Chrome might be less polite than you think

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2014 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome, snooping, mic

If you have never heard the phrase "Those who eavesdrop hear nothing good about themselves" you are in good company as Google Chrome has not either.  A developer by the name of Tal Ater has discovered that Chrome can enable your microphone when you view certain malicious websites without your knowledge.  According to Google's online documentation, when Chrome enables your microphone you should see both a blinking red light appear in the tab you are viewing and a persistent icon in the system tray.  Unfortunately when The Register saw a test, the site created a pop-under window which displayed the red light and was not visible until the other browsing session was closed or moved, nor was there a system tray icon.  Even more worrying, the initial specification called for recording to be disabled when the tab with access to the mic was not active but was never implemented.

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"A design flaw in the Chrome browser allows malicious websites to use your computer's microphone to eavesdrop on you, one developer has claimed, although Google denies this is the case."

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Source: The Register

Intel Processors Power The Majority of Top 500 Supercomputers, Looking to Expand With MIC Solutions

Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 25, 2011 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: xeon, SC11, mic, many integrated core, knights corner, Intel

This year saw the 40th anniversary of (the availability of) the world’s first microprocessor- the Intel 4004 processor- and Intel is as strong as ever. On the supercomputing and HPC (High Performance Computing) front, Intel processors are powering the majority of the Top 500 supercomputers, and at this years supercomputing conference (SC11) the company talked about their current and future high performance silicon. Mainly, Intel talked about its new Intel Xeon E5 family of processors and the new Many Integrated Cores Knights Corner Larrabee successor.

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The Intel Xeon E5 is available now.

The new Xeon chips are launching now and should be widely available within the first half of 2012. Several (lucky) supercomputing centers have already gotten their hands on the new chips and are now powering 10 systems on the Top 500 list where the 20,000 Xeon E5 CPUs are delivering a combined 3.4 Petaflops.

According to benchmarks, Intel is expecting a respectable 70% performance increase on HPC workloads versus the previous generation Xeon 5600 CPUs. Further Intel stated that the new E5 silicon is capable of as much as a 2x increase in raw FLOPS performance, according to Linpack benchmarks.

Intel is reporting that demand for the initial production run chips is “approximately 20 times greater than previous generation processors.” Rajeeb Hazra, the General Manager of Technical Computing of Intel’s Datacenenter and Connected Systems Group, stated that “customer acceptance of the Intel Xeon E5 processor has exceeded our expectations and is driving the fastest debut on the TOP 500 list of any processor in Intel’s history.” The company further reiterated several supercomputers that are set to go online son and will be powered by the new E5 CPUs including the 10 Petaflops Stampede computer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the 1 Petaflops Pleiades expansion for NASA.

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While Intel processors are powering the majority of the world’s fastest supercomputers, graphics card hardware and GPGPU software has started to make its way into quite a few supercomputers as powerful companion processors that can greatly outperform a similar number of traditional CPUs (assuming the software can take advantage of the GPU hardware of course). In response to this, Intel has been working on it’s own MIC (Many Integrated Core) solution for a few years now. Starting with Larrabee, then Knights Ferry, and now Knights Corner, Intel has been working on silicon that using numerous small processing cores that can use the X86 instruction set to power highly parallel applications. Examples given by Intel as useful applications for their Many Integrated Core hardware includes weather modeling, tomography, and protein folding.

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Knights Corner is the company’s latest iteration of MIC hardware, and is the first hardware that is commercially available. Knights Corner is capable of delivering more than 1 Teraflops of double precision floating point performance. Hazra stated that “having this performance now in a single chip based on Intel MIC architecture is a milestone that will once again be etched into HPC history” much like Intel’s first Teraflop supercomputer that utilized 9,680 Pentium Pro CPUs in 1997.

What’s interesting about Knights Corner lies in the ability of the hardware to run existing applications without porting to alternative programing languages like Nvidia’s CUDA or AMD’s Stream GPU languages. That is not to say that the hardware itself is not interesting, however. Knights Corner will be produced using Intel’s Tri-Gate transistors on a 22nm manufacturing process, and will feature “more than 50 cores.” Unlike current GPGPU solutions, the Knights Corner hardware is fully accessible and can be programmed as if the card is it’s own HPC node running a Linux based operating system.

