A new vulnerability in Intel and AMD CPUs lets hackers steal encryption keys

A new vulnerability in Intel and AMD CPUs lets hackers steal encryption keys


Microprocessors from Intel, AMD, and other companies contain a newly discovered weakness that remote attackers can exploit to obtain cryptographic keys and other secret data traveling through the hardware, researchers said on Tuesday.

Hardware manufacturers have long known that hackers can extract secret cryptographic data from a chip by measuring the power it consumes while processing those values. Fortunately, the means for exploiting power-analysis attacks against microprocessors is limited because the threat actor has few viable ways to remotely measure power consumption while processing the secret material. Now, a team of researchers has figured out how to turn power-analysis attacks into a different class of side-channel exploit that’s considerably less demanding.

Targeting DVFS

The team discovered that dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS)—a power and thermal management feature added to every modern CPU—allows attackers to deduce the changes in power consumption by monitoring the time it takes for a server to respond to specific carefully made queries. The discovery greatly reduces what’s required. With an understanding of how the DVFS feature works, power side-channel attacks become much simpler timing attacks that can be done remotely.

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#amd, #biz-it, #cpu, #hertzbleed, #intel, #side-channel-attack

Intel tries to get its chip manufacturing back on track with “Intel 4,” due in 2023

Intel tries to get its chip manufacturing back on track with “Intel 4,” due in 2023

(credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Intel’s chip manufacturing technology has been outpaced by rivals like TSMC and Samsung in recent years, but the company is looking to put its troubles behind it. The first step forward will be the Intel 4 manufacturing process, which Intel has shared more details about at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ annual VLSI Technology Symposium (as reported by AnandTech and Tom’s Hardware). The new manufacturing tech is on track to be used in consumer chips starting in 2023, starting with Intel’s “Meteor Lake” CPU architecture. Meteor Lake will likely come to market as Intel’s 14th-generation Core CPU sometime next year.

Intel 4’s biggest improvement is its integration of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, which uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light to etch tiny patterns into silicon wafers. TSMC and Samsung use EUV technology in their most advanced manufacturing processes. Intel says that compared to the Intel 7 process, Intel 4 will enable either 21.5 percent better clock speeds using the same amount of power or the same speeds using 40 percent less power.

After Intel 4, Intel will move on to Intel 3, which is a higher-density iteration of Intel 4 using the same EUV technology. Notably, chipmakers will be able to port designs made for Intel 4 directly to Intel 3 without having to make changes, which will hopefully allow both Intel and third-party chip designers to start using it quickly (Intel 3 will be offered to third parties through Intel Foundry Services). By making smaller jumps between process technologies—introducing EUV lithography in Intel 4 and then optimizing for maximum density in Intel 3, rather than trying to do both at once—Intel hopes to avoid the delays and yield problems that held the 10nm/Intel 7 process back for so many years.

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#intel, #intel-4, #tech

HP’s new Spectre laptops include options with Intel Arc, less noise

The new HP Spectre x360 in "Nocturne Blue with Celestial Blue accents."

Enlarge / The new HP Spectre x360 in “Nocturne Blue with Celestial Blue accents.” (credit: Scharon Harding)

HP has revamped its Spectre x360 lineup of convertible, champfered-edged laptops with a purportedly quieter sound profile, Intel’s new Arc graphics card, and beefed-up webcams.

Today, HP released 12th Gen Intel versions of the Spectre x360 in 13.5- and 16-inch sizes.

If the 13.5-inch sounds new to you, that’s because HP hasn’t released a “Spectre x360 13.5” since 2020. Last year, its 13.5-inch Spectre was called the “Spectre x360 14.” But don’t get confused; this thin-and-light laptop still has a screen that measures 13.5 inches diagonally and uses the 3:2 aspect ratio for up to 3000×2000 resolution if you opt for OLED.

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#ars-shopping, #hp, #intel, #laptops, #tech

Testing shows AMD’s FSR 2.0 can even help lowly Intel integrated GPUs

Testing shows AMD’s FSR 2.0 can even help lowly Intel integrated GPUs

Enlarge (credit: Intel)

There are two things to like about version 2.0 of AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) upscaling tech, which finally began appearing in actual games late last week. The most important is that the quality of the upscaled image is dramatically better than in FSR version 1.0. The second is that FSR 2.0 is compatible with all kinds of GPUs, including not just AMD’s but older GeForce GPUs that aren’t compatible with Nvidia’s proprietary deep learning super sampling (DLSS).

New testing from Tom’s Hardware has also revealed another unlikely beneficiary: Intel’s recent integrated GPUs. Using an Iris Xe laptop GPU in a Core i7-1165G7, FSR 2.0 was able to bump the average frame rates in a 720p version of Deathloop by around 16 percent, nudging it from just under 30 fps to just over 30 fps and helping to offset the low resolution with its built-in anti-aliasing. Not bad for a nearly two-year-old laptop GPU playing a demanding modern game.

There are caveats, some of which apply to all upscaling technologies and some that are specific to Intel’s GPUs. FSR 2.0 and DLSS are generally good enough to let you bump up your resolution or quality settings a bit while maintaining a playable frame rate. They can also make borderline-unplayable games playable, and they can help you squeeze a little more life out of your current GPU if you don’t want (or can’t afford) to spring for an upgrade.

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#amd-fsr, #gaming-culture, #intel, #tech

5.5 GHz Core i9-12900KS is Intel’s fastest—and most power-hungry—desktop CPU

5.5 GHz Core i9-12900KS is Intel’s fastest—and most power-hungry—desktop CPU

Enlarge (credit: Intel)

Not to be outdone by the upcoming release of AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D, Intel is placing one more Alder Lake desktop CPU at the top of its 12th-generation Core desktop lineup. The Core i9-12900KS (the “S” is for “special edition”) is a 16-core, 24-thread chip (eight P-cores and eight E-cores) with a rated top speed of 5.5 GHz, 300 MHz faster than the existing i9-12900K. 

But as with many of the high-end Alder Lake chips, Intel is bumping up power usage in the interest of wringing a bit more performance out of its processors. The chip’s base power—roughly the amount of power it will consume when running at full tilt with Intel’s stock limits in place—is 150 W, up from 125 W for the i9-12900K. 

We’ve explored this issue in some depth in our reviews of the Core i7-12700 and Apple’s Mac Studio. All the P- and E-cores in Intel’s CPUs are great at handling labor-intensive rendering and video encoding tests that use all your cores at once, but to get their best performance, you need to let them consume a lot more power (and generate more heat) than competitors from AMD or Apple. And for tasks like gaming, where single-threaded CPU performance is more important, it’s cheaper and more efficient to go for a chip with fewer cores, like Intel’s own Core i5-12400 or the Ryzen 7 5800X3D.

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#alder-lake, #intel, #tech

Intel announces another megafab as chipmaker expands EU footprint

Intel announces another megafab as chipmaker expands EU footprint

Enlarge (credit: ony Avelar/Bloomberg)

Intel announced another string of investments yesterday, this time focused on shoring up its chipmaking efforts in Europe. The company has committed $36 billion so far, and if it completes all the projects it’s considering, it’ll spend nearly $88 billion across six countries.

The centerpiece of the investment is a megafab in Magdeburg, Germany, some 70 miles west of Berlin. Intel intends to break ground next year on two new fabs and start etching wafers in 2027 using the company’s “most advanced, Angstrom-era transistor technologies.” Which ones those will be will largely depend on how successful Intel’s aggressive R&D efforts are over the next few years. Total bill for this part of the project: $18.5 billion. The new fabs will add capacity to feed its foundry ambitions, which Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is betting will help the company regain the leading edge.

Next up are Intel’s existing fabs in Leixlip, Ireland. There, the semiconductor manufacturer is spending another $13 billion to upgrade and expand the factories to accommodate its Intel 4 process (previously known as 7 nm). The project is already underway and should start production in 2023.

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#eu, #fab, #intel, #policy, #semiconductors

Intel’s Core i7-12700 tested: Top speeds or power efficiency—pick one

Intel's Core i7-12700.

Enlarge / Intel’s Core i7-12700. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Intel’s K-series desktop CPUs always get the most attention from enthusiasts because they represent the best performance that new Intel processors are capable of when money, heat, and power are no object. But more people will end up using the cheaper, non-overclockable versions of these processors, whether it’s in an office desktop PC, a budget gaming desktop, or a price-conscious home video editing workstation.

Today, we’re taking a look at the Core i7-12700, a 12-core, 20-thread CPU that retails for around $340 (or $315 without integrated graphics). That’s anywhere from $75 to $100 cheaper than the overclockable Core i7-12700K, plus whatever money you save by buying a cheaper H670 or B660 motherboard rather than a pricey Z690 model.

We came away impressed with the i7-12700’s performance but mixed on its power efficiency, as was the case when we reviewed some K-series CPUs last year. The good news is that home PC builders can usually decide for themselves whether they want to maximize performance or prioritize power efficiency and heat output. Using Intel’s recommended power settings, the i7-12700 can actually be quite well-behaved. Just know that most motherboard makers’ default power settings prioritize performance even if it makes your desktop hotter and more power-hungry.

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#cpus, #features, #gadgetology, #intel, #tech

Intel, AMD, and other industry heavyweights create a new standard for chiplets

A sample chiplet design, with the CPU dies made with a more advanced manufacturing process and the chipset and some other functions made on older, cheaper processes.

Enlarge / A sample chiplet design, with the CPU dies made with a more advanced manufacturing process and the chipset and some other functions made on older, cheaper processes. (credit: Universal Chipset Interconnect Express)

Some of the CPU industry’s heaviest hitters—including Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Arm, TSMC, and Samsung—are banding together to define a new standard for chiplet-based processor designs. Dubbed Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe for short), the new standard seeks to define an open, interoperable standard for combining multiple silicon dies (or chiplets) into a single package.

Intel, AMD, and others are already designing or selling chiplet-based processors in some form—most of AMD’s Ryzen CPUs use chiplets, and Intel’s upcoming Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors will, too. But these chips all use different interconnects to enable communication between chiplets. The UCIe standard, if it succeeds, will replace those with a single standard, in theory making it much easier for smaller companies to take advantage of chiplet-based designs or for one company to include another company’s silicon in its own products.

