Displays

Latest macOS Update Disables DisplayLink, Rendering Thousands of Monitors Dead (displaylink.com) 331

rh2600 writes: Four days ago, Apple's latest macOS 10.13.4 update broke DisplayLink protocol support (perhaps permanently), turning what may be hundreds of thousands of external monitors connected to MacBook Pros via DisplayLink into paperweights. Some days in, DisplayLink has yet to announce any solution, and most worryingly there are indications that this is a permanent change to macOS moving forward. Mac Rumors is reporting that "users of the popular Mac desktop extension app Duet Display are being advised not to update to macOS 10.13.4, due to 'critical bugs' that prevent the software from communicating with connected iOS devices used as extra displays." Users of other desktop extensions apps like Air Display and iDisplay are also reporting incompatibility with the latest version of macOS.
Education

Schools Won't Like How Difficult the New iPad Is To Repair (ifixit.com) 172

Last week, Apple introduced a refreshed 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support. iFixit has published its teardown of the device this morning, and as The Verge points out, schools won't like how difficult it is to repair. From the report: The takeaway from all this is that the new iPad isn't going to be any easier to repair than prior generations, which were already borderline unrepairable. If an iPad breaks, there's almost no chance that a district will be able to repair it in-house; whereas on cheaper Chromebooks, there's a possibility an IT team could open them up to make some basic fixes. It's a weak point that it's hard to see Apple ever addressing. And since schools aren't exactly forgiving environments for a lent-out device, how well the iPad holds up to drops and dings, and how expensive it is to fix, are bound to be factors in a school's decision on which devices to adopt. Mac Rumors highlights the key findings from iFixit's teardown: The new iPad's lack of waterproofing, non-replaceable charging port, zero upgradeability, and use of glue throughout the internals added up to a "repair nightmare." iFixit then pointed towards the HP Elite x2 1012 G1 tablet, which got a perfect repairability score of 10 out of 10, summarizing that "Apple's 'education' iPad is still a case of won't -- not can't." One of the iPad's advantages in terms of repairability comes in the form of its digitizer panel easily separating from the display. iFixit pointed out that in the event that either component should break, repair will be easier for schools and educators. The sixth-gen iPad has the same battery as the previous model, with 32.9 Wh capacity. iFixit noted that while this allows Apple to reuse existing manufacturing lines to reduce waste, the battery is still locked behind a "repair-impeding adhesive" that greatly reduced the iPad's repairability score. Apple has provided easy battery removal before, in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but iFixit hasn't seen anything like it since. Ultimately, iFixit gave the 2018 iPad a repairability score of 2 out of 10, favoring the fairly easy repair options of its air-gapped, non-fused display and digitizer glass, but taking marks off for its heavy use of adhesive and sticky tape.
Bug

Half of European Flights Delayed Due To System Failure (bbc.com) 12

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: The organization responsible for co-ordinating European air traffic says it has fixed an earlier fault which led to widespread flight delays. Eurocontrol earlier said that delays could affect up to half of all flights in Europe -- about 15,000 trips. It said the faulty system was restarted at 19:00 GMT, and normal operations had resumed. Tuesday's fault was only the second failure in 20 years, Eurocontrol said -- the last happened in 2001. The unspecified problem was with the Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System, which helps to manage air traffic by comparing demand and capacity of different air traffic control sectors. It manages up to 36,000 flights a day. Some 29,500 were scheduled on Tuesday when the fault occurred. When the system failed, Eurocontrol's contingency plan for a failure in the system deliberately reduced the capacity of the entire European network by 10%. It also added what it calls "predetermined departure intervals" at major airports.
Intel

Intel Unveils New Coffee Lake 8th Gen Core Line-Up With First Core i9 Mobile CPU (hothardware.com) 73

