Industrial strength hacking

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2017 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: iot, scary, scada, security, ics

The Register posted a cheerful article today, discussing the security of the other Internet of Things, which they have dubbed the Internet of Big Things.  Botnets formed out of compromised toasters, refrigerators and webcams is one thing; taking over power stations and industrial equipment is quite another.  Citizens of the Ukraine know the dangers all too well, having had their power grid taken offline once in 2015 and again more recently by nefarious means.  Take a read through to learn about how vulnerabilities in systems such as the Industrial Control System and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition could be used to cause significant harm, as well as a search engine reassuringly named Shodan. 

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"The Internet of Big Things exists because it makes perfect sense to have accessibility to equipment from afar. Industrial systems are complex, specialist items and for many such systems it’s common for there to be only a handful of qualified maintenance staff in the country, continent or world."

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Source: The Register

This is System Shock, not to be confused with System Shock

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: system shock 3, gaming, starbreeze

We have gone from no new System Shock to a pair of them, good news for fans of the series.  The Kickstarter reboot we already know about, with many mixed opinions about the move to the Unreal Engine, however the recently announced System Shock 3 is a totally different beast.  This sequel is being produced by Starbreeze and will not involve crowd sourcing.  Having migrated from a space station to starship it will be interesting to see what location is chosen for the third; as it is in early development they did not let Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN in on the secret.  We anxiously await examples of the art style and other details from Starbreeze and will let you know as they arrive.

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"Starbreeze are putting $12 million towards System Shock 3 [official site] in a publishing deal, the Swedes announced today. Publishing deals are rarely exciting enough for us to mention but this means ..."

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Let's get patching

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2017 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, patch tuesday

Patch Tuesday arrived, after a delay of a month thanks to a SMB bug which was announced just prior to our scheduled day of updating.  That particular SMB issue was patched by a third party and today you can get it directly from Microsoft if you decided to live dangerously during the shortest month of the year.  The list of fixes include the traditional Adobe Flash patch as well as numerous others which you should really get around to installing before the podcast tonight.  The Register were kind enough to provide links and a summary of what each patch is intended to repair, you can read about them all here.

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"These flaws range from a hypervisor escape in Hyper-V, remote-code execution via PDF and Office files and malicious SMB traffic, to the usual barrage of information leaks and privilege escalations."

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Source: The Register

Is it truly, Truly Ergonomic?

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2017 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: Truly Ergonomic, kailh brown, mechanical keyboard

Ergonomic keyboards have come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and tend to be either loathed or loved.  Truly Ergonomic release the tenkeyless board you can see below, a bit of a change from the usual design which separates the keys on a much larger angle and incorporates Kailh Brown switches into the design.  At 234 x 327.6 x 38.1mm (9.2 x 12.8 x 1.5") it is of similar size to most TKL boards and much smaller than other ergonomic designs, especially if you chose to remove the wrist rest.  TechPowerUp tried it out and ran into some strange issues, troubles with USB 3.x connectivity and the ability to brick the keyboard requiring disassembly to return it to working condition.  On the other hand, their wrists were happy with the layout; read the full review here.

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"The Truly Ergonomic Keyboard in its current revisions 227 and 229 aims to get past the issues that plagued the predecessors to re-establish a loyal customer base. It features all new switches, updated firmware, support for niche keyboard layouts, full programmability and more in a form factor smaller than most keyboards."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Now that's dense storage; single atom storage

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2017 - 11:54 AM |
Tagged: nm, storage

As we are not going to see scanning tunnelling microscopes included in our home computers anytime soon this experiment is simply proof of the concept that data can be stored on a single atom.  That does not make it any less interesting for those fascinated by atomic storage techniques.  A single atom of holmium can be made to spin either up or down, signifying either a 0 or 1, and that spin state can be 'read' by measuring the vibration of a single iron atom located close by.  The holmium atoms used for storage can be separated by a mere nanometer without interfering with the spin of its neighbours.  The spin state only lasts a few hours but shows that this could someday be a viable storage technology.  You can read more at nanotechweb, who also have links to the Nature article.

