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SiFive To Introduce New RISC-V Processor Architecture and RISC-V PC at Linley Fall Virtual Processor Conference

SiFive, Inc., the leading provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP and silicon solutions, today announced that Dr. Yunsup Lee, CTO of SiFive, and Dr. Krste Asanovic, Chief Architect of SiFive, will present at the technology industry's premier processor conference, the Linley Fall Virtual Processor Conference. The conference will be held on October 20th - 22nd and 27th - 29th, 2020 and will feature high-quality technical content from leading semiconductor companies worldwide.

"Industry demand for AI performance has skyrocketed over the last few years driven by rapid adoption from the data center to the edge. This year's Linley Fall Processor Conference will feature our biggest program yet and will introduce a host of new technology disclosures and product announcements of innovative processor architectures and IP technologies," said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst and conference chairperson. "In spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, development of these technologies continues to accelerate and we're excited to be sharing these presentations with a global audience via our live-streamed format."

Arm Announces Cortex-R82: The First 64-bit Real Time Processor to Power the Future of Computational Storage

There is expected to be more than 79 zettabytes of IoT data in 2025, but the real value of this data is found in the insights it generates. The closer to the data source we can produce these insights the better, because of the improved security, latency and energy efficiency enabled. Computational storage is emerging as a critical piece of the data storage puzzle because it puts processing power directly on the storage device, giving companies secure, quick and easy access to vital information.

Our expertise and legacy in storage puts Arm in a strong position to address the changing needs of this market - with around 85% of hard disk drive controllers and solid-state drive controllers based on Arm, we are already a trusted partner for billions of storage devices. Today, we're announcing Arm Cortex-R82, our first 64-bit, Linux-capable Cortex-R processor designed to accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation enterprise and computational storage solutions.

Intel Releases mOS - Custom Operating System for HPC

Intel has been focusing its resources on data center and high-performance computing lately and the company has made some interesting products. Today, Intel has released its latest creation - mOS operating system. Created as a research project, Intel has made an OS made for some extreme-scale HPC systems, meaning that the OS is created for hyper scalers and ones alike. The goal of mOS is to deliver a high-performance environment for software with low-noise, scalability, and the concept of lightweight kernels (LWK) that manage the system.. Being based on the Linux kernel, the OS is essentially another distribution, however, it has been modified so it fits the HPC ecosystem the best way. The mOS is a product in the pre-alpha phase, however, it can already be used in supercomputers like ASCI Red, IBM Blue Gene, and others. Intel is aiming to develop a stable release by the time the Aurora exascale system is ready so it can deploy mOS there.

Synaptics to Acquire DisplayLink, Extending Video Interface Market Leadership

Synaptics Incorporated today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire DisplayLink Corp., a leader in high-performance video compression technology, for $305 million in an all-cash transaction. The deal is expected to close in Synaptics' first quarter of fiscal year 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, and be financed from existing cash on hand. Synaptics expects the transaction to add approximately $94 million in annualized sales and be immediately accretive to non-GAAP gross margins, non-GAAP operating margins, and non-GAAP earnings post-close.

DisplayLink's high performance software compression technology enables universal docking and casting of high bandwidth video from any device to any display using any transport medium such as USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi. For the Enterprise IT market, the solution supports multi-OS environments including Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS and Ubuntu Linux enabling a myriad of devices to seamlessly dock to multiple high resolution (4K, 8K) displays.

Linux Performance of AMD Rome vs Intel Cascade Lake, 1 Year On

Michael Larabel over at Phoronix posted an extremely comprehensive analysis on the performance differential between AMD's Rome-based EPYC and Intel's Cascade Lake Xeons one-year after release. The battery of tests, comprising more than 116 benchmark results, pits a Xeon Platinum 8280 2P system against an EPYC 7742 2P one. The tests were conducted pitting performance of both systems while running benchmarks under the Ubuntu 19.04 release, which was chosen as the "one year ago" baseline, against the newer Linux software stack (Ubuntu 20.10 daily + GCC 10 + Linux 5.8).

The benchmark conclusions are interesting. For one, Intel gained more ground than AMD over the course of the year, with the Xeon platform gaining 6% performance across releases, while AMD's EPYC gained just 4% over the same period of time. This means that AMD's system is still an average of 14% faster across all tests than the Intel platform, however, which speaks to AMD's silicon superiority. Check some benchmark results below, but follow the source link for the full rundown.

