT network, ordering the transfer of almost $1 billion. The Fed transferred around $101 million of that before identifying an anomaly in one of the instructions. Only $20 million of that has so far been recovered.

“While customers are responsible for the security of their own environment, security is our top priority and as an industry-owned cooperative we are committed to helping our customers fight against cyber-attacks,” SWIFT said in the letter.

SWIFT wants its customers to come forward with information about other fraudulent transfers made using their SWIFT credentials, to help it build a picture of how the attackers are working.

It’s making more than a polite request: It reminded its customers that they have an obligation to provide such information under the terms of their contract, and also to help SWIFT identify, investigate and resolve problems, including by providing diagnostic information following an incident.

SWIFT promised its customers it would share new information about malware or other indicators of compromised systems. It said it would add such information to a restricted section of its website, tacking it onto knowledge base tip number 5020928, “Modus Operandi related to breaches in customer’s environment.”

 

 

Is Qualcomm Getting Into Drones?

May 24, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like that Qualcomm wants to make drones smarter and the company plans to use the Snapdragon developer board to do so. We had a chance to see the proof of concept drones that are capable of knowing and mapping environment.

Hugo Swart, Sr Director, Head IoE-consumer electronics at Qualcomm, has explained that the general direction in smart drone market at this time is the consumer electronic. Swart confirmed that the first drones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone platform technology should be commercially available very soon.

The company see drones as flying cameras, as most of sold drones have being used for video or aerial photography purpose. The drone we saw demonstrated at Qualcomm San Diego campus were powered by Snapdragon 410c developer board and this is one light device. The drone weights just bel 250 grams and it is made from composite materials. It packs a few cameras, four rotors and a Snapdragon 410 based developer board that makes the drone smart.

The actual weight is an important detail, as drones that are less than 250 grams do not have to be registered by the aviation authorities in the US. The demo showed a drone that used multiple camera to map the world around it, and it is aware of its surroundings.

The operator would use the tablet to fly the drone and the software had some nice features, like the use of the GPS to mark the position, and when necessary, the operator would just press the button and drone would find its way back to the marked position.

Since the drone would be using multiple cameras to map the world around it, it would be able to find a new path and avoid possible obstacles on its fly path. The demonstration we saw was done in a controlled environment with a huge rock in the middle of the environment, and the drone was avoiding the rock just as you would expect it.

The drone was able to detect a wall, and it would not let you fly in it and damage it. Drone would simply stop and would not crash and break no matter how hard you would try. The other nice feature was that the drone would be able to find its own way to the position market by GPS. It would not have to fly the path that you already flown, it would be able to find a shorter part to the mark position too.

Adding Snapdragon SoC on the drone would definitely make the flights safer and help you avoid damaging the drones or stuff around you. If you fly big drones for example with big cameras, you do not actually want to crash it and potentially destroy hundreds of dollars worth equipment.

Swart does believe that drones using Snapdragon Fly technology will first find its way in “flying camera drones” while later there might be a commercial applications with the Snapdragon Fly drones. Yes, at some point in the future, drones powered with this technology should be able to deliver packages. That is one of potential areas.

The only downside of this super lightweight drone was the fact that it had a small battery that would let it fly for six to eight minutes. Of course, if you make a larger drone with a larger battery, you would be able to fly it longer, but as we said this is a proof of concept designed to show the capabilities of this flying cameras. Qualcomm will have customers who will make the actual devices, the drone we saw in the demo room, was just to show the capabilities of the platform.

Partners will design its own drones and use the developer board (or integrated Snapdragon platform in an actual drone). The important part is the software who makes the synergy of the flying hardware and the visual compute in one Smart flying drone. If you are into drones, that this will definitely improve the overall experience.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google’s Tensor Processing Unit Improves Machine Learning

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Google has taken a giant step forward with the speed of its machine learning systems by developing its own custom chip that it’s been using for over a year.

The company was rumored to have been designing its own chip, based partly on job ads it posted in recent years. But until today it had kept the effort largely under wraps.

It calls the chip a Tensor Processing Unit, or TPU, named after the TensorFlow software it uses for its machine learning programs. In a blog post, Google engineer Norm Jouppi refers to it as an accelerator chip, which means it speeds up a specific task.

At its I/O conference Wednesday, CEO Sundar Pichai said the TPU provides an order of magnitude better performance per watt than existing chips for machine learning tasks. It’s not going to replace CPUs and GPUs but it can speed up machine learning processes without consuming a lot more more energy.

As machine learning becomes more widely used in all types of applications, from voice recognition to language translation and and data analytics, having a chip that speeds those workloads is essential to maintaining the pace of advancements.

The TPU is in production use across Google’s cloud, including powering the RankBrain search result sorting system and Google’s voice recognition services. When developers pay to use the Google Voice Recognition Service, they’re using its TPUs.

Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure, said during a press conference at I/O that the TPU can augment machine learning processes but that there are still functions that require CPUs and GPUs.

Google started developing the TPU about two years ago, he said.

Right now, Google has thousands of the chips in use. They’re able to fit in the same slots used for hard drives in Google’s data center racks, which means the company can easily deploy more of them if it needs to.

 

 

 

 

 

ARM Acquires Vision

May 23, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

British chip maker ARM has acquired Apical which is an imaging and embedded computer Vision Company in a $350 million cash deal.

