×
Intel

Intel Says Its First Discrete Graphics Chips Will Be Available in 2020 (marketwatch.com) 99

Ryan Shrout, reporting for MarketWatch: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich disclosed during an analyst event last week that it will have its first discrete graphics chips available in 2020. This will mark the beginning of the chip giant's journey toward a portfolio of high-performance graphics products for various markets including gaming, data center and artificial intelligence (AI). Some previous rumors suggested a launch at CES 2019 this coming January might be where Intel makes its graphics reveal, but that timeline was never adopted by the company. It would have been overly aggressive and in no way reasonable with the development process of a new silicon design. In November 2017 Intel brought on board Raja Koduri to lead the graphics and compute initiatives inside the company. Koduri was previously in charge of the graphics division at AMD helping to develop and grow the Radeon brand, and his departure to Intel was thought to have significant impact on the industry.
Microsoft

Carmel, Libra, and Andromeda Are the Next Wave of Surface Devices: Report (thurrott.com) 38

Brad Sams, writing for Thurrott blog: To help grow to the footprint of the brand, Microsoft is working on updates to its existing products as well as a couple new offerings. I was able to view a few pieces of internal documents that outlined some of the future plans of the Surface brand that identify previously unknown codenames for upcoming products. The Surface Pro 6 is internally known as Carmel, the upcoming low-cost Surface Tablet is going by the name of Libra, and then, of course, there is the Andromeda device that we have been talking about for many months. The Libra tablet is likely the device that Bloomberg reported about earlier this year; a low-cost Surface tablet slated for 2018. The Surface Pro 6 (Carmel) does not list a shipping date and considering that Microsoft only recently released the LTE variant of the Surface Pro 5, this product may not arrive as soon as many have hoped. That being said, a refresh of the product is in the pipeline and actively being developed. And then there is Andromeda; here is where this gets a bit more interesting. According to the documentation, the device is scheduled to be released in 2018. Microsoft thinks of this hardware as a pocketable device to create a truly personal and versatile computing experience.
Power

To Hit Climate Goals, Bill Gates and His Billionaire Friends Are Betting on Energy Storage (qz.com) 225

Akshat Rathi, writing for Quartz: The world needs radical new energy technologies to fight climate change. In 2016, Quartz reported that a group of billionaires -- including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Mukesh Ambani, and Richard Branson -- launched Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) to invest at least $1 billion in creating those technologies. Now, 18 months later, Quartz can reveal the first two startups that BEV will be investing in: Form Energy and Quidnet Energy. Both companies are developing new technologies to store energy, but taking completely different approaches to achieve that goal.

The way to reach the world's climate goals is straightforward: reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions to zero within the next few decades. But the energy technologies that can help us get there tend to need lots of money and long lead times to develop. That's why many conventional investors, who are looking for quicker returns, have burned their fingers investing in clean tech. The wealthy investors of BEV want to remedy that. Their $1 billion fund is "patient capital," to be invested in only companies working on technologies capable of cutting global carbon emissions by at least 500 million metric tons annually, even if they may not provide returns on investment for up to 20 years.

Communications

Mars Opportunity Rover Is In Danger of Dying From a Dust Storm (engadget.com) 105

According to NASA, the Mars Opportunity rover is currently trying to survive an intensifying dust storm on the red planet. "The storm's atmospheric opacity -- the veil of dust blowing around, which can blot out sunlight -- is now much worse than a 2007 storm that Opportunity weathered," reports NASA. "The previous storm had an opacity level, or tau, somewhere above 5.5; this new storm had an estimated tau of 10.8 as of Sunday morning." Engadget reports: The storm was first detected on Friday June 1st by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, at which point the rover's team was notified because of the weather event's proximity to Opportunity. The rover uses solar panels, so a dust storm could have an extremely negative impact on Opportunity's power levels and its batteries. By Wednesday June 6th, Opportunity was in minimal operations mode because of sharply decreasing power levels. The brave little rover is continuing to weather the storm; it sent a transmission back to Earth Sunday morning, which is a good sign. It means there's still enough charge left in the batteries to communicate with home, despite the fact that the storm is continuing to worsen.
Patents

Inventor Says Google Is Patenting His Public Domain Work (arstechnica.com) 164

Rob Riggs writes: Jarek Duda, the inventor of a compression technique called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS), dedicated the invention to the public domain. Since 2014, Facebook, Apple, and Google have all created software based on his breakthrough. Google is now trying to patent a video encoding scheme using the compression technique. The inventor is fighting Google in the European courts and has won a preliminary ruling. The fight's not over and Google is also seeking a patent with the USPTO. A Google spokesperson says Duda came up with a theoretical concept that isn't directly patentable, "while Google's lawyers are seeking to patent a specific application of that theory that reflects additional work by Google's engineers," reports Ars Technica. "But Duda says he suggested the exact technique Google is trying to patent in a 2014 email exchange with Google engineers."
Transportation

Tesla's Autopilot To Get 'Full Self-Driving Feature' In August (reuters.com) 180

Earlier today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that its Autopilot driver assistance system will get full self-driving features following a software upgrade in August. Reuters reports: Autopilot, a form of advanced cruise control, handles some driving tasks and warns those behind the wheel they are always responsible for the vehicle's safe operation. But a spate of recent crashes has brought the system under regulatory scrutiny. "To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features," Musk tweeted here on Sunday, replying to a Twitter user.

