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Thursday February 21, 2019

SK Hynix to Spend $107 Billion on Four New Memory Chip Factories

SK Hynix has announced that it is building four new memory chip plants that will cost $107 billion. Construction of the plants will begin in 2022 at a 4.5 million square meter site that is south of Seoul. SK Hynix is expected to invest $49 billion into 2 existing plants. Next-generation chips and DRAM are expected to be manufactured at the sites. Even though there is a downturn in the memory market now, SK Hynix is preparing for cutting edge technologies such as 5G and self-driving vehicles.

"Though there is not enough chip demand for autonomous cars now, I believe there will be much more demand for self-driving vehicles in the next 10 years or as early as in 2023 or 2024," said analyst Kim Young-gun at Mirae Asset Daewoo. "That will create more chip demand for SK Hynix," as will the commercialization of 5G networks over the next few years, Kim said.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 6:49 PM (CST)

SK Hynix Details Its DDR5 Chip Technology

During the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco, SK Hynix chip designer Dongkyun Kim presented a paper on the company's first Double Data Rate 5 (DDR5) chip that features 16Gb 6.4Gb/s/pin SDRAM that runs at 1.1V and measures 76.22mm2. SK Hynix uses a 1ynm, 4-metal DRAM process to manufacture the chips. Dylan McGrath of EE|Times noted that the DDR5 spec hasn't been finalized but is expected to offer "double the bandwidth and double the density of DDR4 along with delivering improved channel efficiency." Samsung was much more secretive with their 10nm-class LPDDR5 SDRAM capable of up to 7.5Gb/s at 1.05V. The JEDEC LPDDR5 standard will "operate at an I/O rate of 6400 MT/s, 50% higher than that of the first version of LPDDR4" and will "boost memory speed and efficiency for applications including smartphones, tablets and ultra-thin notebooks."

DDR5 -- or Double Data Rate 5 -- is still under development at the Jedec standards organization. DDR5 offers double the bandwidth and double the density of DDR4 along with delivering improved channel efficiency. The standard was expected to be finalized last year, but remains a work in progress. DDR5 products are now expected to appear beginning late this year.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 6:15 PM (CST)

Doug Bowser Named New President of Nintendo of America

Current President of Nintendo of America and 15 year veteran of the company, Reggie Fils-Aime, has announced his retirement on April 15th. In his place, current Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Doug Bowser will succeed Reggie as President of Nintendo of America. Shuntaro Furukawa, President of Nintendo Co., Ltd. praised Reggie Fils-Aime for his business leadership during his tenure. "I really appreciate everything Reggie has done for Nintendo," said Shuntaro Furukawa, President of Nintendo Co., Ltd. "Inside and outside our company, Reggie is known as an exceptional leader. We are grateful that he is leaving the business in good shape with strong momentum." Reggie Fils-Aime left a video message to Nintendo fans on Twitter.

"Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever," Fils-Aime said. "It's a part that is filled with gratitude - for the incredibly talented people I've worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world's most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not 'game over' for me, but instead 'leveling up' to more time with my wife, family and friends."

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 4:37 PM (CST)

Researchers Find a 19 Year Old Bug In WinRAR

Security researchers from Checkpoint have reportedly discovered a bug in WinRAR that just might be older than you. According to their bug report, recent version of WinRAR shipped with an ancient "unacev2.dll" file designed to decompress the equally ancient ACE archive format. A bug in the .dll lets malicious archives extract files to any location on the user's system, including the user's startup folder, which would allow an attacker to remotely execute arbitrary code during the next startup. WinRAR has removed the vulnerable .dll file in the program's latest release, as no one unpacks ACE archives anymore, and it seems that the security researchers may have claimed a substantial bug bounty in the process. Thanks to The Register for spotting the exploit.

