The Courts

Intel Accuses Qualcomm of Trying To Kill Mobile Chip Competition (cnet.com) 49

Intel has jumped into the fray surrounding the Apple-Qualcomm patent spat by accusing the world's biggest maker of mobile phone chips of trying to use the courts to snuff out competition. From a report: The chip giant made the allegation late Thursday in a public statement (PDF) to US International Trade Commission. The commission had requested the statement as part of its investigation into Qualcomm's accusation that Apple's iPhones of infringe six of Qualcomm's mobile patents. Specifically, Intel said, the case is about quashing competition from Intel, which described itself as "Qualcomm's only remaining competitor" in the market for chips for cellular phones. "Qualcomm did not initiate this investigation to stop the alleged infringement of its patent rights; rather, its complaint is a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm's only remaining rival," Intel said in its statement. "This twisted use of the Commission's process is just the latest in a long line of anticompetitive strategies that Qualcomm has used to quash incipient and potential competitors and avoid competition on the merits."
Intel

Intel Launches Movidius Neural Compute Stick: 'Deep Learning and AI' On a $79 USB Stick (anandtech.com) 59

Nate Oh, writing for AnandTech: Today Intel subsidiary Movidius is launching their Neural Compute Stick (NCS), a version of which was showcased earlier this year at CES 2017. The Movidius NCS adds to Intel's deep learning and AI development portfolio, building off of Movidius' April 2016 launch of the Fathom NCS and Intel's later acquisition of Movidius itself in September 2016. As Intel states, the Movidius NCS is "the world's first self-contained AI accelerator in a USB format," and is designed to allow host devices to process deep neural networks natively -- or in other words, at the edge. In turn, this provides developers and researchers with a low power and low cost method to develop and optimize various offline AI applications. Movidius's NCS is powered by their Myriad 2 vision processing unit (VPU), and, according to the company, can reach over 100 GFLOPs of performance within an nominal 1W of power consumption. Under the hood, the Movidius NCS works by translating a standard, trained Caffe-based convolutional neural network (CNN) into an embedded neural network that then runs on the VPU. In production workloads, the NCS can be used as a discrete accelerator for speeding up or offloading neural network tasks. Otherwise for development workloads, the company offers several developer-centric features, including layer-by-layer neural networks metrics to allow developers to analyze and optimize performance and power, and validation scripts to allow developers to compare the output of the NCS against the original PC model in order to ensure the accuracy of the NCS's model. According to Gary Brown, VP of Marketing at Movidius, this 'Acceleration mode' is one of several features that differentiate the Movidius NCS from the Fathom NCS. The Movidius NCS also comes with a new "Multi-Stick mode" that allows multiple sticks in one host to work in conjunction in offloading work from the CPU. For multiple stick configurations, Movidius claims that they have confirmed linear performance increases up to 4 sticks in lab tests, and are currently validating 6 and 8 stick configurations. Importantly, the company believes that there is no theoretical maximum, and they expect that they can achieve similar linear behavior for more devices. Though ultimately scalability will depend at least somewhat with the neural network itself, and developers trying to use the feature will want to play around with it to determine how well they can reasonably scale. As for the technical specifications, the Movidius Neural Compute Stick features a 4Gb LPDDR3 on-chip memory, and a USB 3.0 Type A interface.
Microsoft

Windows 10 Will Cut Off Devices With Older CPUs (pcworld.com) 270

Reader Baron_Yam shares a PCWorld report: No Windows 10 Creators Update for you, Microsoft says -- at least, not if you happen to be the unlucky owner of certain older Atom-based Windows devices, and other aging models in the future. After stories arose of failed attempts to upgrade such hardware to the Creators Update, Microsoft confirmed late Wednesday that any hardware device that falls out of the manufacturer's support cycle may be ineligible for future Windows 10 updates. In the case of the four "Clover Trail" processors (part of the Cloverview platform) that have fallen into Intel's End of Interactive Support phase, they will be ineligible for the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft confirmed. Instead, they'll simply be offered the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, plus security updates through January, 2023, the end of the original Windows 8.1 support period. The problem, however, is that Microsoft's language opens up the possibility that any unsupported hardware device could be excluded from future Windows 10 updates. "Recognizing that a combination of hardware, driver and firmware support is required to have a good Windows 10 experience, we updated our support lifecycle policy to align with the hardware support period for a given device," Microsoft said in a statement. "If a hardware partner stops supporting a given device or one of its key components and stops providing driver updates, firmware updates, or fixes, it may mean that device will not be able to properly run a future Windows 10 feature update." The reader adds, it's not a case of "feature updates are not recommended and may not work", it's a case of "we will block feature updates to your device".
Intel