Musk said the autopilot issue during lane-merging is better in the current software and will be fully fixed in the August update. However, it was not clear what self-driving features would be included in the August update. Tesla's documentation on its website about the "full self-driving capabilities" package says that it is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval.

Crime

Police Departments Are Training Dogs To Sniff Out Thumb Drives (cnet.com) 159

A CNET report provides some insight on an elite K-9 search class that trains dogs to sniff out electronics, including phones, hard drives and microSD cards smaller than your thumb. From the report: Only one out of every 50 dogs tested qualifies to become an electronic storage detection, or ESD, dog, says Kerry Halligan, a K-9 instructor with the Connecticut State Police. That's because it's a lot harder to detect the telltale chemical in electronics than it is to sniff out narcotics, bombs, fire accelerants or people, she says. But Labrador retrievers like Harley, with their long snouts and big muzzles, can pick up even the faintest olfactory clues. These tech-seeking dogs are helping law enforcement find child pornography stashed in hidden hard drives, uncover concealed phones, nab white-collar evidence kept on hard drives and track calls stored on SIM cards. The most famous case occurred in 2015, when a Labrador retriever named Bear found a hidden flash drive containing child pornography in the home of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle. The district attorney called the discovery vital to Fogle's conviction.
Intel

Intel: We 'Forgot' To Mention 28-Core, 5GHz CPU Demo Was Overclocked (tomshardware.com) 165

At Computex earlier this week, Intel showed off a 28-core processor running at 5GHz, implying that it would be a shipping chip with a 5.0GHz stock speed. Unfortunately, as Tom's Hardware reports, "it turns out that Intel overclocked the 28-core processor to such an extreme that it required a one-horsepower industrial water chiller." From the report: We met with the company last night, and while Intel didn't provide many details, a company representative explained to us that "in the excitement of the moment," the company merely "forgot" to tell the crowd that it had overclocked the system. Intel also said it isn't targeting the gaming crowd with the new chip. The presentation did take place in front of a crowd of roughly a hundred journalists and a few thousand others, not to mention a global livestream with untold numbers watching live, so perhaps nerves came into play. In the end, Intel claims the whole fiasco is merely the result of a flubbed recitation of pre-scripted lines, with the accidental omission of a single word: "Overclocked." Maybe that's the truth, but there's a lot of room for debate considering how convenient an omission this is.
Transportation

Bloomberg's Inside Look At Tesla's Model 3 Factory (bloomberg.com) 68

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from an exclusive inside look at Tesla's Model 3 factory in Fremont, California: On the Model 3 body line on a Tuesday afternoon in early June, everything is still. Tesla is just coming off a week of downtime during which workers added a new production line, improved ventilation after a fire in the paint shop, and overhauled machines across the factory. But even after the changes, there are kinks to work out. Suddenly, dozens of robots snap into frenzied action, picking up door panels, welding window pillars, taking measurements, and on and on. This robotic dance is a visceral representation of what Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has dubbed "Alien Dreadnought," a code name for the factory that evokes an early 20th century warship, but with extraterrestrials.

The stakes couldn't be higher for Tesla, which is sprinting to produce the Model 3 in quantities great enough to turn a profit. But so far, the plant's choreography has been choppy. The flow at the factory in Fremont, California, is constantly interrupted while robots and humans are trained, retrained, or swapped out. If Tesla can't make this dance work, it will be remembered as a lesson in the dangers of irrational exuberance for automation. Success, on the other hand, could transform the car industry.

Printer

First 3D Printed Houses For Rent Will Be Built In the Netherlands This Year (qz.com) 32

Since there aren't enough construction workers in the country to keep up with housing demands, the city of Eindhoven in The Netherlands is turning to robots for help. The city will soon boast the world's first commercially-developed 3D-printed homes, a endeavor known as Project Milestone. The project is being handled by Dutch construction company Van Wijnen and researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology. Quartz reports: Construction on the first home begins this year and five houses will be on the rental market by 2019, project organizers say. Within a week of releasing images of the new homes, 20 families expressed interest in dwelling in these postmodern pods, according to the project website. the project website. "The first aim of the project is to build five great houses that are comfortable to live in and will have happy occupants," developers say. Beyond that, they hope to promote 3D concrete printing science and technology so that printed housing "will soon be a reality that is widely adopted."

The "printer" in this case is a big robotic arm that will shape cement of a light, whipped-cream consistency, based on an architect's design. The cement is layered for strength. The project developers say that the consistency of this concrete and the precision of the printer will make it possible to mix and use only as much cement as is needed, which makes it environmentally-friendly and less expensive than classic construction methods. The printer and unique cement will also allow them to create unusual forms that challenge conventional notions of home design.

