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Stanford University Researchers Builds ‘High-rise’ Chip

December 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Stanford University researchers have developed a multi-layered “high-rise” chip that could significantly outperform traditional computer chips, taking on the hefty workloads that will be needed for the Internet of Things and big data.

Utilizing nanotechnology, the new chips are built with layers of processing on top of layers of memory, greatly cutting down on the time and energy typically needed to move information from memory to processing and back.

Max Shulaker, a researcher on the project and a Ph.D candidate in Stanford’s Department of Electrical Engineering, said they have built a four-layer chip but he could easily see them building a 100-layer chip if that was needed.

“The slowest part of any computer is sending information back and forth from the memory to the processor and back to the memory. That takes a lot of time and lot of energy,” Shulaker told Computerworld. “If you look at where the new exciting apps are, it’s with big data… For these sorts of new applications, we need to find a way to handle this big data.”

The conventional separation of memory and logic is not well-suited for these types of heavy workloads. With traditional chip design, information is passed from the memory to the processor for computing, and then it goes back to the memory to be saved again.

In relative terms, that takes a lot of energy and time – way more than the computation itself.

“People talk about the Internet of Things, where we’re going to have millions and trillions of sensors beaming information all around,” said Shulaker. “You can beam all the data to the cloud to organize all the data there, but that’s a huge data deluge. You need [a chip] that can process on all this data… You want to make sense of this data before you send it off to the cloud.”

The researchers, led by Subhasish Mitra, a Stanford associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and H.S. Philip Wong, a professor in Stanford’s school of engineering, used carbon nanotube transistors instead of silicon and replaced typical memory with resistive random-access memory (RRAM) or spin-transfer torque magnetic random-access memory (STT-RAM). Both use less power and are more efficient than traditional memory systems.

 

 

 

Manufacturer Coolpad Has Built Backdoor Into Android Devices

December 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad has created an extensive “backdoor” into its Android devices that can track users, serve them unwanted advertisements and install unauthorized apps, a U.S. security firm alleged today.

In a research paper released today, Palo Alto Networks detailed its investigation of the backdoor, which it dubbed “CoolReaper.”

“Coolpad has built a backdoor that goes beyond the usual data collection,” said Ryan Olson, director of intelligence at Palo Alto’s Unit 42. “This is way beyond what one malicious insider could have done.”

Coolpad, which sells smartphones under several brand names — including Halo, also called Danzen — is one of China’s largest ODMs (original device manufacturers). According to IDC, it ranked fifth in China in the third quarter, with 8.4% of the market, and has expanded sales outside of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan to Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Western Europe.

Tipped off by a string of complaints from Coolpad smartphone users in China and Taiwan — who griped about seeing advertisements pop up and apps suddenly appear — Palo Alto dug into the ROM updates that Coolpad offered on its support site and found widespread evidence of CoolReaper.

Of the 77 ROMs that Palo Alto examined, 64 contained CoolReaper, including 41 hosted by Coolpad and signed with its own digital certificate.

Other evidence that Coolpad was the creator of the backdoor, said Olson, included the malware’s command-and-control servers — which were registered to domains belonging to the Chinese company and used, in fact, for its public cloud — and an administrative console that other researchers had found last month because of a vulnerability in Coolpad’s backend control system. The console confirmed CoolReaper’s functionality.

 

 

Will ARM Have A Profitable 2015?

December 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

British chip designer ARM could cash in on the mobile industry’s rush to transition to 64-bit operating systems and hardware.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Matt Ramsey argues that ARM is still a ‘Buy’ stock, as it’s trading at $43, while his price target is $54 to $56. Ramsay is upbeat for a number of reasons and the 64-bit craze is one o them.

He pointed out that sales of ARMv8 chips are raping up and are no longer limited to Apple. Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 810 is also based on ARMv8, along with all other upcoming 64-bit SoCs. Ramsey named Qualcomm, MediaTek and Samsung as the three biggest contributors to ARM’s 64-bit business.

In addition to smartphones, ARMv8 designs are finding their way into enterprise networks and servers, creating even more opportunities. This is good news for ARM, as its royalties for processor designs based on the ARMv8 instruction set are significantly higher than for venerable 32-bit parts.