A few months ago, our team built a multi-processor fuzzing lab and started to fuzz binaries for Windows environments using the WinAFL fuzzer. After the good results we got from our Adobe Research, we decided to expand our fuzzing efforts and started to fuzz WinRAR too. One of the crashes produced by the fuzzer led us to an old, dated dynamic link library (dll) that was compiled back in 2006 without a protection mechanism (like ASLR, DEP, etc.) and is used by WinRAR. We turned our focus and fuzzer to this "low hanging fruit" dll, and looked for a memory corruption bug that would hopefully lead to Remote Code Execution. However, the fuzzer produced a test case with "weird" behavior. After researching this behavior, we found a logical bug: Absolute Path Traversal. From this point on it was simple to leverage this vulnerability to a remote code execution. Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that a substantial amount of money in various bug bounty programs is offered for these types of vulnerabilities.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 12:05 PM (CST)

Obsidian Talks About the Style and Setting of The Outer Worlds

While reading reviews about and commentary on Fallout 76, one of the most common opinions I run into is "We just want more Fallout: New Vegas." In other words, it seems that many players crave the stories and character-based worldbuilding that the single player Fallout experiences delivered, and that Fallout 76 largely skips. In a previous interview, Obsidian mentioned that The Outer Worlds is basically the New Vegas sequel they always wanted to make, and two recent interviews from Game Informer really drive that point home. The first, which dives into the universe of The Outer Worlds, reveals that the game will feature a Fallout-esque constructed world and similar over-the-top jabs at society, and the "1930s Dieselpunk Deadwood" theme mentioned in another interview could easily describe the Mojave desert in New Vegas.

The Outer Worlds is first and foremost a rollicking outer space adventure, but like the original Fallout that Cain and Boyarsky helped create, one of the magic ingredients is a healthy dose of social commentary (often couched in absurdist humor)... Boyarsky: Dieselpunk is very 1930s, and I was like "That's unfortunate, because that almost feels like what we want." I just threw out "Dieselpunk Deadwood," and then we were like, "That's what we have to somehow encapsulate." ...This is where we, as far as the environment goes, really hit where we wanted to go with the project.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 11:42 AM (CST)

Intel's MESO Transistor Project Could See Results in Two to Five Years

Late last year, Intel announced that they were working on a new type of transistor that could offer a massive performance leap over current CMOS chips. "MESO" transistors, as they call them, could operate at voltages as low as 100mV, but at the time, Intel said the technology was at least a decade away from commercialization. Today, in an interview with VentureBeat, an Intel researcher said he is "excited about spin-off results MESO is likely to produce within the next two to five years." AI accelerators are supposedly less complicated an more fault tolerant that traditional chip designs, and MESO's characteristics are "coincidentally' well suited to neural network architectures, meaning they could hit the market sooner rather than later.

Khosrowshahi: CPUs, which are the most commonplace when you're building silicon, are oddly enough the hardest thing to build. But in AI, it's a simpler architecture. AI has regular patterns, it's mostly compute and interconnect, and memories. Also, neural networks are very tolerant to inhomogeneities in the substrate itself. So I feel this type of technology will be adopted sooner than expected in the AI space. By 2025, it's going to be biggest thing... Young: If we can get these improvements in power-performance - MESO will be a 10 to 30 times better power-performance or energy-delay product - but let's say we only get a 2X improvement. That gives us, for a given power into the device, a 2X performance benefit, so it's a huge leg up on the competition. That's what drives this. Not only is this good for my company but it's an opportunity for the industry. The research is open, because we have so much heavy lifting to do with these materials. But if this is a thing that we as an industry can get a hold of, this could be a game changer for the semiconductor industry. It will take it through this curve that has been flattening. We may accelerate again. And that would be really neat.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 11:01 AM (CST)

Zilog Z8000 Architect Passes Away

Dr. Bernard Peuto, the mind behind Zilog's Z8000 and Z8 processors, passed away this month, and the Electronic Engineering Journal just posted a writeup on his history with Zilog. Just before the wild success Zilog Z80, the company hired Dr. Pueto as their twelfth employee in early 1976. With mainframe experience under his belt, the report says he quickly went to work on Zilog's 16 bit designs, but the company faced stiff competition from Motorola and Intel. Far more than a simple obituary, the article is a dive into the history of Zilog and their contemporary competitors, and is definitely worth a read. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip.