Chiplet-based designs are advantageous when making large chips on cutting-edge manufacturing nodes partly because they cut down on the amount of silicon manufacturers need to throw out. If a manufacturing defect affects one CPU core, tossing (or binning) a single 8-core chiplet is a whole lot cheaper than having to toss a huge 16- or 32-core processor die. Chiplet designs also let you mix-and-match chips and manufacturing processes. You could, for example, use an older, cheaper process for your chipset and a newer, cutting-edge process for your processor cores and cache. Or you could put an AMD GPU on the same package as an Intel CPU.

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#amd, #chiplets, #intel, #qualcomm, #samsung, #tech, #tsmc, #ucie

Intel NUC 12 Extreme review: Alder Lake makes for a pricey, portable powerhouse

Intel's NUC 12 Extreme kit.

Enlarge / Intel’s NUC 12 Extreme kit. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Intel’s NUC Extreme mini PC kits have always been hard to recommend. It’s true that they’re considerably smaller than even the smallest mini ITX PC cases; it’s impossible to fit this much performance into less space if you’re using general-purpose PC components. But they’re also expensive, they haven’t been as fast as standard desktop PCs, and their upgradability has been limited. Those three things essentially defeat the purpose of building a beefy desktop gaming PC or workstation.

Codenamed “Dragon Canyon,” the newest version of the NUC Extreme Kit helps to fix the latter two problems by switching to actual socketed desktop processors rather than soldered-in laptop versions. It’s still an expensive box—you’ll pay about $1,150 for a Core i7 version with no RAM, SSD, GPU, or operating system and $1,450 for the Core i9 version we tested—but its performance now comes much closer to that of a typical desktop.

The NUC Extreme still isn’t for everyone, but if money is no object and you want the smallest desktop you can get, the 12th-gen NUC Extreme is less of a compromise than the previous versions were.

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#alder-lake, #ars-shopping, #features, #gadgetology, #intel, #nuc, #tech

Intel buys Tower Semiconductor for $5.4 billion to diversify foundry business

Intel buys Tower Semiconductor for $5.4 billion to diversify foundry business

(credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Intel has agreed to pay $5.4 billion to buy Tower Semiconductor, an Israeli foundry that focuses on specialty processes to make chips for imaging, power management, and wireless communications.

The acquisition is Intel’s latest move to add capacity and customers to its new foundry division, which focuses on making chips for other companies. CEO Pat Gelsinger is betting that by expanding capacity and making more semiconductors—not just its own—his company can claw its way get back to the leading edge. Today, just two firms, TSMC and Samsung, make the world’s most advanced chips.

“Tower’s specialty technology portfolio, geographic reach, deep customer relationships and services-first operations will help scale Intel’s foundry services and advance our goal of becoming a major provider of foundry capacity globally,” Gelsinger said in a statement.

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#chip-fab, #foundry, #intel, #policy, #semiconductors

Intel’s strategy for outflanking Arm takes shape with bet on RISC-V

Intel’s strategy for outflanking Arm takes shape with bet on RISC-V

Enlarge (credit: ony Avelar/Bloomberg)

Many of Intel’s current woes can be traced to the fact that the company was left out of the iPhone. Whether Intel passed on the opportunity or couldn’t meet the spec is by now a moot point, but missing out on the smartphone revolution—and its billions of chips—played no small part in the company falling behind the leading edge.

Now, Intel is ponying up $1 billion in an attempt to avoid repeating history.

The company announced an “innovation fund” this week that places bets on a couple of key technologies, chief among them RISC-V, a free, open source instruction set that shows promise in low-power and embedded systems, markets that are expected to grow significantly over the next several years.

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#arm, #chip-foundries, #intel, #nvidia, #policy, #risc-v, #semiconductors, #sifive, #tsmc

European court overturns 12-year-old €1.06 billion fine against Intel

European court overturns 12-year-old €1.06 billion fine against Intel

Enlarge (credit: ony Avelar/Bloomberg)

Sometimes the wheels of justice turn very slowly. A €1.06 billion ($1.2 billion) fine levied against Intel back in 2009 by the European Commission has been wiped out. In a press release announcing the ruling (PDF) handed down on Wednesday morning, the General Court of the European Union said the financial assumption underlying the fine was based on faulty economic analysis. 

“The (European) Commission’s analysis is incomplete and does not make it possible to establish to the requisite legal standard that the rebates at issue were capable of having, or likely to have, anticompetitive effects,” the court noted.

The “rebates at issue” were part of a program run by Intel between 2002 and 2007. The chipmaker offered rebates to OEMs that used Intel CPUs in at least 80 percent of their desktops. In one instance, Intel was found to have paid a manufacturer to delay shipment of AMD desktops, in turn hampering the ability of enterprise customers to buy AMD boxes. Another OEM turned down an offer of a million free CPUs from AMD so it could continue receiving rebates from Intel.

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#amd, #antitrust, #eu, #fines, #intel, #policy, #x86

Intel says Ohio “megafab” will begin making advanced chips in 2025

Intel's rendering of its two new leading-edge processor factories planned to be built outside Columbus, Ohio.

Enlarge / Intel’s rendering of its two new leading-edge processor factories planned to be built outside Columbus, Ohio. (credit: Intel)

Intel announced the location of its megafab today, a 1,000-acre parcel on the outskirts of the Columbus, Ohio, metro area. The semiconductor manufacturer plans to break ground on two leading-edge fabs by the end of the year and enter production in 2025.

“This is all part of the strategy that our CEO Pat Gelsinger announced back in March,” Intel Senior Vice President Keyvan Esfarjani told Ars.

“We are starting with two fabs, and that’s all in line with the growing demand for what the industry needs,” he said. “It’s also critically important for the balance of the supply chain around the world.”

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#chip-fab, #chips-for-america-act, #features, #intel, #lithography, #ohio, #policy, #semiconductors

Intel “mega-fab” coming to Ohio, reports say

Intel “mega-fab” coming to Ohio, reports say

Enlarge (credit: ony Avelar/Bloomberg)

Intel is reportedly planning to build a large chip facility in New Albany, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, the state capital. An official announcement is expected on January 21.

The company reportedly plans to invest $20 billion in the site, and the city of New Albany is working to annex up to 3,600 acres of land to accommodate the facility, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which first reported the deal.

Given the size of the parcel and the facility’s rumored price tag, it is likely the site of Intel’s “mega-fab,” which CEO Pat Gelsinger said would be like “a little city.” The mega-fab would contain six to eight modules, he said, and would focus on lithography processes and packaging techniques. Suppliers would have space on the site, too.

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#chip-fab, #foundry, #intel, #ohio, #policy, #semiconductors

Apple loses a key Mac silicon executive to Intel amidst M1 transition

Enormous, circular complex surrounded by suburban sprawl.

Enlarge / The Apple Park campus stands in this aerial photograph taken above Cupertino in October 2019. (credit: Sam Hall/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Jeff Wilcox, Apple’s director of Mac system architecture who oversaw much of the Apple Silicon transition, has left Apple to join Intel. He will head up Intel’s efforts to develop its own system-on-a-chip.

Wilcox makes this move after eight years as a key player in Apple’s desktop and laptop product development. Before those eight years, he was actually at Intel, so the move to Intel is a return for him, not an entirely new frontier.

He announced the change on LinkedIn over the past few weeks. In his initial LinkedIn post, he wrote:

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#apple-m1, #apple-silicon, #cpu, #intel, #jeff-wilcox, #silicon, #tech

12th-gen Intel Core laptop CPUs bring up to 14 cores to high-end portables

Intel's 12th-generation Core chips are coming to laptops soon.

Enlarge / Intel’s 12th-generation Core chips are coming to laptops soon. (credit: Intel)

In addition to announcing new desktop chips, Intel is also expanding its Alder Lake architecture to laptops. Intel has announced 12th-generation Core chips for everything from high-end gaming laptops to thin-and-light ultrabooks, with low-end Pentiums and Celerons thrown in for good measure.

These laptop chips use Intel’s new hybrid processor architecture, which combines larger, faster performance cores with smaller, more efficient cores (P-cores and E-cores, respectively). How many P-cores and E-cores you get depends on the processor you’re buying, and you’ll need an operating system that supports Intel’s “Thread Director” technology to get the most performance out of the chips. Windows 11 supports it now, Linux support is in the works, and Windows 10 doesn’t have it and won’t be getting it.

High-performance: H- and P-series CPUs

Intel’s H-series processors are its top-performing laptop GPUs, and 12th-generation H-series chips will begin shipping in laptops starting in February. We’ve provided the tables with all of the core counts and clock speeds above, but to quickly summarize the differences between the eight different H-series CPUs:

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#intel, #tech

Intel’s desktop CPU lineup gets a comprehensive overhaul with new 12th-gen chips

Intel is giving its desktop processors their first top-to-bottom overhaul in years.

Enlarge / Intel is giving its desktop processors their first top-to-bottom overhaul in years. (credit: Intel)

Intel released its first 12th-generation Core desktop processors a little over two months ago, and we were pretty impressed with the results; the chips still consume a lot of power, but they generally come with the performance to back it up. Today, Intel is announcing the rest of the lineup, including non-overclockable versions of its Core i9, i7, and i5 processors; new Core i3, Pentium, and Celeron chips that bring the Alder Lake architecture to lower-end PCs; and low-power versions of the processors suitable for mini PCs and other systems where space and cooling capacity are at a premium.

New processors, from Core i9 to Celeron

Intel is announcing a total of 22 new CPUs today, and they replace most of the company’s currently available 11th- and 10th-generation desktop CPUs. Like the overclockable K- and KF-series processors that are already available, these chips will require a new motherboard with an LGA 1700 socket and can support either DDR4 or DDR5, depending on the motherboard you buy (more on those in a bit).

All of these processors are built on the “Intel 7” process, formerly known as “10nm Enhanced Super Fin.” Intel justifies the name change by saying that the Intel 7 transistor density is similar to 7 nm-branded manufacturing processes from competitors like TSMC and Samsung. The 12th-generation Core lineup is the first time in about six and a half years that Intel has moved beyond some version of its 14 nm process for desktop processors.

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#alder-lake, #intel, #tech

Intel apologizes for banning use of components from Xinjiang

Photo taken on Aug. 2, 2019 shows the booth of CPU chip manufacturer Intel at China Digital Entertainment Expo and Game Expo in Shanghai, China.