MojoKid writes: Intel is announcing a big update to its processor families today, with new 8th Gen Coffee Lake-based Core chips for both mobile and desktop platforms. On the mobile side of the equation, the most interesting processors are no doubt Intel's new six-core Coffee Lake parts, starting with the Core i7-8750H. This processor comes with base/max single-core turbo boost clocks of 2.2GHz and 4.2GHz respectively, while the Core i7-8850H bumps those clocks to 2.6GHz and 4.3GHz respectively. Both processors have six cores (12 threads), a TDP of 45 watts and 9MB of shared Smart Cache.However, the new flagship processor is without question the Intel Core i9-8950HK, which is the first Core i9-branded mobile processor. It retains the 6/12 (core/thread) count of the lower-end parts, but features base and turbo clocks of 2.9GHz and 4.8GHz respectively. The chip also comes unlocked since it caters to gaming enthusiasts and bumps the amount of Smart Cache to 12MB. Intel is also announcing a number of lower powered Coffee Lake-U series chips for thin and light notebooks, some of which have on board Iris Plus integrated graphics with 128MB of on-chip eDRAM, along with some lower powered six-core and quad-core desktop chips that support the company's Optane memory in Intel's new 300 series chipset platform.
Transportation

Tesla Is Making Over 2,000 Model 3s a Week, Falling Just Short of Its Goal (theverge.com) 233

According to an email from Elon Musk, Tesla has increased its production of its mass-market electric Model 3 to over 2,000 units per week. "It's an impressive ramp up of production, but it still falls short of Musk's goal of 2,500 Model 3s per week by the end of the first quarter of 2018," reports The Verge. From the report: In the companywide email (which was obtained by Jalopnik, Electrek, and Autonocast host Ed Niedermeyer), Musk sounds a celebratory note on the 2,000-vehicle per week benchmark, while ignoring the larger issue of missed deadlines: "It has been extremely difficult to pass the 2,000 cars per week rate for Model 3, but we are finally there. If things go as planned today, we will comfortably exceed that number over a seven-day period! Moreover, the whole Tesla production system is now on a firm foundation for that output, which means we should be able to exceed a combined Model S, X, and 3 production rate of 4,000 vehicles per week and climbing rapidly. This is already double the pace of 2017! By the end of this year, I believe we will be producing vehicles at least four times faster than last year." With Q1 now behind us, we can expect to see Tesla report its official production numbers to investors sometime this week.
Android

Google Is Considering Launching a Mid-Range Pixel Phone This Summer, Claims Report (arstechnica.com) 40

According to a report from The Economic Times, Google is developing a new mid-range Pixel smartphone. "The paper claims that 'Google's top brass shared details of its consumer products expansion plans in trade meetings held in Malaysia, the UK, and the U.S. last month." The story cites "four senior industry executives" that were present at the talks. Ars Technica reports: The Economic Times pegs "around July-August" for the launch date of this mid-range device, which the publication says will have a focus on "price-sensitive markets such as India." The phone would be part of Google Hardware's first push into India, which would involve bringing the Pixelbook, Google Home, and Google Home Mini to the country. The Indian paper did not say if the phone would launch in other countries, but it did say the phone would be launched in addition to the regular Pixel 3 flagship, which the report says is still due around October. It's good to hear Google is considering expanding the Pixel line to more countries (even if it's just one more country) as distribution is currently one of Google Hardware's biggest weak points. The Pixel 2 XL is only available in eight countries; by comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is sold in 110 countries. If Google really wants to compete in the smartphone market, it will have to do a lot better than selling in eight countries.
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: Should CPU, GPU Name-Numbering Indicate Real World Performance? 184

dryriver writes: Anyone who has built a PC in recent years knows how confusing the letters and numbers that trail modern CPU and GPU names can be because they do not necessarily tell you how fast one electronic part is compared to another electronic part. A Zoomdaahl Core C-5 7780 is not necessarily faster than a Boomberg ElectronRipper V-6 6220 -- the number at the end, unlike a GFLOPS or TFLOPS number for example, tells you very little about the real-world performance of the part. It is not easy to create one unified, standardized performance benchmark that could change this. One part may be great for 3D gaming, a competing part may smoke the first part in a database server application, and a third part may compress 4K HEVC video 11% faster. So creating something like, say, a Standardized Real-World Application Performance Score (SRWAPS) and putting that score next to the part name, letters, or series number will probably never happen. A lot of competing companies would have to agree to a particular type of benchmark, make sure all benchmarking is done fairly and accurately, and so on and so forth.