Despite all of these acquisitions, Littlefuse/Zilog still sells versions of Dr. Peuto's Z8000 and Z8 processors. The Z8 microcontroller was reborn in the early 2000s as the enhanced Z8 Encore! and the Z8 Encore! XP Flash-based microcontroller families. Meanwhile, the 40-pin and 48-pin versions of the Z8000 microprocessor are still available as the Z16C02 and Z16C01, although perhaps not for too much longer, as you really need to dig deep into the Littlefuse/IXYS/Zilog site to find these parts. (Actually, I let Google dig into it.) Part of Dr. Peuto's significant technical legacy is deeply rooted in the Z8000 and Z8 processor architectures. Another part is tied to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California where Dr. Peuto served as a trustee for 17 years. He was also a member of the museum's executive and finance committees. As a result of that work, he was named a Trustee Emeritus in 2017. That's not a bad legacy to leave, my friends.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 10:30 AM (CST)

HTC Reveals the Vive Focus Plus

Today, HTC announced an update to their standalone, enterprise-focused VR headset. The Vive Focus Plus incorporates 2 6DoF controllers instead of one, which they claim helps bring the headset up to par with PC VR devices and makes porting applications to the Focus easier. The new headset also "rests easier on consumers' heads" than the original Vive focus, but HTC mentioned that it will use the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor as its predecessor. That isn't surprising, seeing how it will maximize compatibility with existing apps, but the 835 is already 2 generations behind Qualcomm's latest and greatest processors. Thanks to cageymaru and VentureBeat for spotting the report.

Blurring the lines between reality and virtual reality, Vive Focus Plus brings users greater comfort and full enterprise support. Resting easier on consumers’ heads, Vive Focus Plus offers comfort and lays the groundwork for extended sessions in VR needed by commercial customers. The headset also ships with several professional features including Kiosk Mode, Gaze Support, and device management tools to remotely enroll, monitor, and manage multiple headsets all at once. The headset will be available for purchase starting in Q2 2019 on www.vive.com in 25 markets worldwide, supporting 19 languages. In most markets, the product will include an enterprise license for use at no additional cost.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 9:49 AM (CST)

Intel Wants to Take You on a Graphics Odyssey

Intel's discrete GPU is still years away, but they're already trying to get the graphics community involved. Chipzilla previously made calls for graphics experts to join their team, but yesterday, Intel Graphics launched a more consumer-centric campaign. Functionally, Intel Graphics' "Odyssey" appears to be a mailing list for gaming-related promotions and giveaways right now, but TechRadar mentions that Intel will send out "invites to company-sponsored events" via the newsletter sometime in the future. As spammy as this effort may or may not seem, we've noted that Intel has totally revamped their public-facing image over the past year, and I prefer this effort to reach out to the community over the company's previous policies of keeping development close to their chest.

The Odyssey is built around a passionate community, focused on improving graphics and visual computing for everyone, from gamers to content creators. And we want voices like yours to help guide us. We're committed to listening to the community, and in return you will get closer to the inner workings of visual technology development than ever before. You'll hear the latest reports first and you'll have access to some amazing offers and exclusive giveaways. The Odyssey is about how we'll work together to build the visual computing solutions you really want. You also have the opportunity to receive the Intel Gaming Access newsletter which gives gamers a VIP pass to killer deals and freebies, preferred beta access, the latest gaming news, and more.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 9:19 AM (CST)

Samsung Unveils a Folding Smartphone

What's old is new again. While smaller manufacturers have already "launched" a new generation folding phones, and bigger ones like Xiaomi have teased folding prototypes, Samsung officially unveiled the aptly names "Galaxy Fold" at the Samsung Unpacked event yesterday. Unlike your old flip-phone, the Galaxy Fold features a flexible 7.3 inch display that takes up the phone's entire unfolded face, and it's powered by a "7nm, 64-bit processor" that has more cores and just as much RAM as the desktop I'm typing on. Some sources claim the unspecified processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, but Samsung could also follow in the footsteps of the conventional Galaxy lineup and use their home-brewed Exynos 9820 outside the U.S.

The internal screen does not merely bend. It folds. Folding is a more intuitive motion, and a more difficult innovation to deliver. Samsung invented a new polymer layer and created a display around 50 percent thinner than the typical smartphone display. The new material makes Galaxy Fold flexible and tough, built to last...No matter which way you hold-or fold-the device, a camera will be ready to capture the scene, so you never miss the moment. With six lenses-three in the back, two on the inside and one on the cover-the Galaxy Fold camera system has flexibility built in. Galaxy Fold introduces a new level of multitasking, allowing you to use other apps during a video call.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 8:47 AM (CST)

Tesla Demonstrates Its New Security System Called Sentry Mode

As we reported before, Tesla has added a new security feature to its cars called Sentry Mode. Sentry Mode uses the car's cameras to monitor its environment to detect potential threats. It will display a message on the touchscreen and record the encounter if the threat is minimal. But if it determines that the threat is severe, Sentry Mode will perform the same actions, but also play loud music through the car's stereo system and sound an alarm. Tesla has released a video of the security system in action.