Courtesy-Fud

SoakSoak Infiltrates WordPress Websites

December 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Hundreds of thousands of websites running WordPress have been infected by a piece of malware called SoakSoak. Google has flagged more than 11,000 domains hosting a WordPress website as malicious.

Websites running a third-party plug-in called Slider Revolution are being hacked, and malicious code is being installed that will in turn infect those who visit the website. The developers of the plug-in, ThemePunch, have admitted that they knew about the vulnerability in February this year but kept quiet about it.

ThemePunch in developed 29 security fixes from February to September, resisting a public call for action because of a “fear that an instant public announcement would spark a mass exploitation of the issue”.

The company had hoped that most users would install these updates, solving the problem, but it now admits that this was “sadly not the case.”

“We as a team would like to apologize officially to our clients for the problems that arose due to the security exploit in Revolution Slider Plugin versions older than 4.2, ? it says on its website.

Short answer is that you have to upgrade everything that moves on your wordpress site or it will be toast.

Courtesy-Fud

BlackBerry Launches ‘Classic’ Smartphone

December 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd rolled out its much anticipated Classic on Wednesday, a smartphone it hopes will help it win back market share and woo those still using older versions of its physical keyboard devices.

The Canadian mobile technology company said the new device, which bears striking similarities to its once wildly popular Bold and Curve handsets, boasts a larger screen, longer battery life, an expanded app library with access to offerings from Amazon.com Inc’s Android App store, and a browser three times faster than the one on its legacy devices.

“The conversation about BlackBerry has changed in the last year,” Chief Executive John Chen said as he launched the Classic at Manhattan’s upscale Cipriani restaurant. “We are here to stay, there is no question about that. Now we have to engineer our growth.”

He said BlackBerry had listened to its fans and brought back the command bar functionality that helped make its legacy phones easy to navigate.

When the company initially introduced its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and devices early in 2012 it put more emphasis on touchscreens, alienating many fans of its physical keyboard.

Those who moved to the new physical keyboard phones that BlackBerry launched later were unhappy that command keys such as the Menu, Back, Send and End buttons, along with the trackpad had been dropped.

With the Classic and the recent launch of its Passport smartphone, Chen is in some ways taking the company back to its roots, re-emphasizing the physical keyboard, rather than trying to compete directly against the touchscreen handsets of dominant rivals like Samsung Electronics and Apple.

“We expect the Classic to be the most popular BlackBerry enterprise device and the easiest transition for current BB7 (legacy device) users,” said Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um.

 

 

Study Finds Android Apps Frequently Using Permissions Granted

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Android apps really take advantage of those permissions they ask for to access users’ personal information: one online store records a phone’s location up to 10 times a minute, French researchers have found. The tools to manage such access are limited, and inadequate given how much information phones can gather.

In a recent study, ten volunteers used Android phones that tracked app behavior using a monitoring app, Mobilitics, developed by the French National Institute for Informatics Research (INRIA) in conjunction with the National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL). Mobilitics recorded every time another app accessed an item of personal data — the phone’s location, an identifier, photos, messages and so on — and whether it was subsequently transmitted to an external server. The log of the apps’ personal information use was stored on the phone and downloaded at the end of the three months for analysis.

The volunteers were encouraged to use the phones as if they were their own, and together used 121 apps over the period from July to September. A similar study last year used a special iOS app to examine the way iPhone apps access users’ personal data.

Many apps access phones’ identifying characteristics to track their users, the researchers said. One of the few options users have to avoid this tracking is a switch in the “Google Settings” app to reset their phone’s advertising ID. That’s not much help, though, as apps have other ways to identify users. Almost two-thirds of apps studied in the three-month real-world test accessed at least one mobile phone identifier, a quarter of them at least two identifiers, and a sixth three or more. That allows the apps to build up profiles of their users for advertising purposes.

Location was one of the most frequently-accessed items of data. It accounted for 30 percent of all accesses to personal information during the test, and 30 percent of the apps studied accessed it at some point. The Facebook app recorded one volunteer’s location 150,000 times during the three-month period — more than once per minute, on average, while the Google Play Store tracked another user ten times per minute at times. Often, the only use apps make of such information is to serve personalized advertising, as was the case with one game that recorded a user’s location 3,000 times during the study.

