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Intel, Google Cloud Aim to Advance 5G Networks, Edge Innovations

Intel and Google Cloud today announced a collaboration to develop telco cloud reference architectures and integrated solutions for communication service providers to accelerate 5G deployment across multiple network and edge locations.

"Communications service providers can adopt cloud-native technologies to harness the potential of 5G both as a connectivity solution and as a business services platform to deliver applications to the network edge," said Shailesh Shukla, vice president and general manager of networking at Google Cloud. "Expanding on our work with the telecommunications industry, we are excited to work with Intel to help customers plan, test and deploy the technology and infrastructure needed to accelerate the delivery of cloud-native 5G for consumer and enterprise use cases."

Gartner Says Worldwide Smartphone Sales Declined 5% in Fourth Quarter of 2020

Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales declined 12.5% in full year 2020.

"The sales of more 5G smartphones and lower-to-mid-tier smartphones minimized the market decline in the fourth quarter of 2020," said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. "Even as consumers remained cautious in their spending and held off on some discretionary purchases, 5G smartphones and pro-camera features encouraged some end users to purchase new smartphones or upgrade their current smartphones in the quarter."

NVIDIA Faces Challenges: Qualcomm, Google, and Microsoft Protest Arm Acquisition

In September of last year, NVIDIA has officially announced that the current industry rumor about its big acquisition was true. The company has announced that it is acquiring Arm Limited from the Softbank Group. Paying as much as $40 billion for the purchase, NVIDIA is gaining access to the complete company, along with its extensive portfolio of IP and knowledge. That means that NVIDIA is not essentially a holder of the Arm ISA, which is the most dominant ISA within mobile processors. Such a deal, however, is a bit hard to process without some troubles popping up along the way. As Arm held a neutral position as IP provider, NVIDIA is expected to remain as such, and the company even promised to stay true to that.

However, not everything is going as planned. Before completing the acquisition process, NVIDIA must first comply with regulators from all around the world, including the US, UK, EU, and China. If any objections raise within those regions, they are to be interrogated. Today, Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm have objected that NVIDIA's Arm acquisition is hurting the market and are urging antitrust officials to intervene. Mentioned companies believe that NVIDIA's move is hurting the market and the company could limit its competitors from accessing the IP, thus breaking Arm's neutral position as an IP provider. NVIDIA has made statements that Arm will remain in such a position, however, the skepticism of the mentioned companies is slowing the merger. Now all that remains is to see how the conflicted companies solve their worries.

Google Halts Stadia First-Party Game Studio to Focus on Stadia as a Platform

Google late Monday announced that it is halting investments into Stadia Games & Entertainment (SG&E), its internal division tasked with the development of first-party games and content for the game streaming platform. The company announced that it will continue to invest in Stadia, including its further development, as a platform for third-party game studios, pointing users to the recent success of "Cyberpunk 2077" on the platform. Jade Raymond, the head of SG&E, has left the company.

Google reiterated that it sees streaming as the future of gaming. "Having games streamed to any screen is the future of this industry, and we'll continue to invest in Stadia and its underlying platform to provide the best cloud gaming experience for our partners and the gaming community," it stated in a blog post announcing these changes. The company also assured subscribers that it will continue to bring new games and content from third-party game developers. "You can continue playing all your games on Stadia and Stadia Pro, and we'll continue to bring new titles from third parties to the platform. We're committed to the future of cloud gaming, and will continue to do our part to drive this industry forward. Our goal remains focused on creating the best possible platform for gamers and technology for our partners, bringing these experiences to life for people everywhere," it stated.

Acer Releases Pair of New 11-inch Chromebooks for Education

Acer today announced a pair of new 11-inch Chromebooks for the education market with well-rounded features intended to make it as easy as possible for a school to go digital: military durability standards let parents trust that the devices are reliable, Zero-touch enrollment makes it easy for IT to roll them out, and students will enjoy the intuitive responsiveness of Chrome OS.

