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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.

Posted by alphaatlas February 20, 2019 9:35 AM (CST)

Hardware Unboxed Calls NVIDIA DLSS "The Biggest RTX Fail of Them All"

Hardware Unboxed has released its newest video where they dissect the image quality of Battlefield V with the new NVIDIA technology called Deep Learning Super Sample (DLSS) enabled. They not only compare the DLSS image quality to the native 4K image; Tim takes it a step further and compares the DLSS image to an 1685p upscaled 78% resolution scale image. They chose 1685p because it performs at a similar frame rate as when DLSS is enabled in-game. In all instances, the DLSS image looks to be a smeared image and the 1685p upscaled 78% resolution scale image is much more pleasing to look at. Tim Schiesser says, "The 1685p image destroys the DLSS image in terms of sharpness, texture quality, clarity; basically everything." He goes on to say, "The 78% scaled image preserves the fine detail on the rocks, the sign, the sandbags, the cloth, the gun; pretty much everywhere. With DLSS everything is blurred to the point where this detail is lost." Resolution scaling has been available to gamers for decades. They hold back no punches and say, "DLSS sucks."

But the real kicker is looking at the visual quality comparisons. We'll start with native 4K versus 4K DLSS. Across all of the scenes that I've tested, there is a severe loss of detail when switching on DLSS. Just look at the trees in this scene. The 4K presentation is just as you'd expect; sharp, clean, high detail on both the foliage and trunk textures. But DLSS is like a strong blur filter has been applied. Texture detail is completely wiped out. In some cases it's like you've loaded a low texture mode. While some of the fine branch detail has been blurred away, or even thickened in some cases. Which makes the game look kinda weird in some situations. Of course this is to be expected. DLSS was never going to supply the same image quality as native 4K while also providing a 37% performance uplift. That would be pretty much black magic. But the quality difference comparing the two is almost laughable at how far away DLSS is from the native presentation in these stressful areas.

Posted by cageymaru February 18, 2019 4:28 PM (CST)

Chinese Telecommunications Hardware Is About to Be Banned by Executive Order

The United States is gearing up for the widespread installation of 5G networks, but Chinese hardware may have no part in it: there is chatter an executive order will soon be issued banning such for upgrades of cellular networks. "As contracts for the installation of 5G networks are in the works, the White House is looking to send a message that security must not be compromised for the next generation of wireless connectivity."

The order is part of a series of announcements leading up to Mobile World Congress designed to showcase what the United States is doing to prevent cyber attacks from being harmful to the nation. Huawei has been under great scrutiny in recent times, but remember that ZTE was also heavily put under the microscope not long before. Accusations against the Chinese telecom companies have ranged from theft of trade secrets to violations of trade embargoes. As charges mount against Huawei executives, there is compelling reason to believe that the United States will not be awarding any contracts to Chinese businesses.

Posted by Megalith February 10, 2019 1:40 PM (CST)

Second Apple Hardware Engineer Charged with Stealing Trade Secrets for China

An Apple hardware engineer working in the top secret "Project Titan" autonomous vehicle division has been arrested for stealing trade secrets. A fellow Apple employee witnessed Jizhong Chen taking unauthorized pictures of the vehicle. He also neglected to tell Apple that he had been hired by an autonomous vehicle company in China. He was caught when he tried to board a flight to China. When confronted, he admitted to backing up 2,000 files containing manuals and schematics from the project to his personal hard drive. This is the second Apple engineer caught trying to board a plane to China with Apple autonomous vehicle trade secrets. Thanks @TheCommander !

Apple said disclosure of the data taken by Chen would be "enormously damaging," according to prosecutors. Among the photos seized by the government: an image stamped Dec. 19 diagramming Apple's autonomous driving architecture. Another from June 2018 depicts an assembly drawing of a wire harness for an autonomous vehicle. The engineer later told Apple he intended to travel to China to visit his ill father, but was arrested last week before he could board his direct flight. He was released from federal custody after posting $500,000 in cash and property on Jan. 25.