But how are the average consumers just trying to buy the right home laptop or gaming PC for their kids supposed to cope with the "letters and numbers salad" that follows CPU, GPU and other computer part names? If you are computer literate, you can dive right into the different performance benchmarks for a certain part on a typical tech site that benchmarks parts. But what if you are "Computer Buyer Joe" or "Jane Average" and you just want to glean quickly which two products -- two budget priced laptops listed on Amazon.com for example -- have the better performance overall? Is there no way to create some kind of rough numeric indicator of real-world performance and put it into a product's specs for quick comparison?
Cloud

Move Over Moore's Law, Make Way For Huang's Law (ieee.org) 55

Tekla Perry writes: Are graphics processors a law unto themselves? Nvidia's Jensen Huang says a 25-times speedup over five years is evidence that they are. He calls this the 'supercharged law,' and says it's time to start counting advances on multiple fronts, including architecture, interconnects, memory technology, and algorithms, not just circuits on a chip.
Businesses

Open Source RISC V Processor Gets Support From Google, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Tesla (seekingalpha.com) 135

An anonymous reader writes: Google, Qualcomm, and Samsung "are among 80 tech companies joining forces to develop a new open-source chip design for new technologies like self-driving vehicles," writes Seeking Alpha, citing a (pay-walled) report on The Information. "Western Digital and Nvidia also plan to use the new chip design for some of their products," while Tesla "has joined the RISC-V Foundation and is considering using the tech in its new chip efforts."

MIT Technology Review adds that while Arm had hoped to bring their low-power/high performance processors to AI and self-driving cars, "The company that masterminded the processor inside your smartphone may find that a set of free-to-use alternative designs erode some of its future success."

Google

Security Experts See Chromebooks as a Closed Ecosystem That Improves Security (cnet.com) 192

The founder of Rendition Security believes his daughter "is more safe on a Chromebook than a Windows laptop," and he's not the only one. CNET's staff reporter argues that Google's push for simplicity, speed, and security "ended up playing off each other." mspohr shared this article: Heading to my first security conference last year, I expected to see a tricked-out laptop running on a virtual machine with a private network and security USB keys sticking out -- perhaps something out of a scene from "Mr. Robot." That's not what I got. Everywhere I went I'd see small groups of people carrying Chromebooks, and they'd tell me that when heading into unknown territory it was their travel device... "If you want prehardened security, then Chromebooks are it," said Kenneth White, director of the Open Crypto Audit Project. "Not because they're Google, but because Chrome OS was developed for years and it explicitly had web security as a core design principle...." Drewry and Liu focused on four key features for the Chromebook that have been available ever since the first iteration in 2010: sandboxing, verified boots, power washing and quick updates. These provided security features that made it much harder for malware to pass through, while providing a quick fix-it button if it ever did.

That's not to say Chrome OS is impervious to malware. Cybercriminals have figured out loopholes through Chrome's extensions, like when 37,000 devices were hit by the fake version of AdBlock Plus. Malicious Android apps have also been able to sneak through the Play Store. But Chrome OS users mostly avoided massive cyberattack campaigns like getting locked up with ransomware or hijacked to become part of a botnet. Major security flaws for Chrome OS, like ones that would give an attacker complete control, are so rare that Google offers rewards up to $200,000 to anyone who can hack the system.

The article argues that "Fewer software choices mean limited options for hackers. Those are some of the benefits that have led security researchers to warm up to the laptops...

"Chrome OS takes an approach to security that's similar to the one Apple takes with iOS and its closed ecosystem."
Intel