The Acer Chromebook 511 (C741L) is an 11.6-inch notebook computer that simplifies the process of establishing a digital learning environment, with a number of features that will benefit both the students using the devices and the school administrators rolling them out. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c compute platform allows for up to 20 hours of battery life between charges on top of offering an efficient performance to keep up with students' learning needs. Utilizing Snapdragon 7c, the Acer Chromebook 511 also delivers built-in 4G LTE connectivity to help protect the security of users' data and to provide fast, reliable access to learning apps in the cloud -- enabling students to take the classroom with them and learn from virtually anywhere. Weighing in at just 1.3 kg (2.87 lbs), this thin and light device is portable enough for students of all ages to easily transport between classes.

Privacy Focused DuckDuckGo Search Engine Surpasses 100 Million Daily Searches

The privacy-focused DuckDuckGo search engine has seen tremendous growth recently surpassing 100 million daily searches on January 11th 2021. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from competing search engines by not customizing ads to a specific user instead showing ads purely based on the search term. Since DuckDuckGo was launched in 2008 they have grown from processing 100,000 searches a day to now over 100 million searches daily. For comparison, Google processes roughly 5.5 billion searches a day and Bing 200 million so while DuckDuckGo still has a long way to go to becoming a household name they have made remarkable progress. This latest round of growth can be attributed to the upcoming WhatsApp privacy policy changes which have reminded consumers of the importance of internet privacy and security.

Cleer Audio's Enduro ANC Headphone Hits The Market In Early 2021

Cleer Audio, industry-leading headphone and smart speaker manufacturer plans shipment of its new noise cancelling headphone, the Enduro ANC in first quarter of 2021. The Enduro ANC noise cancelling headphone operates for 60 hours of extended playback with the noise cancelling feature enabled —doubling the industry-average time. Cleer Audio is one of the first brands implementing Qualcomm's QCC5126 chip, along with Cleer's software team accounts for the Enduro ANC's advanced power management ability. In addition to being able to block noise up to 25 decibels, the noise-cancelling performance is customizable, based on where its being used, optimizing the balance between limiting unwanted noise and audio performance.

Using the new Cleer Connect app, users will be able to adjust settings for specific situations, e.g., traveling via airplane, train or car or use in a café or outdoors. Enduro ANC also features Cleer's patented 40mm Ironless DriverTM and Google Fast Pair 2.0. Made from a high-grade molded plastic, with ergonomically designed memory foam earpads, the Enduro ANC craftsmanship and light weight design ensures that is comfortable to wear for the long haul. Its slim adjustable headband flexes but doesn't weaken, so that the out-of-box pressure on the ears and crown of the head is optimum. (Enduro ANC U.S. MSRP: $149.99, available in Navy, and Light Grey. Shipping February 2021)

LG Smart TVs to Get Stadia Cloud Gaming in Late 2021

LG Electronics (LG) announces a planned partnership with Google to bring Stadia to its latest webOS smart TVs in the second half of this year. After Stadia comes to Google TV, LG will be the first TV manufacturer to natively support Stadia gameplay via webOS.

LG is demonstrating its commitment to supporting premium gaming on its state-of-the-art displays, made even more compelling with support for 4k and 5.1 surround sound for Stadia Pro users. Stadia on LG TVs will allow customers to instantly play hit Stadia games such as Cyberpunk 2077, NBA 2K21, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion with just a Stadia controller and no additional hardware or game downloads required.

Premium Comes Standard with Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 - World's First QLED Chromebook

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today introduced Galaxy Chromebook 2, the newest member of the Galaxy Computing family. Since 2011, Samsung has been a leader in the Chromebook market, finding new ways to elevate the Chrome OS experience—and the ultra-premium Galaxy Chromebook represented a path-breaking leap forward. The 2-in-1 Galaxy Chromebook 2 builds on that legacy, offering the leading features from its predecessor at a more accessible price. Boasting the first-ever QLED display on a Chromebook, reliable hardware, and seamless integration into the Galaxy and Google ecosystems, Galaxy Chromebook 2 represents yet another high-performance option for users who love the flexibility of Chrome OS.