Intel Ice Lake Xeons Feature Slower Frequency Ramp Up

As we approach the launch of the Intel's Ice Lake-SP Xeon processors, which will be the company's first 10 nm product for servers, we find more details on the ways CPU operates and today's discovery is an interesting one. In the latest patch submitted to Linux kernel by Intel's engineers, we find out that Intel Ice Lake Xeons have a slower frequency ramp up, meaning that there could be some latency added. However, the engineers have patched this and it should perform as expected. The patch is described as the following: "On ICX platform, the CPU frequency will slowly ramp up when woken up from C-states deeper than/equals to C1E. Although this feature does save energy in many cases this might also cause unexpected result. For example, workload might get unstable performance due to the uncertainty of CPU frequency. Besides, the CPU frequency might not be locked to specific level when the CPU utilization is low."
Intel Ice Lake

Axiomtek Announces NA346 Ultra Compact Fanless Network Appliance Designed for IIoT Security Applications

Axiomtek - a world-renowned leader relentlessly devoted in the research, development and manufacture of series of innovative and reliable industrial computer products of high efficiency - is proud to introduce the NA346, a 4-LAN fanless network appliance platform designed in a small form factor. This ultra-small desktop network appliance is powered by the Intel Celeron processor N3350 (code name: Apollo Lake) featuring the lowest Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 6 W to meet the specific configurations of low-power requirement. The reliable NA346 is positioned as an entry-level SD-WAN, VPN and security gateway for industrial IoT security applications.

"The 5G network is foreseeable to transfer data with greater bandwidth, higher speed and boost the edge computing and AIoT application. The cutting-edge NA346 offers two mini-PCIe slots and SIM socket supporting 3G/4G/LTE communications and connectors to 5G modules," said Kiwi Lee, a product manager of Product PM Division at Axiomtek. "Space limitation is one of the constraints in today's industrial environment. Axiomtek's ultra-small NA346 can be easily installed in narrow spaces. Featuring fanless operation, this network security appliance is perfect to be used in noise-sensitive environments."

Linus Torvalds Finds AVX-512 an Intel Gimmick to Invent and Win at Benchmarks

"I hope AVX512 dies a painful death, and that Intel starts fixing real problems instead of trying to create magic instructions to then create benchmarks that they can look good on." These were the words of Linux and Git creator Linus Torvalds in a mailing list, expressing his displeasure over "Alder Lake" lacking AVX-512. Torvalds also cautioned against placing too much weightage on floating-point performance benchmarks, particularly those that take advantage of exotic new instruction sets that have a fragmented and varied implementation across product lines.

"I've said this before, and I'll say it again: in the heyday of x86, when Intel was laughing all the way to the bank and killing all their competition, absolutely everybody else did better than Intel on FP loads. Intel's FP performance sucked (relatively speaking), and it matter not one iota. Because absolutely nobody cares outside of benchmarks." Torvalds believes AVX2 is "more than enough" thanks to its proliferation, but advocated that processor manufacturers design better FPUs for their core designs so they don't have to rely on instruction set-level optimization to eke out performance.

Huawei Desktop PC with Kunpeng 920 Processor Teased and Tested

Huawei has been readying the entire new breed of desktop PCs with a custom motherboard, custom processor, and even a custom operating system. Being that Huawei plans to supply Chinese government institutions with these PCs, it is logical to break away from US-made technology due to security reasons. And now, thanks to the YouTube channel called "二斤自制" we have the first look at the new PC system. Powered by Huawei D920S10 desktop motherboard equipped with Kunpeng 920 7 nm Arm v8 processor with 8 cores, the PC was running the 64-bit UOS operating system, which is a Chinese modification of Linux. In the test, the PC was assembled by a third-party provider and it featured 16 GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 memory and 256 GB SSD.

The YouTube channel put it to test and in the Blender BMW render test, it has finished in 11 minutes and 47 seconds, which is quite slow. The system reportedly managed to stream 4K content well but has struggled with local playback thanks to poor encoding. Being that it runs a custom OS with a custom processor, app selection is quite narrow. The app store for the PC is accessible only if you pay an extra 800 Yuan (~$115), while the mentioned system will set you back 7,500 Yuan (~$1,060). At the heart of this system is eight-core, eight threaded Kunpeng 920 2249K processor. It features a clock speed of 2.6 GHz, has 128K of L1 cache (64K instruction cache and 64K data cache), 512K of L2, and 32 MB of L3 cache.