Enlarge / Photo taken on Aug. 2, 2019 shows the booth of CPU chip manufacturer Intel at China Digital Entertainment Expo and Game Expo in Shanghai, China. (credit: Future Publishing |Getty Images)

Intel has apologized for a ban on using components from Xinjiang in response to attacks from Chinese nationalist media over the policy, becoming the latest multinational to become embroiled in China’s battle with the US over human rights issues.

The episode quickly became one of the most talked-about topics online in China with netizens on Twitter-like Weibo calling for the government to hit Intel with fines and other punishments.

The controversy erupted after Intel sent a year-end letter to suppliers noting that components made in the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang should not be used in its chips. The message attracted the attention of nationalist media outlet Guancha.

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#china, #human-rights, #intel, #policy, #tech, #uighur, #xinjiang

With Intel 12th-gen CPUs looming, LG’s debut gaming laptop opts for 11th-gen

LG UltraGear 17G90Q lid

Enlarge / LG UltraGear 17G90Q. (credit: LG)

LG has carved out a small space for itself among mainstream users seeking an attractive, slim design. But now LG wants to push laptops toward gamers, and it has the RGB and high refresh rate to prove it, alongside an interesting choice in components.

A couple of months after a Bluetooth SIG filing made it appear that LG is working on its first Chromebook, LG has announced the UltraGear 17G90Q today as its first gaming laptop. The brand is launching right into it with some extreme, gaming-ready specs, starting with a 17-inch IPS screen that has a 300 Hz refresh rate and 1 ms gray-to-gray response time.

Graphics are handled by an RTX 3080 Max-Q. The RTX 3080 is the most powerful mobile GPU Nvidia offers; although, the Max-Q variant suggests it may be slightly less powerful than a fully specced mobile RTX 3080. LG didn’t get specific about the 17G90Q GPU’s clock speed or total graphics power, but Nvidia says the RTX 3080 can be configured to boost to 1,245-1,710 MHz.

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#gaming-culture, #gaming-laptops, #intel, #lg, #tech

Leaked Alder Lake Core i3 would be first interesting budget CPU in almost 2 years

The new LGA1700 socket used for Alder Lake CPUs is taller than Intel's previous sockets.

Enlarge / The new LGA1700 socket used for Alder Lake CPUs is taller than Intel’s previous sockets. (credit: Intel)

It’s a tough time to build a PC. Graphics cards remain the biggest headache when you’re trying to put together a computer, as they have been all year—supply is low and prices are stratospheric. But it has been particularly tough if you’re trying to put together a PC on a budget, both because “budget graphics cards” have essentially ceased to exist and because neither Intel nor AMD has released a compelling CPU for under $150 since early 2020.

That streak may end soon, according to a retail leak spotted by Tom’s Hardware. DirectDial, a Canadian retailer of PCs and components, listed model numbers and pricing for four lower-end 12th-generation Intel Core processors over the weekend. These prices haven’t been confirmed (and have been converted from CAD to USD), but they track closely with retail pricing for previous generations:

Expected core count USD pricing (converted)
Core i7-12700F 8 P-cores, 4 E-cores $366
Core i5-12400 6 P-cores $231
Core i5-12400F 6 P-cores $200
Core i3-12100F 4 P-cores $119

The most interesting of those chips for budget builders is the i3-12100F, a quad-core, 8-thread processor that was listed for around $120. Entry-level quad-core desktop CPUs are an excellent choice for budget desktops—fast enough for all kinds of basic browsing and productivity apps but also able to handle games and heavier apps like Photoshop or Lightroom in a pinch. It was just a few years ago that quad-core processors were the best that most people could get, and most software still runs well on them.

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#amd, #intel, #tech

Apple silicon roadmap reveals plans for Mac Pro, MacBook Air

The M1 SoC die compared to M1 Pro and M1 Max.

Enlarge / The M1 SoC die compared to M1 Pro and M1 Max. (credit: Apple)

Apple has already finalized the second generation of Mac processors, and the third generation is expected to be made with a new 3-nanometer process, according to a report in The Information citing people with direct knowledge of the plans.

The report says that the second-generation chips will use an “upgraded version” of the 5-nanometer process used for the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max found in recent Apple Silicon Macs. But unlike those first-generation chips, some of the second-generation chips will have two dies instead of one, allowing for more processor cores.

A second-generation chip with just one die will be included in the long-rumored, redesigned MacBook Air as well as in iPads. That chip is code-named Staten. On the other hand, the MacBook Pro will feature more powerful second-generation chips code-named Rhodes. The second-generation chips have already been finalized and are ready to enter trial production, according to The Information’s sources.

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#apple, #apple-a17, #apple-m1, #apple-m1-max, #apple-m1-pro, #apple-m2, #apple-m2-max, #apple-m2-pro, #apple-m3, #apple-m3-max, #apple-m3-pro, #intel, #iphone, #iphone-15, #iphone-15-pro, #mac-pro, #macbook-air, #macbook-pro, #tech, #the-information, #tsmc

Intel’s Alder Lake big.little CPU design, tested: It’s a barn burner

hero shot of test system

Enlarge / Our test rig marries the Alder Lake i9-12900K (pictured) or the i5-12600K with 64 GB DDR5 SDRAM, an MSI Carbon motherboard, SK Hynix Gold NVMe SSD, and Apex Gaming 850M PSU. Cooling is provided by a Corsair fluid cooler and triple fan radiator. (credit: Jim Salter)

After spending several days with Intel’s newest consumer CPU designs, we have some surprising news: they’re faster than AMD’s latest Ryzens on both single-threaded and most multithreaded benchmarks.

We suspect this will be especially surprising to some, since Intel’s newest desktop CPUs feature a hybrid “big.little” design similar to those found in ARM CPUs. AMD’s flagship Ryzen 9 5950x is a traditional 16 core, 32 thread design, with all cores being “big” high-performance types with symmetric multithreading (SMT, also known as “hyperthreading”). By contrast, the i9-12900K offers 16 cores and only 24 threads—with eight “performance” cores featuring SMT and eight lower-performance “efficiency” cores with no SMT.

Although the world largely understands big.little design in mobile CPUs—where the value of having slow but efficient cores for non-latency-sensitive tasks means longer battery life and less waste heat—the value isn’t as well-understood in desktop CPUs, where power and thermal budgets aren’t such an obvious problem. But there’s still good reason for hybrid designs even on the desktop—die space remains sharply limited in CPUs, and you can fit more of the smaller “efficiency” cores into a given package size.

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#alder-lake, #big-little, #cpu-benchmarking, #features, #intel, #tech

Apple cuts another Intel tie by discontinuing 21.5-inch iMac

2019 iMac in a dorm

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

Apple has discontinued the 21.5-inch iMac. The Intel-powered Mac’s demise means that the only remaining iMacs are now the colorful, M1-equipped 24-inchers and the 27-inch version, which is still on Intel.

As reported by MacRumors on Saturday, Apple confirmed that it has discontinued the 21.5-inch iMac. This news comes after the removal of several configurations of the iMac in March and dwindling supply in April. The 21.5-inch iMac is no longer available from Apple’s online or physical Apple stores unless you get a refurbished one. You may still be able to find unused machines at third-party sellers, MacRumors noted.

Some customers were disappointed that Apple didn’t announce a new iMac at the company’s Unleashed event earlier this month. In March, Apple also discontinued the 27-inch iMac Pro. Now, the company has further reduced its selection of iMacs.

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#21-5-imac, #apple, #imac, #intel, #tech

No end in sight for chip shortage as supply chain problems pile up

An out-of-focus face examines a computer component.

Enlarge / A woman examines a mask—a part used in wafer conception—at a show room of the United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) factory in Tainan, southern Taiwan. (credit: Sam Yeh | Getty)

Earlier this year, the chip shortage seemed like it might ease sometime in 2022. Now, that forecast appears to have been optimistic.

“The shortages are going to continue indefinitely,” Brandon Kulik, head of Deloitte’s semiconductor industry practice, told Ars. “Maybe that doesn’t mean 10 years, but certainly we’re not talking about quarters. We’re talking about years.”

It is becoming clear that snarls in the semiconductor supply chain are weighing on economic growth. Yesterday, both GM and Ford said that missing chips led to slashed profits for the third quarter, and Apple is rumored to be cutting this year’s production targets for its iPhone lineup, the company’s cash cow. Chip woes have become so widespread that a division of Wells Fargo thinks the pressures will curtail US GDP growth by 0.7 percent.

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#chip-fab, #chip-shortage, #intel, #samsung, #semiconductors, #supply-chains, #tech, #tsmc

Intel announces 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs: Our long 14 nm nightmare is over

Intel's first 12th-generation desktop processors are arriving soon.

Enlarge / Intel’s first 12th-generation desktop processors are arriving soon. (credit: Intel)

Intel’s 11th-generation desktop processors, codenamed Rocket Lake, didn’t impress us much. They were Intel’s sixth processor architecture based on some version of Intel’s 14 nm manufacturing process and the first not to use an iteration of the venerable Skylake core from 2015.

They did improve performance, usually, by backporting features from newer and faster processor architectures. But when you add features without improving the manufacturing process, you get exactly what Rocket Lake delivered: a processor that is a bit faster but also a lot hotter, with much higher power usage than either the 10th-generation Intel CPUs that preceded them or the AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs they compete against.

Now, Intel is attempting a course correction in the form of its 12th-generation core CPUs, codenamed Alder Lake. The first six processors in the lineup are available for preorder now and will be available starting November 4.

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#alder-lake, #intel, #rocket-lake-s, #tech

Intel slipped—and its future now depends on making everyone else’s chips

Intel slipped—and its future now depends on making everyone else’s chips

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Aurich Lawson)

Last month, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger stepped to a podium on a hazy, wind-whipped day just outside Phoenix. “Isn’t this awesome!” Gelsinger exclaimed, gesturing over his shoulder. Behind him, two large pieces of construction equipment posed theatrically atop the ocher Arizona soil, framing an organized tangle of pipes, steel, and fencing at the company’s Ocotillo campus. “If this doesn’t get you excited, check your pulse,” he said with a chuckle. A handful of executives and government officials applauded at the appropriate points.

