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Intel Delivers First Exascale Supercomputer to Argonne National Laboratory

Intel Corporation and Cray Inc. have announced that a Cray "Shasta" system will be the first U.S. exascale supercomputer. This $500 million Aurora supercomputer will be coming to the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in 2021 and will have a performance of one exaFLOP - a quintillion floating point operations per second. In addition, this system is designed to enable the convergence of traditional HPC, data analytics, and artificial intelligence -- at exascale. The program contract is valued at more than $100 million for Cray, one of the largest contracts in the company's history. The design of the Aurora system calls for 200 Shasta cabinets, Cray's software stack optimized for Intel architectures, Cray Slingshot interconnect, as well as next generation Intel technology innovations in compute processor, memory and storage technologies. Intel's Rajeeb Hazra detailed some of the futuristic technology coming to Aurora including a future generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, the recently announced Intel Xe compute architecture, and Intel Optane DC persistent memory. "Today is an important day not only for the team of technologists and scientists who have come together to build our first exascale computer -- but also for all of us who are committed to American innovation and manufacturing," said Bob Swan, Intel CEO. "The convergence of AI and high-performance computing is an enormous opportunity to address some of the world's biggest challenges and an important catalyst for economic opportunity."

The Aurora system's exaFLOP of performance -- equal to a "quintillion" floating point computations per second -- combined with an ability to handle both traditional high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) will give researchers an unprecedented set of tools to address scientific problems at exascale. These breakthrough research projects range from developing extreme-scale cosmological simulations, discovering new approaches for drug response prediction and discovering materials for the creation of more efficient organic solar cells. The Aurora system will foster new scientific innovation and usher in new technological capabilities, furthering the United States' scientific leadership position globally.

Posted by cageymaru March 18, 2019 3:24 PM (CDT)

Get Ready for Targeted Ads on Your Smart TV

Disney, Comcast, NBCUniversal, and other top media companies have teamed up with VIZIO for a new standard that will bring targeted ads to television viewers. VIZIO, which recently lost $2.2 million after being caught tracking and selling viewing data using software on its Smart TVs, claims targeted ads, which are "relevant" to the household, will "drastically enhance" the viewing experience.

The companies are calling themselves a consortium, and they've dubbed this "Project OAR," or Open Addressable Ready. Once developed, the new, open standard will make it possible for all connected TV companies to sell targeted ads in scheduled and on-demand programs. While this will theoretically make ads more successful and therefore more valuable, it also means viewers' data will be shared with third parties. That raises the usual data privacy concerns.

Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 2:45 PM (CDT)

NVIDIA: RTX GPUs, High-Refresh-Rate Monitors Can Improve Your Kill-Death Ratio

If only to convince gamers to upgrade their GPUs and displays, NVIDIA has published new data supporting the obvious idea that better hardware improves player performance in Battle Royale titles such as Fortnite and Apex Legends. Essentially, players who can manage 144 fps score significantly higher than those limited to 60 fps: the company’s graphs suggest its RTX cards can increase K/D ratio by as much as 53%, while playing on 240 Hz and 144 Hz monitors can improve K/D ratio by 34% and 51%, respectively.

NVIDIA used more than a million sample points collected via anonymous GeForce Experience data, and then analyzed the data (which means no AMD cards). Specifically, NVIDIA is looking at player performance in two popular battle royale games: PUBG and Fortnite. How do you quantify player performance? NVIDIA looked at kill/death ratio and matched that up with number of hours played per week, then finally broke that down into graphics hardware and monitor refresh rate. NVIDIA limited its analysis to 1080p, which provides for the highest refresh rates and also serves to normalize things a bit.

Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 10:05 AM (CST)

MLB Tests Trackman Computer System to Inform Umpires of Balls and Strikes

Major League Baseball (MLB) has started its 3 year experiment in the minor leagues that will see the introduction of a Trackman computer system that uses Doppler Radar to accurately track balls and strikes. Plate umpires wearing earpieces will be informed of ball/strike calls by the computer. The umpires can overrule the computer, but some are wary of earlier attempts of introducing a tracking system. Umpires have been evaluated by the Trackman system since 2017.

West, who has umpired more than 5,000 big league games and is on track to break Bill Klem's record in 2020, said the 2016 test was far from perfect. "It missed 500 pitches in April, and when I say it missed 500 pitches, that didn't mean they called them wrong. They didn't call them at all," he said.

