NVIDIA acquires baseband and RF technology maker Icera

Subject: General Tech, Chipsets, Mobile | May 9, 2011 - 10:56 AM |

NVIDIA is really making moves towards providing the mobile industry with the computing power to bring on better and faster phones.  They took a big hit losing the DMI/QPI license from Intel, though the $1.5 billion court settlement took some of the sting from that loss, the battle essentially spelled the end for NVIDIA's motherboard chipset line.  Only being able to make motherboard chipsets for their main GPU competitor, AMD, might be amusing in an ironic sense but not an economically sound decision. 


Tegra saw a change in NVIDIA's target market, suddenly they provided a mobile chip that provided very impressive computing power and did not absorb a huge amount of power.  With the acquistion of Icera they now have a team designing the chips most necessary for a phone to have, RF and baseband transmission.  Perhaps they've a big enough foot in the door of the mobile market that they won't be going anywhere soon.

Icera’s baseband and RF technologies span 2G, 3G and 4G networks. Joining them with our Tegra mobile super chip will result in a powerful combination. Tegra has secured a number of design wins across the mobile device spectrum, and we have extensive relationships across the industry, from device manufacturers to carriers. In short, we can scale Icera’s great innovation. For additional context on Icera’s industry-leading technology, check out this report from Strategy Analytics.

Our OEM partners will reap the benefits of faster time-to-market, better integration and enhanced performance. The deal will also open up a new market to NVIDIA. The $15 billion global market for baseband processors is one of the fastest-growing areas in the industry.

Looking ahead, Icera’s programmable baseband processor architecture will allow NVIDIA and its OEM customers to innovate and adapt signaling algorithms in the rapidly evolving mobile telecommunications market — network responsiveness is critical to delivering on the promise of untethered wireless visual computing. Icera’s highly efficient architecture makes it possible to cleanly integrate their baseband processor into system and software platforms rapidly and, ultimately, into the super chip itself, if that’s the best product approach.

Source: NVIDIA

AMD commits support to coreboot for the foreseeable future

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | May 7, 2011 - 10:51 PM |
Tagged: coreboot, amd

When you boot your computer, you probably see a splash screen from whatever motherboard manufacturer or system builder you purchased from. Under that splash screen your computer is busily preparing itself to accept your operating system of choice with a lot of proprietary code. coreboot, formerly LinuxBIOS, is an Free Software project first released over a decade ago designed to replace your aforementioned proprietary BIOS with their own lightweight code. They claim boot times to a Linux console of just 3 seconds.


AMD Embedded: In this article.

Thursday, AMD announced on their blog that they have committed to supporting coreboot for all future products starting with Llano APU. They claim that support will continue for the foreseeable future for both features and products.

We are not expecting our readers to replace their BIOSes with coreboot except for a small segment of hardcore enthusiasts with a decent understanding of C. That said, the motivation of coreboot is not currently in the consumer market: the embedded market is the focus and AMD’s pledge of continued support should mean that cash registers, kiosks, and set-top boxes will have a little more AMD inside driving them.

Source: AMD Blog

KGPU lets the Linux kernel harness your GPU's power

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 6, 2011 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: linux, kgpu, gpgpu

PC Per has discussed using the GPU as a massively-parallel augment to the CPU for a very long time to allow the latter to focus on the branching logic (“if/then/else”) and other processes it is good at that GPUs are not. AMD and Intel both have their attempts to bundle the benefits of a GPU on to their CPU parts with their respective technologies. Currently most of the applications outside of the scientific community are gaming and multimedia; however, as the presence of stronger GPUs saturates, we are seeing more and more functions relegate to the GPU.


So happy together!

KGPU is an attempt to bring the horsepower of the GPU to the fingertips of the Linux kernel. While the kernel itself will remain a CPU function, the attempt allows the kernel to offload the parallel stuff to the GPU for large speed-ups and keep the CPU free for more. Their current version shows whole multiple speedups of eCryptfs, an encrypted filesystem, in terms of maximum read and write bandwidth by allowing the GPU to deal with the AES cipher.

We should continue to see speedups as tasks that would be perfect for the GPU are finally allowed to be with their true love. Furthermore, as the number of tasks relegated to the GPU increases we should continue to see more and stronger GPUs embedded in PCs which should decrease the fears for PC game developers worried about the number of PCs capable of running their applications. I am sure that is great news to many of our frequent readers.