Intel Has Axed the Group Working on Fitness Trackers and Health Wearables (cnbc.com) 62

Intel has axed the division that worked on health wearables, including fitness trackers, CNBC is reporting citing a source. From the report: The company has been slowly de-emphasizing its own line of wearables for the past several years, and has not mentioned wearables on its earnings calls since 2014. In November, TechCrunch reported that the company was planning to take a step back from the business after its acquisition of the Basis fitness watch didn't pan out as expected. Intel denied at the time that it was stepping back. But a source told CNBC that the chip maker in fact let go about 80 percent of the Basis group in November. Many of the people were given the opportunity to relocate to other parts of the business. About two weeks ago, Intel completely eliminated the group, this person said. The company's New Technologies Group, which looks at cutting-edge business areas, is now focusing on augmented reality, another source told CNBC.
Intel

Intel's Big Bet On Baseball (axios.com) 57

Ina Fried, reporting for Axios: Intel has been traveling the country this year, broadcasting one major league game a week in virtual reality. On Tuesday, the company's crew was close to home as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Cleveland Indians 2-1 in extra innings. How it works: The games are free to watch, but require the person to have a Samsung phone and Gear VR headset. To broadcast a game in VR, Intel has camera rigs on the first and third base side, as well as the traditional "deep home" shot. It also aims to have an additional camera or two in a spot unique to each stadium. In Arizona, for example, it has one near the stadium's swimming pool. Each camera setup has six pairs of cameras to capture high-definition footage in 180 degrees. In the parking lot, meanwhile, separate teams work in two adjoining vans. One group works on the sound and stitches the images together, while a second van houses a more traditional broadcast setup, including play-by-play announcer J.B. Long. Tweaking the product: Still new at this, Intel is constantly adding new tricks to its arsenal. Last night's game, for example, was the first time the company added real-time VR graphics to the mix, showing baseball cards with stats above the players. Intel CEO has said he wants VR sports to be a billion dollar business for the company.
AMD

AMD Has No Plans To Release PSP Code (twitch.tv) 125

AMD has faced calls from Edward Snowden, Libreboot and the Reddit community to release the source code to the AMD Secure Processor (PSP), a network-capable co-processor which some believe has the capacity to act as a backdoor. But despite some signs earlier that it might consider opening the PSP code at some point, the chip-maker has now confirmed that there hasn't been a change of heart yet. "We have no plans on releasing it to the public," the company executives said in a tech talk (video).
Intel

Windows 10 Creators Upgrade Cuts Support For Some Intel PCs Early (pcworld.com) 148

Windows PCs with Intel's Clover Trail Atom chips will not upgrade to the Windows 10 Creators Update, which could wind up being trouble in the future. PCWorld reports: Owners of some Windows 10 laptops and tablets are crashing into a worrying roadblock when they try to install the Windows 10 Creators Update. Windows Update initially says the notebooks are compatible with the upgrade, but fails to install it after downloading the setup files, instead displaying the following message: "Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC. Uninstall this app now because it isn't compatible with Windows 10." That sounds ominous, but you don't need to uninstall your existing version of Windows 10, and there's no app to uninstall. Instead, the message means your PC's hardware isn't compatible with the Creators Update.

A recent ZDNet article thrust this issue into the spotlight, but Microsoft laid out details about the error in an April forum post. Microsoft won't let affected hardware install the Creators Update because "Icons and/or text throughout the Windows interface may not appear at all, or may appear as solid color blocks on some devices." Can I install the Windows 10 Creators Update? Nope. But you might be able to in the future, according to the April forum post. "Microsoft is working with our partners to provide compatible drivers for these processors. Until then, Windows Update will prevent devices containing one of the processors listed above from installing the Creators Update." [Devices with these Intel "Clover Trail" processors are impacted: Atom Z2760; Atom Z2520; Atom Z2560; Atom Z2580.]

AMD

AMD Threadripper 1950X Trounces Core I9-7900X In Multithreading Benchmark (pcper.com) 113

dryriver writes: The Cinebench R15 benchmark is a popular tool for measuring how well CPUs cope with multithreaded compute loads. AMD's Threadripper 1950X 16 core CPU, priced at $999 according to AMD, benchmarks 41% faster in Cinebench R15 than Intel's also $999 10 core Core i9-7900X CPU. While Intel's Core i9-7900X scores 2186 points on Cinebench, AMD's Threadripper 1950X scores 3046 points. Even the cheaper 12 core $799 Threadripper 1920X is over 200 points faster in Cinebench R15 than Intel's Core i9-7900X. Intel has its own 16 core Core i9-7960X in the works, performance yet unknown, priced at $1,699, but AMD's 16 core part currently appears to be a full $700 cheaper than Intel's MSRP. It remaines to be seen who is faster in single-threaded performance -- Intel may take that crown --and what the power consumption of a fully loaded Threadripper looks like compared to its Core i9 counterpart.
Government