If a car switches to "Alarm" state, owners will also receive an alert from their Tesla mobile app notifying them that an incident has occurred. They'll be able to download a video recording of an incident (which begins 10 minutes prior to the time a threat was detected) by inserting a formatted USB drive into their car before they enable Sentry Mode.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 7:51 AM (CST)
Wednesday February 20, 2019

Disney Removes Advertising from YouTube in Response to Child Exploitation Videos

The Walt Disney Company, Epic Games, Nestle SA and other corporations have removed their advertising from YouTube in response to a video that detailed how criminals are using the YouTube comments section to run a "soft-core pedophilia ring." Video blogger Matt Watson showed evidence of how these pedophiles are encouraging children to do challenges and upload them. When the videos are uploaded by the child, the criminals upload a copy on their own channel(s). There they create timestamps to the parts that show the children in compromising positions. Also they bombard the comments section with links to pedophilia on other websites and hidden videos. The worst part is that pedophiles are using YouTube's algorithm to find the videos. For example, by searching for bikinis and then clicking on a video of a child, the algorithm "locks" the user into these videos in the recommended section. By interacting with the pedophiles in the comment section, the algorithm shows more disturbing content. Matt Watson calls it a wormhole. YouTube knows this activity is happening, but only disables the comment section of the videos. According to Matt Watson, Youtube doesn't remove the offensive videos or accounts that uploaded them. After the uproar happened, YouTube is now removing the content shown in the blogger's video. But what of the countless others out there? The link to the video from Matt Watson is NSFW and can be found in the Bloomberg article.

"Any content --including comments -- that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments," a spokeswoman for YouTube said in an email.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 7:28 PM (CST)

Password Manager Vulnerabilities Exposed

A report from Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) showed that password manager security is acceptable in non-running states, but are vulnerable to memory attacks when in running states. Products from 1Password4, 1Password7, Dashlane, KeePass, and LastPass were tested in the report. For example, 1Password4 properly scrubbed old password entries from memory when it loaded a new entry; this meant that only one password was exposed at a time. But the master password remained obfuscated in memory and a bug allowed the master password to be stored in memory in a cleartext form; even when locked. In another example, 1Password7 decrypted and loaded all the individual passwords in the running state and didn't scrub the individual passwords, master password or the secret key when transitioning from the unlocked to locked state! Dashlane exhibited good security practices until the user changed an entry. Then it exposed the "entire database plaintext in memory and it remains there even after Dashlane is logged out of or 'locked'." The entries remained in memory for more than 24 hours. KeePass was decent until a simple strings dump from the process memory of KeePass was performed. There it exposed all entries that had been interacted with. LastPass performed as well as KeePass. ISE concluded that while "it is evident that attempts are made to scrub and sensitive memory in all password managers. However, each password manager fails in implementing proper secrets sanitization for various reasons." The password manager vendors responded to the report from ISE. LastPass says it patched its issues and KeePass noted that the basic underpinnings of Windows affected its ability to scrub the password entries as "Windows and .NET may make copies of the data (in the process memory) that cannot be erased by KeePass." Dashlane noted that "if an attacker has full control of a device at the lowest operating systems level, they can read any and every information on the device." 1Password's spokesperson took the same stance with "An attacker who is in a position to exploit this information in memory is already in a very powerful position. No password manager (or anything else) can promise to run securely on a compromised computer."

In this paper we will examine the inner workings as they relate to secrets retrieval and storage of 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass on the Windows 10 platform (Version 1803 Build 17134.345) using an Intel i7-7700HQ processor. We examine susceptibility of a password manager to secrets exfiltration via examination of the password database on disk; memory forensics; and finally, keylogging, clipboard monitoring, and binary modification. Each password manager is examined in its default configuration after install with no advanced configuration steps performed. This paper is not meant to criticize specific password manager implementations; however, it is to establish a reasonable minimum baseline which all password managers should comply with.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 5:10 PM (CST)

Here Is the Samsung Unpacked Press Event

The Samsung Unpacked Press Event is live.