Source: KGPU Project

Good news from TSMC, their new 12 inch Fab is ahead of the game

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2011 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: fab, TSMC, 12, inch

At 10 million 8-inch equivalent wafers produced in 2010 and an expected 20 million by 2015 it is a good thing that not only is TSMC not having major production issues anymore but it also ahead schedule with the setup of Fab 15, which will be producing 28nm chips on 12 inch wafers.  Moving from 8 to 12 inches should also mean less cost per chip, though whether the savings will be absorbed by the costs of the new fab or if they will be passed straight on to the consumer is a question that cannot be answered until summer next year when they expect to get production capacity up to full speed.  DigiTimes has the scoop here.


"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has begun equipment move-in for the phase 1 facility of a new 12-inch fab (Fab 15) with volume production of 28nm technology products slated for the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the foundry.

TSMC previously said it would begin moving equipment into the facility in June, and expected volume production to kick off in the first quarter of 2012.

Pilot runs at the phase 1 facility of Fab 15 are expected to start in the third quarter of 2011, following by volume production in the fourth quarter, said Jason Chen, senior VP of worldwide sales and marketing for TSMC, at a company event held on May 5. With new capacity coming online, TSMC will see its combined 12-inch capacity top 300,000 units a month."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Anonymous Denies Responsibility For Sony PSN Attack

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2011 - 09:20 AM |
Tagged: sony, Internet, Data Breach, Anonymous

As Sony analyzed the forensic data of the recent PSN/SOE attack, they discovered a text file named "Anonymous" and containing the phrase "We are legion," according to Network World. As a result of this, Sony even went so far as to accuse the hacker group as the responsible party in hacking the Playstation Network (and stealing customers' information) in a letter to the U.S. congress.

Anonymous responded to the implications brought by Sony today. Network World reports that Anonymous has stated they were not involved in the attack and that "others performed the attack with the intent of making Anonymous look bad." Based on a press release by the hacker group, it's prior victims had motive to irreparably defame the group in the public eye.  Anonymous stated that they have never been involved in credit card theft.  Further, they claim to be an "ironically transparent movement," and had they truly been behind the attack they would have claimed responsibility for their actions.

The press release goes on to state that "no one who is actually associated with our movement would do something that would prompt a massive law enforcement response."  They further claim that the world's standard fare of Internet thieves would have invested interest in making Sony and law enforcement agencies believe it was Anonymous to throw police off of their trail.

The hacker group names such former victims as Palantir, HBGary, and the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce of being organizations that would like to discredit Anonymous.  "Anonymous will continue its work in support of transparency and individual liberty; our adversaries will continue their work in support of secrecy and control," they state in their press release "we are anonymous."

As Anonymous, Sony, and spectators the world over debate, the affected public continues to wait for the true identies of the hackers involved in stealing 77 milion Sony customers' private information to come to light.

Netflix Employee Terminated For Accessing Customers' Credit Card Information

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 11:31 PM |
Tagged: Netflix, Customer Data, Corporate theft

It seems as though this Spring season is just a bad time for customers' personally identifiable information. Especially in the wake of the Sony PSN and SOE attack fiasco, to have yet another large corporation found to be involved in compromised customer data is rather disheartening for customers who trust companies with their private information.

Update:  LastPass has also reported a data breach, resulting in customers' emails being compromised.  Luckily; however, users' passwords were salted and hashed so users accounts on other sites should not be compromised in contrast to the Sony case where the passwords were compromised.


Fortunately, in the case of Netlfix, they have determined who the responsible party was and have moved swiftly to address the issue. Maximum tech reports that an un-named call center employee for Netlfix was terminated for accessing customers' information without permission.  On April 4, 2011 Netflix discovered that one of their call center employees had been accessing confidential information of a number of customers that he had spoken with over the phone.  He was found to have accessed the name and credit card information of two customers in New Hampshire.

According to the article, Netflix is now in the process of notifying the two customers in question.

The amount of private data that customers entrust will be kept private by the companies that they do business with everyday is rather daunting.  When large corporations like Sony and Netflix run into problems with keeping information secure, one has to wonder how much compromised information goes under the radar of the majority of people.  While there is not much one can do to stop others accessing their data without permission once information has been lost in a data breach or as a result of corporate theft, people do have control over what information is given to compainies to begin with.  