TerraMaster Invites Developers To Create Their Own App

TerraMaster, a professional brand that specializes in providing innovative storage products including network attached storage (NAS) devices, introduces the TerraMaster TOS APP Development Guide which allows independent developers to create apps that can run on the TerraMaster TOS. The TerraMaster TOS APP Development Guide provide developers a complete suite of tools and a suitable app development environment for creating applications. With this, TerraMaster can work hand-in-hand with developers that will help grow the TerraMaster TOS into a more robust and feature-packed storage ecosystem that will benefit all TerraMaster NAS users.

Developers are given the liberty to develop any application that will fit their needs. Developers can list the developed app on the TerraMaster TOS for other end users to use. Likewise, developers can also charge users for their apps. TerraMaster outlines a simple process for the app development below.

Basemark GPU will be the first benchmark for Apple Silicon based Macs

On Monday 22nd of June Apple announced Mac transition to Apple Silicon. Even though this transition was quite expected, the industry got very excited upon the announcement. Apple released quite a lot of information about their plans, but one key question remained unanswered: how fast are Apple's new ARM based Mac chips?

Apple said people should expect pure performance in one category in particular - graphical performance. What is the performance difference over the Intel integrated graphics that ship in a new MacBook Air? There is no public information available about it.
Basemark Benchmark Apple Silion

Microsoft Defender ATP is now Available for Linux

It is known that Microsoft has been working on bringing its Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) on non-Windows platforms, and it finally has happened. Today, Microsoft is enabling users of popular Linux distributions to use its Defender ATP locally. This is an important announcement as Microsoft is bringing even more software to the Linux ecosystem. With this, Microsoft is making Defender ATP the software tool to manage and monitor security on all enterprise platforms available - Windows, Windows Server, macOS, and now even Linux. Supported distributions include RHEL 7.2 or higher, CentOS Linux 7.2 or higher, Ubuntu 16 LTS or higher LTS, SLES 12 or higher, Debian 9 or higher, and Oracle Linux 7.2.
Microsoft Defender ATP for Linux

Mozilla Starts Offering VPN Service called Firefox Private Network

Mozilla, the maker of popular web-browser Firefox, has announced that it is now offering virtual private network (VPN) services. Available for right now as a beta product, the company is promising that it will soon release the software as a fully-fledged application. Firefox Private Network's Mozilla VPN is designed to help users gain more control and safety over their internet traffic while offering protection for a whole device. if you wish to try it out, you would need to join a waitlist. There you can get the VPN app while it is still in beta for iOS, Android, Windows, and Chromebook devices. Support for macOS and Linux is coming soon. The service costs $4.99 a month, while if you own a Firefox browser, you can get it free of charge as an extension.

Intel Ice Lake CPUs Have a System Crashing Bug

Intel CPUs have been rather notorious for system bugs recently. Starting from 2018's Spectre and Meltdown which used speculative execution to exploit systems, the string of new vulnerabilities just continued to this day. Recently we had CrossTalk exploit which represents a threat to cloud providers, where one user could compromise another just by using the same CPU from which the virtual instances are powered. These types of exploits are even more dangerous than ones that require local access, as that is already dangerous by itself. A lot of these issues are said to be ironed out by Intel's new microarchitecture designs like Ice Lake, Tiger Lake, and future revisions.

However, it seems like Intel is encountering some problems with even the latest Ice Lake CPUs when it comes to system bugs. JetBrains, a Czech provider of software development tools has a Java programming language development environment called IntelliJ integrated development environment. It was recently reported that on MacBook Air 2020 and Microsoft Surface Pro models equipped with 10th generation Intel Ice Lake CPUs, IntelliJ IDE causes system restart or a complete OS crash. In the report, the CPU ran in a Linux VM that isolates itself from MacOS so the macOS XNU kernel is not to blame. In the report thread, another user running Windows on Microsoft Surface Pro experienced the crash as well.
Intel Ice Lake CPU

Lenovo Brings Linux Certification to ThinkPad and ThinkStation Workstation Portfolio

More than 250 million computers are sold each year and NetMarketShare reports that 2.87 percent - roughly 7.2 million users - are using those computers to run Linux. Once thought of as a niche IT crowd, this user base of data scientists, developers, application engineers, scientists and more is growing - stepping into sought-after roles across multiple industries and becoming essential within their companies. Now, I'm excited to share Lenovo is moving to certify the full workstation portfolio for top Linux distributions from Ubuntu and Red Hat - every model, every configuration.

While many users prefer to customize their own machines - either on hardware without an OS or by wiping an existing client OS, then configuring and installing Linux - this can raise uncertainty with system stability, restricted performance, compatibility, end-user productivity and even IT support for devices. Now that these users are making their way out of the proverbial shadows and onto the enterprise floor, the demand is high for an out-of-the-box solution that removes the barrier for deployment of enterprise-grade hardware within a Linux software ecosystem.

