Gamer Geek News


News for nerds, stuff that matters

Nvidia Eclipses Intel As Most Valuable US Chipmaker

Nvidia has overtaken Intel for the first time as the most valuable U.S. chipmaker. Reuters reports: In a semiconductor industry milestone, Nvidia's shares rose 2.3% in afternoon trading on Wednesday to a record $404, putting the graphic component maker's market capitalization at $248 billion, just above the $246 billion value of Intel, once the world's leading chipmaker. Nvidia's stock has been among Wall Street's strongest performers in recent years as it expanded from its core personal computer chip business into datacenters, automobiles and artificial intelligence. Intel, which for decades has dominated in processors for PCs and servers, has struggled to diversify its business after making critical stumbles in the smartphone revolution. While Intel's stock has lost almost 3% in 2020, Nvidia's has surged 68%. Investors have been betting that the shift to working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic will continue to fuel fast growth in Nvidia's datacenter business. [...] Despite Nvidia's meteoric stock rise, its sales remain a fraction of Intel's. Analysts on average see Nvidia's revenue rising 34% in its current fiscal year to $14.6 billion, while analysts expect Intel's 2020 revenue to increase 2.5% to $73.8 billion, according to Refinitiv.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 11:20 pm

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 865+: Breaking the 3GHz Threshold

Today, Qualcomm is announcing an update to its extremely successful Snapdragon 865 SoC: the new Snapdragon 865+. AnandTech reports: The new Snapdragon 865+ is a new binned variant of the [Snapdragon 865] with higher peak frequencies on the part of the "prime" CPU as well as the GPU, promising +10% performance on both aspects. Whilst in relative terms the new chipset's +10% clock improvement isn't all that earth-shattering, in absolute terms it finally allows the new Snapdragon 865+ to be the first mobile SoC to break past the 3GHz threshold, slightly exceeding that mark at a peak 3.1GHz frequency. Ever since the Cortex-A75 generation we've seen Arm make claims about their CPU microarchitectures achieving such high clock frequencies -- however in all those years actual silicon products by vendors never really managed to quite get that close in commercial mass-production designs. We've had a chat with Qualcomm's SVP and GM of mobile business Alex Katouzian, about how Qualcomm achieved this, and fundamentally it's a combination of aggressive physical design of the product as well as improving manufacturing yields during the product's lifecycle. Katouzian explained that they would have been able to achieve these frequencies on the vanilla Snapdragon 865 -- but they would have had a lower quantity of products being able to meet this mark due to manufacturing variations. Yield improvements during the lifecycle of the Snapdragon 865 means that the company is able to offer this higher frequency variant now. [...] There will be a power increase to reach the higher frequencies, however this will only be linear with the increased clock speed, meaning energy efficiency of the new SoC will maintain the same excellent levels of that of the Snapdragon 865, so battery life will not be affected. [...] Amongst other new novelties of the Snapdragon 865+ platform is the ability for vendors to bundle with the new FastConnect 6900 Wi-Fi chips from Qualcomm, the company's new Wi-Fi 6 chipsets with 6GHz band capability (Wi-Fi 6E).

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 10:40 pm

Google Open Sources Trademarks With the Open Usage Commons

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Google has announced it is launching a new organization, Open Usage Commons (OUC), to host the trademarks for three of its most important new open-source projects. These are Angular, a web application framework for mobile and desktop; Gerrit, a web-based team code-collaboration tool; and Istio, a popular open mesh platform to connect, manage, and secure microservices. While it only covers three Google projects, for now, OUC is meant to give open-source projects a neutral, independent home for their project trademarks. The organization will also assist with conformance testing, establishing mark usage guidelines, and handling trademark usage issues. The organization will not provide services that are outside the realm of usage, such as technical mentorship, community management, project events, or project marketing. "Having an entity like this does make some sense for a certain number of use cases," says Andrew "Andy" Updegrove, open-source standards and patent expert and founding partner of top-technology law firm Gesmer Updegrove. "The most obvious one is an unincorporated OSS project. An amorphous group of individuals can't own a trademark efficiently, so there's no way to protect the project name unless they agree on a singular owner. There are many cases where an individual member has owned a project mark, and that has often led to downstream problems. So simply having a neutral owner is a community good without going any farther than that." Updegrove also said noted trademarks have usually been achieved by a project "approaching a host, like The Apache Foundation or Linux Foundation and asking them to take over as host. But that usually requires taking the project under the umbrella, and subject to the rules, of that foundation." Updegrove wonders if there's "more to the story than meets the eye." He notes there is one important difference by only handing over the trademarks: "A project that is primarily important to a single vendor and primarily staffed and controlled by developers employed by that employer can continue to exercise effective control while avoiding the market suspicion that might arise if the vendor owned the mark." He suspects Google is doing this "to up the credibility of some of its projects [to the open-source community] while not taking the more extreme step of turning the project over to a foundation in connection with which a new and more independent governance structure is put in place."

