Friday December 07, 2018
New Atlas reports that the Australian government recently passed the world’s first anti-encryption bill. The Assistance and Access Bill 2018 can allegedly “compel a private company to create new interception capabilities so no communications data is completely inaccessible to the government.” While the lawmakers claim they aren’t requiring the creation of software “backdoors,” security experts point out that there may be no other way to comply with the law, as end to end encryption is “fundamentally unassailable.” Apple pointed out this ambiguity in October, and now several Australian companies seem to be very unhappy with the bill.
Ted Hardie, chair of the Internet Architecture Board, suggested the legislation may even break laws in other countries if the Australian government tries to force companies to hand over sensitive data. The massive GDPR law rolled out across Europe earlier this year is a prime example raised by Hardie. “We are concerned that the proposed legislation may cause these service providers to violate contracts or laws in other jurisdictions, depending upon the exact nature of the requests made,” Hardie writes. “For example, companies with European presence are required to handle sensitive data according to the GDPR, and by complying with an Australian order for data that might be located in Europe, that provider could be required to violate the GDPR to satisfy Australian law.”
TSMC CEO CC Wei has announced plans to begin work on building a new 8-inch wafer fab to satisfy robust customer demand for specialty process technologies. He also announced that the company is still on “schedule to move a newer 5nm node to risk production in the second quarter of 2019, followed by volume production a year later.”
Wei reiterated TSMC’s target for a 5-10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for revenues through 2021. Meanwhile, annual capex through 2021 will be maintained at between US$10 billion and US$12 billion, Wei continued.
Google’s DeepMind has already produced systems that can beat the world’s best Go players, as well as systems that can compete with humans in Starcraft II. But according to IEEE Spectrum, DeepMind’s AlphaZero system is in a league of its own. AlphaZero can allegedly “crack any game that provides all the information that’s relevant to decision-making,” given a little bit of time to train. For example, the system taught itself to beat Stockfish, one of the best and most highly developed chess programs in the world, in a mere 24 hours. While the AI has only been trained on Go, Chess and Shogi, the company claims that more complicated games like Poker or even Minecraft are within reach. For what it’s worth, the system appears to be very good at Go, as it seriously stressed out a high ranking Go player in the video below:
Poker furnishes a good example of such games of “imperfect” information: Players can hold their cards close to their chests. Other examples include many multiplayer games, such as StarCraft II, Dota, and Minecraft. But they may not pose a worthy challenge for long. “Those multiplayer games are harder than Go, but not that much higher,” Campbell tells IEEE Spectrum. “A group has already beaten the best players at Dota 2, though it was a restricted version of the game; Starcraft may be a little harder. I think both games are within 2 to 3 years of solution.”
Even with a major decline in cryptocurrency value, “blockchain” is still a hot buzzword among investors and companies. But MERL Tech followed “43 blockchain use-cases” closely, digging up a variety of positive-sounding press releases, white papers, and promises of large financial gain. However, the research firm found “no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims. We also did not find lessons learned or practical insights, as are available for other technologies in development.” As it turns out, many blockchain-related promises are vague and hollow, and companies often fail to follow up on them. Thanks to Schtask for the tip.
We fared no better when we reached out directly to several blockchain firms, via email, phone, and in person. Not one was willing to share data on program results, MERL processes, or adaptive management for potential scale-up. Despite all the hype about how blockchain will bring unheralded transparency to processes and operations in low-trust environments, the industry is itself opaque. From this, we determined the lack of evidence supporting value claims of blockchain in the international development space is a critical gap for potential adopters.
Yesterday we reported that Epic Games was launching its own game store that would only take a 12% cut of sales compared to the 30% that the Steam Store takes. Today I’m happy to report that the Epic Games Store is now live. From December 14th to December 27th the game Subnautica will be free and the free game will change every two weeks throughout 2019. Epic Games is funding the giveaways. An extended interview with Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney elaborates on the costs of running a digital storefront, VR support, its DRM policy and more.
While running Fortnite we learned a lot about the cost of running a digital store on PC. The math is quite simple: we pay around 2.5 to 3.5 percent for payment processing for major payment methods, less than 1.5 percent for CDN costs (assuming all games are updated as often as Fortnite), and between 1 and 2 percent for variable operating and customer support costs. Fixed costs of developing and supporting the platform become negligible at a large scale. In our analysis, stores charging 30 percent are marking up their costs by 300 to 400 percent. But with developers receiving 88 percent of revenue and Epic receiving 12 percent, this store will still be a profitable business for us. The Epic Games store is a long-term effort that we’ll be extending and improving for years. Ultimately, we hope competition between stores means better deals for all developers!
Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe has snowballed into a truly enormous franchise, but few parts of the franchise are more popular than the “Avengers” movies. Today, Marvell uploaded a trailer for the 4th Avengers film: Avengers Endgame. As expected, it looks like survivors are dealing with the fallout from Avengers: Infinity War. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip. Check out the trailer below:
We began our Marvel Cinematic Universe journey together back in 2008. The epic conclusion to Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is upon us, and some of your answers can be answered in the first official look at the 21st Marvel Studios film. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo shared the trailer this morning… See the culmination of the last decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when “Avengers” opens in theaters on April 26, 2019.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported the the U.S. Government asked its allies to stop buying Huawei equipment. Since then, things have gone downhill for the Chinese company. Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK have all all allegedly stopped buying Huawei equipment. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Huawei’s chief financial officer was recently arrested in Canada “as part of a U.S. investigation into an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, according to people familiar with the probe.” Chinese media are criticizing the arrest, but Huawei claims it is cooperating with the relevant authorities.
More recently, the probe has included whether the company used HSBC Holdings Plc to conduct illegal transactions involving Iran, the people said. Companies are barred from using the U.S. financial system to funnel goods and services to sanctioned entities. If the mobile phone and telecoms equipment maker conducted such transactions and then misled HSBC about their true nature, it could be guilty of bank fraud, experts say.
Yesterday, Qualcomm took the wraps off their highest end Snapdragon SOC to date. Instead of targeting smartphones, tablets and other devices like Qualcomm’s usual products, the Snapdragon 8cx is aimed squarely at the Windows 10 laptop market. The company claims the Adreno 680 GPU is twice as fast as “its previous generation,” while the Kryo 495 CPU cluster “supports equivalent peak performance to a competitor’s high performance 15W solution but in a fanless, thin and light design.” Qualcomm also touts support for USB 3.1, PCIe 3.0, 4K HDR displays, aptX, and Category 20 LTE. Critically, the company also claims they’re bridging the x86 software gap with native support for Office 365, Firefox, and “popular titles from Gameloft.” Check out the platform’s promo video below:
Now, if you compare the performance in a fanless, thin-and-light design (7W TDP), Snapdragon 8cx supports double the sustained performance vs. the competitor’s solution but at a fraction of the power. Again, it’s another instance of how we’ve dramatically increased performance for users without hindering their laptop’s potential battery life.
The 2018 Game Awards were last night, and despite being an “awards” show, we got quite a few announcements out of the event. But one of the highlights was definitely Obsidian’s “Outer Worlds” RPG. Thanks to Take Two, Obsidian seems to be reaching beyond their usual game budget with this title, though the teaser falls short of announcing an actual release date and other specifics. Check it out below:
Watch the official announcement trailer for The Outer Worlds, a new single-player first-person sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division. In The Outer Worlds, you awake from hibernation on a colonist ship that was lost in transit to Halcyon, the furthest colony from Earth located at the edge of the galaxy, only to find yourself in the midst of a deep conspiracy threatening to destroy it. As you explore the furthest reaches of space and encounter various factions, all vying for power, the character you decide to become will determine how this player-driven story unfolds. In the corporate equation for the colony, you are the unplanned variable.
Thursday December 06, 2018
The Game Awards start today at 7:30PM CDT. There are already rumors of several high profile announcements, including a new Dragon Age game, a high budget RPG from Obsidian, and a post apocalyptic Far Cry. Be sure to vote for your favorite titles from 2018 on their website, and check out the live stream below:
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) has been transformed into a free-to-play title. Customers who already purchased the game will have “Prime Status” and gamers new to the series can purchase Prime Status for $14.99. An up to 18 player Battle Royale mode called “Danger Zone” has been added to the game. Players can queue as solo or as a 2 or 3 player squad. The matches typically last 10 minutes. Danger Zone cases will unlock rare special skins.
To earn a Souvenir MP5-SD | Lab Rats, you need to have Prime Status and earn 250 XP in Danger Zone. The souvenir is available for all players until 2019-01-09.
Microsoft has officially adopted the Chromium open source project for the development of Microsoft Edge. This will create better web compatibility for Microsoft customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers. This change will occur over the course of the next year. Microsoft also expressed a desire to port Microsoft Edge to macOS and ARM64 for future ARM-based Windows devices.
We will move to a Chromium-compatible web platform for Microsoft Edge on the desktop. Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers. This will deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers. Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We will contribute web platform enhancements to make Chromium-based browsers better on Windows devices.
Apple has been granted De Novo classification by the FDA for the Apple Watch Series 4. This certification as a unique device allows Apple Watch customers running watchOS 5.1.2 access to features that enable the detection of irregular heart rhythms. Consumers will be notified when the PPG-enabled algorithm detects an irregular heartbeat. The electrical heart sensor, in conjunction with the companion ECG app, generates an ECG similar to a single-lead (Lead I) ECG to look for the presence of atrial fibrillation (AF) with a greater than 98% sensitivity and 99% specificity when compared to reference ECG devices. The device can distinguish between a normal heartbeat, or sinus rhythm, and atrial fibrillation. Other features of the Apple Watch Series 4 include access to Medical ID and fall detection.