DirectX Coming to Linux...Sort of

Microsoft is preparing to add the DirectX API support to WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux). The latest Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 will virtualize DirectX to Linux applications running on top of it. WSL is a translation layer for Linux apps to run on top of Windows. Unlike Wine, which attempts to translate Direct3D commands to OpenGL, what Microsoft is proposing is a real DirectX interface for apps in WSL, which can essentially talk to hardware (the host's kernel-mode GPU driver) directly.

To this effect, Microsoft introduced the Linux-edition of DXGkrnl, a new kernel-mode driver for Linux that talks to the DXGkrnl driver of the Windows host. With this, Microsoft is promising to expose the full Direct3D 12, DxCore, and DirectML. It will also serve as a conduit for third party APIs, such as OpenGL, OpenCL, Vulkan, and CUDA. Microsoft expects to release this feature-packed WSL out with WDDM 2.9 (so a future version of Windows 10).

Google Chrome Beta Receives Tab Grouping Feature

There are two types of people in the world: tab minimalists who have just a few tabs open at a time and tab collectors who have...significantly more. For minimalists and collectors alike, we're bringing a new way to organize your tabs to Chrome: tab groups. This feature is available now in Chrome Beta. Now, with a simple right click, you can group your tabs together and label them with a custom name and color. Once the tabs are grouped together, you can move and reorder them on the tab strip.

Unfixable Flaw Found in Thunderbolt Port that Unlocks any PC in Less Than 5 Minutes

Dutch researcher from the Eindhoven University of Technology has found a new vulnerability in Thunderbolt port that allows attackers with physical access to unlock any PC running Windows or Linux kernel-based OS in less than 5 minutes. The researcher of the university called Björn Ruytenberg found a method which he calls Thunderspy, which can bypass the login screen of any PC. This attack requires physical access to the device, which is, of course, dangerous on its own if left with a person of knowledge. The Thunderbolt port is a fast protocol, and part of the reason why it is so fast is that it partially allows direct access to computer memory. And anything that can access memory directly is a potential vulnerability.

The Thunderspy attack relies on just that. There is a feature built into the Thunderbolt firmware called "Security Level", which disallows access to untrusted devices or even turns off Thunderbolt port altogether. This feature would make the port be a simple USB or display output. However, the researcher has found a way to alter the firmware setting of Thunderbolt control chip in a way so it allows any device to access the PC. This procedure is done without any trace and OS can not detect that there was a change. From there, the magic happens. Using an SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) programmer with a SOP8 clip that connects the pins of the programmer device to the controller, the attacker just runs a script from there. This procedure requires around $400 worth of hardware. Intel already put some protection last year for the Thunderbolt port called Kernel Direct Memory Access Protection, but that feature isn't implemented on PCs manufactured before 2019. And even starting from 2019, not all PC manufacturers implement the feature, so there is a wide group of devices vulnerable to this unfixable attack.
Thunderspy attack

Valve Removes SteamVR Support on macOS

Valve has announced that SteamVR will drop support for the macOS platform so that development teams can focus on Windows and Linux support. SteamVR users running macOS who wish to continue using SteamVR will need to opt-in for legacy macOS builds from the "Beta" tab under SteamVR properties. This measure will probably stop functioning relatively quickly as new hardware and software changes appear. This move doesn't come as much of a surprise as the macOS platform isn't known for its VR activity, in the long-term macOS users will have to migrate to an alternate operating system or dual boot if they wish to continue accessing SteamVR.

Lenovo to Ship ThinkPad Laptops with Fedora 32 Workstation Pre-installed

Lenovo's ageless ThinkPad line of business laptops have been known to be fiercely Wintel, but the company is diversifying both its hardware- and software- feature-sets, beginning with AMD "Picasso" powered ThinkPad T-series models, and now a big announcement along the sidelines of the Red Hat Summit - ThinkPads with Fedora 32 Workstation operating system pre-installed.

A new line of upcoming ThinkPads will ship with Fedora 32 Workstation pre-installed, along with preparation for the end-user to install proprietary software, such as NVIDIA GeForce official drivers, at first startup. Out of the box, the ThinkPads will include open-source software, pointing to OSS repositories. Fedora is an open-source (out of the box) free-software derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and includes a flavor optimized for desktops, notebooks, and workstations, Fedora Workstation. Since the announcement comes from the Fedora team, we don't have hardware specifications of the ThinkPads, yet.
A video presentation by the Fedora Project follows.

