Tech Today w/ Ken May

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Apple’s A9X has a 12-core GPU and is made by TSMC

Posted by kenmay on November - 30 - 2015

Enlarge / A die shot of the A9X. The ratio of GPU to CPU is becoming pretty insane. (credit: Chipworks via AnandTech ) Apple makes interesting chips for its mobile devices, but it doesn’t talk about them much aside from extremely high-level relative performance comparisons. That means it’s up to experts like the ones at Chipworks to open them up and figure it out, and they’ve partnered up with AnandTech to dig into the A9X in the iPad Pro. The most significant news is about the GPU, which is a 12-core Imagination Technologies PowerVR Series 7XT design. The company doesn’t generally offer a 12-core design, as shown in the chart below, but the architecture is designed to be easily scalable and it wouldn’t be the first time Apple had gotten something from a supplier that other companies couldn’t get. The standard A9 in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus uses a 6-core version of the same GPU. Apple feeds that GPU with a 128-bit memory bus, something that it’s also included in other iPads to boost memory bandwidth and GPU performance. The Series 7XT lineup. The iPad Pro’s GPU falls somewhere in between the stock 8-cluster and 16-cluster designs. (credit: Imagination Technologies) Imagination’s chart for the Series 7XT GPU puts a hypothetical 12-core design in the same general performance neighborhood as an Nvidia GeForce GT 730M, a low-end discrete GPU that’s a bit slower than the stuff Apple is shipping in its high-end MacBook Pros. Our own graphics benchmarks place it a bit higher than that, but as some of you have pointed out , iOS may have a small advantage in some of these tests because of differences between the mobile OpenGL ES API in iOS and the standard OpenGL API used in OS X. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

It took 11 years to finally unveil what the FBI demands in a National Security Letter. How it evolved over the years is shown above. (credit: ACLU ) The National Security Letter (NSL) is a potent surveillance tool that allows the government to acquire a wide swath of private information—all without a warrant. Federal investigators issue tens of thousands of them each year to banks, ISPs, car dealers, insurance companies, doctors, and you name it. The letters don’t need a judge’s signature and come with a gag to the recipient, forbidding the disclosure of the NSL to the public or the target. Nicholas Merrill (credit: Wikipedia ) For the first time, as part of a First Amendment lawsuit, a federal judge ordered the release of what the FBI was seeking from a small ISP as part of an NSL. Among other things, the FBI was demanding a target’s complete Web browsing history, IP addresses of everyone a person has corresponded with, and records of all online purchases, according to a court document unveiled Monday. All that’s required is an agent’s signature denoting that the information is relevant to an investigation. “The FBI has interpreted its NSL authority to encompass the websites we read, the Web searches we conduct, the people we contact, and the places we go. This kind of data reveals the most intimate details of our lives, including our political activities, religious affiliations, private relationships, and even our private thoughts and beliefs,” said Nicholas Merrill, who was president of Calyx Internet Access in New York when he received the NSL targeting one of his customers in 2004. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Enlarge (credit: Malwarebytes ) An active hacking campaign is forcing Reader’s Digest and many other websites to host malicious code that can surreptitiously infect visitors with malware and linger for days or weeks before being cleaned up. Reader’s Digest has been infected since last week with code originating with Angler, an off-the-shelf hack-by-numbers exploit kit that saves professional criminals the hassle of developing their own attack scripts, researchers from antivirus provider Malwarebytes told Ars. People who visit the site with outdated versions of Adobe Flash, Internet Explorer, and other browsing software are silently infected with malware that gains control over their computers. Malwarebytes researchers said they sent Reader’s Digest operators e-mails and social media alerts last week warning the site was infected but never got a response. The researchers estimate that thousands of other sites have been similarly attacked in recent weeks and that the number continues to grow. “This campaign is still ongoing and we see dozens of new websites every day being leveraged to distribute malware via the Angler exploit kit,” Malwarebytes Senior Security Researcher Jérôme Segura wrote in an e-mail. “This attack may have been going on for some time but we noticed a dramatic increase in infections via WordPress sites in the past couple of weeks.” Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

6 hypermiling cars that get over 100 miles per gallon

Posted by kenmay on November - 30 - 2015

By Cat DiStasio Fuel efficiency is one rating that can really set a car apart from the pack. Although you can’t yet walk into just any dealership and drive away in a vehicle that gets more than 100 miles a gallon, there are some sweet rides out there that demonstrate just how incredibly efficient a car can be. To get a better idea of what the uber-efficient car of tomorrow looks like, we’ve compiled some of the most efficient vehicles on the planet, all of which exceed that 100-mpg marker. In fact, most of the cars featured here leave that rating in the dust, and several break into the quadruple digits .Slideshow-342967

