Raspberry Pi Foundation Updates Compute Module With Faster Processor

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2017 - 05:11 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, compute module, Raspberry Pi 3, broadcom, iot

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is introducing an updated Compute Module that puts the single board computer for embedded devices more in line with the performance of the newest hobbyist Raspberry Pi 3.

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 is a pin compatible successor to the Compute Module 1 (there is no CM2) that, according to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, offers twice the RAM and 10-times the CPU performance.

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Note that while the Compute Module 3 may be able to be a drop in upgrade / replacement for devices powered by the first generation CM1, it uses more power, puts out more heat, and is 1mm taller so while it is pin compatible it may not work in all devices if their module slot space, power supply, and airflow / heatsinks are not up to the task.

The Compute Module 3 is a small single board computer with a SO-DIMM connector that can slot into embedded and IoT products. It is powered by a Broadcom BCM2837 with four ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores clocked at 1.2 GHz and a dual core VIdeoCore IV GPU clocked at 400 MHz. The processor is paired with 1GB of RAM. As far as onboard storage, the Compute Module 3 will come in two SKUs: the CM3 with 4GB of eMMC or a CM3 Lite without pre-installed eMMC and solder points for manufacturers to add their own eMMC or micro SD card slot. The VideoCore IV GPU supports 1080p30 decode of H.264. Users wanting hardware decode of H.265 and/or 4K support will have to look elsewhere. As is usual with Broadcom, exact specifications of the BCM2837 (especially their GPU) are kept close and quiet, unfortunately.

The exact ports and I/O from the Compute Module 3 will depend on the device and what manufacturers implement and wire to the connectors on the SO-DIMM slot. However, looking at the CMIO3 development board (96 Euros, $116 USD) shows that the CM3 supports GPIO, USB, micro USB, CSI (camera interface), DSI (display interface), HDMI, micro SD, audio, and networking. 

The Compute Module 3 can run Windows IOT Core or any number of Linux distributions compatible with ARM processors.

The Compute Module 3 is $30 while the “lite” variant without eMMC is $25. A kit including the development I/O board and both CM3 SKUs is $200. NEC has already announced it will be using the new Compute Module 3 in their digital signage and displays. Other applications include Smart TVs, home automation, and industrial control systems as well as hobbyist projects and robotics.

Source: Raspberry Pi

Intel Announces Compute Card To Power Smart Devices

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 8, 2017 - 03:38 AM |
Tagged: vpro, SFF, kaby lake, iot, Intel, compute stick

Intel announced the Compute Card today, a modular small form factor compute system for smart appliances, home automation, industrial applications, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The Compute Card is a full PC in a card slightly longer than credit card at 95 x 55 x 5mm with an Intel SoC, memory, storage, wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), and standardized I/O built in. The compute card is designed the fit into an internal or external slot where it locks into place. According to Intel, the idea is to standardize the compute aspect of these smart devices so that manufacturers can reduce time to market and design costs as well as make them easier to repair. Manufacturers would design their devices with a slot for an Intel Compute Card and then choose a card that meets their performance and price requirements as the brains of the smart device whether that is your toaster, virtual assistant, IoT gateway, or security system. Outside of the home, Intel wants to sell cards to makers of digital signage, kiosks, and industrial control systems for machinery and factories.

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One of the first things that came to mind for me was its usage in smart TVs and that may happen but the hope of an upgrade-able model where I could just slap a new Compute Card in to get new features and better performance I fear will never happen if only because while that model would be good for Intel the TV manufacturers that want to sell you new TVs every year would never go for it heh.

Unfortunately, Intel has not released full specifications on the Compute Card, only saying that they would utilize 7th Generation Core vPro processors. Looking around on their website, I would make an educated guess that Intel plans to use the 4.5 watt "7th Generation Intel® Core™ vPro™ Processors" intended for mobile devices. These chips range from 1.1 GHz to 1.3 GHz and are two core / four thread processors paired with Intel HD Graphics (515, 615, or 630). There are also 15W vPro processors with faster clockspeeds but they may not do well in such a small form factor where there is not guaranteed cooling. Still, even the lower power models should offer up quite a bit of computing power for connected devices that do basic tasks.

Intel expects to release its Compute Cards in mid-2017 and has partnered with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sharp as well as regional partners Seneca, DTx, InFocus, tabletkiosk, and Pasuntech. I notice that Samsung is missing from this list but would be a good partner to have if only because of their appliance line. The chip giant is said to be expanding that partner list though so we may yet see more appliance and home automation manufacturers pop up on there. I think that standardizing the brains of IoT is a good plan and smart on Intel's part but I am a bit skeptical whether or not it will catch on and how well it will be adopted in the targeted markets.