More information on the Knights Corner architecture can be found here. I think it will be interesting to see how well Knights Corner will be adopted for high performance workloads versus graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD, especially now that the industry has already begun adapting GPGPU solutions using such programming technologies like CUDA, and graphics cards are becoming more general purpose (or at least less specialized) in hardware design. Is Intel too late for the (supercomputing market adoption) party, or just in time? What do you think?

Source: Intel

Corsair Returns With A Vengeance (Line Of Gaming Headsets)

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2011 - 07:50 AM |
Tagged: usb, PC, mic, headsets, gaming, corsair, analog, 7.1, 5.1

Following in the success of the company’s HS1 gaming headset, Corsair recently unveiled three new gaming headsets in its new Vengeance lineup of gaming peripherals. The new arrivals include the Vengeance 1100, 1300, and 1500 audio peripherals, of which two support USB connections.

The Vengeance 1100 is the smallest of the three gaming headsets, and features a behind-the-head headphone design and boom microphone extending from the left speaker. Using 40mm drivers, the headphones are capable of a claimed 94 decibel dynamic range, and is one of Corsairs lightest headsets. The microphone is of the unidirectional variety and features noise cancellation technology. Connectivity options include two 3.5mm audio jacks at the end of the 1.8 meter cable for headphone and microphone or a single USB connection with the included adapter cable.

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The Vengeance 1300 headset with dual 3.5mm analog connections.

While lightweight and open ear headphones have their place, they are not for everyone. Thankfully, Corsair have also introduced two larger designs dubbed the Vengeance 1300 and 1500 to suit the needs of gamers who prefer (whether out of desire for isolated sound or to appease the significant other) the around-the-ears circumaural design. The 1300 supports connecting to high end sound cards with 3.5mm audio connections for both sound and the noise canceling cardioid microphone while the Vengeance 1500 connects to the computer using USB for both sound and microphone. Both models feature 50mm drivers, 95 decibel dynamic range, 3 meter cables, noise canceling microphones, and support for positional audio. Further, the Vengeance 1300 uses X-Fi CMSS-3D while the 1500 headset supports 5.1 and 7.1 Dolby Headphone positional audio. The larger designs are bound to be relatively heavy compared to the smaller Vengeance 1100; however, the closed ear design should provide cleaner audio while blocking out background noise.

As far as pricing and availability are concerned, the new gaming headsets and other Vengeance gaming peripherals are slated for an October 2011 launch worldwide. The Vengeance 1100 weights in at an attractive $39 US MSRP while the larger 1300 and 1500 have a suggested retail price of $79 US and $99 USD respectively.

Do you game with headsets, or are you more of the crank-the-home-theater-speakers-to-11 (and immerse the whole neighborhood in your Battlefield match) kind of person? I have somewhat recently moved to a pair of headphones for gaming and it definitely has its benefits (including the aforementioned spouse acceptance factor...). How do you think the new Corsair headsets will stack up to the competition? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Corsair

IDF 2011: Intel Many Integrated Core (MIC) Knights Corner

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 15, 2011 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: idf, idf 2011, knights ferry, knights corner, mic, terascale

During Justin Rattner's closing keynote at the Intel Developer Forum he discussed the pending changes to the Many Integrated Core Architectures (MIC) that we previously knew as the Terascale projects.  While we have heard about the Knights Ferry component for some time, and it was basically used a software development platform for Intel's many-core initiative. 

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Impressive to see at this stage, the upcoming Knights Corner product will actually be built on the new 22nm tri-gate transistors and with more than 50 cores.  They haven't posted more details on what exactly ">50" refers to but it does mean that Intel continues to progress down this path and is going to be pushing the terascale computing projects into the future. 

Rattner also indicated that not all of the cores on the many-core projects have to be identical and we will soon see designs that combine more than the x86 processors to make for truly heterogeneous computing platforms. 

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Research into the program continues including things like stacked and shared memory, new communications protocols like optical interconnects, etc.  We are just as eager to see the fruits of this research as we were for its application to gaming and graphics that eventually failed.