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 10:02 pm

Google Scrapped Cloud Initiative in China, 'Sensitive Markets'

Google abandoned plans to offer a major new cloud service in China and other politically sensitive countries due in part to concerns over geopolitical tensions and the pandemic, Blloomberg reported Wednesday, citing two employees familiar with the matter, revealing the challenges for U.S. tech giants to secure business in those markets. From a report: In May, the search giant shut down the initiative, known as "Isolated Region" and which sought to address nations' desires to control data within their borders, the employees said. The action was considered a "massive strategy shift," according to one of the employees, who said Isolated Region had involved hundreds of employees scattered around the world. Alphabet's Google is pouring money into cloud computing, part of a broader effort to find new sources of growth beyond search advertising. Google Cloud generated $8.9 billion in revenue in 2019 -- a 53% increase over the previous year -- as it has pushed into sectors such as finance and government that require special security clearance and features that shield confidential data. Rivals Microsoft and already offer these capabilities via their cloud units. Google's recent decision to nix the Isolated Region project was made partly because of global political divisions, which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the two employees, who requested anonymity because the project hasn't previously been made public. The initiative would have allowed Google to set up cloud services controlled by a third party, such as a locally owned company or a government agency. The result would be a business sequestered from Google's existing cloud computing services, which include data centers and computer networks. In January 2019, amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China, Google decided to pause its plans for Isolated Region in China and instead began to prioritize potential customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to the two employees.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 9:25 pm

Robinhood Has Lured Young Traders, Sometimes With Devastating Results

Robinhood users buy and sell the riskiest financial products and do so more frequently than customers at other retail brokerage firms, but their inexperience can lead to staggering losses. From a report: Richard Dobatse, a Navy medic in San Diego, dabbled infrequently in stock trading. But his behavior changed in 2017 when he signed up for Robinhood, a trading app that made buying and selling stocks simple and seemingly free. Mr. Dobatse, now 32, said he had been charmed by Robinhood's one-click trading, easy access to complex investment products, and features like falling confetti and emoji-filled phone notifications that made it feel like a game. After funding his account with $15,000 in credit card advances, he began spending more time on the app. As he repeatedly lost money, Mr. Dobatse took out two $30,000 home equity loans so he could buy and sell more speculative stocks and options, hoping to pay off his debts. His account value shot above $1 million this year -- but almost all of that recently disappeared. This week, his balance was $6,956. "When he is doing his trading, he won't want to eat," said his wife, Tashika Dobatse, with whom he has three children. "He would have nightmares." Millions of young Americans have begun investing in recent years through Robinhood, which was founded in 2013 with a sales pitch of no trading fees or account minimums. The ease of trading has turned it into a cultural phenomenon and a Silicon Valley darling, with the start-up climbing to an $8.3 billion valuation. It has been one of the tech industry's biggest growth stories in the recent market turmoil. But at least part of Robinhood's success appears to have been built on a Silicon Valley playbook of behavioral nudges and push notifications, which has drawn inexperienced investors into the riskiest trading, according to an analysis of industry data and legal filings, as well as interviews with nine current and former Robinhood employees and more than a dozen customers. And the more that customers engaged in such behavior, the better it was for the company, the data shows. More than at any other retail brokerage firm, Robinhood's users trade the riskiest products and at the fastest pace, according to an analysis of new filings from nine brokerage firms by the research firm Alphacution for The New York Times.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 8:45 pm

Thousands of Contracts Highlight Quiet Ties Between Big Tech and US Military

Over the past two years, thousands of tech company employees have taken a stand: they do not want their labor and technical expertise to be used for projects with the military or law enforcement agencies. Knowledge of such contracts, however, hasn't been easy for tech workers to come by. From a report: On Wednesday, newly published research from the technology accountability nonprofit Tech Inquiry revealed that the Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, have secured thousands of deals with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Hewlett Packard and even Facebook that have not been previously reported. The report offers a new window into the relationship between tech companies and the U.S. government, as well as an important detail about why such contracts are often difficult to find. Tech Inquiry's research was led by Jack Poulson, a former Google research scientist who quit the company in 2018 after months of internal campaigning to get clarity about plans to deploy a censored version of its search engine in China called Project Dragonfly. Poulson has publicly opposed collaborations between American technology companies and the U.S. and foreign governments that aid in efforts to track immigrants, dissenters, and bolster military activity. Poulson analyzed more than 30 million government contracts signed or modified in the past five years. The Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies accounted for the largest share of those contracts, with tech companies accounting for a fraction of the total number of contracts.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 8:05 pm