Posted by cageymaru March 08, 2019 2:21 PM (CST)

HardForum User Builds a Record Breaking SFF Rig

HardForum user Venturi just built a small form factor computer that's almost certainly faster than your PC. With 2 56-thread Xeon 8180M CPUs cooled with Noctua NH-D9 towers, 384GB of RAM, a RAID array with 10 SSDs, four Titan V's, and a 1600W PSU all crammed inside a Thermaltake Core P1 ITX case, Venturi's rig hit a Cinebench R20 CPU score of 18708.
Venturi claims that's an air cooled miniITX world record, and unless there's a 4-processor minITX rig out there that I don't know about, I'm inclined to believe him. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 08, 2019 11:00 AM (CST)

HP's Intel and Nvidia Powered ISS Supercomputer is Stuck in Space

HP and SpaceX sent some servers with off-the-shelf Intel Xeon CPUs and Nvidia Tesla GPUs to the ISS in 2017, and as of 2018, those servers were fully operational. But, according to a recent BBC report, HP's "Spaceborne Computer" was schedules to come back down to Earth about 3 months ago, and those plans were reportedly scrapped after a Soyuz rocket exploded with ISS crew members on board. The BBC report says that the computers have been operational without any sort of maintenance for 530 days, and that they use radiators to transfer hot air from the server to the ISS's internal liquid cooling systems in a "closed air loop." That's impressive enough by itself, but a recent podcast from HP dives into just how difficult the conditions for these machines really are. The power that comes from the ISS's solar panels and batteries, for example, is somewhat unstable, and exhibits different characteristics than your typical power grid on Earth. The ISS's 92 minute day/night cycle reportedly subjects the system to temperature extremes, while alpha radiation tends to randomly flip bits in the silicon itself. HP's software package has to deal with all these issues, as well as more mundane ones like power regulation, without any human intervention, and according to HP, it's done a phenomenal job so far. The company seems to think they can apply some of these software innovations to computers on Earth, making them significantly more fault tolerant, but the ultimate goal of the program is to harden cutting edge computers for a Mars journey by 2030.

Traveling to Mars won't just be a physiological challenge for astronauts, but also one for the technology they carry on their missions. When an SOS transmission from deep space could mean life or death, every minute counts. It's today's research of space travel and the cosmos that will make a manned journey to Mars a reality.

Posted by alphaatlas February 27, 2019 11:48 AM (CST)

San Francisco Uses Computer Algorithm to Dismiss 9,362 Marijuana Convictions

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon has teamed up with nonprofit Code For America to use a computer algorithm based on its "Clear My Record" technology to overturn 9,362 marijuana convictions dating back to 1975. The algorithm automated the scanning of many thousands of court records to find cases that were eligible for expungement. California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 and Proposition 64 allowed for old cases to be overturned. But individuals had to petition the court and the process was confusing, costly and time-consuming. Only 23 cases had been processed in the court system before the computer algorithm was able to perform the task in just minutes. "The cleared records will help people gain employment and be approved for housing and other opportunities they might have been denied because of their criminal records." Code For America says it is hopeful that it can bring the technology to other cities and counties.

"If you are the mom or dad who wants to participate in the kids' school activities and they're being told you can't go to that field trip because you have a felony conviction because you sold a nickel bag in the Tenderloin 10 years ago, that's the people that we care about," said Gascon. "Contact with the criminal justice system should not be a life sentence, so we've been working to reimagine the record clearance process," Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America founder and executive director, said in a statement."This new approach, which is both innovative and common sense, changes the scale and speed of justice and has the potential to ignite change across the country."

Posted by cageymaru February 26, 2019 4:43 PM (CST)

How Facebook Tracks Your Ovulation and Heart Rate Through Apps

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that apps are sending sensitive information to Facebook through the Facebook SDK. The Facebook SDK makes it easy for app writers to share information with Facebook through a built-in analytics service called "App Events." 17.6% of the apps on Apple's App Store and 25.4% of the apps on the Google Play Store use the Facebook SDK. These apps are collecting your data to "allow apps to better understand their users' behavior or to collect data to sell targeted advertising." Facebook says it didn't know that health information was being collected and shared as this is violates their policies. Facebook collects the information for market research and advertising campaigns. Users do not even need a Facebook account for their information to be shared with the social media giant. Some of the apps analyzed by The Wall Street Journal shared information such as weight, height, women's period, length of cycle, ovulation, heart rate, when women desire to get pregnant, location and prices of home listings; including which were marked as favorites. Other information shared include; unique advertising identifier that can be matched to a device or profile, email address, which part of the body a person has issues with in regards to weight loss and many other interactions. Within seconds of entering information into an app, Facebook is sent a copy of the information. "Facebook can often match that data with actual Facebook users."

