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Win Some, Lose Some in Qualcomm vs Apple Saga

A jury in federal court in San Diego awarded Qualcomm $31 million in a patent infringement case against Apple. Qualcomm requested damages amounting to $1.41 per iPhone. The three patents that Apple allegedly violated were related to battery life in mobile phones. In another case, a U.S. federal judge issued a preliminary ruling favoring Apple related to patent royalty rebate payments. Factories that build Apple iPhones paid Qualcomm billions of dollars to use Qualcomm's technology. Apple agreed to reimburse the factories. "Qualcomm and Apple had a cooperation agreement under which Qualcomm would pay Apple a rebate on the iPhone patent payments if Apple agreed not to attack in court or with regulators." Apple filed a lawsuit after it says Qualcomm refused to issue $1 billion in patent royalty rebates. Qualcomm alleged that "Apple had broken the agreement by urging other smartphone makers to complain to regulators and making "false and misleading" statements to the Korean Fair Trade Commission." Apple said it was just responding to regulators.

The decision will not become final until after the trial in the case, which begins next month. And it is unlikely that Qualcomm will make a new payment to Apple. Apple's contract factories, which under normal circumstances would pay Qualcomm for patent royalties owed on iPhones, have already withheld the nearly $1 billion in payments to Qualcomm. "Apple has already offset the payment at issue under the agreement against royalties that were owed to Qualcomm," Qualcomm's Rosenberg told Reuters.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 15, 2019 3:32 PM (CDT)

Steam Link Anywhere Enables Game Streaming over the Internet

Valve has announced Steam Link Anywhere which allows Steam users to stream their games from their PC to their other computers over the internet or Wi-Fi, as long as their computer has good upload speed and their Steam Link device has a good network connection. I confirmed that I could stream from my gaming PC to my mobile phone using mobile data. This service is free and the Steam Link (BETA) app can be downloaded from Google Play. Steam users will need to update their Steam Client to the beta build to enable the functionality.

To use Steam Link Anywhere: Update your Steam Client to the beta build, dated March 13 or newer. Add a computer and select "Other Computer." Follow the pairing instructions on screen. This service is in early beta, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to improve the service.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 14, 2019 5:25 PM (CDT)

Alphabet Launches Chrome Extension That Filters Comments With AI

Following up on the "Perspective" hate speech filtering experiment from 2017, one Alphabet's subsidiaries, Jigsaw, recently released a machine learning-powered Chrome extension designed to filter out "toxic" comments on high traffic sites. Out of curiosity, I downloaded the extension on a fresh Chrome install, and found that it features a virtual nob that lets users tune the "volume" of the comments sections in YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Disqus comment sections. Twisting the knob gradually filters out more and more comments in real time. As the developers note, it definitely misses some nasty comments while hiding other comments that aren't particularly "toxic" at all, but based on my quick test with some controversial YouTube videos, the sheer variety of language it can seemingly interpret is remarkable.

The machine learning powering Tune is experimental. It still misses some toxic comments and incorrectly hides some non-toxic comments. We're constantly working to improve the underlying technology, and users can easily give feedback right in the tool to help us improve our algorithms. Tune isn't meant to be a solution for direct targets of harassment (for whom seeing direct threats can be vital for their safety), nor is Tune a solution for all toxicity. Rather, it's an experiment to show people how machine learning technology can create new ways to empower people as they read discussions online.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 12, 2019 12:24 PM (CDT)

Researchers Develop RAM That Works at 300C

A group of researchers claim to have developed gallium nitride memory devices that can work at temperatures over 300 degrees Celcius (or 572 Fahrenheit, which is coincidentally about 572 Kelvin as well). As any overclocker already knows, silicon-based transistors don't work particularly well above 100C, and the researchers' paper claims that previous GaN devices topped off at about 200C. However, they say their memory device survived exposure to temperatures above 350C, and performed a thousand switching cycles at 300C with almost no deterioration, but don't expect this technology to improve your overclocking anytime soon. The researchers envision this technology being used in exploration probes destined for some of the harshest places in our solar system, and say they're testing a device that can survive temperatures of up to 500C.

The memory device was fabricated by chemical vapor deposition on a gallium nitride substrate. Key to the device's performance were the etching and regrowth processes during fabrication, says Zhao. After several layers of gallium nitride were deposited, some areas were etched away with plasma, then regrown. That created an interface layer with vacancy sites that are missing nitrogen atoms, says Zhao. "The interface layer is critical for the memory effect," he says. The researchers believe that the nitrogen vacancies are responsible for capturing and releasing electrons, giving rise to high and low resistance states-or zero and one states-in the device... The team is also investigating the role of the nitrogen vacancies for the device's performance. Once NASA deems a prototype good enough, it will have to undergo testing in controlled chambers that mimic the harsh environments on Mercury and Venus at NASA facilities, says Zhao. "I will say there is several years of work to do, but the initial result is definitely very, very encouraging and exciting," he says.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 11, 2019 11:53 AM (CDT)

MIT Has Developed a Four-Legged Robot That Can Do a Backflip

MIT has announced that its new mini cheetah robot is the first four-legged robot to do a backflip. It weighs in at 20 pounds and can quickly right itself if kicked over. The robot is capable of walking upside down, or right-side up and navigates uneven terrain with absolute ease. The modular design of the robot allows its motors to be swapped out "almost like Legos." "In Cheetah 3, everything is super integrated, so if you want to change something, you have to do a ton of redesign," Katz says. "Whereas with the mini cheetah, if you wanted to add another arm, you could just add three or four more of these modular motors." The design team has much bigger ideas on new features to add to the mini cheetah. "We're working now on a landing controller, the idea being that I want to be able to pick up the robot and toss it, and just have it land on its feet," Katz says. "Say you wanted to throw the robot into the window of a building and have it go explore inside the building. You could do that."