Welcome to the next generation. #SamsungEvent #Unpacked.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 1:35 PM (CST)

ASUS Maximus XI Apex Motherboard Broken Down

Actually Hardcore Overclocking just posted a detailed analysis of an ASUS Maximus XI Apex LGA 1151 motherboard, and overall, it looks like great board. In the YouTuber's own words, the motherboard's VRM setup is "overkill," yet it's significantly cheaper than other LGA 1151 motherboards from Asus with inferior VRM setups. This particular board has several features designed exclusively for LN2 runs, but also has other features water or air overclockers would appreciate, like a dual BIOS setup and only 2 DDR4 DIMM slots for maximum memory overclocking performance. Check out the analysis below:
Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 12:33 PM (CST)

Japanese Government Will Hack Their Citizen's IoT Devices

Numerous security experts have (justifiably) expressed concern with the security of IoT devices that enter the market every day, But today, the Japanese government is doing something about it, as they will start testing the security of their own citizen's IoT devices. "NOTICE," as they call it, will identify internet-connected IoT devices with "weak password settings," and notify the relevant telecommunications carrier, who in turn will notify the owners of the vulnerable device. IEEE Spectrum, who spotted the notice, notes that the government recognized IoT as a national security thread in 2015, and that they probably don't want any security trouble at the 2020 Olympics, when the whole world is watching.

The survey is to check whether the password setting in each IoT device is easily guessed (e.g., "123456", "password", etc.), and the survey will not intrude into the device or acquire information other than that required for the survey. As for the information obtained by the survey, strict safety control measures will be taken in accordance with NICT's implementation plan approved by the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 12:18 PM (CST)

Intel Confirms that FinFET MRAM is Production Ready

Late last year, EE Times published a report claiming that Intel was already shipping MRAM products to undisclosed customers. At the time, Intel only confirmed that their MRAM was "production ready" and didn't elaborate any further. But now, the news outlet says that Intel presented a paper on their embedded MRAM at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference. The fast, non-volatile 7Mb memory arrays reportedly achieve "10-year retention at 200C" and have "demonstrated write endurance of more than 1E06 cycles and read disturb error rate of more than 1E12 cycles." While EE Times calls the 22FFL process the MRAM arrays are built on a "22nm" process, semantics in the world of semiconductors are fuzzy, and Wikichip believes that 22FFL actually has more in common with Intel's 14nm processes. "Analysts" still believe that Intel is shipping products with MRAM, but the chip company hasn't elaborated on any of them yet.

According to Intel's ISSCC paper, each 0.0486-um2 transistor to one magnetic tunnel junction (1T1MTJ) MRAM bit cell is 216 x 225 nm2, with two polysilicon word lines. The tunnel-magneto-resistance ratio of the MTJs is 180% at 25C, with a target device-critical dimension between 60 nm and 80 nm. Wei said that the eMRAM design is also tolerant of wide variations in supply voltage. The design achieves a 4-ns read sensing time at 0.9 V but is also capable of 8-ns read sensing time at 0.8 V, she said... In a separate ISSCC paper presented Tuesday, Intel also described the development of resistive RAM (ReRAM) as a low-cost option for embedded non-volatile memory for SoCs used in IoT and automotive. The embedded ReRAM technology - also implemented in a 22-nm FinFET process - demonstrate what the company says is the smallest and highest-density ReRAM subarray and material innovations to allow low-voltage switching without impact to transistor reliability.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 11:36 AM (CST)

Gamers Love Call of Duty 15's New Loot Boxes

After a 4 month absence, loot boxes have finally come to Black Ops 4, and players couldn't be happier... Just kidding. Call of Duty fans in the game's subreddits and other communities aren't pleased with the new microtransaction changes, to say the least, and Eurogamer's writeup on the system largely reflects the opinion of other CoD playing journalists across the web. The publication says that Black Ops 4's crate system "feels particularly grubby," as they don't display probabilities and sometimes contain duplicate items. Additionally, some of the rewards affect gameplay and progression, and some weapons are only attainable through opening loot boxes.