Intel Files Patent For Energy-Efficient Bitcoin Mining Hardware (crn.com) 48

Intel is exploring the creation of specialty hardware for mining the popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin, according to a U.S. patent application released Thursday. From a report: The patent, filed on Sept. 23, 2016, describes a Bitcoin mining hardware accelerator that may include a processor core with a hardware accelerator coupled with it. Bitcoin mining is the process of using powerful computer processors to record Bitcoin transactions on a public ledger, which is done by attempting to solve cryptographic puzzles. If the miner becomes the first to solve the puzzle and record the next transaction, it is rewarded with newly released Bitcoin. The high energy and equipment costs associated with mining have brought into question whether the activity can be profitable, especially as the price of Bitcoin has nose-dived in the past few months, as noted by Forbes. But that hasn't stopped people from hoarding equipment -- one report from Coherent Market Insights pegged the cryptocurrency mining market at $610 million in 2016 and expects it to grow to $38 billion by 2025. The current issues faced by miners also has propelled companies and individuals to find new technologies and methods for making mining more efficient.
Operating Systems

macOS 10.13.4 Enables Support for External GPU (engadget.com) 53

With the latest release of macOS High Sierra, Apple has officially delivered on a couple of items in the works since WWDC 2017 last June. macOS 10.13.4 brings the external GPU (eGPU) support that lets developers, VR users gamers and anyone else in need of some extra oomph to plug in a more powerful graphics card via Thunderbolt 3. From a report: While that may not make every underpowered laptop VR ready, it certainly makes staying macOS-only more palatable for some power users. Another notable addition is Business Chat in Messages for users in the US. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and others have tweaked their services to enable customer service linkups and now Apple has its version available on the desktop. With it, you can interact with business representatives or even make purchases. Other tweaks include waiting for the user to select login fields before autofilling password information in Safari, a smoke cloud wallpaper that had previously been restricted to the iMac Pro and a Safari shortcut for jumping to the rightmost tab by pressing Command-9. Further reading: Gizmodo.
Transportation

Tesla Issues Its Largest Recall Ever Voluntarily Over Faulty Model S Steering (theverge.com) 131

Tesla announced today that it is recalling 123,000 Model S vehicles around the world over a power steering issue. The company said via an email that it was a proactive move and none of the company's other vehicles are affected. The Verge reports: The automaker said 123,000 Model S vehicles built before April 2016 were affected. No injuries or crashes have been reported in connection with the problem. In the email, Tesla said it had, "observed excessive corrosion in the power steering bolts," but that the problem was most prevalent in colder climates where road salt is used. "If the bolts fail, the driver is still able to steer the car, but increased force is required due to loss or reduction of power assist," Tesla wrote in the email to customers. "This primarily makes the car harder to drive at low speeds and for parallel parking, but does not materially affect control at high speed, where only small steering wheel force is needed." Tesla said owners do not need to stop driving their cars if they haven't experienced any problems. The company said it would inform Model S owners when a retrofit, which is estimated to take an hour to install, is ready in their area.
Security

Boeing Hit By WannaCry Virus, Fears It Could Cripple Some Jet Production (seattletimes.com) 122

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Seattle Times: Boeing was hit Wednesday by the WannaCry computer virus, raising fears within the company that it could cripple some vital airplane production equipment. Mike VanderWel, chief engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering, sent out an alarming memo calling for "All hands on deck." "It is metastasizing rapidly out of North Charleston and I just heard 777 (automated spar assembly tools) may have gone down," VanderWel wrote, adding that he's concerned the virus will hit equipment used in functional tests of airplanes ready to roll out and potentially "spread to airplane software." Indicating widespread alarm within the company at the potential impact, VanderWel said the attack required "a battery-like response," a reference to the 787 in-flight battery fires in 2013 that grounded the world's fleet of Dreamliners and led to an extraordinary three-month-long engineering effort to find a fix.
Privacy