Source: PCPer

Intel Hopes For Exaflop Capable Supercomputers Within 10 Years

Subject: Systems | June 21, 2011 - 03:52 AM |
Tagged: supercomputing, mic, larrabee, knights corner, Intel

Silicon Graphics International and Intel recently announced plans to reach exascale levels of computational power within ten years. Exascale computing amounts to computers that are capable of delivering 1,000+ petaflops (One exaflop is 1000 petaflops) of computational horsepower to process quintillions of calculations. To put that in perspective, today’s supercomputers are just now breaking into the level of single-digit petaflop performance, with the fastest supercomputer delivering 8.16 petaflops. It is capable of this thanks to many thousands of eight core CPUs, whereas other top 500 supercomputers are starting to utilize a CPU and GPU combination in order to achieve petaflop performance.

The Aubrey Isle Silicon Inside Knights Corner

This partnering of Central Processing Unit (CPU) and GPU (or other accelerator) allows high performance supercomputers to achieve much higher performance than with CPUs alone. Intel CPUs power close to 80% of the top 500 Supercomputers; however, they have begun to realize that specialized accelerators are able to speed up highly parallel computing tasks. Specifically, Intel plans to combine Xeon processors with successors to their Knights Corner Many Integrated Core accelerator to reach exascale performance levels when combined with other data transfer and inter-core communication advancements. Knights Corner is an upcoming successor to the Knights Ferry and Larrabee processors.

Computer World quotes Eng Lim Goh, the CTO of SGI, in stating that “Accelerators such as graphics processors (GPUs) are currently being used with CPUs to execute more calculations per second. While some accelerators achieve desired results, many are not satisfied with the performance related to the time and cost spent porting applications to work with accelerators.”

Knights corner will be able to run x86 based software and features 50 cores based on a 22nm manufacturing process.  Each core will run four threads at 1.2 GHz, have 8 MB of cache, and will be supported by 512 bit vector processing units.  It’s predecessor, Knights Ferry is based on 32 45nm cores and eight contained in a Xeon server and are capable of 7.4 teraflops. Their MIC chip is aimed directly at NVIDIA’s CUDA and AMD’s OpenCL graphics processors, and is claimed to offer performance in addition to ease of use as they are capable of running traditional x86 based software.

It looks like the CPU-only supercomputers will be seeing more competition from GPU and MIC accelerated supercomputers, and will eventually be replaced at the exascale level. AMD and NVIDIA are betting heavily on their OpenCL and CUDA programmable graphics cards while Intel is going with a chip capable of running less specialized but widely used x86 programmable chips.  It remains to be seen which platform will be victorious; however, the increased competition should hasten the advancement of high performance computing power.  You can read more about Intel’s plan for Many Integrated Core accelerated supercomputing here.

Larrabee rides again, almost ... meet Knights Corner the new Many Integrated Core design

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2011 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: Intel, mic, larrabee, knights corner, 50 GPGPU

Knights Corner is not exactly Larrabee but the idea behind both are very similar.  A large number of GPGPUs are integrated with a CPU, Intel is using a Xeon core now as opposed to a Pentium; with the GPGPUs hooked up in a similar method to Larrabee's ring of Pentium cores.  The design is proven as they have sold units of the previous generation Kights Ferry and offers a feature that a lot of programmers are going to appreciate; instead of needing to learn a new language like CUDA or OpenCL, standard x86 scalar code is used to program these chips.  This architecture is also expected to scale very well, for as ARM recently pointed out only specific multithreaded applications continue to scale well as more cores are added.   Drop by The Inquirer for more information.

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They will likely be sold as PCIe card like the Knights Ferry card pictured above.

"CHIPMAKER Intel has announced its second generation hybrid core technology codenamed 'Knights Corner'.

Knights Corner is Intel's second chip in its Many Integrated Core (MIC) chip line and will feature Xeon X86 cores and more than 50 GPGPU cores loosely based on what was previously known as Larrabee. Knights Corner will be fabricated using Intel's 22nm tri-gate process node beginning in 2012, though the firm would not be drawn on the exact core count at this time."

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Source: The Inquirer