"Many kids grew up using Chromebooks in school, and as they enter the workforce, their needs evolve, they're looking for premium, powerful hardware that can elevate that intuitive Google experience," said Shoneel Kolhatkar, General Manager, Head of New Computing, Samsung Electronics America. "We designed the Galaxy Chromebook 2 with these users in mind, taking the popular features from Galaxy Chromebook—incredible visuals, great specs, and gorgeous design and color—and bringing them to a wider base of customers."

New Philips In-Ear True Wireless Premium Headphones

[Editor's note: This press release is from the Philips US division, regional applicability may vary. Street pricing is already down to $149.]

Envision Peripherals, Inc. (EPI) today debuts a new pair of premium, true wireless ear buds, the Philips In-Ear True Wireless Headphones TAT8505BKs. The True Wireless version of the popular Philips Wireless Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphone TAPH805BK earbuds feature classic minimalist design and boast Hybrid Active Noise Canceling and Awareness Mode for control over what is heard, letting users sink into rich, detailed sound or tune into the world around them. The Philips TAT8505BKs are available on Amazon, for $199.99 USD, starting December 15, 2020 at 12:01 AM PST.

Love What You Hear
The perfectly tuned 13mm neodymium drivers ensure a detailed, expansive sound with rich, powerful bass and thrilling clarity for every track. When an earbud is taken out, the music pauses. Put the earbud back in, and the music starts up again. The Philips TAT8505BKs have a refined geometric design creating a comfortable in-ear fit. The circular earbud housing is tactilely pleasing and is designed to subtly catch the light, creating an elegant, understated look.

Google Hit by a 30-minute Service Outage Spanning GMail, YouTube, and Docs

Google, was hit by a worldwide service outage from 12:00 UTC to 12:35 UTC on December 14, 2020. This affected much of the company's client-facing businesses, including GMail, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Drive, Blogger, and others. The Google Workspace Dashboard lists a number of Google services as facing a "service outage," an incident severity higher than "service disruption," (which tends to be localized). The outage potentially disrupted several businesses dependent on Google Docs and certain other Cloud services, although the extent of the outage with Google Cloud, isn't known. Interestingly, throughout the outage, we could access Google Web-Search, including all its Search features.

TSMC Partners With Google and AMD to Push 3D Silicon

Silicon manufacturing is starting to get harder and harder every day, with new challenges appearing daily. It requires massive investment and massive knowledge to keep a silicon manufacturing company afloat. No company can survive that alone, so some collaborations are emerging. Today, thanks to the sources of Nikkei Asia, we have information that Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is collaborating with Google to push the production of 3D chip manufacturing process, that is said to overcome some of the silicon manufacturing difficulties. The sources also say that AMD is involved in the process as well, making Google and AMD the first customers of the advanced 3D chip design. The two companies are preparing designs for the new way of creating silicon and will help TSMC test and certify the process.

TSMC will deploy the 3D silicon manufacturing technology at its chip packaging plant in Miaoli, which is supposed to do mass production in 2022. With Google and AMD being the first customers of new 3D technology, it is exciting to see what new products will look like and how they will perform. The 3D approach is said to bring huge computing power increase, however, it is a waiting game now to see how it will look like.

Google Distances Itself From Alex Hutchinson's Game Streaming Royalty Comments

The recent comments from Google Stadia Montreal Creative Director Alex Hutchinson regarding game streaming revenue sharing have generated significant public backlash from consumers and developers alike. The Creative Director suggested that game streamers should have to purchase a commercial license or pay royalties to game developers in return for streaming their games. These comments were quickly associated with Google Stadia by the community which has prompted Google to issue a statement distancing themselves from Alex Hutchinson's comments. Alex Hutchinson's Twitter bio has also been updated to reflect that all opinions are his own.
Google
The recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.