Despite the gathering dust storm, Gelsinger genuinely seemed to enjoy himself. He was in Arizona to announce not one but two new fabs that, when finished, will form a $20 billion bet that Intel can return to the leading edge of semiconductor manufacturing, one of the world’s most profitable, challenging, and cutthroat businesses.

“Semiconductors are a hot topic these days,” Gelsinger continued. “What aspect of your life is not being increasingly driven by digital transformation? If there was any question on that, COVID eliminated it.”

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#features, #foundry, #ibm, #intel, #intel-foundry-services, #policy, #semiconductor, #tech-policy, #tsmc

Intel launches its next-generation neuromorphic processor—so, what’s that again?

Mike Davies, director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab, explains the company’s efforts in this area. And with the launch of a new neuromorphic chip this week, he talked Ars through the updates.

Despite their name, neural networks are only distantly related to the sorts of things you’d find in a brain. While their organization and the way they transfer data through layers of processing may share some rough similarities to networks of actual neurons, the data and the computations performed on it would look very familiar to a standard CPU.

But neural networks aren’t the only way that people have tried to take lessons from the nervous system. There’s a separate discipline called neuromorphic computing that’s based on approximating the behavior of individual neurons in hardware. In neuromorphic hardware, calculations are performed by lots of small units that communicate with each other through bursts of activity called spikes and adjust their behavior based on the spikes they receive from others.

On Thursday, Intel released the newest iteration of its neuromorphic hardware, called Loihi. The new release comes with the sorts of things you’d expect from Intel: a better processor and some basic computational enhancements. But it also comes with some fundamental hardware changes that will allow it to run entirely new classes of algorithms. And while Loihi remains a research-focused product for now, Intel is also releasing a compiler that it hopes will drive wider adoption.

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#biz-it, #features, #intel, #loihi, #neurobiology, #neuromorphic-computing, #science

Tile secures $40 million to take on Apple AirTag with new products

Tile, the maker of Bluetooth-powered lost item finder beacons and, more recently, a staunch Apple critic, announced today it has raised $40 million in non-dilutive debt financing from Capital IP. The funding will be put towards investment in Tile’s finding technologies, ahead of the company’s plan to unveil a new slate of products and features that the company believes will help it to better compete with Apple’s AirTags and further expand its market.

The company has been a longtime leader in the lost item finder space, offering consumers small devices they can attach to items — like handbags, luggage, bikes, wallets, keys, and more — which can then be tracked using the Tile smartphone app for iOS or Android. When items go missing, the Tile app leverages Bluetooth to find the items and can make them play a sound. If the items are further afield, Tile taps into its broader finding network consisting of everyone who has the app installed on their phone and other access points. Through this network, Tile is able to automatically and anonymously communicate the lost item’s location back to its owner through their own Tile app.

Image Credits: Tile

Tile has also formed partnerships focused on integrating its finding network into over 40 different third-party devices, including those across audio, travel, wearables, and PC categories. Notable brand partners include HP, Dell, Fitbit, Skullcandy, Away, Xfinity, Plantronics, Sennheiser, Bose, Intel, and others. Tile says it’s seen 200% year-over-year growth on activations of these devices with its service embedded.

To date, Tile has sold over 40 million devices and has over 425,000 paying customers — a metric it’s revealing for the first time. It doesn’t disclose its total number of users, both free and paid combined, however. During the first half of 2021, Tile says revenues increased by over 50%, but didn’t provide hard numbers.

While Tile admits that the Covid-19 pandemic had some impacts on international expansions, as some markets have been slower to rebound, it has still seen strong performance outside the U.S., and considers that a continued focus.

The pandemic, however, hasn’t been Tile’s only speed bump.

When Apple announced its plans to compete with the launch of AirTags, Tile went on record to call it unfair competition. Unlike Tile devices, Apple’s products could tap into the iPhone’s U1 chip to allow for more accurate finding through the use of ultra-wideband technologies available on newer iPhone models. Tile, meanwhile, has plans for its own ultra-wideband powered device, but hadn’t been provided the same access. In other words, Apple gave its own lost item finder early, exclusive access to a feature that would allow it to differentiate itself from the competition. (Apple has since announced it’s making ultra-wideband APIs available to third-party developers, but this access wasn’t available from day one of AirTag’s arrival.)

Image Credits: Tile internal concept art

Tile has been vocal on the matter of Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, having testified in multiple Congressional hearings alongside other Apple critics, like Spotify and Match. As a result of increased regulatory pressure, Apple later opened up its Find My network to third-party devices, in an effort to placate Tile and the other rivals its AirTags would disadvantage.

But Tile doesn’t want to route its customers to Apple’s first-party app — it intends to use its own app in order to compete based on its proprietary features and services. Among other things, this includes Tile’s subscriptions. A base plan is $29.99 per year, offering features like free battery replacement, smart alerts, and location history. A $99.99 per year plan also adds insurance of sorts — it pays up to $1,000 per year for items it can’t find. (AirTag doesn’t do that.)

Despite its many differentiators, Tile faces steep competition from the ultra-wideband capable AirTags, which have the advantage of tapping into Apple’s own finding network of potentially hundreds of millions of iPhone owners.

However, Tile CEO CJ Prober — who joined the company in 2018 — claims AirTag hasn’t impacted the company’s revenue or device sales.

“But that doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re making things harder for us,” he says of Apple. “We’re a growing business. We’re winning the hearts and minds of consumers… and they’re competing unfairly.”

“When you own the platform, you shouldn’t be able to identify a category that you want to enter, disadvantage the incumbents in that category, and then advantage yourself — like they did in our case,” he adds.

Tile is preparing to announce an upcoming product refresh that may allow it to better take on the AirTag. Presumably, this will include the pre-announced ultra-wideband version of Tile, but the company says full details will be shared next week. Tile may also expand its lineup in other ways that will allow it to better compete based on look and feel, size and shape, and functionality.

Tile’s last round of funding was $45 million in growth equity in 2019. Now it’s shifted to debt. In addition to new debt financing, Tile is also refinancing some of its existing debt with this fundraise, it says.

“My philosophy is it’s always good to have a mix of debt and equity. So some amount of debt on the balance sheet is good. And it doesn’t incur dilution to our shareholders,” Prober says. “We felt this was the right mix of capital choice for us.”

The company chose to work with Capital IP, a group it’s had a relationship with over the last three years, and who Tile had considered bringing on as an investor. The group has remained interested in Tile and excited about its trajectory, Prober notes.

“We are excited to partner with the Tile team as they continue to define and lead the finding category through hardware and software-based innovations,” said Capital IP’s Managing Partner Riyad Shahjahan, in a statement. “The impressive revenue growth and fast-climbing subscriber trends underline the value proposition that Tile delivers in a platform-agnostic manner, and were a critical driver in our decision to invest. The Tile team has an ambitious roadmap ahead and we look forward to supporting their entry into new markets and applications to further cement their market leadership,” he added.

#airtag, #airtags, #android, #apple, #apple-inc, #apps, #bluetooth, #ceo, #computing, #dell, #find-my, #fitbit, #funding, #gadgets, #hardware, #intel, #iphone, #mobile, #plantronics, #recent-funding, #sennheiser, #skullcandy, #smartphone, #startups, #tc, #technology, #tile, #u1-chip, #ultra-wideband, #united-states

The Station: Apple car shakeup, how Sept. 11 changed travel, and a pledge from airlines

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

Hi readers: Welcome to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

Twenty years and one week ago, I was riding the monorail system at the Newark airport and pointed to the twin skyscrapers looming in the distance. “I can’t believe you’ve never been to the top of the World Trade Center,” I said to my then fiancé and now husband. Days later, I would walk into a restaurant in a Slovenian town and see a report on the TV about a plane crashing into one of those towers. Like so many of us, we spent the rest of that day watching the news and wondering what would happen next.

In all, four aircraft were hijacked the morning of September 11, two of which crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and the fourth in a field in Pennsylvania. In all, 2,996 people were killed.

The September 11 terrorist attacks triggered a series of events that would change the world forever, including how we move about it. My September 6, 2001 flight to Newark and then onto to Europe was the last time I would experience what now seems unimaginable: getting to an airport less than 45 minutes before my plane took off.

My trip home from Europe provided a forecast of what air travel would look and feel like, although some measures like when we were separately interviewed two different times prior to boarding, ended up being temporary.

Within months of my arrival home, passenger screening and security at airports would be handled by a new federal agency called the Transportation Security Administration. Security wasn’t the only aspect of air travel that changed.

The airline industry experienced skyrocketing losses that sparked a wave of cost-cutting, new fees for travelers and consolidation. According to the GAO, the U.S. airline industry lost $23 billion between 2001 and 2003 and some of the nation’s biggest airlines including USAir and United Airlines filed for bankruptcy.

The airline industry would suffer financial losses during the Great Recession of 2008, causing more bankruptcies and consolidation. Today, most domestic flights are controlled by four airlines: American, Delta, Southwest and United.

After recovering and stringing together a few years of profitability, the airline industry (and how we travel) would get hit again: this time from the COVID-19 pandemic.

p.s. Thanks to co-worker and cybersecurity editor Zack Whittaker for the photo (featured as the main image for the post) he snapped yesterday.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.


We’ve talked before about the possibilities of shared micromobility to help cities create more equitable and accessible transit ecosystems. Shared operators have expanded this idea to support activism.

Agencies and operators provided free or discounted trips for demonstrators to get to events, according to the North American Bikeshare and Scootershare Association’s 2020 report on the state of the shared micromobility industry, Many even donated or fundraised for racial justice nonprofits.

Not only are they aiding the fight on the ground, the report also shows that nearly three-quarters of all operators stated that diversity was a part of every hiring decision, and 69 percent reported that women and POC are represented at all levels of the organization.

Operator update

Lime is back in Oakland with 500 scooters and plans to scale up to 1,000 over the coming weeks. The company pulled out of the city last year during the pandemic. This time, it’s focusing on “Communities of Concern” as designated by the city, and will deploy half its fleet to these neighborhoods that have been traditionally underserved by transportation.

Tier is hooking up with Irish computer vision startup Luna. Tier is adding Luna’s cameras and smart city technology to its shared e-scooter fleets across Europe and the Middle East. To handle the increase in work, Luna is hiring 15 new staffers to cover computer vision/AI, hardware, IoT and project management roles in Ireland. Interestingly, the partnership comes from an Ireland trade mission to Germany to better understand how the two countries could work together within the e-mobility and automotive industry. Luna just recently launched a pilot with Voi in England, and Ford-backed micromobility operator Spin is slowly pushing out Drover AI’s similar tech on scooters in the United States.