What are your thoughts on Intel's Compute Card?

Source: Intel

CES 2017: Second-Generation Bitdefender BOX Announced

Subject: Networking | January 6, 2017 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: router, iot, internet of things, bitdefender, 802.11ac

A couple of years ago, Bitdefender released the Bitdefender BOX, which was a router designed for security that was aimed at home users. They are taking another shot at it for this year’s CES with the second-generation Bitdefender BOX. It is now running on a 1.2 GHz, dual-core ARM Cortex A9 SoC, backed with 1GB of RAM.

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The goal is to have a security-conscious company stand between all of your internet-of-things devices, allowing your TVs, security cameras, and whatever else to function without being a foothold for malicious actors.

Pricing and availability has not yet been finalized, but PCWorld cites a spokesperson for the company that expects the device to sell for $199 USD with a $99/year subscription. If the service is the same as the first-generation device, and I understand the product page correctly, then this subscription also provides a license to their TotalSecurity antivirus as well.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Bitdefender

CES 2017: Symantec Announces Norton Core Router

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2017 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: symantec, router, iot, internet of things, CES 2017, CES, 802.11ac

Symantec has recently announced the Norton Core router and the Norton Core Security Plus subscription service. The Norton branding hints that these are targeted at their home and family customers, which is accurate. The combination is designed to connect your internet-of-things devices, keeping them (and the other things on the network) from being maliciously manipulated, even if those things weren’t really created with security at the forefront.

Symantec claims that the Norton Core router is both security- and performance-minded. The router is built around a dual-core, 1.7 GHz SoC, backed with 1GB of RAM. The AC2600-listed router is capable of 4x4 MU-MIMO, utilizing both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands simultaneously, for a maximum total bandwidth of 2.5 gigabit.

This brings us to the service. One of the main goals of Norton Core Security Plus is to scan packets as they are transmitted between devices for malware, and isolate affected ones into a quarantined area. They also have a few services to make it easy for users to set up guest access and otherwise manage their network.

The Norton Core is expected to ship in the summer for $279.99 USD MSRP. Early users can get it for $199.99 on pre-order, though, with a year of Norton Core Security Plus bundled in. After the year, this service will cost about $9.99 per month.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Symantec

Sadly, this 'smart' hairbrush is not going to be the dumbest thing out of CES

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2017 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: iot

Yes, you read that correctly.  The Kérastase Hair Coach from L' Oréal is an internet connected hairbrush with an accelerometer and a gyroscope inside to measure the quality of your brush stokes through your hair and The Register reports it will start to vibrate if if thinks you are being too brusque.  It also has a microphone so it can listen to you brushing and offer "insights into manageability, frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage".  The internet connection is used to track weather, to warn you about humidity and other supposedly traumatic conditions for your hair.  You should expect to see even stranger IoT products over the next few days.

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"The annual godforsaken hypegasm that is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has given an "innovation award" ... to a Wi-Fi-connected microphone-fitted allegedly "smart" hairbrush."

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Source: The Register

Love to argue on the internet? Why not leave your mark on the IoT!

Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2016 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: iot, security

Hack a Day takes you on a bit of a trip through memory lane to demonstrate how current programmers can have a major influence on the standards that the Internet of Things will eventually adopt.  If you remember X.25's loss to TCP/IP thanks to the volume of adoption the latter had, or mourn the loss of SOAP's XML based transmission to JSON then you have an idea what they are discussing.  

If a large enough group of programmers choose a particular communications protocol or software library to design connected household appliances, manufacturers will find it easier and more economical to base their products on the skills of the programmers who work for them.  Any security and performance enhancements that come about because of this would be an added benefit to the company and of great value to the end users.  Pick up that keyboard and see if you can't turn the tide and plug up the I/O ports of the death toaster.

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"In the long term however it’s unlikely we’re going to let one company become the backhaul for consumer Internet of Things traffic. It’s unlikely that there will be one platform to rule them all. I don’t think it’s going to be long till IFTTT starts to see some complaints about that, and inevitably clones."