Facebook said some of the data sharing uncovered by the Journal's testing appeared to violate its business terms, which instruct app developers not to send it "health, financial information or other categories of sensitive information." Facebook said it is telling apps flagged by the Journal to stop sending information its users might regard as sensitive. The company said it may take additional action if the apps don't comply. "We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us," a Facebook spokeswoman said. She said Facebook automatically deletes some sensitive data it might receive, such as Social Security numbers.

Posted by cageymaru February 22, 2019 2:59 PM (CST)

"I Don't Want Your Respect": NetherRealm Responds to Mortal Kombat "Going Woke"

There is a growing subset of Mortal Kombat fans who aren’t pleased with the artistic direction in which NetherRealm Studios is taking series. Specifically, they allege the female roster has had their "sex appeal" taken away, a controversy that was reignited this week after NetherRealm revealed a ghastly looking, covered-up Jade. NetherRealm’s community manager has punched back against one fan who called it "disgusting" and how the developer should make the girls "sexy" in order to earn his "money and respect," calling such comments "truly awful." Even female gamers are beginning to agree the characters have been "censored," however.

@Draka_: For a "community manager" you don't seem to get how this thing called "community" works and how ridiculously godawful your communications skills are. If you start acting butthurt bc of one negative comment, you ain't exactly helpful to the "community" or the company you represent. @laope_: Gore = Core Values, CG tiddies = TOO OFFENSIVE! @irxson: You don't want your customers respect? I'm less inclined to buy the game now. Of course I will wait and see but I have to agree, Character designs are bad and I loved the older designs, my favorites being from MK9. It is sad to see the team is not going to consider our feedback.

Posted by Megalith February 16, 2019 1:05 PM (CST)

Your Privacy and Data are Different Things

Scandals from social media companies and tech giants seem to make the headlines every day, and stories of data breaches or serious vulnerabilities follow right behind them. The publicity is prompting lots of talk about the value of privacy, but a recent article from NBC highlights a critical point in that argument: data is not the same thing as privacy. A smartphone that spies on its owner may represent a breach of privacy, for example, but Aza Raskin points out that tech company don't even need to cross that line to send creepy ads. He says "isn't it more creepy that they can predict what you're talking about without listening in? It's this little model of you. You are super predictable to these platforms. It’s about persuasion and prediction, not privacy." In other words, maybe consumers should be less worried about how tech companies are breaching their privacy, at instead take a closer look at just what predictive models and applications they're building with the mountain of data they already have.

"Privacy as we normally think of it doesn’t matter," said Aza Raskin, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology. "What these companies are doing is building little models, little avatars, little voodoo dolls of you. Your doll sits in the cloud, and they'll throw 100,000 videos at it to see what's effective to get you to stick around, or what ad with what messaging is uniquely good at getting you to do something."

Posted by alphaatlas February 06, 2019 12:18 PM (CST)

Apple: You Can't Sue Us for Slowing Down Your iPhones Because We're "Contractors"

Apple is in the process of defending itself from a class-action lawsuit alleging they intentionally slowed down processors with an iOS update, but desperation appears to be growing based on their legal team’s newest defense on why they shouldn’t have to pay up. In what is described as a "bizarre" argument, lawyers say Apple is essentially a building contractor: a typical job (iPhone) may involve excessive destruction (degraded hardware), but initial consent (user agreeing to updates) pardons the contractor from such liabilities.

Apple is like a building contractor you hire to redo your kitchen, the tech giant has argued in an attempt to explain why it shouldn't have to pay customers for slowing down their iPhones. Addressing a bunch of people trying to sue it for damages, the iGiant's lawyers told a California court this month: "Plaintiffs are like homeowners who have let a building contractor into their homes to upgrade their kitchens, thus giving permission for the contractor to demolish and change parts of the houses." They went on: "Any claim that the contractor caused excessive damage in the process sounds in contract, not trespass."

Posted by Megalith February 03, 2019 1:40 PM (CST)

Netflix Hit with Choose Your Own Adventure Lawsuit over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch may have been a novel concept for Netflix viewers, but not for Choosec, the children’s book publisher that owns the "Choose Your Own Adventure" trademark. Choosec claims they were in negotiations with Netflix over a license, and while that never happened, the streaming giant ran with the idea anyway and benefited from its association.

This isn’t the first time that Chooseco has dealt with Netflix. In the complaint, Chooseco says that it sent a cease-and-desist request to the streaming company at least once over the Choose Your Own Adventure trademark in the past. This isn’t the only trademark issue Netflix ran into in 2018. In October, the Satanic Temple filed suit against the streaming company, saying that a copy of the church’s proprietary statue appeared in Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series.

Posted by Megalith January 13, 2019 1:30 PM (CST)