Warning of Serious Brain Disorders in People With Mild Coronavirus Symptoms

Doctors may be missing signs of serious and potentially fatal brain disorders triggered by coronavirus, as they emerge in mildly affected or recovering patients, scientists have warned. From a report: Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of more than 40 UK Covid-19 patients whose complications ranged from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage and stroke. In some cases, the neurological problem was the patient's first and main symptom. The cases, published in the journal Brain, revealed a rise in a life-threatening condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (Adem), as the first wave of infections swept through Britain. At UCL's Institute of Neurology, Adem cases rose from one a month before the pandemic to two or three per week in April and May. One woman, who was 59, died of the complication. A dozen patients had inflammation of the central nervous system, 10 had brain disease with delirium or psychosis, eight had strokes and a further eight had peripheral nerve problems, mostly diagnosed as Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune reaction that attacks the nerves and causes paralysis. It is fatal in 5% of cases.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 7:24 pm

Too Little, Too Late: Facebook's Oversight Board Won't Launch Until 'Late Fall'

Facebook has announced that the limp "Oversight Board" intended to help make difficult content and policy decisions will not launch until "late fall," which is to say, almost certainly after the election. You know, the election everyone is worried Facebook's inability to police itself will serious affect. From a report: On Twitter, the board explained that as much as it would like to "officially begin our task of providing independent oversight of Facebook's content decisions," it regrets that it will be unable to do so for some time. "Our focus is on building a strong institution that will deliver concrete results over the long term." That sounds well enough, but for many, the entire point of creating the oversight board -- which has been in the offing since late 2018 -- was to equip Facebook for the coming presidential election, which promises to be something of a hot one.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 6:46 pm

Mozilla Suspends Firefox Send Service While It Addresses Malware Abuse

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has temporarily suspended the Firefox Send file-sharing service as the organization investigates reports of abuse from malware operators and while it adds a "Report abuse" button. The browser maker took down the service today after ZDNet reached out to inquire about Firefox Send's increasing prevalence in current malware operations. Since last year, several malware operations have hosted payloads on the service. This includes ransomware gangs like REvil/Sodinokibi, financial crime crews like FIN7, the Zloader and Ursnif banking trojans operations, and government surveillance groups targeting human rights defenders. Reasons include the fact that Firefox Send doesn't have an Report Abuse mechanism, all file uploads are encrypted (useful to dodge malware scanners), and the Firefox URL is whitelisted in most orgs (useful for bypassing email filters).

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 6:01 pm

Google and Canonical Bring Flutter Apps To Linux and the Snap Store

An anonymous reader writes: Google is partnering with the Ubuntu Desktop team at Canonical to bring Linux support to its open source UI framework Flutter. Today's Linux alpha announcement also means Flutter developers can now deploy their apps to the Snap Store. Flutter group product manager Tim Sneath argues this is a big milestone because UI frameworks rarely become versatile and powerful enough for an operating system to depend on. He pointed to Windows being written in C++ rather than .NET, even for applets like the Calculator. Sneath also believes this shows Canonical is willing to invest in a first-class way to build apps for Linux, making Flutter on Linux an official part of Ubuntu. Additionally, enterprises can feel confident about picking Flutter -- it's more evidence of its longevity and technical excellence, Sneath said.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 5:24 pm

MIT and Harvard Sue DHS and ICE Over International Student Rule

Shag writes: Two days after US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said international students must leave the US if their fall classes will be taught entirely online, MIT and Harvard are suing ICE and the Department of Homeland Security. "ICE is unable to offer the most basic answers about how its policy will be interpreted or implemented," said former international student L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT. Massachusetts' state Attorney General has announced that her office will also challenge the ruling in court. Of course, MIT also develops various technologies for DHS.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 4:47 pm