Congress Seeks To Outlaw Cyber Intel Sharing With Russia (onthewire.io) 179

Trailrunner7 shares a report from On the Wire: A group of House Democrats has introduced a bill that would formalize a policy of the United States not sharing cyber intelligence with Russia. The proposed law is a direct response to comments President Donald Trump made earlier this week after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the meeting, Trump said on Twitter that he and Putin had discussed forming an "impenetrable Cyber Security unit" to prevent future attacks, including election hacking. The idea was roundly criticized by security and foreign policy experts and within a few hours Trump walked it back, saying it was just an idea and couldn't actually happen. But some legislators are not taking the idea of information sharing with Russia as a hypothetical. On Wednesday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) introduced the No Cyber Cooperation With Russia Act to ensure that the U.S. doesn't hand over any cybersecurity intelligence on attacks or vulnerabilities to Moscow. Recent attacks such as the NotPetya malware outbreak have been linked to Russia, as have the various attacks surrounding the 2016 presidential election. "When the Russians get their hands on cyber intelligence, they exploit it -- as they did last month with the NotPetya malware attack targeting Ukraine and the West. It is a sad state of affairs when Congress needs to prohibit this type of information sharing with an adversary, but since we apparently do, I am proud to introduce the No Cyber Cooperation with Russia Act with my friends Brendan Boyle and Ruben Gallego. I urge my colleagues across the aisle to join us in sending a clear message that Congress will not stand for this proposal to undermine U.S. national security," Lieu said in a statement.
Businesses

PC Shipments Hit the Lowest Level In a Decade (cnbc.com) 202

PC shipments are at the lowest levels since 2007. From a report: Gartner said this week that the PC market declined 4.3 percent during the second quarter. The research company said that shipments were at the "lowest quarter volume since 2007," noting the market dropped for the 11th quarter in a row. The report is in stark contrast to another from IDC in April which said that the PC market grew for the first time in five years. Gartner said HP has the largest global market share with 20.8 percent of the market. HP is trailed by Lenovo which has a 19.9 percent share, with shipments down a substantial 8.4 percent since last year. Dell, Apple and Asus finish out the top five players. In the U.S., Gartner suggests Apple's shipments were down 9.6 percent from last year. The research firm didn't give an explanation for why that might have occurred, though Apple was late to refresh its computers with the latest Intel processors. Upgraded Macs just hit the market last month.
AMD

AMD Unveils Ryzen Threadripper 1950X 16-Core and 1920X 12-Core Specs and Pricing (hothardware.com) 85

MojoKid writes: AMD first teased its Ryzen Threadripper series of high-end desktop (HEDT) processors back in mid-May, but is now sharing additional details on the first two products in the family. Both processors are based on the 14nm Zen core, make use of AMD's new Socket TR4 interface, support quad-channel DDR memory, and feature a total of 64 PCIe lanes. In addition, both processors will come from the factory unlocked. Ryzen Threadripper 1920X will have 12 Cores, 24 Threads, and 3.5/4.0 GHz (Base Clock/Precision Boost) clock speeds. Ryzen Threadripper 1950X will have 16 Cores, 32 Threads, and 3.4/4.0 GHz (Base Clock/Precision Boost) clock speeds. Pricing is set at $799 and $999, respectively, with availability in early August, though Dell's Alienware gaming PC division will have systems shipping with the new chip starting this month. AMD also put the new chips up against Intel's Core i7-7900X 10-core CPU in a Cinebench benchmark run in a video demo, and the 12-core Threadripper chip beats Intel's currently available Skylake-X chip handily, while the 16-core Threadripper outpaces it even further.
Intel

Intel Launches Xeon Scalable CPUs: Dual Xeon Platinum 8176, 112 Threads Tested (hothardware.com) 54