Ubisoft Brings a Collection of Older Titles to Google Stadia

Ubisoft has been a major proponent of Google Stadia since release announcing plans to integrate uPlay+ and was the first major publisher to release a new game on the platform. Ubisoft has recently announced plans to bring eight older titles to Stadia in the coming weeks, these games include; Watch Dogs, Watch Dogs 2, Assassin's Creed Origins, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Assassin's Creed Unity, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands, Far Cry New Dawn, and Far Cry 5. These titles are in addition to major new releases such as Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and Far Cry 6 which are set to launch in the coming months. A variety of smaller Ubisoft games are also coming soon to Stadia, including Just Dance 2021, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, and Riders Republic.

Apple is Preparing its Own Search Engine

In the past few years, Google has been paying Apple billions of dollars just for the company to keep Google as the default search engine in every aspect of the company's products. Starting from iOS up to macOS, they included Google as the default search engine. However, the deal between two companies might be coming to an end. In July this year, a UK Competition and Markets Authority took a shot at a deal claiming that the companies imposed a barrier on any market competition in the search engine space. Constant pressure from regulators and the fact that Apple doesn't want to be reliant on any company is possibly giving Apple ideas to launch its own search engine.

Recent changes in the spotlight search on iOS 14 and iPad OS 14 beta is making the software bypass Google search engine completely. As shown below (search and direct results), the company implemented a feature that makes the spotlight search go directly to search results instead of going to Google. The Applebot web crawler has seen some changes so it now renders pages in a similar way Google does and not just filter HTML. The web crawler also is updated to rank web pages just like it is made for a search engine. All of this is supposed to give Apple enough material so it can build something similar to a search engine. It is believed that the search engine wouldn't look like any classical one, but rather be embedded in Apple products and serve as a personalized search hub.

Fortnite Gets Kicked Out From Google and Apple App Stores, Epic Games Files a Lawsuit

Today, Epic Games has decided to file a lawsuit against both Apple and Google after both companies removed Fortnite form their platform app stores (Google Play and Apple App Store). Firstly, Apple has decided to remove the Fortnite app to form its App Store because the game violated the company's policy that all in-game payments must go through the Apple App Store system, instead of them being processed directly. That means that Apple can also apply its 30% cut on all the payments made in-game. After Apple has revoked the Fortnite app, Epic Games has decided to file a lawsuit that aims to fight the company's monopoly and make the iOS platform more developer-friendly. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said that Epic will not seek or accept any special deal that Apple may offer, but rather wants to fight for all developers.

Just hours after Apple decided to pull the Fortnite game from its App Store, Google has also removed the game from its Google Play Store. Google's Play Store policy about in-app payments says that all games must use Google Play in-app billing if they want to process payments, so Fortnite was pulled from it as well. In light of that move, Epic Games has also filed a lawsuit against Google on the same terms. The company wants to fight both Apple and Google in court and make them be more developer-friendly, especially Apple. We have to wait and see how the case progresses. Being that Apple is almost a $2 trillion company, it can surely afford lots of good lawyers, just as Google will. We want to express our support for Epic Games for going in the right direction, as we do need more open ecosystems.

Dell Announces Latitude Chromebook Enterprise

Chrome OS has accelerated its expansion within businesses amid the shift to work from anywhere. The new Latitude 7410 Chromebook Enterprise, a 14-inch premium business laptop or 2-in-1 from Dell Technologies (NYSE:DELL), boosts productivity with on-the-go power, sophisticated security and fast connectivity features employees need. With the Latitude 7410 Chromebook Enterprise, Dell expands its Latitude Chromebook lineup - now offering a mainstream and premium option - to give companies more choice in devices without sacrificing enterprise-class scale, manageability and security. With EPEAT Gold registration, the Latitude Chromebook Enterprise joins the industry's most sustainable commercial PC portfolio with recycled materials, sustainable packaging, energy efficient designs and EPEAT Gold registrations.