Apical’s products are used in more than 1.5 billion smartphones and 300 million other devices, all over the world, including IP cameras, digital stills cameras and tablets.

Its products will be used in ARM’s ‘next generation vehicles’, security systems, robotics, mobile and other consumer, smart building, industrial or retail application. These devices will be able to ‘understand and act intelligently on information from their environment,’ the press release claims.

It also said Apical’s technology will complement the ARM Mali graphics, display and video processor roadmap.
ARM CEO Simon Segars said that the computer vision is in the early stages of development:

“The world of devices powered by this exciting technology can only grow from here. Apical is at the forefront of embedded computer vision technology, building on its leadership in imaging products that already enable intelligent devices to deliver amazing new user experiences. The ARM partnership is solving the technical challenges of next generation products such as driverless cars and sophisticated security systems. These solutions rely on the creation of dedicated image computing solutions and Apical’s technologies will play a crucial role in their delivery.”

There are three products being looked at: Spirit (computer-vision technology), Assertive Display (screens which adapt to changes in light) and Assertive Camera (new performance advances, including dynamic range, noise reduction and colour management).

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is AMD Making Gains In The GPU Space?

May 23, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Figures from Mercury Research show that AMD appears to be clawing back some market share.

Of course market share does not mean profits, but it is the sort of news that AMD needs. Particularly, it does not appear that AMD is doing that much.

Mercury Research’s latest GPU market report, show that in the first quarter overall graphics unit volumes declined by 10.2 per cent in comparison to last year. However AMD gained discrete GPU market share.

This surge was on the back of AMD’s Radeon R9 Series GPUs as well as AMD’s revitalised driver development strategy. It clawed back 1.8 share points in desktop discrete graphics (that is 22.7 per cent) and 7.3 share point jump in notebook discrete, moving to 38.7 per cent share. Better than a poke in the eye with a short stick and could provide a bit of momentum when AMD’s next generation Polaris Architecture-based 14nm discrete graphics products are released this quarter.

The findings confirm what Wells Fargo analyst David Wong said earlier this week. He added that AMD has modeled for sequential growth, but Nvidia has guided for a 10 per cent sequential decline in sales for the quarter ended April 2016.

This suggests that what Nvidia has lost has been gained by AMD. If AMD manages to build momentum, it could pose a serious threat to Nvidia and expose the green goblin’s lack of GPU variety in the mid-tier. In order to retain its market share, Nvidia needs to come up with tactics to re-establish its dominance via product differentiation and feature incorporation.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Hacker Offering 167 Million LinkedIn User Records For Sale

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A hacker is attempting to sell a database dump containing account records for 167 million LinkedIn users.

The announcement was posted on a dark market website called TheRealDeal by a user who wants 5 bitcoins, or around $2,200, for the data set that supposedly contains user IDs, email addresses and SHA1 password hashes for 167,370,940 users.

According to the sale ad, the dump does not cover LinkedIn’s complete database. Indeed, LinkedIn claims on its website to have more than 433 million registered members.

Troy Hunt, the creator of Have I been pwned?, a website that lets users check if they were affected by known data breaches, said it’s highly likely for the leak to be legitimate. He had access to around 1 million records from the data set.

“I’ve seen a subset of the data and verified that it’s legit,” Hunt said.

LinkedIn suffered a data breach back in 2012, which resulted in 6.5 million user records and password hashes being posted online. It’s highly possible that the 2012 breach was actually larger than previously thought and that the rest of the stolen data is surfacing now.

LinkedIn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attempts to contact the seller failed, but the administrators of LeakedSource, a data leak indexing website, claim to also have a copy of the data set and they believe that the records originate from the 2012 LinkedIn breach.

When the 6.5 million LinkedIn password hashes were leaked in 2012, hackers managed to crack over 60 percent of them. The same thing is likely true for the new 117 million hashes, so they cannot be considered safe.

Worse still, it’s very likely that many LinkedIn users that were affected by this leak haven’t changed their passwords since 2012. Hunt was able to verify that for at least one HIBP subscriber whose email address and password hash was in the new data set that is now up for sale.

Many people affected by this breach are also likely to have reused their passwords in multiple places on the Web, Hunt said via email.

 

 

 

 

Apple To Open Maps Product Development Center In India

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Moving forward with his attempt to attract Indian customers and developers, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced that the company was setting up a new development center for its Maps product in Hyderabad in south India.

Apple earlier on Wednesday announced it would set up by early next year a facility in Bangalore to focus on helping developers on best practices and to improve the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform.

Cook is on his first visit to India, where the company saw a 56 percent year-on-year growth in iPhone sales in the first quarter even as its global iPhone sales and overall revenue dropped.

Apple’s new center will focus on the development of Maps for Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. The investment will accelerate Maps development and create up to 4,000 jobs, the company said.

The Cupertino, California, company did not disclose the size of its investment in the center though some reports have placed the figure at $25 million.

A large number of U.S. companies, including Texas Instruments, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM, have set up software, chip design and product development centers in India, to tap the country’s large pool of engineers.

“The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations,” Cook said in a statement.

India is the third-largest smartphone market in the world, after China and the U.S., according to Gartner research director Anshul Gupta.