Posted by cageymaru January 30, 2019 5:30 PM (CST)

Hardware Unboxed Considers Ending Day One GeForce Coverage

RTX 2060 reviews are up across the web, or at least they are on sites that signed Nvidia's NDA. But Steve Walton of Hardware Unboxed, who also writes some of Techspot's hardware reviews, just posted an update to their RTX 2060 coverage. Apparently, Hardware Unboxed still hasn't received the RTX 2060 they were promised, and Steve suspects that's because Techspot's previous RTX review scores were slightly less than perfect. I'm not going to put any more words into his mouth, so you should check out his reasoning in the video below:

In his latest Hardware Unboxed video however he's inevitably feeling a little cranky. We'll let him explain in his own words, but long story short TechSpot/HUB did not receive an RTX 2060 graphics card for review like most other outlets. In fact, while following the regular process to get early access to the new hardware, we were left out in the cold, without prior knowledge the 2060 reviews would go live right after CEO Jensen Huang's keynote. Considering we're one of the few teams doing the kind of in-depth benchmarking and day one coverage on things such as ray tracing and DLSS, as well as our long history of reviewing Nvidia products... that may be more than enough reason to feel overly frustrated about this. Perhaps, Nvidia was feeling a little frustrated themselves when we didn't give their RTX hardware the warm reception they expected (see our top GPU picks here), but we'll stick to our methods and continue to provide the most honest reviews we can.

Thanks to cageymaru for the tip. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 09, 2019 8:43 AM (CST)

Nvidia Hardware Powers an Underwater Drone

Think you're safe from drones when you jump in the water? Well, thanks to Nvidia and a startup called Notilo Plus, you aren't safe anymore. Using a 7.5W Nvidia Jetson TX2, the startup has created an underwater drone that can operate autonomously. "iBubble" can follow divers around, film them or their surroundings, and be remotely ordered around via a remote control. On their site, Nvidia claims the drone uses data from camera feeds to avoid obstacles, follow routes, and more. The commercial counterpart, Seasam, can also " find and inspect areas needing repair on vessels." Check out iBubble's promo video below

The detection and classification systems used are trained on data available on Notilo Plus' cloud platform. As the number of iBubble users increases, the more underwater data will be collected. Over time, the company plans to build specialized underwater AI datasets and train its deep neural networks specifically on them - increasing the accuracy of iBubble further.

Posted by alphaatlas December 06, 2018 9:42 AM (CST)

The Supply of Steam Link Hardware Is Almost Gone

Valve has announced that the Steam Link is sold out in Europe and supplies in America are nearly depleted. Valve will continue supporting the existing Steam Link hardware in the future. The Steam Link App seems to have taken precedence over the hardware as it features on-screen touch controls and runs on smartphones, tablets, and televisions.

The supply of physical Steam Link hardware devices is sold out in Europe and almost sold out in the US. Moving forward, Valve intends to continue supporting the existing Steam Link hardware as well as distribution of the software versions of Steam Link, available for many leading smart phones, tablets and televisions. Click here to find out more about the Steam Link App.

Posted by cageymaru November 20, 2018 7:54 AM (CST)

Apple's New Hardware with the T2 Security Chip Will Currently Block Linux from Booting

Phoronix is reporting that Linux will not boot on any Apple device that utilizes the T2 security chip. Due to the lack of a certificate, only macOS and Windows 10 are supported at this time. Linux will not install even if the Security Boot functionality is disabled.

Apple's T2 security chip being embedded into their newest products provides a secure enclave, APFS storage encryption, UEFI Secure Boot validation, Touch ID handling, a hardware microphone disconnect on lid close, and other security tasks. The T2 restricts the boot process quite a bit and verifies each step of the process using crypto keys signed by Apple.

Posted by Megalith November 11, 2018 10:50 AM (CST)

der8auer Demonstrates How He Washes His Hardware Using a Dishwasher

"How can you put hardware in a dishwasher!?" der8auer’s latest video explores this seemingly risky concept as a way of washing substances such as Vaseline off of motherboards and memory sticks, which may be applied to prevent condensation under certain testing conditions. Naturally, there are some precautions that should be taken (e.g., removing the motherboard battery), but der8auer suggests the process is generally safe.
Posted by Megalith October 14, 2018 4:00 PM (CDT)

Evidence of Supermicro Infected Hardware Found at U.S. Telecom

Bloomberg says that security expert Yossi Appleboum has found evidence of altered Supermicro hardware in a major U.S. telecom's network. Mr. Appleboum has worked for the Israeli Army Intelligence Corps and is now co-chief executive officer of Sepio Systems in Gaithersburg, Maryland. His company was hired to scan data centers for an undisclosed telecom and discovered that a server was performing unusual communications. An implant was discovered on the server's Ethernet connector. He says that his company has seen other modifications on hardware being imported from China and explained that Supermicro isn't the only victim of the Chinese supply chain.