MojoKid writes: Intel announced its new Xeon Scalable processor family based on the 14nm Skylake-SP microarchitecture a few weeks back, though today marks the official launch of the platform. Not only do these processors feature a new microarchitecture, but Intel has also revamped the naming convention and arrangement of the Xeon product stack, branding them with Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze model families. Intel Xeon Scalable series processors feature core counts ranging from 4 to 28, with varied frequencies and cache configurations. Workstation processors and lower-core count server chips top out in the 3.2GHz -- 3.6GHz range, while the higher-core count products typically fall in the 2GHz -- 2.7GHz range. Six memory channels are supported and the chips have 48 lanes of integrated PCIe 3.0 connectivity. Power envelopes range all the way from 70W on up to 205W. The Xeon Scalable series also introduces new security, virtualization, and storage-related features, more memory bandwidth, support for AVX-512 extensions, a mesh interconnect, and enhanced hardware controlled power management, among a host of other architectural improvements. Testing of a 2P Xeon Platinum 8176 system, sporting 56 physical cores / 112 threads shows significantly increased performance and bandwidth, with only moderately higher power consumption versus a previous-gen 2P Xeon E5-2679 v4-based system.
AMD

Benchmarking Utility Shows AMD Ryzen Rapidly Stealing Market Share From Intel (hothardware.com) 119

According to PassMark, which publishes a benchmarking utility called PerformanceTest, the launch of Ryzen chips has resulted in a surge in AMD's share of its CPUs being tested. From a report: In the first quarter of last year, just 20.1 percent of tests were performed on AMD hardware, versus 79.8 percent on Intel chips. The gap widen by the end of the year, with AMD accounting for 17.8 percent of all tests run through Passmark's software, with Intel jumping up to 82.2 percent. Fast forward to the quarter than just ended and things are looking a bit different. AMD's share has climbed to 26.2 percent, while Intel's has slipped to 73.7 percent. Obviously Intel is still dominating, but what this shows us is that AMD was able to take a nearly 10 percent chunk out what is probably the enthusiast market from Intel. The reason we believe this is largely relegated to the enthusiast market is because AMD's Ryzen architecture is brand new, and that would be the most logical explanation as to why its numbers have suddenly spiked at the expense of Intel.
AI

Former Oculus Exec Predicts Telepathy Within 10 Years (cnet.com) 202

Mary Lou Jepsen is a former MIT professor with 100 patents and a former engineering executive at Facebook, Oculus, Intel, and Google[x] (now called X) -- and "she hopes to make communicating telepathically happen relatively soon." An anonymous reader quotes CNET: Last year Jepsen left her job heading up display technology for the Oculus virtual reality arm of Facebook to develop new imaging technologies to help cure diseases. Shortly thereafter she founded Openwater, which is developing a device that puts the capabilities of a huge MRI machine into a lightweight wearable form. According to the startup's website, "Openwater is creating a device that can enable us to see inside our brains or bodies in great detail. With this comes the promise of new abilities to diagnose and treat disease and well beyond -- communicating with thought alone."

This week Jepsen went further and suggested a timeframe for such capabilities becoming reality. "I don't think this is going to take decades," she told CNBC. "I think we're talking about less than a decade, probably eight years until telepathy"... Jepsen, who has also spent time at Google X, MIT and Intel, says the basic idea is to shrink down the huge MRI machines found in medical hospitals into flexible LCDs that can be embedded in a ski hat and use infrared light to see what's going on in your brain. "Literally a thinking cap," Jepsen explains... The idea is that communicating by thought alone could be much faster and even allow us to become more competitive with the artificial intelligence that is supposedly coming for everyone's jobs very soon.

Jepsen tells CNBC, "If I threw [you] into an M.R.I. machine right now... I can tell you what words you're about to say, what images are in your head. I can tell you what music you're thinking of. That's today, and I'm talking about just shrinking that down."
The Courts

John McAfee Can Finally Use His Own Name Again (fossbytes.com) 52

An anonymous reader quotes Fossbytes: It was last year when, John McAfee, the co-founder of an antivirus company that's now owned by Intel, took Intel to the court over the right to use his name for commercial purposes... According to a Reuters report, the US District Judge Paul Oetken has dismissed the 2016 case and the counter lawsuit filed by Intel. The two parties have settled upon a mutual agreement which allows John Mcafee to use his name for promotions, presentations, and advertisements. He can't link his name to any product or service related to cyber security and security.
McAfee told the BBC that he can't directly name a company after himself, adding "I can live with that. That certainly beats having to live with 'The Entrepreneur Formerly known as McAfee.'"

Johnny Depp is still scheduled to play McAfee in a movie called "King of the Jungle," which will focus on the period of his life when McAfee fled a police investigation in Belize.
Intel

New HyperThreading Flaw Affects Intel 6th And 7th Generation Skylake and Kaby Lake-Based Processors (hothardware.com) 135

MojoKid writes: A new flaw has been discovered that impacts Intel 6th and 7th Generation Skylake and Kaby Lake-based processors that support HyperThreading. The issue affects all OS types and is detailed by Intel errata documentation and points out that under complex micro-architectural conditions, short loops of less than 64 instructions that use AH, BH, CH or DH registers, as well as their corresponding wider register (e.g. RAX, EAX or AX for AH), may cause unpredictable system behavior, including crashes and potential data loss. The OCaml toolchain community first began investigating processors with these malfunctions back in January and found reports stemming back to at least the first half of 2016.