Stretchable square of rubber doubles as a keyboard

Posted by kenmay on November - 30 - 2015

There’s a whole branch of science that’s dedicated to turning flexible surfaces into sensors that can be used as an artificial substitute for skin. These materials could then be used to give robots a sense of touch , or even to restore feeling for people with artificial prostheses. Researchers at the University of Auckland have taken the concept in a slightly different direction after building a square of soft, stretchable rubber that pulls double-duty as a keyboard. It’s hoped that the technology can be used to create foldable, rollable input devices, which reminds us of Nokia’s twisty-stretchy phone concept from way back when. Via: EurekaAlert Source: Smart Materials Hardware hacker/security researcher Samy Kamkar is legendary for his legion of playful, ha-ha-only-serious gadgets that show how terrible information security is, and now he’s turned his attention to the American Express company, which turns out to be a goddamned train-wreck. (more…)

Researchers at Stanford University announced Tuesday that they had successfully leveraged the “spooky” interaction of entangled electrons to send a message between them over a span of 1.2 miles. This is by far the longest distance that scientists have managed to send entangled particles and provides the strongest evidence to date that quantum computing can have practical applications. Quantum computers exploit the phenomenon known as quantum entanglement , what Einstein famously referred to as ” spooky action over distance “, wherein two particles are connected regardless of the distance between them. That is, as in this case, if two electrons are entangled, the direction of their spin will always be the same. If one electron is spinning clockwise, the other will be too. If one reverses the direction of its spin, the other will as well. Doesn’t matter if they’re on the opposite sides of a molecule or on opposite sides of the galaxy, the two particles and their behaviors are inextricably linked. “Electron spin is the basic unit of a quantum computer, ” Stanford physicist Leo Yu said in a statement. “This work can pave the way for future quantum networks that can send highly secure data around the world.” The problem is that electrons are confined to atoms. And in order to get two electrons to entangle over long distances (and allow their quantum computer networks to communicate with one another) they need photons to act as the messengers. This is accomplished by “pairing” the photon and electron, a process called “quantum correlation”. But that runs into another issue: photons love to change the direction of their spin while travelling through fiber optic lines. So while you can get the first electron and the photon to correlate pretty easily, keeping the photon on task as it travels to the second electron is way more difficult. To overcome this, the Stanford team created “time-stamps” for the photons that act as reference points for the photons, allowing them to confirm that they arrived with the same spin orientation that they left with. Using this method, the team successfully entangled a pair of electrons over 2 kilometers of fiber optic line. Their research has been published in the journal Nature Communications . [Image Credit: L.A. Cicero] Via: Stanford University Source: Nature Communications

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Will Ship With Linux Kernel 4.4 LTS

Posted by kenmay on November - 30 - 2015

prisoninmate writes: The current daily build of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) remains based on the Linux 4.2 kernel packages of the stable Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) operating system, while the latest and most advanced Linux 4.3 kernel is tracked on the master-next branch of the upcoming operating system. In the meantime, the Ubuntu Kernel Team announced plans for moving to Linux kernel 4.4 for the final release of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Scientists create gold nuggets that are 98 percent air

Posted by kenmay on November - 30 - 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have accomplished a bit of modern-day alchemy, transforming 20 carat gold into a lightweight foam. Well, technically it’s an aerogel: an exceedingly light and porous matrix of material. It’s so porous, in fact, that the foam doesn’t conduct electricity because, at atmospheric pressure, the gold atoms within the structure don’t actually touch. “The so-called aerogel is a thousand times lighter than conventional gold alloys. It is lighter than water and almost as light as air, ” Raffaele Mezzenga, Professor of Food and Soft Materials at ETHZ, said in a statement. Via: GizMag Source: ETH Zurich

LG’s spending billions to make more OLED things

Posted by kenmay on November - 30 - 2015

LG’s OLED 4K TVs are jaw-droppingly gorgeous , but the price still isn’t anywhere near the level it needs to be for mass consumer adoption . Hopefully the company’s new manufacturing plant can help that a bit thanks to economies of scale . A Reuters report says that the South Korean firm is spending some $8.71 billion (around 10 trillion Korean won) on a new manufacturing facility for the display panels in Paju, South Korea. Perhaps this can make up for some of the losses the tech giant suffered by halting production at one of its TV plants due to a gas leak earlier this year. Source: Reuters

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