Much of the anger at these loot boxes stems from the growing feeling that Black Ops 4 is buckling under the pressure to generate more money for publisher Activision. Here we have a full price video game with a userbase-splitting آ£39.99 season pass for DLC maps, a take on Fortnite's incredibly successful battle pass called the Contraband progression system, the ability to pay to complete tiers on the Contraband progression system, Special Orders you can pay real world money for, individual cosmetic items you can spend real world money on directly, and even reticles as microtransactions. It's convoluted, confused and inescapably money-grabbing - and it's also a real shame as the core game underneath all these alternative revenue streams remains fantastic. Indeed, the controversy around loot boxes threatens to overshadow the meaningful changes made this week to Blackout, Black Ops 4's battle royale, which feels like it's being squeezed between Respawn's Apex Legends and the ongoing popularity of Fortnite and PUBG as Treyarch struggles to freshen up the experience often enough.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 10:43 AM (CST)

China Freezes New Game Applications Again

Last year, China stopped approving new video games in an effort to (this is a direct translation) "protect children's eyesight," which created quite a bit of anxiety in the gaming industry. Eventually, the government started approving games again, but the pace was relatively slow, and many worried that the government wouldn't be able keep up with the sheer volume of games coming to market. Now, it appears that those fears have been realized. The eloquently named "State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television of the People's Republic of China" released a new batch of approved games 5 days ago, but like the previous releases, I don't see any major titles from Tencent or western publishers in the list. I spotted a few console and PC titles, but it's largely dominated by a wave of mobile releases which, according to a report by Reuters, may be too much for the government to handle. Reuters' sources claim that the Chinese government stopped approving new games to work through their existing backlog. While investors in Chinese gaming companies will undoubtedly lose sleep over this, China is the world's largest gaming market by a considerable margin, so this freeze is also bad news for outside publishers that want to expand into the booming market. Ironically, it might also be good news for Valve, as much of their existing library is still accessible in the country.

"The regulator asked local authorities to stop submitting applications because there is too much of a backlog for it to deal with at the moment," said one of the people, whose company was informed about the matter by its local authority. The person said the request was made to local authorities nationwide. The regulator approved 1,982 domestic and foreign online games during January-March last year before the freeze, government data showed. That came after approving 9,651 domestic and foreign online games in all of 2017. GAPP has approved 538 games since December. It is likely to approve just 2,000 to 3,000 titles in 2019, said Jefferies analyst Karen Chan in a note to clients. "Generally speaking the whole industry is frightened. There is no sign that regulators will loosen their control, said Beijing-based tech analyst Li Chengdong. "Investors are worried about the red line and risks here."

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 10:10 AM (CST)

Facebook Is Allegedly Working on Custom Machine Learning Hardware

Nvidia GPUs are the undisputed king of the machine learning hardware market today, but more and more companies are throwing their hat into the AI ring. Google has already introduced their machine learning-focused TPU, and other giants like Amazon and Intel are reportedly following suit, while a number of smaller startups are filling in niches or taking riskier approaches to compete with the bigger players. Last year, various reports surfaced claiming that Facebook was working on their own, custom ASICs, but an EE Times report said that it was "not the equivalent of [Google's] TPU." Now, according to a Bloomberg report published earlier this week, some of Facebook's upcoming custom silicon may focus on machine learning after all. Facebook's chief AI researcher says that "the company is working on a new class of semiconductor that would work very differently than most existing designs," and mentioned that future chips will need radically different architectures.

"We don't want to leave any stone unturned, particularly if no one else is turning them over," he said in an interview ahead of the release Monday of a research paper he authored on the history and future of computer hardware designed to handle artificial intelligence... LeCun said that for the moment, GPUs would remain important for deep learning research, but the chips were ill-suited for running the AI algorithms once they were trained, whether that was in datacenters or on devices like mobile phones or home digital assistants.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 9:35 AM (CST)

Rice Researchers Reveal Silicon Based Security Keys

Integrated circuit designers from Rice University claim they've developed a digital fingerprint technology that is "10 times more reliable than current methods" used in IoT devices. Their "physically unclonable function," or PUF, supposedly uses physical imperfections in the security device's silicon itself to generate unique keys that are nearly impossible to spoof. The researchers say their test chip "measures just a few millimeters in size" and generates keys using an array of hundreds of transistors, and does so with a minimal amount of power. The PUF concept itself isn't new, but as you probably know, transistors are sensitive to environmental changes, and previous implementations weren't reliable or small enough to be of practical use. But this particular design was tested at abnormal voltages and at "temperatures ranging from 125 degrees Celsius to minus 55 degrees Celsius." The researcher are scheduled to present their findings at the 2019 International Solid-State Circuits Conference today, but just how far away the tech is from commercialization isn't clear yet.