OWC Unveils the Newest Iteration of its Wildly Popular Mercury Elite Pro External Storage Solution

OWC a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company and one of the world's most respected providers of hard drives, SSDs, Mac & PC docking solutions and performance upgrade kits, today announced the latest edition of its legendary Mercury Elite Pro external storage system for Mac, PC, Linux machines, Smart TVs, and PS4 and Xbox consoles. The 3.5-inch USB 3.2 5 Gb/s hard drive system is a modern day workhorse, delivering real-world performance up to 283 MB/s and capacities up to 16 TB to keep pace with the demands of everything from video editing projects, critical business data, and irreplaceable personal content to expanding PS4/Xbox One game storage and enjoying music/video content via a Smart TV.

The Essential External Storage Solution for Everyone
The Mercury Elite Pro kicked off OWC's rich, storied history of storage solution innovations nearly 20 years ago, and it has successfully stood the test of time by continuing to offer an incomparable blend of performance, quality, and value in a single HDD storage solution.
OWC Mercury Elite Pro OWC Mercury Elite Pro

Intel joins CHIPS Alliance to promote Advanced Interface Bus (AIB) as an open standard

CHIPS Alliance, the leading consortium advancing common and open hardware for interfaces, processors and systems, today announced industry leading chipmaker Intel as its newest member. Intel is contributing the Advanced Interface Bus (AIB) to CHIPS Alliance to foster broad adoption.

CHIPS Alliance is hosted by the Linux Foundation to foster a collaborative environment to accelerate the creation and deployment of open SoCs, peripherals and software tools for use in mobile, computing, consumer electronics and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The CHIPS Alliance project develops high-quality open source Register Transfer Level (RTL) code and software development tools relevant to the design of open source CPUs, SoCs, and complex peripherals for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and custom silicon.

Khronos Group Releases Vulkan 1.2

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announces the release of the Vulkan 1.2 specification for GPU acceleration. This release integrates 23 proven extensions into the core Vulkan API, bringing significant developer-requested access to new hardware functionality, improved application performance, and enhanced API usability. Multiple GPU vendors have certified conformant implementations, and significant open source tooling is expected during January 2020.

Vulkan continues to evolve by listening to developer needs, shipping new functionality as extensions, and then consolidating extensions that receive positive developer feedback into a unified core API specification. Carefully selected API features are made optional to enable market-focused implementations. Many Vulkan 1.2 features were requested by developers to meet critical needs in their engines and applications, including: timeline semaphores for easily managed synchronization; a formal memory model to precisely define the semantics of synchronization and memory operations in different threads; descriptor indexing to enable reuse of descriptor layouts by multiple shaders; deeper support for shaders written in HLSL, and more.

Intel 10 nm Ice Lake is Alive: Server and Desktop Support Added to the Linux Kernel

There were many rumors about Intel's 10 nm CPUs, many of them indicating that Intel will not manufacture 10 nm CPUs for desktop users, due to the 10 nm manufacturing process being in a bad shape. Those rumors were later countered by Intel, claiming that 10 nm is doing very well on improving yields and that we will see desktop CPUs based on the new node very soon.

Thanks to the Linux kernel mailing list (LKML), we now know that support for Ice Lake desktop and server CPUs has been added. A Patch titled "Add more CPU model number for Ice Lake" has many details about variants of Ice Lake with names like Ice Lake X for server Xeon CPU, Ice Lake D for Xeon D CPUs, Ice Lake L for mobile, and regular Ice Lake for desktop series of CPUs. This confirms Intel's claims that Ice Lake is on its way to desktop and server users in the near future. Possible launch date on these CPUs would be sometime in 2020, when Xe graphics cards are launched in July/August, so Intel could bundle both processors on the same 10 nm node.

Intel Submits USB4 Support to the Linux Kernel

As we are nearing the launch of USB4, which will feature Thunderbolt 3 like speeds of up to 40 Gbps, PCIe and DisplayPort support within USB-C form factor, there are already drivers showing up to support the new standard and ensure the launch and transition to the newest USB version will go smoothly.

According to the finds of Phoronix, Intel's open-source engineers have been working on a patch to support the new standard in the Linux kernel. Being based on Thunderbolt 3, the bring-up of USB4 isn't very difficult as it allows for a lot of code reuse, making things easier for kernel developers. Only 22 patches were submitted that resulted in under 4,000 lines of new code in total. For now, the support is in the stage of a pull request, so it should go mainstream very soon, most likely with the release of Linux kernel 5.5, if other features like power management are worked out soon.
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