 

 

Red Hat RHEL Adds IBM’s Power 8

December 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has announced the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.1 Beta with enhancements to improve ease of use, manageability and performance, as well as support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture.

RHEL 7.1 Beta is the next point release following the enterprise Linux vendor’s initial production release of RHEL 7.0 in June.

RHEL 7.1 adds OpenLMI support to streamline system configuration management with thin logical volume manager provisioning, along with kernel and user mode components supporting Ceph block storage devices.

The update also offers support for Microsoft CIFS for mixed vendor data centre environments that need it, providing native access to Microsoft Windows file and print services.

RHEL 7.1 also enhances identity management security with one-time password authentication via LDAP and Kerberos protocols and the FreeOTP standard, and introduces a certificate authority management tool.

In addition, RHEL 7.1 includes Security Content Automation Protocol Security Guides that reduce the complexity of compliance testing and enhance security assurance.

Building on RHEL 7.0 support for Linux containers in physical, virtual and cloud deployments in development, test and production environments, RHEL 7.1 adds access to Docker 1.2 in the RHEL 7 Extras channel.

For users with demanding workload responsiveness requirements, RHEL 7.1 adds real-time dispatching for workloads that require very precise and deterministic processing times. This capability is delivered with Linux kernel enhancements and additional userspace packages that can be added on top of a stock RHEL 7.1 installation.

Finally, RHEL 7.1 includes support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture for customers using the IBM Power8 systems infrastructure.

Running in little endian mode accelerates application portability to the IBM Power8 systems, thus allowing customers using IBM Power8 systems to use the existing ecosystem of Linux applications as developed for the x86 architecture.

Interested users can read the RHEL 7.1 Beta Release Notes, and can download the RHEL 7.1 Beta at Red Hat’s website.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

LG Plans On Rolling Out Quantum Dot TVs In 2015

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc will roll out a new range of high-tech TVs in early 2015, expanding its line-up while it strives to cut costs that make its prized light-emitting diode (OLED) sets too expensive for most consumers.

A spokesman for the world’s No. 2 TV maker after domestic rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Tuesday LG will start selling products using quantum dot technology early next year. He didn’t disclose details including pricing.

The technology incorporates a film of tiny light-emitting crystals into regular liquid crystal displays (LCD), boosting picture quality. LG will have 55-inch and 65-inch ultra-high definition quantum dot TVs on display at the major CES trade show next month in Las Vegas.

Japan’s Sony Corp is so far the only major TV maker selling quantum dot models.

LG was widely expected to launch quantum dot TVs next year, having declared its intention to use the products in a dual-track strategy as the firm and its affiliate LG Display Co Ltd try to push OLED prices down. Analysts say it may take the LG firms several years to meet that goal.

The OLED TV sets remain expensive: a 65-inch ultra-high definition model launched in Korea earlier this year was priced at 12 million won ($10,993). A comparable Sony quantum dot TV costs about $3,799, according to the Japanese firm’s website.

Samsung Electronics has said quantum dot is one of many technologies it is considering. Analysts expect Samsung Electronics to launch quantum dot TVs next year, and believe it could be more aggressive in pushing the products than LG, which remains committed to OLED.

The LG spokesman said Dow Chemical Co is supplying quantum dot material. Dow Chemical confirmed the supplier relationship in an emailed statement.

Dow is building a quantum dot factory in South Korea using technology from partner Nanoco Group Plc, with production starting in the first half of 2015.

 

 

FCC To Demand Higher Broadband Speeds For Provider Subsidies

December 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will require broadband providers getting new federal subsidies to build networks in rural areas to deliver download speeds of at least 10Mbps.

The FCC voted last Thursday to update its rules for the Connect America Fund, the broadband subsidy program funded through fees on telephone service, with a major change being the increase in minimum download speeds from 4Mbps to 10Mbps from fixed broadband providers.

Broadband providers AT&T and Verizon had opposed the speed increase, and one of the FCC’s Republican commissioners questioned whether the new speed requirement could limit deployment.

The new speed requirements could double the cost of deployment to rural areas, but the commission did not also double the time that broadband providers could complete their deployments, Commissioner Ajit Pai said.