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Source: Hack a Day

Let's hack some lightbulbs; HueHueHue

Subject: General Tech | November 9, 2016 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: hack, iot, phillips, hue

If you were hoping to drive someone a wee bit crazy by remote controlling their light bulbs you have probably missed your opportunity as Phillips have patched the vulnerability.  This is a good thing as it was a very impressive flaw.  Security researchers figured out a vulnerability in the ZigBee system used to control Phillips Hue smart light bulbs and they did not need to be anywhere near the lights to do so.  They used a drone from over 1000 feet away to break into the system to cause the lights to flash and even worse, they were able to ensure that the bulb would no longer accept firmware updates which made their modifications permanent.  Unpatched systems could be leveraged to turn all the lights off permanently, or to start an unexpected disco light show if you wanted to be creative.  You can pop by Slashdot for a bit more information on the way this was carried out.

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"Researchers were able to take control of some Philips Hue lights using a drone. Based on an exploit for the ZigBee Light Link Touchlink system, white hat hackers were able to remotely control the Hue lights via drone and cause them to blink S-O-S in Morse code. The drone carried out the attack from more than a thousand feet away."

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Source: Slashdot

ARM plans to mbed itself into the IoT, for better or worse

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2016 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: arm, Mbed OS, iot, security

Is a single point of failure more or less secure than multiple points?  That is the question IoT designers should make when considering ARM's new mbed OS, designed to rein in the fiasco which is the current state of security in the IoT market.  On the one hand this OS will run on just about any device you could want, even if you prefer your device remain on MIPS, Linux or another OS and regardless of your back end provider.  It will allow encrypted updates to be pushed out to devices software or firmware from a single source and the companies which use it will be charge on a pay per use scheme as opposed to a fixed cost.

On the sinister hand, this means that when someone manages to exploit an unforeseen vulnerability in mbed, the communications between ARM and the devices or the factory set private keys, they will be able to own every single mbed device out there.  That is unfortunately merely a matter of time and so we wait to hear from ARM as to how they plan to partition the devices which use mbed and other measures they will develop to prevent a worse DDoS than the Dyn DNS attack last week.  You can take a deeper look at mbed's structure as well as ARM's new Cortex-M33 and Cortex-M23 microcontrollers over at The Register.

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"So ARM has come up with mbed Cloud, a software-as-a-service platform that securely communicates with firmware in devices to install fixes and feature updates. Product makers pay to remotely manage all their sold kit. Crucially, they pay for what they use – whether it's pushing updates, or connecting millions of units, and so on."

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Source: The Register

Want to know who Dyn DNS and others should point their WiFi enabled fingers at?

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2016 - 05:21 PM |
Tagged: iot

There are a few people to blame for the vulnerabilities which allowed the DDoS attack on Friday to make access to major sites difficult.  They range from lazy ISPs not implementing security standard designed to block the spoofing portion of the attack to lazy IoT developers using standardized passwords, often the defaults from the software itself.  One could blame users for not updating the passwords on their devices but it is not something your average toaster shopper thinks about nor is the need well communicated in the manuals which come with IoT devices. 

The commentators on Slashdot have many theories as to who the attackers were but the real issue lies with the fact that sheer laziness on the part of IoT devices and ISPs allow these attacks to succeed in the first place. They also have a link to the list of devices which were involved in the attack for those who are curious.

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"If you're worried, Motherboard is pointing people to an online scanning tool from BullGuard (a U.K. anti-virus firm) which checks whether devices on your home network are listed in the Shodan search engine for unsecured IoT devices. But earlier this month, Brian Krebs pointed out the situation is exacerbated by the failure of many ISPs to implement the BCP38 security standard to filter spoofed traffic, "allowing systems on their networks to be leveraged in large-scale DDoS attacks..."

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Source: Slashdot

Power efficient memristors could be showing up in your smart toaster

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2016 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: memristor, iot

Over at Nanotechweb you can read about research being conducted on memristor technology to reduce the power required to write to a cell to make this memory type more useful in low voltage applications, such as IoT devices.  Apart from the challenges of creating materials capable of remembering how much current has flowed through them in the past there is what the researchers refer to as the sneak path problem.  When writing to a memristor, current flows to the cell that is being updated, unfortunately it also flows into a number of other cells thus increasing the current required for each write cycle.  This team hopes to overcome this issue, so far having successfully reduced the current required to 8% of that in conventional crossbar circuits.  Check out more on the research in the full article.

Memristor.jpg

"Researchers at Hewlett Packard Labs in California, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Seoul National University are reporting on a new low-current, self-rectifying memristor made from titanium ion electron traps in a niobium oxide matrix. The device might be used as an embedded memory on low-power chips and for storing data in Internet of Things (IoT) appliances."

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Source: Nanotechweb