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"Information has been stored in a single atom for the first time. The nascent binary memory was created by Andreas Heinrich at the Institute of Basic Science in South Korea and an international team."

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Source: Nanotechweb

Epic Games Releases Zen Garden Demo for WebAssembly

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2017 - 08:02 PM |
Tagged: webassembly, ue4, mozilla, epic games

HTML5 was a compile target for Unreal Engine since Unreal Engine 3, but it was supposed to be a bigger push for Unreal Engine 4 then it has been. At the time, Mozilla was pushing for web browsers to be the main source of games. Thanks to Flash, users are even already accustomed to that use case; it’s just a matter of getting performance and functionality close enough to competing platforms, and supporting content that will show it off.

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That brings us to Zen Garden. This demo was originally designed to show off the Metal API for iOS, but Epic has re-purposed it for the recently released web browser features, WebAssembly and WebGL 2.0. Personally, I find it slightly less impressive than the Firefox demo of Unreal Tournament 3 that I played at Mozilla Summit 2013, but it’s a promising example that big-name engines are taking Web standards seriously again. You don’t get much bigger than Unreal Engine 4.

So yeah... if you have Firefox 52, then play around with it. It’s free.

Source: Mozilla

Satya is my copilot; Intel purchases Mobileye

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2017 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: Intel, mobileye, self driving car, billions

BMW's self driving car division asked Intel and Mobileye to partner together to design the iNext spin off of BMW's electric car division.  Mobileye specializes in sensors and software for autonomous or assisted driving, Tesla used their products in the Model S.  Their success has not gone unnoticed and today they are Intel's latest acquisition in the IoT market, purchased for a total of roughly $15.3 billion, US. Expect to see more Intel Inside stickers on cars, as they have recently purchased another IoT firm specializing in chip security as well as one focused on computer vision.  Pop by The Inquirer for links to those other purchases.

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"On Monday, Intel announced that it has purchased the company for £12.5bn, marking the biggest-ever acquisition of an Israeli tech company. It's also the biggest purchase of a company solely focused on the autonomous driving sector."

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Source: The Inquirer

NVIDIA Launches Jetson TX2 With Pascal GPU For Embedded Devices

Subject: General Tech, Processors | March 12, 2017 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, machine learning, iot, Denver, Cortex A57, ai

NVIDIA recently unveiled the Jetson TX2, a credit card sized compute module for embedded devices that has been upgraded quite a bit from its predecessor (the aptly named TX1).

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Measuring 50mm x 87mm, the Jetson TX2 packs quite a bit of processing power and I/O including an SoC with two 64-bit Denver 2 cores with 2MB L2, four ARM Cortex A57 cores with 2MB L2, and a 256-core GPU based on NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture. The TX2 compute module also hosts 8 GB of LPDDR4 (58.3 GB/s) and 32 GB of eMMC storage (SDIO and SATA are also supported). As far as I/O, the Jetson TX2 uses a 400-pin connector to connect the compute module to the development board or final product and the final I/O available to users will depend on the product it is used in. The compute module supports up to the following though:

  • 2 x DSI
  • 2 x DP 1.2 / HDMI 2.0 / eDP 1.4
  • USB 3.0
  • USB 2.0
  • 12 x CSI lanes for up to 6 cameras (2.5 GB/second/lane)
  • PCI-E 2.0:
    • One x4 + one x1 or two x1 + one x2
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth

 

The Jetson TX2 runs the “Linux for Tegra” operating system. According to NVIDIA the Jetson TX2 can deliver up to twice the performance of the TX1 or up to twice the efficiency at 7.5 watts at the same performance.

The extra horsepower afforded by the faster CPU, updated GPU, and increased memory and memory bandwidth will reportedly enable smart end user devices with faster facial recognition, more accurate speech recognition, and smarter AI and machine learning tasks (e.g. personal assistant, smart street cameras, smarter home automation, et al). Bringing more power locally to these types of internet of things devices is a good thing as less reliance on the cloud potentially means more privacy (unfortunately there is not as much incentive for companies to make this type of product for the mass market but you could use the TX2 to build your own).

