Posted on Friday, March 27 2020 @ 11:00:16 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Researchers from Stanford's Biomechatronics Laboratory, as well as international partners, have developed an ankle exoskeleton that significantly reduces the energy cost of running. The study, which was funded by Nike and the National Science Foundation, experimented with motor-powered assistance and spring-based assistance.
The exoskeleton is basically a motorized device that attaches around the ankle and foot. Via motor-powered assistance it was possible to reduce the energy cost by 15 percent. The reduced energy cost helped runners to increase their speed by 10 percent and the researchers believe this could be even higher if runners have additional time for training or optimization.
“Powered assistance took off a lot of the energy burden of the calf muscles. It was very springy and very bouncy compared to normal running,” said Delaney Miller, a graduate student at Stanford who is working on these exoskeletons and also helping test the devices. “Speaking from experience, that feels really good. When the device is providing that assistance, you feel like you could run forever.”
The spring-based assistance on the other hand was not successful, it made running 11 percent harder than running exoskeleton-free.
The researchers predict devices like this could be used as a mode of last-mile transportation or to help you keep up with friends that run faster.
Full details at Stanford.
Posted on Friday, March 27 2020 @ 10:44:55 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
While Android smartphones are great, one of the continuing issues is that regular updates remain an issue for a large fraction of users. Things have improved a bit versus years ago but a lot of devices still barely receive any support.
Now AnandTech reports Qualcomm is trying to do its part by sticking to a quarterly driver update cycle for its Adreno GPUs. The first quarterly update is set to arrive any day now and the firm also teamed up with Google to create an Android GPU Inspector tool that can help developers to spot issues:
In addition to drivers set to be updated quarterly, Qualcomm has also teamed up with Google to create the Android GPU Inspector tool, which promises to help discover performance optimization opportunities. According to Qualcomm, the tool helped Google and an unnamed game developer find an optimization that ‘saved the game 40% in GPU utilization’ on the Pixel 4 XL, which enabled smoother gameplay and longer battery life.
The current-generation Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 765/765G, as well as previous-generation Snapdragon 855 are the first to receive a quarterly GPU driver update. Unfortunately, users still have no way to automatically get these patches. Qualcomm sends the drivers to smartphone OEMs, who in turn need to push the update to the Google Play Store.
The Samsung Galaxy S10, Samsung Galaxy Note 10, and Google’s Pixel 4 series will receive the update soon. Other smartphones will follow later.
Posted on Friday, March 27 2020 @ 10:34:51 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo predicts we'll see the first ARM-based Mac computers in 2021 at the latest. Earlier this year, the analyst wrote Apple is on track to release its first ARM-based laptops in Q4 2020 or Q1 2021. Now Kuo is confident that ARM-based Mac desktop computers will follow in 2021.
It's been in the cards for a long time now and if it indeed happens it will be Apple's second architectural switch in less than 20 years. The company transitioned from PowerPC to Intel's x86 in 2006 and a switch to ARM is seen as a way to get greater control over the hardware and offer greater hardware differentiation versus Windows PCs.
Kuo predicts switching to an ARM-based platform will significantly enhance Apple's competitive advantage. It means the Cupertino-based firm will no longer need to rely on Intel's roadmap, and it could result in a CPU cost cut of 40 to 60 percent. However, we're still wondering if this will pan out well for professionals. Basic tasks like web browsing and general productivity can easily be done on ARM-based processors, but will Apple be able to deliver something powerful enough for content creation? And will backwards compatibility be an issue? I guess we'll find out next year.
There is also speculation that Macs will get USB4 support in 2022:
Kuo expects ASMedia Technology to become the exclusive supplier of USB controllers for Arm-based Macs, adding that the Taiwanese integrated circuit designer will benefit from Macs gaining support for USB4 in 2022.
The problem was caused by Microsoft's decision to temporarily turn off network scanning:
The bug was caused by a Windows Defender scanner engine update that automatically disabled network scanning for newer versions, after previously having them enabled before the updates released during this month's Patch Tuesday.