Speaking of Voi, the Swedish company is working with the UK government’s Kickstart Scheme to help create jobs for people ages 16 to 24 years old on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Voi is recruiting 25 young people across the country to work as Warehouse Operatives and Fleet Specialists. The young ones will be ensured a job for at least six months and will hopefully learn a thing or two about a growing transport industry.

Bird has tweaked its branding. It recently announced its scooters and bikes will now be made in “Electric Sky” blue, as opposed to its black, white and silver color scheme. The color evokes eco-friendly transportation, clear skies and cheerful days. It’s reminiscent of Revel’s blue mopeds and Swapfiets’ bikes.

Taking liberties with the term “micromobility”

Chinese EV maker Xpeng says it’s going to make a robot unicorn for children to ride. The quadruped will navigate multiple types of terrain, recognize objects and provide “emotional interaction.” The robot pulls from Xpeng’s experiences with AI and automated driving development. The rendering looks cute and soft, for a metal beast, but the horn could be a bit longer IMO. Bonus: it’s not creepy-looking like Xiaomi’s robot dog.

Dutch startup Squad Mobility has introduced details for its small, low-cost electric city car that’s equipped with solar panels which drip feed the battery throughout the day. The company hopes to come out with a prototype for the solar-assisted quadricycle by October this year and begin deliveries by the end of next year. While it would be a fun passenger vehicle for city folks, the end game is to get in good with one of the car-sharing or shared micromobility operators and sell fleets of the Squad car for shared use.

At the Munich Motor Show, BMW revealed a couple of electric bike concepts that look pretty wicked. The Motorrad Vision AMBY looks like a motorcycle, but is probably more along the class of off-road motorbike, complete with fat tires and a seat-to-footrest ratio that brings to mind all the shredding that can be had. The i Vision AMBY is more of a traditional road e-bike, but maybe one that’s inspired by Back to the Future, such is its retrofuturistic vibe and, I’ll say it, postal service-beige frame.

ADAS in scooters

The desire to keep shared electric scooters off sidewalks has driven the development of advanced technology in the micromobility industry. Once the province of geofencing, scooter companies are so eager to get a leg up on the competition that they’re now implementing technology similar to advanced driver assistance systems usually found in cars. Check out my story in Extra Crunch that digs into this trend.

Micromobility America event

The folks who write our other favorite micromobility newsletter are going to be hosting a micromobility event in the SF Bay Area. On September 23, a range of experts, founders, investors and builders will be sharing top insights about the world of lightweight electric vehicles and their potential to disrupt transportation, including:
Brazilian racing driver Lucas Di Grassi, American entrepreneur and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, senior writer at Wired Lauren Goode, analyst and founder of the term “micromobility” Horace Dediu

Register now, if you still can. Space is limited.

— Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

Investors continue to sink money into ride-hailing companies. Cao Cao Mobility, the ride-hailing unit of Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings, is the latest example.

The company raised $589 million (RMB 3.8 billion) in a Series B round led by Suzhou Xiangcheng Financial Holding Group, an investment company backed by the Xiangcheng district government of Suzhou. Suzhou High-Speed Rail New City Group and three other state-controlled enterprises also participated.

The raise brings the company’s total funding to around $773.2 million (RMB 5 billion).

As TechCrunch reporter Rebecca Bellan notes, Cao Cao is positioned for further growth and a larger market share, as long as the Chinese government believes the company is operating fairly. Its competitors Didi Global and Amap have come under increased government scrutiny that has hurt their business, while giving Cao Cao a boost.

A cybersecurity investigation prompted the Chinese government to temporarily remove Didi Global from Chinese app stores. As a result, Cao Cao, which is currently available in 62 cities in China, saw ride volume increase 32% in July.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Accure, the Aachen, Germany-based battery safety software company raised $8 million in a Series A round led by Blue Bear Capital. Capnamic Ventures and 42CAP also participated.

BP Ventures, the investing arm of oil and gas giant BP, made a €10 million ($11.9 million) investment in Ryd, a German in-car digital payments provider. The funds will be used to help Ryd expand its service into international markets and build out its offering.

Delhivery, the Indian logistics firm, courted Lee Fixel’s Addition as an investor before its expected IPO in the next two quarters: The Gurgaon-headquartered firm disclosed in a regulatory filing that Addition invested $76.4 million in the startup as part of a Series I round. Delihivery hasn’t disclosed the total raise or other investors.

Delimobil, the Russian car sharing company, has chosen banks to organize its IPO listing and is seeking to raise around $ 350 million, Reuters reported.

Skydweller Aero, the U.S.-Spanish aerospace startup, received an additional $8 million in oversubscribed funding led by Leonardo S.p.A, Marlinspike Capital and Advection Growth Capital. The funds were added to its Series A round, which had previously reached $32 million. The company said it has also partnered with Palantir Technologies to use its Foundry analytics platform to process information at-scale and onboard the aircraft designed for telecommunications, government operations and emergency services.

Tritium Holdings, the Australian developer of DC fast-charging technology for electric vehicles, raised A$40 million  ($29.4 million) from the investment arm of Cigna.

WattE, a company trying to develop a network of truck stops and run a fleet of 12,000 electric trucks to share, will receive a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission. The grant is for the construction of the state’s first electric truck stop. The company also recently closed a $6 million Series A round led by Canon Equity.

A little bird

blinky cat bird green

I hear things. But I’m not selfish. Let me share what the little birds are telling me.

You likely spotted the widespread coverage, including by TechCrunch, that Ford Motor hired Doug Field, the engineering executive who was VP of Apple’s special projects team and its secret, not-very-secret car program.

Field, who also once worked as senior vice president of engineering at Tesla, was named as Ford’s chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. Soon after the news broke, reports came out that Kevin Lynch, who led development on the Apple Watch, had taken over Field’s role on the car project.

All of this had TC readers wondering (at least according to my DMs and emails) whether Apple’s car program was at risk. I reached out to some folks and one source told me that Apple employees were in Korea meeting with battery manufacturers as early as last week, which suggests that the game is on. You might recall, The Korea Times reported back in early August a team from Apple was visiting battery manufacturers LG Chem, SK, and Hanwha as part of “early talks.”

It seems those talks are still happening.

Policy corner


Welcome back to policy corner! Big news out of the aviation industry this week, as major airlines pledged to make 3 billion gallons of “sustainable aviation fuel” available to aircraft carriers by 2030, in line with a federal goal of reducing aviation emissions by 20% by the start of the next decade.

The announcement was made by industry group Airlines for America (A4A), whose members include United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines and Southwest. The group had previously set a target of 2 billion gallons by 2030 back in March. (Also yesterday, United made a separate announcement that it would purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF from startup Alder Fuels, pending certain conditions are met. Check out my story on the deal here.

A4A stressed the importance of federal action to support the development of SAF, including a “blender” tax credit for SAF mixed with conventional fuel and public-private research partnerships into SAF tech.

But this would be just the beginning, if President Joe Biden has his say; his administration wants a “fully zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050,” according to a White House fact sheet released Thursday. Aviation accounts for 11% of the country’s transportation-related emissions, the fact sheet says. Plus, while 3 billion gallons of fuel certainly sounds like a lot, a United spokesperson told TechCrunch that the airline consumes around 4 billion annually, and the White House says demand overall could be as high as 35 billion gallons per year by 2050.

To meet that demand, Biden said he is seeking that SAF incentives be included in the $3.5 trillion spending bill currently being debated by Congress, including a tax credit and $4.3 billion earmarked for funding SAF projects.

It’s important to note two things: one, as it currently stands, SAF is more expensive than conventional jet fuel, itself a considerable cost for airlines. Two, the above goals on behalf of the airlines are non-binding, voluntary agreements. Taken together, that means (in my humble opinion) that a tax incentive or something like it will be necessary for SAF to achieve cost parity with conventional fuel — and for airlines to actually adopt it.

The other policy items that caught my eye this week come from the great state of New York. The first is out of New York City, which set a target to install 40,000 public Level 2 chargers and 6,000 DC fast chargers by 2030. This buildout, outlined in the Department of Transportation’s EV plan, will be necessary for the city to reach its target of being fully carbon neutral by 2050.

Finally, the New York State House signed a bill into law requiring all passenger vehicles sold in-state to be zero-emission by 2035, making it the second state (after California) to introduce a set deadline to phase out internal combustion engine cars. It’s hard to know whether this is the start of a sea change in state policy or whether NY and California are anomalies, but I can see this type of legislation becoming more popular in the coming years.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable news and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

Anthony Levandowski, the controversial and presidentially pardoned autonomous vehicle technology engineer, sat down with The Information for an interview that included details about his company’s pivot from big rigs to dump trucks.

Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson laid out the autonomous vehicle company’s development process in a blog post this week. Aurora collaborated with half a dozen OEMs and has integrated its self-driving system into eight distinct vehicle platforms. Anderson wrote that the outcome “is a highly refined Driver-vehicle interface and a structured process for the design, development, and launch of vehicles designed for it that we call the Aurora Driver Development Program.” Side note: Aurora has made its Pittsburgh office its official headquarters.

Intel subsidiary Mobileye and rental car giant Sixt SE announced plans to launch a robotaxi service in Munich next year. As I noted in my article, the robotaxi service will leverage all of Intel’s, and more specifically Mobileye’s, assets that have been in development or purchased in recent years, including the $900 million acquisition in 2020 of Moovit, an Israeli startup that analyzes urban traffic patterns and provides transportation recommendations with a focus on public transit.

Through the partnership, riders will be able to access the robotaxi service via the Moovit app. The service will also be offered through Sixt’s mobility ONE app, which gives customers the ability to hail a ride, rent, share or subscribe to vehicles. Caveat: this won’t be a large-scale service in the beginning; it will start small and operate similarly to other early rider programs first modeled by nuTonomy and Waymo.

WeRide, a Chinese autonomous vehicle technology company, unveiled its first cargo van. The company said it will work with Chinese automobile manufacturer Jiangling Motors and Chinese express delivery company ZTO Express to commercialize its first self-driving van at scale. The “robovans” will be based on JMC’s battery electric vehicle model with a fully redundant vehicle platform, combined with WeRide’s full-stack software and hardware autonomous driving (AD) solutions.