Cisco will reportedly use the Jetson TX2 to add facial and speech recognition to its Cisco Spark devices. In addition to the hardware, NVIDIA offers SDKs and tools as part of JetPack 3.0. The JetPack 3.0 toolkit includes Tensor-RT, cuDNN 5.1, VisionWorks 1.6, CUDA 8, and support and drivers for OpenGL 4.5, OpenGL ES 3 2, EGL 1.4, and Vulkan 1.0.

The TX2 will enable better, stronger, and faster (well I don't know about stronger heh) industrial control systems, robotics, home automation, embedded computers and kiosks, smart signage, security systems, and other connected IoT devices (that are for the love of all processing are hardened and secured so they aren't used as part of a botnet!).

Interested developers and makers can pre-order the Jetson TX2 Development Kit for $599 with a ship date for US and Europe of March 14 and other regions “in the coming weeks.” If you just want the compute module sans development board, it will be available later this quarter for $399 (in quantities of 1,000 or more). The previous generation Jetson TX1 Development Kit has also received a slight price cut to $499.

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Source: NVIDIA

SoftBank Plans To Sell 25% of ARM Holdings To Vision Fund

Subject: General Tech, Processors | March 11, 2017 - 10:02 PM |
Tagged: softbank, investments, business, arm

Japanese telecom powerhouse SoftBank, which recently purchased ARM Holdings for $32 billion USD is reportedly in talks to sell off a 25% stake in its new subsidiary to a new investment fund. Specifically, the New York Times cites a source inside SoftBank familiar with the matter who revealed that SoftBank is in talks with the Vision Fund to purchase a stake in ARM Holdings worth approximately $8 billion USD.

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The $100 billion Vision Fund is an investment fund started by SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son with a goal of investing in high growth technology start-ups and major technology IP holders. The fund is currently comprised of investments from SoftBank worth $25 billion, $45 billion from Saudi Arabia (via Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund), and minor investments from Apple and Oracle co-founder Lawrence Ellison. The fund is approximately 75% of the way to its $100 billion funding goal with the state owned Mubadala Development investment company in Abu Dhabi and the Qatari government allegedly interested in joining the fund. The Vision Fund is based in the UK and led by SoftBank's Head of Strategic Finance Rajeev Mistra (Investment bankers Nizar al-Bassam and Dalin Ariburnu formerly of Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs respectively are also involved.)

It is interesting that SoftBank plans to sell off such a large stake in ARM Holdings so soon after purchasing the company (the sale finalized only six months ago), but it may be a move to entice investors to the investment fund which SoftBank is a part of to further diversify its assets. The more interesting question is the political and regulatory reaction to this news and what it will mean for ARM and its IP to have even more countries controlling it and its direction(s). I do not have the geopolitical acumen to speculate on whether this is a good or bad thing (heh). It does continue the trend of countries outside of the US increasing their investments in established technology companies with lots of IP (wether US based or not) as well as new start ups. New money entering this sector is likely overall good though, at least for the companies involved heh.

I guess we will just have to wait and see if the sale completes and where ARM goes from there! What are your thoughts on the SoftBank sale of a quarter stake in ARM?

Ryzen owners, you can leave your hat on

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2017 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, delidding

There are now two less working Ryzen 1700 processors on the planet, sacrificed in an experiment to delid the new AMD products.  The third lived and was tested by der8auer, the mad experimenter, to see what benefits cooling the die directly provide.  The answer is a 2C drop.  This does not seem worth it, considering the high risk, an opinion that Guru 3D shares.  You can of course proceed to do so if you wish, but you might want to buy a half dozen processors to save yourself some time.

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"We mentioned in our reviews that you should not delid AMD Ryzen processors for the sheer fact that even the heatspreader has sensors and that it is soldered. Next to that AMD did the cooling part rather well so the benefits of a lower temperatures versus the risk of bricking that processor might not be worth it."

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Source: Guru of 3D