Microsoft's decision to turn off network scanning in Windows Defender might have been prompted by a high network traffic issue as detailed in KB4052623's description.
"Enterprises that use Network Protection in either Audit or Block mode may experience greater than expected network traffic departing their networks to Microsoft Defender SmartScreen-associated domains," the knowledgebase article says.
Posted on Friday, March 27 2020 @ 09:48:11 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Yesterday, one of the weirder news items was the story that AMD was the victim of IP theft. Several months ago, a hacker managed to obtain source code related to the company's Navi 10, Navi 21 and Arden GPUs. Now there's a bit more information about what the hack is about. WCCF Tech talked to various individuals who saw the source code and who have experience with Verilog, the software that the files were written in.
The site claims the leaked source code is largely useless as it can't be used to reverse engineer anything, nor can it be easily used to bypass security features of AMD's RDNA GPUs. The code is also built on a proprietary schematic that is only compatible with AMD's internal design language, making it largely useless for a third party. No crown jewels were stolen but there is a slim possibility that the leak could result in the discovery of a security vulnerability in AMD's GPUs.
WCCF Tech says the GPU IP leak is about the following items:
Partial Verilog files that are typically used in the construction of processors.
The Verilog files in question represent a single and isolated function(s) on the GPU - NOT the whole/actual GPU blueprint. This I believe is the most important takeaway and context for the IP theft. This particular function(s) is not very exciting and not part of AMD's core IP.
Based on the leaker's screenshots, the files they have not yet leaked are more of the same and also nowhere close to being a complete "source code". In other words, the total stolen IP represents a very small fraction of the "source code" needed to build and design a GPU.
These Verilog files are built on a proprietary schematic that is only compatible with AMD's internal design language (in other words, these are going to be close to useless to a third party).
There are also doubts about how these files were obtained, as it's very unlikely that a hacker would accidentally stumble upon this type of IP. WCCF Tech heard from its sources that this sort of data is usually protected behind a chain of trust and other standard operating procedures (SOP). Perhaps the criminal investigation will result in a juicy story.
Posted on Thursday, March 26 2020 @ 20:57:19 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
El Chapuzas Informatico reports Intel plans to announce its Comet Lake-S processors on April 30. The site, which has posted various highly accurate leaks in the past, claims April 30 is the announcement date and the actual product availability will follow later.
Review of Comet Lake-S will reportedly hit the web in May. These new processors will use the LGA1200 socket and will require a 400-series motherboard. The flagship model is rumored to feature 10 cores and a Boost of up to 5.3GHz
On April 2nd, Intel is expected to introduce Comte Lake-H, its new mobile processor series.
Posted on Thursday, March 26 2020 @ 16:36:11 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
In a statement on the company's website, AMD discloses that it was the victim of theft of some of it graphics intellectual property. The chip designer believes the hacked files are not core to the competitiveness or security of its products, and is working with law enforcement as part of an ongoing criminal investigation:
At AMD, data security and the protection of our intellectual property are a priority. In December 2019, we were contacted by someone who claimed to have test files related to a subset of our current and future graphics products, some of which were recently posted online, but have since been taken down.
While we are aware the perpetrator has additional files that have not been made public, we believe the stolen graphics IP is not core to the competitiveness or security of our graphics products. We are not aware of the perpetrator possessing any other AMD IP.
We are working closely with law enforcement officials and other experts as a part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
TorrentFreak has more details about the matter. The site reports that AMD filed DMCA takedown notices against two Github repositories that contained stolen source code related to AMD's Nave 10, Navi 21 and Arden GPUs. The latter is the codename of the GPU that will be used by the next-gen Xbox Series X console.
GitHub responded by taking down the sourcode code. TorrentFreak tracked down the leaker and was able to ask her some questions. The Navi GPU source code was reportedly discovered in November 2019, via a non-targeted attack:
“In November 2019, I found AMD Navi GPU hardware source codes in a hacked computer,” the person explained. “The user didn’t take any effective action against the leak of the codes.”