You’ll notice fairly quickly that Apple asks if you’re already been diagnosed with the condition. If you have, the irregular rhythm feature is not for you. Apple doesn’t want its device to be the primary monitoring tool for people who have a medical condition that puts them at a higher risk of strokes and other potentially fatal outcomes. Instead, it wants to help people who don’t know they have it take the first step to get a diagnosis: About a quarter of the 2.3 million people who have atrial fibrillation won’t experience any symptoms. You’ll then get a notification about everything that the Apple Watch does not do. It won’t track heart attacks, help you get off meds or replace your doctor, among other things. Apple describes the device as an “intelligent guardian” for your health, but it clearly doesn’t want users to make important medical decisions on their own.
Tom Cruise recently tweeted a video asking TV owners to turn off the “motion smoothing” effect on their sets. Tom and Christopher McQuarrie claim that interpolation “makes most movies look like they were shot on high framerate video rather than film.” Most modern TVs do indeed come with this feature enabled by default, and the pair claims movie producers are working with manufacturers to make motion smoothing features more apparent and accessible.
I’m taking a quick break from filming to tell you the best way to watch Mission: Impossible Fallout (or any movie you love) at home.
At the RISC-V Summit, Western Digital’s Chief Technology Officer Martin Fink unveiled plans to release a new open source RISC-V core, an open standard initiative for cache coherent memory over a network, and an open source RISC-V instruction set simulator. The RISC-V SweRV Core is a 2-way superscalar design with a 32-bit, 9 stage pipeline core that allows for several instructions to be loaded at once and executed simultaneously. The 1.8GHz power efficient design uses 28mm CMOS process technology and will be featured in flash controllers and SSDs. These innovations are expected to accelerate development of new open, purpose-built compute architectures for Big Data and Fast Data environments.
“As Big Data and Fast Data continues to proliferate, purpose-built technologies are essential for unlocking the true value of data across today’s wide-ranging data-centric applications,” said Fink. “Our SweRV Core and the new cache coherency fabric initiative demonstrate the significant possibilities that can be realized by bringing data closer to processing power. These planned contributions to the open-source community and continued commitment of the RISC-V initiative offer exciting potential to accelerate collaborative innovation and data-driven discoveries.”
According to a thread posted on the Chinese forum pceva.com.cn, Intel is allegedly preparing to launch an 8 Core “Ghost Canyon” NUC. The slides suggest that Intel is abandoning the AMD hybrid design on the high end, and has instead chosen to include a PCIe x16 slot that could possibly house an MXM GPU. Meanwhile, Intel is also supposedly preparing tiny 95mm x 55mm x 5mm “compute cards” that can be slid into compatible devices. The slides show features such as 15W 4C processors, LPDDR3, and integrated wifi and storage, as well as a few different chassis the cards can be slid into. Obviously, this all has to be taken with a grain of salt, but we should see if the leak pans out in 2019. Thanks to Videocardz for spotting the post.
As can be seen from the road map, the NUC mini computer with the 9th generation Core processor will be available before the end of 2019, 8 core 16 thread processor, TDP thermal design power consumption 45 watts.
Earlier this week, TechPowerUp spotted a GTX 1070 SKU with GDDR5X memory on Zotac’s website. Zotac has since taken the listing down, but Google captured an incomplete copy of the page before they did. Whether the GDDR5X listing was a typo or a premature publication is unclear, but manufacturers have released some GTX 1060s with GDDR5X memory.
Much like the GTX 1060 6 GB GDDR5X, this otherwise factory-overclocked ZOTAC card sticks to a memory clock speed of 8.00 GHz, despite using GDDR5X memory chips that are rated for 10 Gbps. It features 8 GB of it across the chip’s full 256-bit memory bus width. The GPU is factory-overclocked by ZOTAC to tick at 1607 MHz, with 1797 MHz GPU Boost, which are below the clock-speeds of the GDDR5 AMP Extreme SKU, that has not just higher 1805 MHz GPU Boost frequency, but also overclocked memory at 8.20 GHz. Out of the box, this card’s performance shouldn’t be distinguishable from the GDDR5 AMP Core, but the memory alone should serve up a significant overclocking headroom.
24 Amazon warehouse workers have reportedly been hospitalized after a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent. The can contained highly concentrated capsaicin, the same chemical that makes hot sauce hot and pepper spray painful, and reporters say an automated machine ruptured it “after it fell off a shelf.” As the Guardian pointed out, Amazon has received criticism for the safety of its warehouse employees before, though in this case, the injuries don’t appear to be life threatening.