Instead of increasing the funding window for deployments from five to 10 years, as dozens of members of Congress had requested, the commission increased funding term to six years in most cases. Adding new speed requirements without allowing much more time for broadband providers to receive funding may discourage broadband providers from participating, Pai said.

“I fear we are going to leave many communities without broadband for the foreseeable future,” Pai said. “Incentivizing wireline broadband providers to deploy service deep into the unserved countryside requires a balance act. Today’s order disrupts that balance.”

But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency doesn’t want to pay for “second-class broadband service.” If large broadband providers don’t agree with the terms of the subsidy, the FCC will use an auction to bring service to rural areas, he said.

 

 

Ford Selects BlackBerry’s QNX For In-Vehicle Infotainment

December 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Ford has announced that it has moved from Microsoft for Blackberry’s QNX OS for its in-vehicle infotainment system known as Sync.

Like other infotainment systems, Sync allows users to make hands-free telephone calls, control music choices and perform other functions with the use of voice commands. Ford’s Sync head unit also upgraded to the latest Texas Instruments OMAP 5 processor.

As with Ford’s announcement about the new Sync rollout,Ford spokesperson Alan Hall declined to say why the automaker chose QNX over Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive OS for its third-generation product.

Negative press and feedback and criticism from Consumer Reports likely spurred Ford rethink its choices, said Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski.

“Having that automotive expertise and understanding the programs they have in place, how they work from an engineering perspective, the UI and getting applications into the head unit makes QNX very strong,” Koslowski said in an earlier interview with Computerworld.

Ford’s Sync IVI system has never been recommended by Consumer Reports magazine.

By turning to the open-source QNX platform, Ford gets a full community of developers to support and update the software. QNX also supports the ubiquitous HTML5 markup language and other native user interface toolsets.

Before being purchased by Blackberry in 2010, QNX Software Systems was owned by audio and infotainment equipment company Harman International. It’s been used in more than 200 different car models, so it has been well vetted.

Ford’s third generation, QNX-supported Sync uses a more natural language speech-recognition technology from Nuance, according to Hall.

“What we did with the data set was allow it to use a more conversational way that you’d refer to something. So P.F. Chang’s is how you’d refer to the restaurant, but the official name of the restaurant is P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro. In the past, you had to know the official name for the system to be able to find it,” Hall said. “That wasn’t very helpful because no one calls it P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro.”

 

 

 

Facebook Drops Bing From Search Results

December 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Facebook Inc has discontinued including results from Microsoft Corp’s Bing search engine on its social networking site.

The move, confirmed by a company spokesperson, comes as Facebook has revamped its own search offerings, introducing a tool on Monday that allows users to quickly find past comments and other information posted by their friends on Facebook.

The decision may reflect the increasing importance that Facebook sees in Web search technology, a market dominated by rival Google Inc.

Searches on Facebook have long been geared toward helping users connect with friends and to find other information that exists within the walls of the 1.35 billion-user social networking service. But for years, Facebook’s search results also included links to standalone websites that were provided by Bing.

“We’re not currently showing web search results in Facebook Search because we’re focused on helping people find what’s been shared with them on Facebook,” a company spokesperson told Reuters. “We continue to have a great partnership with Microsoft in lots of different areas.”

Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has flagged search as one of the company’s key growth initiatives, noting in July that there were more than 1 billion search queries occurring on Facebook every day and hinting that the vast amount of information that users share within Facebook could eventually replace the need to search the Web for answers to certain questions.

“There is more than a trillion posts, which some of the search engineers on the team like to remind me, is bigger than any Web search corpus out there,” Zuckerberg said on a conference call with analysts in July.

Microsoft’s Bing is the No.2 Web search provider in the U.S., with a nearly 20 percent share of the market according to industry research firm comScore.

Facebook and Microsoft have a longstanding relationship dating back to Microsoft’s $240 million investment in Facebook, for a 1.6 percent stake in the company, in October 2007. As part of that deal, Microsoft provided banner ads on Facebook’s website in international markets.

 

 

Samsung Finally Starts 14nm FinFET

December 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A company insider has spilled the beans in Korea, claiming that Samsung has started Apple A9 production in 14nm FinFET.