Hardware

US Once Again Boasts the World's Fastest Supercomputer (zdnet.com) 85

The US Department of Energy on Friday unveiled Summit, a supercomputer capable of performing 200 quadrillion calculations per second, or 200 petaflops. Its performance should put it at the top of the list of the world's fastest supercomputers, which is currently dominated by China. From a report (thanks to reader cb_abq for the tip): Summit, housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), was built for AI. IBM designed a new heterogeneous architecture for Summit, which combines IBM POWER9 CPUs with Nvidia GPUs. It has approximately 4,600 nodes, with six Nvidia Volta Tensor Core GPUs per node -- that's more than 27,000. The last US supercomputer to top the list of the world's fastest was Titan, in 2012. ORNL, which houses Titan as well, says Summit will deliver more than five times the computational performance of Titan's 18,688 nodes.
Intel

'We've an Unexpected Manufacturing Advantage For the First Time Ever': Intel's Manufacturing Glitch Opens Door For AMD (theinformation.com) 136

Over at The Information (paywalled), reporter Aaron Tilley has a splendid interview of Forrest Norrod, a senior executive who joined AMD four years ago. Mr. Norrod describes the challenge AMD has faced over the years and how, for the first time ever, it sees a real shot at making a significant dent in the desktop market. From the report: Advanced Micro Devices' battle with chip giant Intel has often seemed like a gnat fighting an elephant, with AMD struggling in recent years to gain even a tenth of the market for the chips that power PCs and data center servers. Forrest Norrod, a senior executive who joined AMD four years ago, says the company suffered from "little brother syndrome" where it tried and failed to compete with Intel on lots of different chips. Now, though, AMD may have a shot at coming out with a faster, more powerful chip than Intel for the first time. Intel in April said it was delaying the release of a more advanced chip manufacturing process until sometime in 2019. AMD has its own new, advanced chip, which it will now be able to release earlier than Intel, potentially giving it an edge in the market for high-performance chips for PCs and data center computers.

It's a market opportunity worth around $50 billion. That's what Intel makes from selling chips for PCs and data center servers, and it dominates both markets. The data center market is particularly important because of the growth of new technologies like artificial intelligence-related applications, much of which is handled in the cloud. Companies that buy chips for data centers or PCs could gravitate to AMD chips as a result of Intel's delay. "I think we have a year lead now," said Mr. Norrod, who oversees AMD's data center business. AMD now has "an unexpected [manufacturing] advantage for the first time ever," he added.

Power

Can An 'OS For Electricity' Double the Efficiency of the Grid? (vox.com) 147

New submitter mesterha shares an "interesting article [from Vox] on how to optimize our use of electricity": Waste on the grid is the result of poor power quality, which can be ameliorated through digital control. Real-time measurement makes that possible. 3DFS technology, which the company conceives of as an "operating system for electricity," can not only track what's happening on the electricity sine wave from nanosecond to nanosecond, it can correct the sine wave from microsecond to microsecond, perfectly adapting it to the load it serves, eliminating waste." "They claim energy reduction of around 15% but anticipate their AI tuning can get eventually get 30%," writes Slashdot reader mesterha. "Seems too good to be true, but it has the support of publications like Popular Mechanics." [3DFS won one of Popular Mechanics' "breakthrough awards" in 2017.]
AI

Google Promises Its AI Will Not Be Used For Weapons (nytimes.com) 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Google, reeling from an employee protest over the use of artificial intelligence for military purposes, said Thursday that it would not use A.I. for weapons or for surveillance that violates human rights (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). But it will continue to work with governments and the military. The new rules were part of a set of principles Google unveiled relating to the use of artificial intelligence. In a company blog post, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive, laid out seven objectives for its A.I. technology, including "avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias" and "be socially beneficial."

Google also detailed applications of the technology that the company will not pursue, including A.I. for "weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people" and "technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms of human rights." But Google said it would continue to work with governments and military using A.I. in areas including cybersecurity, training and military recruitment. "We recognize that such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use. How A.I. is developed and used will have a significant impact on society for many years to come," Mr. Pichai wrote.

Communications

US Says Internet Use Rises as More Low Income People Go Online; Tablets Surpass Desktops In Popularity (reuters.com) 80

Internet use by Americans increased in 2017, fueled by a rise among people with lower incomes, a government report viewed on Wednesday by Reuters found. From a report: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) also reported that for the first time tablets were more popular than desktop computers, and that more households had a mobile data plan than wired broadband service. The results were to be publicly released later on Wednesday. The survey results demonstrate the growing importance of the internet in everyday communication as the way consumers access content changes. Among Americans living in households with family incomes below $25,000 per year, the survey found internet use increased to 62 percent in 2017 from 57 percent in 2015, while households earning $100,000 or more showed no change at 86 percent. The gain of 13.5 million users was "driven by increased adoption among low-income families, seniors, African Americans, Hispanics, and other groups that have been less likely to go online," the agency said.

Slashdot Top Deals