Ask Slashdot: Why Are There No True Dual-System Laptops Or Tablet Computers? 378

dryriver writes: This is not a question about dual-booting OSs -- having 2 or more different OSs installed on the same machine. Rather, imagine that I'm a business person or product engineer or management consultant with a Windows 10 laptop that has confidential client emails, word documents, financial spreadsheets, product CAD files or similar on it. Business stuff that needs to stay confidential per my employment contract or NDAs or any other agreement I may have signed. When I have to access the internet from an untrusted internet access point that somebody else controls -- free WiFi in a restaurant, cafe or airport lounge in a foreign country for example -- I do not want my main Win 10 OS, Intel/AMD laptop hardware or other software exposed to this untrusted internet connection at all. Rather, I want to use a 2nd and completely separate System On Chip or SOC inside my Laptop running Linux or Android to do my internet accessing. In other words, I want to be able to switch to a small 2nd standalone Android/Linux computer inside my Windows 10 laptop, so that I can do my emailing and internet browsing just about anywhere without any worries at all, because in that mode, only the small SOC hardware and its RAM is exposed to the internet, not any of the rest of my laptop or tablet. A hardware switch on the laptop casing would let me turn the 2nd SOC computer on when I need to use it, and it would take over the screen, trackpad and keyboard when used. But the SOC computer would have no physical connection at all to my main OS, BIOS, CPU, RAM, SSD, USB ports and so on. Does something like this exist at all (if so, I've never seen it...)? And if not, isn't this a major oversight? Wouldn't it be worth sticking a 200 Dollar Android or Linux SOC computer into a laptop computer if that enables you access internet anywhere, without any worries that your main OS and hardware can be compromised by 3rd parties while you do this?
AI

NVIDIA Unveils 2 Petaflop DGX-2 AI Supercomputer With 32GB Tesla V100, NVSwitch Tech 41

bigwophh writes from a report via HotHardware: NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang took to the stage at GTC today to unveil a number of GPU-powered innovations for machine learning, including a new AI supercomputer and an updated version of the company's powerful Tesla V100 GPU that now sports a hefty 32GB of on-board HBM2 memory. A follow-on to last year's DGX-1 AI supercomputer, the new NVIDIA DGX-2 can be equipped with double the number of Tesla V100 processing modules for double the GPU horsepower. The DGX-2 can also have four times the available memory space, thanks to the updated Tesla V100's larger 32GB of memory. NVIDIA's new NVSwitch technology is a fully crossbar GPU interconnect fabric that allows NVIDIA's platform to scale to up to 16 GPUs and utilize their memory space contiguously, where the previous DGX-1 NVIDIA platform was limited to 8 total GPU complexes and associated memory. NVIDIA claims NVSwitch is five times faster than the fastest PCI Express switch and offers an aggregate 2.4TB per second of bandwidth. A new Quadro card was also announced. Called the Quadro GV100, it too is being powered by Volta. The Quadro GV100 packs 32GB of memory and supports NVIDIA's recently announced RTX real-time ray tracing technology.
Education

Apple Announces New $299 iPad With Pencil Support For Schools (theverge.com) 141

At its education event in Chicago today, Apple introduced a refreshed 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support. "The updated iPad will be available in Apple stores today, in silver, space gray, and a new gold finish," reports The Verge. "The tablet will include Touch ID, an HD FaceTime camera, 10 hours of battery life, an 8-megapixel rear camera, LTE option, and Apple's A10 Fusion chip." From the report: Apple previously lowered the price of its 9.7-inch iPad last year, with a base model starting at $329, but today it's going a step further for students. Apple is offering the new iPad to schools priced at $299 and to consumers for $329. The optional Apple Pencil will be priced at $89 for schools and the regular $99 price for consumers. This is obviously not the $259 budget iPad pricing that was rumored, but it does make it a little more affordable to students and teachers. This new iPad will be a key addition to Apple's lineup as it seeks to fight back against Google's Chromebooks. Apple's iPads and Mac laptops reigned supreme in U.S. classrooms only five years ago, accounting for half of all mobile devices shipped to schools in 2013. Apple has now slipped behind both Google and Microsoft in U.S. schools, and Chromebooks are dominating classrooms with nearly 60 percent of shipments in the U.S. Apple had some other non-hardware, education-themed announcements at its event today. "Apple demonstrated Smart Annotation, which allows teachers to mark up reports in Pages directly, and the company promised new versions of its iWork apps like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote that support the Apple Pencil," reports The Verge. "Teachers will also be able to use Macs to create digital books for their classrooms, and Apple is building a books creator into the Pages app." The company also announced a new augmented reality app called Froggipedia that lets students virtually dissect frogs using an Apple Pencil. The free iCloud offering for students has also been bumped up from 5GB to 200GB.
Businesses