The OCaml team was able pinpoint the issue to Skylake's HyperThreading implementation and notified Intel. While Intel reportedly did not respond directly, it has issued some microcode fixes since then. That's not the end of the story, however, as the microcode fixes need to be implemented into BIOS/UEFI updates as well and it is not clear at this time if all major vendors have included these changes in their latest revisions.

Intel

AMD Looks To 'Crush' Intel's Xeon With New Epyc Server Chips (extremetech.com) 136

AMD has unveiled the first generation of Epyc, its new range of server processors built around its Zen architecture. Processors will range from the Epyc 7251 -- an eight-core, 16-thread chip running at 2.1 to 2.9GHz in a 120W power envelope -- up to the Epyc 7601: a 32-core, 64-thread monster running at 2.2 to 3.2GHz, with a 180W design power. From a report: These chips are built on the same fundamental architecture as the company's Ryzen CPU cores, and they're aimed at the incredibly powerful data center market. AMD's 32-core / 64-thread Epyc CPUs combine four eight-core dies, each connected to the other via the company's Infinity Fabric. According to AMD, this approach is significantly cheaper than trying to pack 32 cores into a single monolithic die -- that approach would leave the company potentially throwing away huge amounts of silicon during its production ramp. The Infinity Fabric is deliberately over-provisioned to minimize any problems with non-NUMA aware software, according to Anandtech. Each 32-core Epyc CPU will support eight memory channels and two DIMMs per channel, for a total maximum memory capacity of 2TB per socket, or 4TB of RAM in a two-socket system. Each CPU will also offer 128 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 support -- enough to connect up to six GPUs at x16 each with room left over for I/O support. That's in a one-socket system, mind you. In a two-socket system, the total number of available PCI Express 3.0 lanes is unchanged, at 128 (64 PCIe 3.0 lanes are used to handle CPU -- CPU communication). Anandtech has a longer writeup with more details on the CPUs power efficiency and TDP scaling. Further reading: ZDNet, press release.
Intel

Intel Quietly Discontinues Galileo, Joule, and Edison Development Boards (intel.com) 95

Intel is discontinuing its Galileo, Joule, and Edison lineups of development boards. The chip-maker quietly made the announcement last week. From company's announcement: Intel Corporation will discontinue manufacturing and selling all skus of the Intel Galileo development board. Shipment of all Intel Galileo product skus ordered before the last order date will continue to be available from Intel until December 16, 2017. [...] Intel will discontinue manufacturing and selling all skus of the Intel Joule Compute Modules and Developer Kits (known as Intel 500 Series compute modules in People's Republic of China). Shipment of all Intel Joule products skus ordered before the last order date will continue to be available from Intel until December 16, 2017. Last time orders (LTO) for any Intel Joule products must be placed with Intel by September 16, 2017. [...] Intel will discontinue manufacturing and selling all skus of the Intel Edison compute modules and developer kits. Shipment of all Intel Edison product skus ordered before the last order date will continue to be available from Intel until December 16, 2017. Last time orders (LTO) for any Intel Edison products must be placed with Intel by September 16, 2017. All orders placed with Intel for Intel Edison products are non-cancelable and non-returnable after September 16, 2017. The company hasn't shared any explanation for why it is discontinuing the aforementioned development boards. Intel launched the Galileo, an Arduino-compatible mini computer in 2013, the Edison in 2014, and the Joule last year. The company touted the Joule as its "most powerful dev kit." You can find the announcement posts here.
Google

EU Poised To Fine Google More Than $1 Billion in Antitrust Case (marketwatch.com) 102

Google is braced for a fine of potentially more than 1bn euro ($1.18 billion) as Brussels prepares to make the first of three antitrust decisions on the search group's practices, the first sanction by a leading competition regulator on the way it operates. From a report: The penalty, expected to be announced in the coming weeks, could exceed the record 1.1 billion euro bill slapped on Intel, in 2009 for anti-competitive behavior in the computer-chip market, the two people told The Times. The European Commission's antitrust body declined to comment to MarketWatch on the FT report, but referred to the latest steps taken in the case against Google. In July last year, the commission reiterated its conclusion that the search giant had "abused its dominant position by systematically favoring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages." Google and its parent company Alphabet were then given 10 weeks to respond to the findings. Reuters reported last month that Google had attempted to settle the dispute with the EU three times in the last six years, but the sides had failed to reach a compromise.

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