Brooks Brothers Files For Bankruptcy

Brooks Brothers, the 200-year-old menswear retailer that has dressed 40 US presidents and unofficially became the outfitter of Wall Street bankers, has filed for bankruptcy. From a report: The privately held company had been struggling as business attire grew more casual in recent years. But it has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, which sent demand for suits plummeting. Many working-from-home employees opted for far more relaxed looks of T-shirts and sweatpants rather than pinstripe suits and custom shirts. "Although the pandemic has severely eroded the outlook for the business, Brooks Brothers has long suffered from a failure to decisively adapt to changing trends," said Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData Retail. "When it comes to tastes and style, Brooks Brothers has been swimming against the tide." Brooks Brothers filed for Chapter 11 early Wednesday in a Delaware court. It had warned in June it would lay off nearly 700 workers in three states and is seeking a buyer because coronavirus destroyed its business. The company has been evaluating various strategic options, including a potential sale. But it has struggled to find a buyer. A company spokesperson told CNN Business that it expects to "complete the sale process within the next few months." The retailer is in the process of shuttering 20% of its 250 US stores. According to the bankruptcy filing, Brooks Brothers has secured $75 million in financing to continue operating.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 4:13 pm

Twitter is Working on a Subscription Platform Codenamed Gryphon

Twitter is working on a new subscription platform under the codename Gryphon, according to two online job postings. From a report: A remote contractor position listed on LinkedIn is seeking a backend Scala software engineer to work for Gryphon, a team that is split across Twitter hubs in San Francisco, New York, and London. According to the post, Gryphon constitutes a mixture of frontend and backend engineers who are "working closely together to deliver something new at Twitter," and involves rebuilding some of Twitter's services to "produce a subscription management platform." A second position for senior full-stack software engineer, listed on Twitter's career portal, also mentions a new subscription platform that can "be reused by other teams" in the future. Aside from that, not a great deal is known about Twitter's plans, however we do know that it is a close collaboration between Gryphon and the and payments team. The successful hire will "lead the payment and subscription client work" according to the listing.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 3:22 pm

Intel Unveils the Thunderbolt 4 Spec, Debuting in PCs in the Fall

Intel unveiled Thunderbolt 4 on Wednesday, the next iteration of the I/O specification that provides a high-speed peripheral bus to docks, displays, external storage and eGPUs for PCs. Rather than increase the available bandwidth, however, Thunderbolt 4 provides more clarity and helps create new categories of products. From a report: Thunderbolt 4 will debut later this year as part of Intel's "Tiger Lake" CPU platform, as Intel originally announced during CES in January. We now know it will support 40Gbps throughput, but with tighter minimum specs. Thunderbolt 4 will guarantee that a pair of 4K displays will work with a Thunderbolt dock, and require Thunderbolt 4-equipped PCs to charge on at least one Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt PCs will be able to connect to either "compact" or "full" docks with up to four Thunderbolt ports. Longer Thunderbolt cables will be possible, too. One thing that doesn't seem to be changing is Thunderbolt's exclusivity. Intel developed Thunderbolt, and perhaps not coincidentally, OEM systems based on rival AMD's CPUs have never had this technology. While AMD has officially dismissed the need for Thunderbolt, with generation 4 Intel appears to have made it even harder for AMD to get it, even if it wanted to. Intel's still pitching Thunderbolt as a single standard to rule them all, but the reality up to now has been complicated. You still have to squint hard at that USB-C-shaped port to determine which of the multitude of USB specifications it meets, including whether it's a USB4 connection that happens to support Thunderbolt. To muddy things further, Thunderbolt also encompasses PCIe, DisplayPort, and USB Power Delivery standards.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 2:41 pm

Linux Company SUSE Outbids Competitors for Fast-growing Startup Rancher Labs

SUSE, a Linux distribution company controlled by private equity firm EQT, has agreed to acquire Rancher Labs, a start-up with technology that helps organizations run software in virtual containers across many servers. From a report: The companies announced the deal Wednesday but didn't disclose the terms. Two people familiar with the deal said SUSE is paying $600 million to $700 million. The transaction suggests that even during a recession, demand remains high for technology that can enable companies to operate more efficiently. Talks between the companies began in the spring, and the process became competitive with additional bids, Ursheet Parikh, a partner at Rancher backer Mayfield Fund, told CNBC on Tuesday. There were "lots of Zoom calls," Parikh said. In the past few years, with the rise of start-ups such as Docker, containers became a trendy alternative to more traditional virtualization technology for running applications on each computer server in a company data center. Amazon, Microsoft and other cloud providers came out with services that developers can use to place code in containers, and in 2017 SUSE introduced its own service for managing containers. The companies haven't finalized integration plans as the deal still faces regulatory approval.

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Posted on 8 July 2020 | 2:07 pm