"This is not just another Chromebook," said Rahul Tikoo, senior vice president, Commercial Product Group, Dell Technologies. "Our latest Latitude Chromebook Enterprise is designed equal parts for employees and IT managers adopting Chrome OS in the enterprise. Employees will appreciate its sleek design and collaboration features that help them navigate new work dynamics, while IT managers have the management and security features they expect when deploying devices in a corporate environment."

Sony Announces WH-1000XM4 Industry-leading Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sony today announced the WH-1000XM4, the 4th generation over-ear wireless noise cancelling headphones in Sony's award-winning 1000X family. The latest headphones offer all the much-loved technology from the hugely popular WH-1000XM3, with additional intelligent features that allow you to personalise and control your music, improve noise cancellation and adjust ambient sound automatically based on your preferences for a superior sound experience.

Whether you're flying long haul or relaxing in a café, the WH-1000XM4 headphones deliver Sony's best ever noise cancelling performance, reducing high and mid frequency sounds. With two microphones on each earcup, being used for noise cancelling, our Dual Noise Sensor technology captures ambient noise and passes the data to the trusted HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1. Then a new BLUETOOTH Audio SoC (System on Chip) senses and adjusts to music and noise at over 700 times per second. Using a new algorithm, the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 applies noise cancelling processing in real time. This allows the user to focus more on the music they love and blur out the chaos of the outside world.

PUBG Sells 70 Million Copies Ahead of Big Season 8 Update

The popular battle royale PlayersUnknown's BattleGround, called PUBG shortly, has managed to sell over 70 million copies across all platforms it is supported on, like PC and consoles. The huge achievement comes after two and a half years after the game was released, marking a huge achievement for battle royale type of games. The PUBG Corporation, makers of the game, decided to celebrate the new milestone with a release of a remastered Sanhok map. The new Sanhok map is redesigned from the ground up and the developer describes it as "leaner, meaner, and more deadly than ever before!". The new map will go live with the season 8 update, which is going live on July 22nd on Steam, and July 30th on consoles and Google Stadia.

Advanced Security Features of AMD EPYC Processors Enable New Google Cloud Confidential Computing Portfolio

AMD and Google Cloud today announced the beta availability of Confidential Virtual Machines (VMs) for Google Compute Engine powered by 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors, taking advantage of the processors' advanced security features. The first product in the Google Cloud Confidential Computing portfolio, Confidential VMs, enables customers for the first time to encrypt data in-use while it is being processed and not just when at rest and in-transit. Based on the N2D family of VMs for Google Compute Engine, Confidential VMs provide customers high performance processing for the most demanding computational tasks and enable encryption for even the most sensitive data in the cloud while it is being processed.

"At Google Cloud, we believe the future of cloud computing will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where users can be confident that the confidentiality of their data is always under their control. To help customers in making that transition, we've created Confidential VMs, the first product in our Google Cloud Confidential Computing portfolio," said Vint Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist, Google. "By using advanced security technology in the AMD EPYC processors, we've created a breakthrough technology that allows customers to encrypt their data in the cloud while it's being processed and unlock computing scenarios that had previously not been possible."

Google Teams up with SkyWater to Create Open Source PDK for Silicon Design

Silicon design is a hard process. You start by defining design in a hardware description language (HDL) and finish by routing all the wires on the piece of silicon. This used to be done by using proprietary tools and silicon Process Design Kits (PDK) that were unique to silicon manufacturing facilities. Starting from Intel, Samsung, and TSMC, they all have a specific PDK that is used for their silicon manufacturing and it contains all of the specifications for their nodes. It contains design constrains/information on the number of metal layers, how close can two wires be to each other, etc.