Electric vehicles (and batteries)

GM extended a shutdown at its Orion Assembly Plant by another two weeks due to a battery pack shortage related to the widespread Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV safety recall. GM said the extended downtime at the Orion plant will last through September 20. Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan has been shut down since August 23.

Ford has hired six senior-level executives to its newly minted commercial vehicles and services business unit as the automaker prepares to bring to market the E-Transit cargo van and the F-150 Lightning Pro pickup truck — two electric vehicles it’s betting will become commercial customers’ new workhorses.

Sila Nanotechnologies’ next-generation battery technology made its commercial product debut in the new Whoop fitness tracker, a milestone that caps a decade of research and development by the Silicon Valley startup. This matters because Sila Nano has joint battery ventures with BMW and Daimler to produce batteries containing the company’s silicon-anode technology, with the goal of going to market in the automotive industry by 2025.

Solid Power, a battery developer backed by Ford and BMW, is preparing to start pilot production of its solid state batteries early next year. A new production facility will be dedicated to manufacturing a sulfide-based solid electrolyte material and pilot production of its commercial-grade, 100 ampere battery cells. Those pouch cells are expected to go to Ford and BMW for automotive testing in early 2022.

Meet Squad Mobility and learn about its vision of the perfect urban vehicle. Here’s a hint: it’s small, cheap, electric and includes solar.

Tesla set the official record for electric vehicles at Nürburgring with a Tesla “Model S Plaid,” that driven by Andreas Simonsen circumnavigated the 20.8-kilometre. (12.9-mile) Nordschleife loop in 7:35.579, according to a statement from the motorsports complex.

Toyota Motor said it will oppose a proposal by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to give union-made electric vehicles in the United States an additional $4,500 tax incentive, Reuters reported. The company said the proposal discriminates “against American autoworkers based on their choice not to unionize.”

Volta Trucks, a full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer, said its first vehicles will be manufactured in Steyr, Austria, by Steyr Automotive, formerly MAN Truck and Bus Austria.

Delivery and sharing

DoorDash, Caviar, Grubhub, Seamless, Postmates and Uber Eats have sued the City of New York over a law that would permanently limit the amount of commissions the apps can charge restaurants to use their services. The companies are seeking an injunction that would prevent the city from enforcing the legislation, unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Plentywaka co-founder and CEO Onyeka Akumah was interviewed by TechCrunch as part of its ongoing founders Q&A series.

Misc. stuff

Hyundai Motor Group laid out its hydrogen strategy, announcing it will provide hydrogen fuel cell versions for all its commercial vehicles by 2028. Hyundai’s goal is to achieve cost competitiveness comparable to that of EV batteries by 2030. The company also shared details about its high-performance, rear-wheel drive hydrogen sports car, the Vision FK, with a targeted range of 373 miles. Hyundai did not share when the vehicle would go into production.

GM unveiled the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, a full-sized pickup truck that received a major technology upgrade, including its hands-free Super Cruise advanced driver assistance system and an infotainment system with embedded Google services, as well as an overhauled interior.

David Zipper wrote a piece for Slate examining the growing problem of infotainment systems.

#airlines, #anthony-levandowski, #apple, #apple-car, #automotive, #bmw, #cao-cao-mobility, #caviar, #delta-airlines, #doordash, #ford, #grubhub, #intel, #mobileye, #postmates, #seamless, #tesla, #transportation, #united-airlines

Intel’s Mobileye, rental giant Sixt to launch a robotaxi service in Germany next year

Intel subsidiary Mobileye and rental car giant Sixt SE plan to launch a robotaxi service in Munich next year, the CEOs of the two companies announced Tuesday during the IAA Mobility show in Germany.

The robotaxi service is leveraging all of Intel’s, and more specifically Mobileye’s, assets that have been in development or purchased in recent years, including the $900 million acquisition in 2020 of Moovit, an Israeli startup that analyzes urban traffic patterns and provides transportation recommendations with a focus on public transit.

Through the partnership, riders will be able to access the robotaxi service via the Moovit app. The service will also be offered through Sixt’s mobility ONE app, which gives customers the ability hail a ride, rent, share or subscribe to vehicles.

This will not be a large-scale commercial service in the beginning. The Mobileye robotaxis are expected to begin with an early-rider test program on Munich streets in 2022. If that mimics other early rider programs, the service will likely invite and then approve small groups of riders and then scale from there. The fleet will then move from test to commercial operations upon regulatory approval, the companies said.

Intel and Mobileye plan to scale the service across Germany and into other European countries later this decade. The companies chose Germany, a country where Mobileye is already testing its autonomous vehicle technology, because of a recently enacted law that permits driverless vehicles on public roads,.

“Germany has shown global leadership toward a future of autonomous mobility by expediting crucial AV legislation,” Intel CEO Gelsinger said Tuesday at IAA.  “Our ability to begin robotaxi operations in Munich next year would not be possible without this new law.”

During the IAA keynote, Mobileye also unveiled the vehicles branded with MoovitAV and SIXT. These vehicles, which are equipped with Mobileye’s self-driving system, will be produced in volume and used for the robotaxi service in Germany, the companies said.

While Mobileye is perhaps best known for supplying automakers with computer vision technology that powers advanced driver assistance systems — a business that generated nearly $967 million in sales last year — the company has also been developing automated vehicle technology.

The self-driving system, now branded as Mobileye Drive, is made up of a system-on-chip based compute, redundant sensing subsystems based on camera, radar and lidar technology, its REM mapping system and a rules-based Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) driving policy. Mobileye’s REM mapping system essentially crowdsources data by tapping into more than 1 million vehicles equipped with its tech to build high-definition maps that can be used to support in ADAS and autonomous driving systems.

That data is not video or images but compressed text that collects about 10 kilobits per kilometer. Mobileye has agreements with six OEMs, including BMW, Nissan and Volkswagen, to collect that data on vehicles equipped with the EyeQ4 chip, which is used to power the advanced driver assistance system. On fleet vehicles, Mobileye collects data from an after-market product it sells to commercial operators.

#automotive, #autonomous-vehicles, #germany, #iaa-mobility, #intel, #mobileye, #munich, #sixt, #tc

US giants top tech industry’s $100M+ a year lobbying blitz in EU

The scale of the tech industry’s spending to influence the European Union’s tech policy agenda has been laid out in a report published today by Corporate Europe Observatory and Lobbycontrol — which found hundreds of companies, groups and business associations shelling out a total of €97 million (~$115M) annually lobbying EU institutions.

The level of spending makes tech the biggest lobby sector in the region — ahead of pharma, fossil fuels, finance, and chemicals — per the report by the two lobbying transparency campaign groups.

The EU has a raft of digital legislation in train, including the Digital Markets Act, which is set to apply ex ante controls to the biggest ‘gatekeeper’ platforms to promote fair competition in the digital market by outlawing a range of abusive practices; and the Digital Services Act, which will increase requirements on a swathe of digital businesses — again with greater requirements for larger platforms — to try to bring online rules in line with offline requirements in areas like illegal content and products.

Tackling online disinformation and threats to democratic processes — such as by updating the EU’s rules for political ads running online and tighter regulation of online ad targeting more generally is also being eyed by Brussels-based lawmakers.

The bloc is also in the process of agreeing a risk-based framework for applications of artificial intelligence.

Data reuse is another big EU regulatory focus.

At the same time, enforcement of the EU’s existing data protection framework (GDPR) — which is widely perceived to have been (mostly) weakly applied against tech giants — is another area where tech giants may be keen to influence regional policy, given that uniformly vigorous enforcement could threaten the surveillance-based business models of online ad giants like Google and Facebook.

Instead, multiple GDPR complaints against the pair are still sitting undecided on the desk of Ireland’s Data Protection Commission.

A small number of tech giants dominant EU lobbying, according to the report, which found ten companies are responsible for almost a third of the total spend — namely: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Huawei, Amazon, IBM, Intel, Qualcomm and Vodafone — who collectively spend more than €32M a year to try to influence EU tech policy.

Google topped the lobbying list of Big Tech big spenders in the EU — spending €5.8M annually trying to influence EU institutions, per the report; followed by Facebook (€5.5M); Microsoft (€5.3M); Apple (€3.5M); and Huawei (€3M).

Unsurprisingly, US-based tech companies dominate industry lobbying in the EU — with the report finding a fifth of the companies lobbying the bloc on digital policy are US-based — although it suggests the true proportion is “likely even higher”.

While China (or Hong Kong) based companies were only found to comprise less than one per cent of the total, suggesting Chinese tech firms are so far not invested in EU lobbying at anywhere near the level of their US counterparts.

“The lobbying surrounding proposals for a Digital Services pack, the EU’s attempt at reining in Big Tech, provides the perfect example of how the firms’ immense budget provides them with privileged access: Commission high-level officials held 271 meetings, 75 percent of them with industry lobbyists. Google and Facebook led the pack,” write the pair of transparency campaign groups.

The report also shines a light on how the tech industry routinely relies upon astroturfing to push favored policies — with tech companies not only lobbying individually but also being collectively organised into a network of business and trade associations that the report dubs “important lobby actors” too.

Per the report, business associations lobbying on behalf of Big Tech alone have a lobbying budget that “far surpasses that of the bottom 75 per cent of the companies in the digital industry”.

Such a structure can allow the wealthiest tech giants to push preferred policy positions under a guise of wider industry support — by also shelling out to fund such associations which then gives them an outsized influence over their lobbying output.

“Big Tech’s lobbying also relies on its funding of a wide network of third parties, including think tanks, SME and startup associations and law and economic consultancies to push through its messages. These links are often not disclosed, obfuscating potential biases and conflicts of interest,” the pair note, going on to highlight 14 think tanks and NGOs they found to have “close ties” to Big Tech firms.

“The ethics and practice of these policy organisations varies but some seem to have played a particularly active role in discussions surrounding the Digital Services pack, hosting exclusive or skewed debates on behalf of their funders or publishing scaremongering reports,” they continue.

“There’s an opacity problem here: Big Tech firms have fared poorly in declaring their funding of think tanks – mostly only disclosing these links after being pressured. And even still this disclosure is not complete. To this, Big Tech adds its funding of SME and startup associations; and the fact that law and economic experts hired by Big Tech also participate in policy discussions, often without disclosing their clients or corporate links.”