Amazon said: “All of the impacted employees have been or are expected to be released from hospital within the next 24 hours. The safety of our employees is always our top priority and a full investigation is already under way.” The employees were taken to hospital “as a precaution”, Amazon said earlier.
Tumblr recently announced a plan to remove all porn from their site, and naturally, the decision has sparked some controversy. Some users claim that the automatic filters are removing some “benign” content while leaving explicit content alone. Nevertheless, Tumblr still has a lot of porn, a topic which Motherboard has explored in the past. Last year, the site found a study claiming that “only about .1 percent of Tumblr’s users account for the porn that’s available on Tumblr,” and that about a quarter of users are there to consume pornography.
This study was based on the behavior of 130 million users, about half of Tumblr’s entire user base. Of that number, “adult content consumers are 22 percent of our sample,” the study said. “At the time of the study, roughly 30 million active accounts were consuming adult content, either re-sharing it or following the accounts of those producers,” Luca Aiello, one of the study’s authors and now a senior research scientist at Nokia Bell Labs told Motherboard in an email. :I expect this audience to experience a noticeable drop in engagement: some of them will just churn out, many of them will likely reduce considerably the time spent on the platform.”
Private investigators analyzing the Marriott International data breach are finding hacking tools, techniques, and procedures previously used in attacks attributed to Chinese government intelligence gathering operations. The sources are reluctant to blame China as other parties have access to the same hacking tools and some are available online. The evidence collected so far points to multiple hacking groups having access to the Starwood guest reservation database since 2014. 500 million Starwood hotels customers were affected by the data breach.
“Think of the depth of knowledge they could now have about travel habits or who happened to be in a certain city at the same time as another person,” said Anderson, who served as FBI executive assistant director until 2015. Michael Sussmann, a former senior Department of Justice official for its computer crimes section, said that the long duration of the campaign was an indicator that the hackers were seeking data for intelligence and not information to use in cyber crime schemes. “One clue pointing to a government attacker is the amount of time the intruders were working quietly inside the network,” he said. “Patience is a virtue for spies, but not for criminals trying to steal credit card numbers.”
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.
The UK Parliament published (PDF Warning) over 200 pages of internal Facebook emails they recently seized, and media outlets all over the world are picking through them. Among other things, the BBC points out the documents revealed that Netflix, Badoo, Lyft, and Airbnb all used Facebook friend data to “enhance” their services. The company made a deliberate decision to shut down API access to Vine, Twitter’s video sharing service, discussed Android call log reading, and discussed membership fees and the possibility of data leaks. Facebook posted a response to the leak, claiming that Six4Three “cherrypicked” the documents for a lawsuit.
The following is from a discussion in which Mark Zuckerberg mulled the idea of selling developers access to users’ friends’ data. It is dated October 2012, pre-dating the quiz involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It was sent to Sam Mullin, who was vice president of product management. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook chief executive): “It’s not at all clear to me here that we have a model that will actually make us the revenue we want at scale. I’m getting more on board with locking down some parts of platform, including friends’ data and potentially email addresses for mobile apps. I’m generally sceptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think… I think we leak info to developers but I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.”
A new AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 126.96.36.199 driver has been released and it adds support for the Epic Games Store.
Known Issues. Some systems running multiple displays may experience mouse lag when at least one display is enabled but powered off. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey may experience a game crash at certain locations of the game on Windows 7 enabled system configurations.
As we’ve said before, Moore’s law is slowing down and new nodes become less practical, so semiconductor companies and institutions are pouring more and more time and resources into alternative memory research. Magnetoresistive random access memory is one of the more promising alternatives, and new research suggests it can outperform SRAM in CPU caches on the upcoming 5nm node. This is the sort of cache you’d see marked as L1, L2, or L3 on a CPU spec sheet, and the research by IMEC suggests that MRAM can get the job done using less power and less die area, all while retaining data when the power goes out. MRAM’s advantages are particularly pronounced in caches over about 5MB, as MRAM’s standby power apparently scales much better with cache size than SRAM’s. That means this technology would probably show up as L2 or L3 in high end processors before anything else.
“For the first time, DTCO and silicon-verified models allowed us to conclude that the STT-MRAM energy becomes more efficient as compared to SRAM for high-density memory cells beyond 0.4Mbytes and 5Mbytes density for read and write operations, respectively. The comparison also reveals that the latency of the STT-MRAM is sufficient to meet the requirements of the last-level caches in the high-performance computing domain, which operate around 100MHz clock frequency,” said Gouri Sankar Kar, program director at IMEC, in a statement. It should be considered that further improvements are expected to come with spin-orbit torque MRAMs now emerging from research and that show superior characteristics.