It may seem rather paradoxical for me to quote Sony of all people; however, they have definitely seen the consequenses and thus can assuredly recommend that customers stay vigilant and protect themselves from fraud.  Using one time credit card numbers (if your bank/card provider offers this) or reloadable visa debit cards with just enough money on them fro the desired transactions can help to protect you from data breaches such as this.  Further, only provide the minimum amount of information necessary for a transaction, especially if it's to a company that you're unsure about.  While various forms of fraud protection can help, preventing yourself from ever needing to use fraud protection in the first place is the best thing you can do for yourself and your private data.  "Remain vigilant."

Source: Maximum Tech

Podcast #153 - Dell UltraSharp U3011 monitor, AMD Phenom II X4 980, 3D transitors and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 10:58 PM |
Tagged: ultrasharp, u3011, podcast, Phenom II X4 980, Intel, dell, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #153 - 5/05/2011

This week we talk about the Dell UltraSharp U3011 monitor, AMD Phenom II X4 980, 3D transitors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:23:01

Program Schedule:


Ultra-cheap PC for education: 25$ gets you a very smart USB stick.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 5, 2011 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: usb computer, Education

In case you did not get enough solder for one day: you are in luck! David Braben, previously known for his work developing such games as Rollercoaster Tycoon, Thrillville, and Kinectimals, created an extremely low cost PC for educational use. His goal is ultimately to have computers like the one he created be accessible such that there would be functionally zero barriers to entry for students to pursue studying computing. A charity was created, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, under these beliefs to distribute this device hopefully sometime within the next 12 months.

Am I the only one who finds it weird that an affordable PC uses HDMI?

Given our demographic it would be blasphemous to not relay the specifications of the PC he created. The PC itself is slightly larger than a USB key in size and runs Ubuntu as its operating system though other distributions are likely possible. The processor is an ARM11 clocked at 700 MHz supported by 128MB of RAM and a GPU which supports OpenGL ES2.0 outputting at least 1080p resolutions. For connectivity it has USB port to attach to a keyboard and an HDMI port to attach to a monitor or flat screen TV. Storage is handled for by an SD card and other accessories are mountable such as the demonstrated 12 MP camera. While not explicitly listed on their site it appears as if connectivity is achieved wired via Ethernet through USB.
While this is obviously a low powered device its cost is only around 25$ and should be powerful enough to handle website interaction, scripting, and other educational applications. This PC and others like it should hopefully ensure that everyone has access to the internet and all of its educational, professional, and employment benefits.
Source: Geek.com

Potential LastPass Break-in Disclosed by LastPass

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: security, lastpass

One of the most important parts of security is authentication. A lot of our methods of authentication online revolve around passwords. There is an expectation these days that you are required to remember large passwords composed of completely random characters including numbers and symbols each unique from each other in the event that one source compromises the password you provide it. This necessity confronts our human nature of having terrible memory. Many programs have made attempts at solutions by storing and generating secure passwords for you.



LastPass is currently one of the most popular platforms for that such need. Wednesday, Lastpass announced on their blog that they have noticed on odd behavior on Tuesday morning in their network traffic without being able to track the source. The security firm claims that while they are unable to tell if user data was compromised that there was a possibility that their list of user email addresses and the corresponding salted and hashed, an algorithm designed to encode data in a way that is almost impossible to ever decode, passwords. Passwords are hashed since the server does not need to know what the password is, only whether it is the same as what was input by the user, so storing the password itself is just asking for trouble in case of intrusion.
LastPass is claiming that they will require their users to change their master password especially in the event that your LastPass password is easily guessed. Currently I have not received such notification on my account but comments on their blog suggest that some have been notified of this requirement. If anything this potential break-in illustrates just how hard actual security is and how much of a concern it should be for the general population at all times that valuable information is being handled.

The 8GB Atari 810 Drive, now with flash memory support

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 5, 2011 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: mod, microSD, atari 810

It is common knowledge that technology gets smaller as time advances. There is, however, a point where a certain level of advancement trots along the border to absurdity and makes you think about exactly what is possible with modern technology and occasionally an innovative spirit. Leave it to the hackers to consistently push that boundary and entertain the rest of us less talented individuals.

Recently a blogger by the name of Rossum detailed on their Posterous blog their project of creating a microSD reader as a model replacement of an Atari 810 disk drive.
Image from Rossum
The original Atari 810 disk had the storage of 88K which is about 90,000 times smaller than the 8GB microSD card used in the miniaturized model 810 drive. Rossum claims to provide all the models, schematics, and code for the project in the near future for anyone wishing to dust off their soldering irons and create their own.