The 14 think tanks and NGOs the report links to Big Tech backers are: CERRE; CDI, EPC, CEPS, CER, Bruegel, Lisbon Council, CDT, TPN, Friends of Europe, ECIPE, European Youth Forum, German Marshall Fund and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies.

The biggest spending tech giants were contacted for comment on the report. We’ll update this article with any response.

We have also reached out to the European Commission for comment.

The full report — entitled The Lobby Network: Big Tech’s Web of Influence in the EU — can be found here.

#amazon, #apple, #big-tech, #brussels, #digital-markets-act, #europe, #european-union, #facebook, #huawei, #ibm, #intel, #lobbying, #online-disinformation, #policy, #qualcomm, #united-states, #vodafone

Intel inks deal with Department of Defense to support domestic chip-building ecosystem

Intel has signed a deal with the Department of Defense to support a domestic commercial chip-building ecosystem. The chipmaker will lead the first phase of a program called Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes – Commercial (RAMP-C), which aims to bolster the domestic semiconductor supply chain.

The chipmaker’s recently launched division, Intel Foundry Services, will lead the program.

As part of RAMP-C, Intel will partner with IBM, Cadence, Synopsys and others to establish a domestic commercial foundry ecosystem. Intel says the program was designed to create custom integrated circuits and commercial products required by the Department of Defense’s systems.

“The RAMP-C program will enable both commercial foundry customers and the Department of Defense to take advantage of Intel’s significant investments in leading-edge process technologies,” said Randhir Thakur, president of Intel Foundry Services, in a statement. “Along with our customers and ecosystem partners, including IBM, Cadence, Synopsys and others, we will help bolster the domestic semiconductor supply chain and ensure the United States maintains leadership in both R&D and advanced manufacturing.”

Intel recently announced that it plans to invest approximately $20 billion to build two new factories in Arizona, as it aims to become a major provider for domestic foundry customers. The company says the factories will support expanding requirements for its products.

The chipmaker’s partnership with the Department of Defense comes amid the ongoing global semiconductor shortage, which is due in part to the pandemic and its impact on the global supply chain. The company is among other tech and auto giants in continuous talks with the White House regarding possible solutions for the shortage. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger met with Biden administration officials last month to discuss plans to build more chip factories and to appeal for subsidies.

In a new statement regarding RAMP-C, Gelsinger states that “one of the most profound lessons of the past year is the strategic importance of semiconductors, and the value to the United States of having a strong domestic semiconductor industry.”

“When we launched Intel Foundry Services earlier this year, we were excited to have the opportunity to make our capabilities available to a wider range of partners, including in the U.S. government, and it is great to see that potential being fulfilled through programs like RAMP-C,” Gelsinger added.

Gelsinger came on board as CEO in January with the aim to turn around the chipmaker and pursue new strategies for manufacturing and selling chips. A few months ago, Intel was rumoured to be in talks to buy chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries for $30 billion, but there’s been no news on that front.

#chip-makers, #department-of-defense, #intel, #tc

Intel Foundry Services gets a boost from $100M Pentagon award for US-made chips

Intel Foundry Services gets a boost from $100M Pentagon award for US-made chips

Enlarge (credit: ony Avelar/Bloomberg)

Intel announced Monday that it has been awarded a contract for foundry services through a Department of Defense program intended to support leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing in the US. 

Though Intel’s share of the estimated $100 million award wasn’t disclosed, it is certain to boost Intel’s fledgling Foundry Services division that was announced in March as a part of the company’s IDM 2.0 strategy. The company will be working alongside IBM and electronic design automation companies Cadence and Synopsys. The program, known as “Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes—Commercial or RAMP-C,” seeks to expand the Pentagon’s access to trusted, secure, and reliable chips from sub-7 nm process technology.

“One of the most profound lessons of the past year is the strategic importance of semiconductors and the value to the United States of having a strong domestic semiconductor industry,” Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said. “When we launched Intel Foundry Services earlier this year, we were excited to have the opportunity to make our capabilities available to a wider range of partners, including in the US government, and it is great to see that potential being fulfilled through programs like RAMP-C.”

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#department-of-defense, #intel, #pentagon, #policy, #semiconductors, #tsmc

Intel provides more details on its Arc GPUs, which will be made by TSMC

Promotional image for computer components.

Enlarge / Intel disclosed a few more details about the Xe-HPG architecture underpinning its upcoming Arc GPUs. (credit: Intel)

Earlier this week, Intel announced Arc, the branding for the new gaming GPUs that will face off with Nvidia’s GeForce and AMD’s Radeon cards when they launch early in 2022. Today, Intel provided a few additional details on Arc, its underlying Xe-HPG architecture, its graphics drivers, and the “XeSS” upscaling technology that will work with both Intel’s GPUs as well as GPUs from Nvidia and AMD.

The HPG in Xe-HPG stands for “high-performance gaming,” and it builds on the Xe-LP (“low-power”) graphics tech included in Intel’s 11th-generation Tiger Lake laptop processors and the low-end DG1 dedicated GPU. At a high-level, Xe-HPG will support all of the features in DirectX 12 Ultimate, just like Nvidia’s RTX 2000- and 3000-series GPUs and AMD’s RDNA2-based Radeon RX 6000-series cards. This includes, most notably, support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing, variable rate shading, and mesh shaders.

Since at least 2006, Intel has talked about its GPU hardware in terms of “execution units,” or EUs. The company is doing away with that terminology for Xe-HPG, replacing it instead with the concept of the “Xe-core.” Each Xe-core is composed of 16 vector engines and 16 matrix (or XMX) engines, as well as L1 cache and some other hardware. Four Xe-cores combine with ray-tracing units and other fixed-function hardware to form a “render slice,” which is the bare minimum any Xe-HPG GPU will need to function (along with L2 cache and a memory interface).

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#alchemist, #gaming-culture, #intel, #tech, #xe-hpg

Intel leaks show next-gen desktop CPUs with hybrid “big.little” design

It's a bit too early for photos of Alder Lake-S CPUs, much less Raptor Lake-S—so here's a gorgeous photo of an alder tree on the shore of Llyn Gwynant, in North Wales' Snowdonia National Park.

Enlarge / It’s a bit too early for photos of Alder Lake-S CPUs, much less Raptor Lake-S—so here’s a gorgeous photo of an alder tree on the shore of Llyn Gwynant, in North Wales’ Snowdonia National Park. (credit: R A Kearton via Getty Images)

It looks like big.little CPU design—an architecture that includes both fast, power-hungry cores and slower, more power-efficient cores—is here to stay in the x86_64 world, according to unverified insider information leaked by wccftech and AdoredTV.

Intel’s big/little designs enter round two

At Intel’s 2021 Architecture day, the company confirmed that its upcoming Alder Lake (12th generation) processors will use a mixture of performance and efficiency cores. This brings the company’s discontinued 2020 Lakefield design concept firmly into the mainstream.

Big.little designs run time-sensitive tasks on bigger, hotter performance cores while running background tasks on slower but much less power-hungry cores. This architecture is near-universal in the ARM world—which now includes Apple M1 Macs as well as Android and iOS phones and tablets—but it’s far less common in the x86_64 “traditional computing” world.

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#alder-lake, #cpu, #intel, #leaks, #raptor-lake, #tech

Actuator: Stop making sense

First of all, we’ve got a fancy new name. While “Robotics Roundup” was nothing if not very technically accurate, it lacked the kind of panache one ought to strive for when rounding up robotics. Actuator, on the other hand — that’s a mover and shaker.

It’s a name you can take to the bank (or at least run by the legal department for clearance). To mark this momentous occasion, we employed our resident graphic design genius Bryce to sketch up something befitting our rebrand.

We’re also using the opportunity to announce that Actuator will be coming soon to an inbox near you as a free TechCrunch newsletter. All of this fun change seems extra fitting, given that this happens to be the 25th edition of the roundup. You can find all of the older updates under our Actuator tag if you want to catch up.

If you’ve been following for a while, you’ve got the gist of what the newsletter is about: a digestible look into the week’s robotics news. We cover all of the startups making waves and the big companies impacting the industry, along with the most fascinating updates in the world of robotic research, as well as dives into labor concerns and various ethical issues stemming from automation and AI.

If all of that sounds good, you can sign up here to get Actuator in your inbox as soon as the first issue hits. I’m told you may have to prove you’re not a robot, so apologies in advance to all of the robots reading this. But hey, if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll figure it out.

Image Credits: Intel

Following an earlier report from CRN, Intel has since confirmed with TechCrunch that it will be winding down its 3D imaging platform, RealSense. It’s always a shame to see these sorts of forward-looking initiatives go away. And certainly Intel has been leaning pretty heavily on the division as a leading indicator of its efforts to remain relevant as the industry evolves.

Over the years, we’ve covered RealSense’s involvement in drones, robotics and AR/VR. In June of last year, we covered the platform’s embrace of 5G connectivity.

Image Credits: Intel

“We are winding down our RealSense business and transitioning our computer vision talent, technology and products to focus on advancing innovative technologies that better support our core businesses and IDM 2.0 strategy,” the company said in a statement offered to TechCrunch. “We will continue to meet our commitments to our current customers and are working with our employees and customers to ensure a smooth transition.

Translation: The company is choosing to focus its core competency. IDM 2.0 refers specifically to the new chipmaking strategy into which the company is pumping $20 billion. Understandable, but it’s always hopeful to see big companies like Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm really go all in on such forward-facing technologies.

Boston Dynamics, meanwhile, made news this week, ostensibly for another slick viral video, this one featuring the Hyundai-owned company’s humanoid Atlas robot. By now we’re all well aware of the fact that the company makes impressive robots and highly effective YouTube videos that launch a million Black Mirror and Terminator jokes on Twitter.

I’ve seen Atlas do some really impressive stuff in person at BD’s headquarters, and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s currently capable of. So, while Atlas is extremely cool, I didn’t find the recent parkour video especially shocking. What did catch me off guard, however, was the fact that the company also used the opportunity to essentially publish some outtakes from the film.