Foxconn Announces Purchase of Belkin, Wemo, and Linksys (androidpolice.com) 80

Foxconn, the Taiwan-based company best-known for manufacturing Apple products announced that one of its subsidiaries (Foxconn Interconnect Technology) is purchasing U.S.-based Belkin for $866 million in cash. "Belkin owns a number of major brands, including Linksys and Wemo," notes Android Police. From the report: The buyout would make Foxconn a major player in consumer electronics, instead of just a contract manufacturing company. Belkin primarily sells phone/tablet accessories, but also manufactures networking equipment like routers and Wi-Fi range extenders. The company also sells a range of smart home products under the Wemo brand. According to The Financial Times, the purchase is subject to approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment. In other words, there is a very real chance the acquisition could be blocked. President Trump blocked Broadcom's acquisition of Qualcomm earlier this month, based on advice from the committee.
Data Storage

Wind and Solar Can Power Most of the United States, Says Study (theguardian.com) 417

An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian reports of a recent paper, published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, that helps explain how wind and solar energy can power most of the United States: "The authors analyzed 36 years of hourly weather data (1980-2015) in the U.S. They calculated the available wind and solar power over this time period and also included the electrical demand in the U.S. and its variation throughout the year. With this information, the researchers considered two scenarios. In scenario 1, they imagined wind and solar installations that would be sufficient to supply 100% of the U.S. electrical needs. In the second scenario, the installations would be over-designed; capable of providing 150% of the total U.S. electrical need. But the authors recognize that just because a solar panel or a wind turbine can provide all our energy, it doesn't mean that will happen in reality. It goes back to the prior discussion that sometimes the wind just doesn't blow, and sometimes the sun isn't shining. With these two scenarios, the authors then considered different mixes of power, from all solar to all wind. They also included the effect of aggregation area, that is, what sized regions are used to generate power. Is your power coming from wind and solar in your neighborhood, your city, your state or your region?

The authors found that with 100% power capacity and no mechanism to store energy, a wind-heavy portfolio is best (about 75% wind, 25% solar) and using large aggregate regions is optimal. It is possible to supply about 75-80% of U.S. electrical needs. If the system were designed with excess capacity (the 150% case), the U.S. could meet about 90% of its needs with wind and solar power. The authors modified their study to allow up to 12 hours of US energy storage. They then found that the 100% capacity system fared even better (about 90% of the country's energy) and the optimal balance was now more solar (approximately 70% solar and 30% wind). For the over-capacity system, the authors found that virtually all the country's power needs could be met with wind, solar, and storage."

Graphics

Ask Slashdot: How Did Real-Time Ray Tracing Become Possible With Today's Technology? 145

dryriver writes: There are occasions where multiple big tech manufacturers all announce the exact same innovation at the same time -- e.g. 4K UHD TVs. Everybody in broadcasting and audiovisual content creation knew that 4K/8K UHD and high dynamic range (HDR) were coming years in advance, and that all the big TV and screen manufacturers were preparing 4K UHD HDR product lines because FHD was beginning to bore consumers. It came as no surprise when everybody had a 4K UHD product announcement and demo ready at the same time. Something very unusual happened this year at GDC 2018 however. Multiple graphics and GPU companies, like Microsoft, Nvidia, and AMD, as well as other game developers and game engine makers, all announced that real-time ray tracing is coming to their mass-market products, and by extension, to computer games, VR content and other realtime 3D applications.

Why is this odd? Because for many years any mention of 30+ FPS real-time ray tracing was thought to be utterly impossible with today's hardware technology. It was deemed far too computationally intensive for today's GPU technology and far too expensive for anything mass market. Gamers weren't screaming for the technology. Technologists didn't think it was doable at this point in time. Raster 3D graphics -- what we have in DirectX, OpenGL and game consoles today -- was very, very profitable and could easily have evolved further the way it has for another 7 to 8 years. And suddenly there it was: everybody announced at the same time that real-time ray tracing is not only technically possible, but also coming to your home gaming PC much sooner than anybody thought. Working tech demos were shown. What happened? How did real-time ray tracing, which only a few 3D graphics nerds and researchers in the field talked about until recently, suddenly become so technically possible, economically feasible, and so guaranteed-to-be-profitable that everybody announced this year that they are doing it?

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