"Basically each PUF unit can work in two modes," said Yang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. "In the first mode, it creates one fingerprint, and in the other mode it gives a second fingerprint. Each one is a unique identifier, and dual keys are much better for reliability. On the off chance the device fails in the first mode, it can use the second key. The probability that it will fail in both modes is extremely small." As a means of authentication, PUF fingerprints have several of the same advantages as human fingerprints, he said. "First, they are unique," Yang said. "You don't have to worry about two people having the same fingerprint. Second, they are bonded to the individual. You cannot change your fingerprint or copy it to someone else's finger. And finally, a fingerprint is unclonable. There's no way to create a new person who has the same fingerprint as someone else."

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 8:55 AM (CST)

Digital Foundry Analyzes Crackdown 3's Cloud Based Destruction

Fully destructible environments have long been a holy grail of game physics engines. I remember Red Faction: Guerrilla generating quite a bit of buzz when it came out, and according to Digital Foundry, the Crackdown devs have been working on an even more ambitious system that leverages the power of Microsoft's cloud servers. Crackdown 3 is the culmination of those efforts, and while it does have destructible environments that seem to be synced across multiplayer instances, the game itself feels rushed and somewhat underwhelming. The competitive "wrecking zone" mode, for example, has conspicuously small arenas and doesn't even have a party system, while the co-op mode still falls short of the 2015 tech demo. Check out the analysis in the video below:

What Wrecking Zone delivers is still impressive in many respects, but is definitely a simplification of the original demo - a situation which looks like a combination of both technological limitations and gameplay considerations. To begin with, the cityscape of the original demo becomes a series of enclosed holodeck-esque arenas - high on verticality, but small in terms of their overall footprint. What's clear from the 2015 demo is that it's exactly that - a demonstration, with no real gameplay as such. Limiting the scale of the play space means that players can actually find one another, which definitely helps, but there's still the sense that there's not much to actually do. The destruction can look wonderful, but little of the gameplay is actually built around the concept. Technologically, the cutbacks are legion. Micro-scale chip damage is completely absent, while destruction generally is far less granular, with buildings and statues breaking apart into more simplistic polygonal chunks. It's interesting to stack up Wrecking Zone with Red Faction Guerrilla Remastered - a game we sorely regret not covering at the time of its launch. Originally a last-gen Xbox 360 title, it does many of the same things as Wrecking Zone - on a smaller scale definitely, but with more granularity and detail. And this raises the question of whether the cloud would actually be necessary at all for Wrecking Zone.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 8:21 AM (CST)

Hackers Use Stolen Credentials from Data Breaches to "Hack" a Nest Thermostat

Jonathan Schisler thought his Amazon Alexa or kids had changed the temperature to 90 degrees on his Nest thermostat. But while scrolling through the device to clear a message about changing the air filter, he noticed that the email address on the device wasn't his wife's. Even his phone app was logged in under another person's name as the owner of the account. Nest says the Schisler family was affected by a data breach from another website where the credentials were initially exposed. Because the Schisler family used the same username and password for multiple websites, the hackers were able to commandeer the Nest thermostat. Taking stolen usernames and passwords from data breaches and inputting them into the login page of random websites is known as "credential stuffing."

Nest said it hasn't been breached. Instead, the company, which is owned by Google, said Schisler's password was breached on another website. For example, he was using the same password for his Nest thermostat that he used for another site. "In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of security risk," a Google spokesperson said. "We take security in the home extremely seriously, and we're actively introducing features that will reject compromised passwords, and allow customers to monitor access to their accounts and track external entities that abuse credentials."

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 8:02 AM (CST)

Google Forgets to Tell Consumers That Its Nest Security System Has a Built-in Mic

Google recently announced that Google Assistant features are coming to its Nest Secure home security system. Giving consumers free features seems like a great idea, but Google forgot to list the microphone in the technical specifications for Nest Secure devices. Google says it was an "error" to not list the microphone in the tech specs. A Google spokesperson told Business Insider the microphone functionality was never enabled on the devices and was included to add additional features such as a glass breakage sensor at a later date.

On Tuesday, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider the company had made an "error." "The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part," the spokesperson said. Google says that "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option."

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 6:59 AM (CST)


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