Image Credits: Boston Dynamics

A six-minute, behind-the-scenes video featured a montage of Atlas falling on its face. Like any great skateboarding video, there are a few gratuitous shots included that demonstrate that, regardless of how advanced the system is, there are still going to be some face-planting, gasket-blowing falls that leave its chest scuffed in a pool of its own fluid. The company notes:

During filming, Atlas gets the vault right about half of the time. On the other runs, Atlas makes it over the barrier, but loses its balance and falls backward, and the engineers look to the logs to see if they can find opportunities for on-the-fly adjustments.

That’s probably enough news of shuttered divisions and bodily robot harm for this week. A couple of fundraising rounds are worth noting.

First is Rapid Robotics, which has been on a fundraising tear of late. The new $36.7 million Series B values the manufacturing robotics company at $192.5 million and marks its third(!) fundraising round in a year that started with a seed raise.

Image Credits: Rapid Robotics

CEO Jordan Kretchmer cites pandemic-fueled manufacturing bottlenecks as a big source of interest in the company:

We hear a lot about the semiconductor shortage, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Contract manufacturers can’t produce gaskets, vials, labels — you name it. I’ve seen cases where the inability to produce a single piece of U-shaped black plastic brought an entire auto line to a halt

Image Credits: Diamond Age

Rapid will be making its robotic systems available through the increasingly popular RaaS (robotics as a service) model also being employed by Diamond Age. The fellow Bay Area-based firm announced its own $8 million seed round this morning for an intriguing mix of robotics and 3D printing designed at speeding up house construction. The company is still in its early stages, but it claims its technology can dramatically reduce the need for manual labor and shrink house construction time from nine months to 30 days.

Image Credits: Picnic

Following its own recent funding back in May, Picnic this week announced that it’s finally selling its modular robotic pizza maker. Pizza is, of course, a popular target for food robotics companies, because Americans eat a ton of it — reportedly 100 acres a day, as of 2015. It’s also relatively uniformly constructed as far as self-contained meals go, and is therefore easier to automate.

Nuro-validation test

Nuro team on test track during early validation in Arizona, before first-ever public road deployment in Arizona. Image Credits: Nuro

And speaking of pizza robots, before we leave you this week, a note to check out the EC-1 on Nuro. Here’s a fun anecdote from Domino’s chief innovation officer that seems to ring true across the robotic spectrum:

One of the things we laugh about is how customers constantly talk to the bot. It’s almost like they think it’s ‘Knight Rider.’ It’s very common for customers to thank it or say goodbye, which is great because that indicates we’re creating an engaging experience that they’re not frustrated by.

#actuator, #boston-dynamics, #intel, #nuro, #picnic, #robotics, #robotics-roundup

Ransomware recovery can be costly, and not just because of the ransom

Ransomware is rarely out of the headlines. Just last week, IT consulting giant Accenture was hit by the LockBit ransomware gang, days after Taiwan-based laptop maker Gigabyte also fell victim to an apparent ransomware attack, leading the hackers to leak gigabytes of confidential AMD and Intel data.

Unsurprisingly, ransomware — which has rocketed in activity during the pandemic — remains among the most costly to businesses, with large U.S companies losing an average of $5.66 million each year to ransomware. But new findings show that is not for the reason you might think.

While we often hear of multimillion-dollar ransom payments made by hackers, research from Proofpoint and the Ponemon Institute found that ransom payments typically account for less than 20% of the total cost of a ransomware attack. Of that $5.66 million figure each year, just $790,000 accounts for ransom payments. Rather, the research shows businesses suffer the majority of their losses through lost productivity and the time-consuming task of containing and cleaning up after a ransomware attack.

Proofpoint says that the remediation process for an average-sized organization takes on average 32,258 hours, which when multiplied by the average $63.50 IT hourly wage totals more than $2 million. Downtime and lost productivity is another costly consequence of ransomware attacks; the research shows that phishing attacks, for example, which were determined as the root cause of almost one-fifth of ransomware attacks last year, have led to employee productivity losses of $3.2 million in 2021, up from $1.8 million in 2015. 

“In the wake of a ransomware attack, communication and interaction between employees and any effected external parties must increase massively, causing many teams to have to drop all existing work as part of their ‘day job’ immediately and focus on this urgent matter, for potentially days, weeks or even months,” Proofpoint’s Andrew Rose told TechCrunch.

“They automatically face more scrutiny from customers, regulators and have to increase reliance on third parties. This may include a significant increase in external audits by customers and regulators, which again increases workload cost. There’s also the potential of regulatory fines, or class action lawsuits from customers,” said Rose.

This isn’t all businesses have to contend with from a financial point of view; organizations hit by ransomware are also likely to face an increase in cyber insurance costs, hefty IT expenditure and likely will have to cough up for PR teams, legal staff, customer services and external specialists. There’s also the brand and reputational fallout from such attacks: recent research from Cybereason shows that more than half of U.S. companies reported their brand was tarnished as a result of a ransomware attack. 

“For public organizations, there is also the potential for the share price to fall,” Rose adds. “Customers can also lose trust in a business once they know their data may have been at risk, which may in turn cause them to jump ship to a competitor, costing revenue.”

#crime, #cyberattacks, #cybercrime, #intel, #phishing, #ransomware, #security

Apple, AMD, and Intel shift priorities as chip shortages continue

Cartoon hands reach for a cartoon computer processor being dangled above them.

Enlarge / Sure, it’s cheaply produced clip art… but it’s also a disturbingly accurate picture of the current state of supply and demand in the semiconductor product market. (credit: tommy via Getty Images)

2021’s infamous chip shortages aren’t only affecting automakers. In a post-earnings conference call Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “We’ll do everything we can to mitigate whatever circumstances we’re dealt”—a statement that likely means the company will ration its chip supplies, prioritizing the most profitable and in-demand items such as iPhones and AirPods, at the expense of less profitable and lower-demand items.

CFRA analyst Angelo Zino told Reuters that Cook’s somewhat cryptic statement “largely reflects the timing of new product releases”—specifically, new iPhone releases in September. Counterpoint Research Director Jeff Fieldhack speculates from the flip side of the same coin, saying the company will likely direct supply chain “pain” to its least lucrative products. “Assuming Apple prioritizes the iPhone 12 family, it probably affects iPads, Macs, and older iPhones more,” Fieldhack said.

Processor manufacturer AMD has also been carefully managing its supply chain in response to pandemic-induced shortages. With flagship products that finally outperform rival Intel’s, AMD is focusing on the more profitable high end of the market while leaving the economy segment—until a few years ago, its strongest performer—to Intel. “We’re focusing on the most strategic segments of the PC market,” CEO Lisa Su told investors on a conference call.

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#amd, #apple, #chip-shortage, #intel, #pandemic, #supply-chain, #tech

Intel’s foundry roadmap lays out the post-nanometer “Angstrom” era

Earlier this year, Intel got a new CEO and kicked off a new business plan that would open its foundries to other chip-design firms, just like how TSMC and Samsung Semiconductor operate. At its “Intel Accelerated” event today, the company laid out a roadmap for its future as a for-hire foundry. Besides the future of ever-smaller process nodes, the company also announced it has scored one of the world’s biggest chip designers, Qualcomm, as a future foundry customer.

As part of entering the foundry market, Intel will start naming its process nodes more like its rivals. The process-node numbers used for chips like “5nm” started out life as a measurement of transistor size, but eventually the marketers got hold of them and companies started cheating down their numbers to look more advanced. Intel says its new naming scheme will better align with how TSMC and Samsung talk about their foundry technologies. Gone are the days of “Intel 10nm Enhanced Super Fin”—instead, the node is called “Intel 7.” It should have a comparable density to the TSMC and Samsung 7 nm nodes and will be ready for production in Q1 2022 (TSMC and Samsung are currently shipping “5nm” products). “Intel 4″—which Intel previously called “7nm”—is now said to be equivalent to TSMC and Samsung’s 4 nm node, and it will begin manufacturing products in 2023.

If you’re wondering what happens when we run out of “nm” numbers, Intel’s sales pitch for that is the “Angstrom” era, a unit of measurement that is one-tenth of a nanometer. In 2024, the company wants to ramp up the “Intel 20A” process node (so a “2nm” equivalent, but Intel was calling this node “5nm” previously, but remember these are marketing numbers and not really units of measurement). In early, 2025 the company will be working on “Intel 18A.”

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#intel, #qualcomm, #tech

Intel rumored to be in talks to buy chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries for $30B

When it comes to M&A in the chip world, the numbers are never small. In 2020, four deals involving chip companies totaled $106 billion led by NVidia snagging ARM for $40 billion. One surprise from last year’s chip-laced M&A frenzy was Intel remaining on the sidelines. That would change if a rumored $30 billion deal to buy chip manufacturing concern GlobalFoundries comes to fruition.

The rumor was first reported by the Wall Street Journal yesterday.

Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst at Moor Insight & Strategies, who watches the chip industry closely, says that snagging GlobalFoundries would certainly make sense for Intel. The company is currently pursuing a new strategy to manufacture and sell chips for both Intel and to others under CEO Pat Gelsinger, who came on board in January to turn around the flagging chip maker.

“GlobalFoundries has technologies and processes that are specialized for 5G RF, IoT and automotive. Intel with GlobalFoundries, would become what I call a “full-stack provider” that could offer a customer everything. This is in full alignment with IDM 2.0 (Intel’s chip manufacturing strategy) and would get Intel there years before it could without GlobalFoundries,” Moorhead told TechCrunch.

It would also give Intel a chip manufacturing facility at a time when there are global chip shortages and huge demand for product from every corner, due in part to the pandemic and the impact it has had on the global supply chain. Intel has already indicated it has plans to spend more than $20 billion to build two fabs (chip manufacturing plants) in Arizona. Adding GlobalFoundries to these plans would give them a broad set of manufacturing capabilities in the coming years if it came to pass, but would also involve a significant investment of tens of billions of dollars to get there.

GlobalFoundries is a worldwide chip manufacturing concern based in the U.S. The company was spun off from Intel’s rival chip maker AMD in 2012, and is currently owned by Mubadala Investment Company, the investment arm of the Government of Abu Dhabi.

Investors seem to like the idea of combining these two companies with Intel stock up 1.59% as of publication. It’s important to note that this deal is still in the rumor stage and nothing is definitive or final yet. We will let you know if that changes.

#chips, #enterprise, #globalfoundries, #hardware, #intel, #ma, #pat-gelsinger, #tc