"A big part of why we built this robot is that it makes it so easy to experiment and just try crazy things, because the robot is super robust and doesn't break easily, and if it does break, it's easy and not very expensive to fix," says Katz, who worked on the robot in the lab of Sangbae Kim, associate professor of mechanical engineering. Kim says loaning mini cheetahs out to other research groups gives engineers an opportunity to test out novel algorithms and maneuvers on a highly dynamic robot, that they might not otherwise have access to. "Eventually, I'm hoping we could have a robotic dog race through an obstacle course, where each team controls a mini cheetah with different algorithms, and we can see which strategy is more effective," Kim says. "That's how you accelerate research."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 04, 2019 3:34 PM (CST)

Tim Cook: Apple Is Working on Future Products That Will "Blow You Away"

Speaking at yesterday’s annual general meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook teased investors he was "planting seeds" and "rolling the dice" on future products that will just "blow you away." Cook didn’t specify what these would be but hinted the company could soon unveil AirPods that support Siri and wireless charging, as well as Apple Watch models with new health features. Augmented reality smart glasses or even a full self-driving vehicle could be further in the horizon.

On the topic of services, Cook said Apple is well on its way towards meeting the goal it set in 2016, which was to double its $25 billion revenue by 2020. Later this month, Apple is expected to unveil two new products in the services category, including a new streaming TV service outfitted with original television shows and a new Apple News service with access to subscription news sites and magazines for a monthly fee.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 02, 2019 2:10 PM (CST)

Microsoft CEO Defends US Military Contract That Some Employees Say Crosses a Line

That letter from Microsoft employees arguing the company shouldn’t supply HoloLens technology to the US military was written in vain, as Satya Nadella has confirmed the $480M contract will go ahead as planned. The CEO told CNN the following during an interview at Mobile World Congress: "We made a principled decision that we're not going to withhold technology from institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy. We were very transparent about that decision and we'll continue to have that dialogue [with employees]."

[Brad Smith, the company's president and chief legal officer] wrote in a blog post published last year on Microsoft's website that the company would help employees who didn't want to work on specific projects to switch to another part of the business. But he said the company would continue its "longstanding support" for the US Defense Department. "All of us who live in this country depend on its strong defense," he wrote in the blog. "The people who serve in our military work for an institution with a vital role and critical history."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 02, 2019 11:10 AM (CST)

EA Denies That It Demanded Takedown of Negative "Anthem" Review

YouTuber Gggmanlives claims he was blacklisted from EA’s Game Changer Network (a community partnership program enabling collaborative feedback) after he posted a negative review of Anthem. EA allegedly paid him for the review but asked him to take it down and remove the company’s watermarks after they realized it wasn’t in the game’s favor.

"I basically wasn’t allowed to say anything negative about the game if I also had the watermark in because the watermark means EA endorses it and shares it through the Game Changers network or something," Gggmanlives told VG247 via Twitter direct message. "I really don’t know what it all means. I was just told it was to be pulled down and was basically a breach of contract or something along those lines."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith February 23, 2019 11:30 AM (CST)

Intel Officials Allegedly Say that Apple Could Move to ARM Soon

A recent report from Axios claims that Apple is "widely expected" to move their Mac lineup to custom ARM chips in the next few years. The publication cites a Bloomberg report claiming that Apple plans to merge their software stack and app ecosystem across all platforms, though that could theoretically be achieved with ARM ISA emulation on existing x86 processors. However, Axios also said "Although the company has yet to say so publicly, developers and Intel officials have privately told Axios they expect such a move as soon as next year." Thanks to AppleInsider for the tip.

If anything, the Bloomberg timeline suggests that Intel might actually have more Mac business in 2020 than some had been expecting. The key question is not the timeline but just how smoothly Apple is able to make the shift. For developers, it will likely mean an awkward period of time supporting new and classic Macs as well as new and old-style Mac apps. History lesson: Apple has already made several big shifts in the 25-year history of the Mac, moving from Motorola chips to PowerPC processors and then to Intel. It's also moved from the classic Macintosh operating system to the Unix-based Mac OS X.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas February 22, 2019 9:58 AM (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 February 20, 2019 11:36 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 February 20, 2019 6:59 AM (CST)

Google Backtracks on Chrome Modifications That Would Have Crippled Ad Blockers

Ad-blocker developers (and users) can rest easy, as Google has decided to revise its collection of changes to the Chrome extensions platform. "Manifest V3" would have killed uBlock, Ghostery, and similar extensions by disallowing them from querying remotely hosted code via traditional APIs, but Google has had a change of heart due to backlash and new data suggesting ad-blocking requests didn’t have a significant effect on browser performance.

Chrome engineers justified the change by citing the performance impact of not having a maximum value for the number of network requests an extension could access. But the Ghostery team disagreed with this assessment. "From the measurements, we do not think this claim holds, as all popular content-blockers are already very efficient and should not incur any noticeable slow-down for users." Their study found sub-millisecond median decision times per request, showing quite the opposite of what the Chrome team claimed.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith February 17, 2019 1:45 PM (CST)