In the case of the telecommunications company, Sepio's technology detected that the tampered Supermicro server actually appeared on the network as two devices in one. The legitimate server was communicating one way, and the implant another, but all the traffic appeared to be coming from the same trusted server, which allowed it to pass through security filters. Appleboum said one key sign of the implant is that the manipulated Ethernet connector has metal sides instead of the usual plastic ones. The metal is necessary to diffuse heat from the chip hidden inside, which acts like a mini computer. "The module looks really innocent, high quality and 'original' but it was added as part of a supply chain attack," he said.

Posted by cageymaru October 09, 2018 3:28 PM (CDT)

Hardware Unboxed Analyzes Intel's Commissioned Core i9-9900K Benchmarks

Intel has commissioned Principled Technologies to run benchmarks of the upcoming i9-9900K CPU and pit it against older Intel CPUs and some AMD CPUs such as the AMD Ryzen 2700X, Threadripper 2990WX, and Threadripper 2950X. PCGamesN wrote a glowing article that has since been heavily edited, about how Intel's new chip was up to 50% faster than AMD's best. Reading over the original PCGamesN article you would have thought that sliced bread had just been invented and Intel was delivering us from the Dark Ages. To PCGamesN's credit they did run this article acknowledging that Hardware Unboxed found bias in the benchmarks, but they still have the flawed and biased Principled Technologies charts showcased on their website for all to see. Hardware Unboxed did a short analysis of a few of the benchmarks as their team felt that the i7-8700K benchmarks and the AMD Ryzen 2700X numbers were incorrect. They found that Principled Technologies had allegedly gimped the AMD CPUs by using different coolers, incorrect ram timings, and possibly even disabled some of the cores on the AMD Ryzen 2700X. To put this into perspective, on the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark that Hardware Unboxed ran, the AMD Ryzen 2700X was 18% faster and the i7-8700K was 4% slower, than the commissioned testing that Intel has published. They even showed how over a suite of games that the i7-8700K was only 9% faster than the AMD Ryzen 2700X in previous pure gaming benchmarks conducted by Hardware Unboxed. Yet in Intel's commissioned benchmark results, the AMD Ryzen 2700X was far, far, behind the Intel i7-8700K in performance metrics. This is why we never trust a manufacturer's benchmarks. Always wait for the review before buying hardware.

"Why is PCGamesN publishing this misleading data? Why aren't they tearing this obviously paid report; because they're very transparent that this is a paid report commissioned by Intel, why aren't they tearing it to shreds? Do they simply not know any better? I'm a bit worried or wondering if we might see other websites covering this report; perhaps paid to cover it. And I'm not accusing or saying that PCGamesN were paid by Intel. Doesn't look great and I suppose the very least it is very shoddy journalism."

Posted by cageymaru October 09, 2018 8:21 AM (CDT)

Facebook Launches Their First Home Hardware

Facebook launched their first 2 home-grown hardware products today. The Portal and Portal+ both feature Alexa integration, 4 beamforming microphones, stereo speakers, and a "Smart Camera" that "uses AI to keep everyone in the frame - panning and zooming automatically no matter where the conversation goes." The base portal goes for $199 and features a 720p display, wile the Portal+ goes for $349 and features a tall 1080x1920 display. Facebook themselves aren't totally oblivious to privacy and security concerns, so on top of a software option to disable the camera and microphone array, they include a camera cover with the product. You can check out the promotional video on the website, and you can see the BBC's less flashy take on the device below:

Facebook doesn't listen to, view or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you're calling. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure.

Posted by alphaatlas October 08, 2018 10:26 AM (CDT)