In the aim to open-source silicon design and finally allow for fully open silicon design flow, Google has partnered with SkyWater to deliver an open-source PDK that will allow designers to produce silicon on an open platform. Despite being designed for an older 130 nm node, this represents a massive achievement as there was a lack of such a thing before. There is already existing open-source toolchain to create designs, but there wasn't a PDK to port them to. Now, the PDK is available and designers can manufacture 100% open source silicon at SkyWater's facilities. In the GitHub repository listed as a source below, you can find some examples on how you can use the PDK with open source tools as well.

QNAP Releases Boxafe - Comprehensive G-Suite and Office 365 NAS Backup Solution

QNAP Systems Inc. today officially released Boxafe, a comprehensive Google G Suite and Microsoft 365 backup solution for enterprises. Boxafe can centrally back up cloud data to a local NAS, which easily safeguards enterprise data.

Many enterprises have adopted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and with constant data growth they not only face challenges with insufficient storage space but also the chance of data loss and data recovery limitations. QNAP Boxafe backs up files, emails, calendars and contacts from Google G Suite and Microsoft 365 to a QNAP NAS. IT staff can centrally backup and manage multiple G Suite and Microsoft 365 data and schedule multi-version backup to reduce the risk of data loss. Boxafe also allows users to preview all backup data before restoring.

Parallels Brings Fully Featured Windows Applications to Google Enterprise Chromebooks

Parallels and Google have partnered to bring enterprises and cloud workers full-featured Windows applications to Chrome Enterprise this fall. Remote work is a new reality, making efficiency, connectivity, speed, reliability, security and undisrupted access essential elements of a successful organization. At this key moment, our two organizations have formed a landmark partnership to equip enterprises with solutions that optimize their businesses and teams to meet the evolving challenges of modern work environments.

Parallels brings more than a decade of cross-platform solutions experience, seamlessly integrating operating systems and features, to its partnership with Google. Parallels' award-winning software solutions make it simple for enterprises, businesses, organizations and individuals to access and use the applications and files they need on any device or operating system.

Google Stadia Support Expands To All Android Phones

Google Stadia has recently expanded its list of supported Android devices to include OnePlus smartphones, in addition to this they have now enabled experimental support for all Android phones. To access the feature on untested phones you must visit the Stadia app, navigate to the Experiments tab in your Settings menu, and choose "Play on this device."

To coincide with this launch, Google is introducing another experimental feature, mobile touch controls. With mobile touch controls, players can play any Stadia game with a virtual gamepad overlay, to enable the feature select "Try touch gamepad" after launching a game without a controller connected. Finally, Google is also bringing per device resolution options which can be accessed under Options > Performance.

Get the app here.

Arm CPUs Impacted by Straight-Line Speculation (SLS) Vulnerability

When Spectre and Meltdown were discovered, the whole industry got on its legs and started to question CPU security more seriously. There are a plethora of attacks that exploit the CPU function called branch prediction, which predicts paths of code execution so it can ready them and execute them faster. This approach is one part of the microarchitectural techniques used to add performance to the CPU design. However, nothing comes without a cost. Despite adding more performance, the branch prediction had taken a toll on the security of CPUs, making them vulnerable to side-channel attacks. Spectre and Meltdown where both discovered in 2018 and they impact millions of CPUs around the world.

Today, a new side-channel vulnerability was discovered, and on Arm CPUs. Called the Straight-Line Speculation (SLS), the speculation bug is haunting all of Arm Armv-A based processors. This represents a wide range of devices being powered by these CPUs, so Arm is taking action to prevent it. The way SLS works is that whenever there is a change in instruction flow, the CPU just starts processing instructions found linearly in memory, instead of changing the path of flow. This action is resulting in a new SLS vulnerability marked as CVE-2020-13844. The vulnerability was discovered by Google SafeSide project last year and they have reported it to Arm. In the meantime, Arm was working on a fix and they already send them upstream to important operating systems and firmware suppliers so it can be resolved. Arm says that the chances of this attack are low, however, they can not be dismissed.
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