The A9 is the next generation SoC for Apple iPhone and iPad products and it is manufactured on the Samsung – GlobalFoundries 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. In the other news, Samsung’s Ki-nam, president of the company’s semiconductor business and head of System LSI business has confirmed that the company started production of 14-nanometre FinFET chips.

The report mentions Austin as a possible site for Apple products but we wonder if the GlobalFoundries Fab 8 in New York State could become one of the partners for the 14nm FinFET manufacturing. Samsung didn’t officially reveal the client for the 14nm FinFET, but Apple is the most obvious candidate, while we expect to see 14 / 16nm FinFET graphics chips from AMD and Nvidia but most likely in the latter half of 2015 at best.

Qualcomm is likely to announce new LTE modem based on 14nm FinFET and the flagship SoC Snapdragon 810 is a 20nm chip. Qualcomm is manufacturing its 810 chips as we speak to meet demand for flagship Android phones coming in Q1 2015. Flagship Samsung, HTC and LG phones among others are likely to use Snapdragon 810 as a replacement for this year’s Snapdragon 801, a high end chip that ended up in millions of high-end phones.

Samsung / GlobalFoundries14nm FinFET process is 15 percent smaller, 20 percent faster, and 35 percent more power efficient compared to 20nm processors. This definitely sounds exiting and will bring more performance into phones, tablets, GPUs and will significantly decrease power consumption. The move from 28nm is long overdue.

We believe that Qualcomm’s LTE modem might be the first chip to officially come with this manufacturing process and Apple will probably take most of the 14nm production for an update in its tablets and phones scheduled for 2015.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Shows New IoT Platform

December 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel showed off a new platform which it claims makes it easier for companies to create Internet-connected smart products using its chips, security and software.

Intel’s platform is like Lego and based on the chipmaker’s components and software for companies to create smart, connected devices. The only difference is that you can’t enact your own Doctor Who scene from it.

Doug Davis, head of Intel’s Internet of Things business, said at a launch event in San Francisco it will make it a doddle to connect to data centres in order analyse data collected from devices’ sensors.

Intel’s chips should compute capability in end-point devices that scale from its highest performance Xeon processor to the Quark family of products.

Intel’s Internet of Things Group had $530 million in revenue in the September quarter. That accounted for just 4 percent of Intel’s total revenue in the quarter, but it grew 14 percent over the previous year, which was faster than the company’s PC business.

Dell, SAP, Tata Consultancy, Accenture and other companies are working with the new reference model, Davis said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Instagram Still Gaining Users, Surpassed Twitter

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Photo-sharing site Instagram is reporting  that its active monthly user base reached 300 million, a dramatic 50% increase in the past nine months.

Instagram, which launched in 2010, edged past 8-year-old Twitter and its reported 284 million monthly active users.

Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, has nothing to worry about. In September, the social network reported that its own active monthly user base had hit 1.35 billion.

“Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day,” wrote Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom in a blog post. “We’re thrilled to watch this community thrive and witness the amazing connections people make over shared passions and journeys.”

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said Instagram’s impressive growth stems from its popularity with millennials, who have a strong connection with social networking, selfies and images.

“The younger generation, in particular, is a very visually oriented group that loves selfies,” Kerravala said. “Pictures just say more — they’re fast and easy. Instead of saying, ‘What a great view of the Grand Canyon,’ snap a photo and upload it.”

He noted that Twitter users can upload photos and short videos to the micro-blogging site, but the site is mainly used for its 140-character or less messages.

“I think Twitter is more for information dissemination, where Instagram is more about sharing content,” Kerravala said.

 

 

Microsoft Expects To Release Windows 10 Next Autumn

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft Corp expects to have begin offering its Windows 10 operating system to the publict by autumn 2015, slightly later than previous comments had suggested.

Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told Japanese news service Nikkei on Wednesday that the new system would be released “early next fall.”

Microsoft has not publicly set a firm timetable for the release of Windows 10, but only last week suggested the possibility of an earlier release.

“By next late summer and early fall we’ll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That’s the current plan of record,” Turner told the Credit Suisse Technology Conference last Thursday.

An autumn release would put Windows 10 on track for launch three years after Windows 8, which got a mixed reception as it confused many traditional PC users with a design more suited to tablets.

Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.

An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.

Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide, according to tech research firm Gartner.