“The source code was unexpectedly achieved from an unprotected computer//server through some exploits. I later found out about the files inside it. They weren’t even protected properly or even encrypted with anything which is just sad.”
“I haven’t spoken to AMD about it because I am pretty sure that instead of accepting their mistake and moving on, they will try to sue me. So why not just leak it to everyone?” we were told.
The leaker confirmed to TorrentFreak that she has more source code that has not been made public yet. She added that she's looking to sell the source code and put a $100 million valuation on the hack. If no buyer appears for the illegally obtained code, she claims she will "just leak everything."
Posted on Thursday, March 26 2020 @ 16:09:35 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
NVIDIA published a paper that details the company's research into gaze-sensing LEDs for head mounted displays. Hexus has a summarized version over here. NVIDIA claims their solution is the simplest gaze-detection design to date, it promises to be a small and low-cost solution that can easily be added to HMDs.
Above you can see the HMD prototype created by the Nvidia researchers. Rather than using expensive and power hungry gyroscopes, accelerometers, various optical sensors, and so on - it uses LEDs as the core of the design. The bi-directional characteristics of LEDs allows for light capture and illumination, and the ring of LEDs placed in front of the eyes facilitate gaze estimation. The estimation is done speedily by a "supervised adaptive pattern recognition" algorithm which runs on the aforementioned attached mobile device.
There were still some issues though. While the system shows promise, NVIDIA does not that there are issues with user blinks, and tracking accuracy and its relationship with latency also needs further finetuning.
Posted on Thursday, March 26 2020 @ 15:58:37 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) issued a bulletin to warn its customers that several of the SSDs it sold years ago suffer from a bug that causes them to fail at exactly 40,000 hours of operation. Disks with model number EK0800JVYPN, EO1600JVYPP, MK0800JVYPQ, and MO1600JVYPR need new firmware (version HPD7) to prevent disk failure. Based on the dates these disks started shipping from HPE, the company expects the first disks will start failing in October 2020 at the earliest.
This HPD7 firmware is considered a critical fix and is required to address the issue detailed below. HPE strongly recommends immediate application of this critical fix. Neglecting to update to SSD Firmware Version HPD7 will result in drive failure and data loss at 40,000 hours of operation and require restoration of data from backup if there is no fault tolerance, such as RAID 0 or even in a fault tolerance RAID mode if more SSDs fail than can be supported by the fault tolerance of the RAID mode on the logical drive. Example: RAID 5 logical drive with two failed SSDs.
HPE was notified by a Solid State Drive (SSD) manufacturer of a firmware defect affecting certain SAS SSD models (reference the table below) used in a number of HPE server and Storage products (i.e., HPE ProLiant, Synergy, Apollo 4200, Synergy Storage Modules, D3000 Storage Enclosure, StoreEasy 1000 Storage). The issue affects SSDs with an HPE firmware version prior to HPD7 that results in SSD failure at 40,000 hours of operation (i.e., 4 years, 206 days, 16 hours).
Posted on Thursday, March 26 2020 @ 15:51:35 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
AnandTech offers some commentary about the three new Ice Lake CPUs that appeared in the Intel ARK database. The Core i7-1060NG7, the Core i5-1030NG7, and the Core i3-1000NG4 are new 10nm parts with a slightly higher base clock and a slightly higher TDP than previous parts.
The site believes these are the processors that are used by Apple's new MacBook Air laptops. When asked about these chips, an Intel representative stated that the "N" denotes a customer-specific version of those SKUs:
When we approached Intel asking what these CPUs were, and the official line is:
“The ‘N’ notes a slightly differentiated, customer-specific version of those SKUs. Those slight differences require a signifier for our internal SKU management and ordering systems. The N is not a new subfamily or directly connected to a specific set of features, for example.”
This goes in line with what we stated above about customer-specific binning. Apple will no doubt be ordering a few million of these CPUs, so Intel is prepared to add an extra binning step just for the business.