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Top Telcos Join Facebook Open Source Hardware Project ( 18

An anonymous reader sends word about the latest telcos to join Facebook's Open Compute Project. The Stack reports: "A new wave of communications companies has joined Facebook's non-profit Open Compute Project (OCP), including AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom and South Korea's SK Telecom, as the movement seeks to share innovative hardware designs and drive down costs in the telecom arena. An OCP sub-section focused entirely on telecom requirements has been set up to look into servers and networking efficiency in the field. As one of the largest hardware buyers, telcos will provide a significant new market for the project, alongside its successful data center efforts.

AMD Rips 'Biased and Unreliable' Intel-Optimized SYSmark Benchmark ( 174

MojoKid writes: AMD is making a stink about SYSMark, a popular benchmarking program that's been around for many years, and one the chip designer says is not reliable. Rather than provide meaningful results and information, AMD claims SYSMark unfairly favors Intel products and puts too much emphasis on strict CPU performance above all else. John Hampton, director of AMD's client computing products, explained in a video why SYSMark itself is an unreliable metric of performance. He even brought up the "recent debacle" involving Volkswagen as proof that "information provided by even the most established organizations can be misleading." Salinas says SYSMark's focus on the CPU is so "excessive" that it's really only evaluating the processor, not the system as a whole. In comparison, PCMark 8 probes not only the CPU, but graphics and subsystems as well. In an attempt to drive the point home, AMD ran a set of custom scripts it developed based on Microsoft Office and timed how long it took each system to complete them. The Intel system took 61 seconds to finish the benchmark versus 64 seconds for the AMD platform, a difference of about 6-7 percent and in line with what PCMark 8 indicated, though Sysmark shows a stark delta of 50 percent in favor of Intel with comparable CPUs.

Seagate Adopts Helium For a 10TB HDD ( 175

Lucas123 writes: Seagate has finally adopted helium as an inert gas in its data center drives and has used it to produce a 10TB HDD for cloud-based data centers. Seagate had relied on its shingled magnetic recording technology for high-capacity drives right up until its last 8TB HDD, even after WD has used helium in several iterations of its hermetically sealed, 3.5-in HDDs. The lighter-than-air helium reduces friction on platters and allows more to be used. In Seagate's new HDD, it crammed seven platters 14 heads, a 25% increase in disk density over its 8TB drive.

Intel Skylake Bug Causes PCs To Freeze During Complex Workloads ( 122

chalsall writes: Intel has confirmed an in-the-wild bug that can freeze its Skylake processors. The company is pushing out a BIOS fix. Ars reports: "No reason has been given as to why the bug occurs, but it's confirmed to affect both Linux and Windows-based systems. Prime95, which has historically been used to benchmark and stress-test computers, uses Fast Fourier Transforms to multiply extremely large numbers. A particular exponent size, 14,942,209, has been found to cause the system crashes. While the bug was discovered using Prime95, it could affect other industries that rely on complex computational workloads, such as scientific and financial institutions. GIMPS noted that its Prime95 software "works perfectly normal" on all other Intel processors of past generations."

Mozilla Is Developing an IoT Board Powered By Firefox OS ( 84

prisoninmate writes: An SBC called Chirimen was designed from the outset to use web browser technologies in various science projects by extending the I2C and GPIO WebAPIs to control devices powered by Mozilla's Firefox OS 2.0 and higher operating system. As such, Web developers can easily use browser technologies to develop awesome things. The board is developed by in Japan.

Arduino SRL Turns Focus To New Connected Boards ( 67

szczys writes: Arduino has driven a tidal wave of embedded development over the last decade. But last year a rift formed in the shape of two companies — Arduino LLC and Arduino SRL — who are suing each other over trademark. While that is ongoing, each company is trying to outdo the other in terms of new hardware. Arduino SRL is now focusing on producing connected boards and will soon have several new offerings available. The Uno WiFi is a traditional Arduino with an ESP8266 WiFi chip on board. The Tian has a MIPS processor with 2.4 & 5 GHz WiFi making it a Linux single board computer with support for low level pin driving. And the Lei is somewhere in between the other two and only for the Chinese market (it would need FCC certification to be sold in the US). From the user side the trademark dispute looks like a waste of energy, but if it drives the companies to produce more boards and fight for followers on price and quality that may be the silver lining.

64 Hacker Friendly Single Board Computers ( 86

An anonymous reader writes: This year, we've seen some incredible price/performance breakthroughs in low-cost single board computers. LinuxGizmos has put together a compilation of 64 low-cost, hacker friendly SBCs that are all available in models that cost less than $200, with many well below $100, including Shenzhen Xunlong's $15 quad-core Orange Pi PC, Next Thing's $9 to $24 Chip, and the $5-and-up Raspberry Pi Zero. Processors range from low-end 32-bit single core ARM chips, to 64-bit ARM, x86, and MIPS parts, and with clock rates from 300MHz to 2GHz. This year even saw the arrival of low-cost SBCs based on octa-core processors, such as the $88 Banana Pi M3.

HP's Spectre X2 Is a Solid Core M Powered Surface Pro Alternative For Less ( 93

MojoKid writes: Now that we're a few years removed from the introduction of the original Surface and Surface Pro, it's clear that Microsoft's vision had merit, and virtually all of the company's major OEM partners are producing at least a few machines that were influenced by Microsoft's design. HP's new Spectre X2 hybrid is as similar a machine to the Surface Pro 4 that we have seen to date. Its form factor, detachable keyboard design, kickstand and overall look at feel of the machine are very "Surface-like". But HP has made some well thought-out changes and packed the machine with different hardware. The end result is rather interesting, somewhat better experience in some respects, for a lower price point. The model tested here features a Core m7-6Y75 dual-core / quad-thread processor with a base frequency of 1.2Hz and a max Turbo frequency of 3.1 GHz. Its on-processor HD 515 graphics can Turbo up to 1GHz and feature all of Intel's latest graphics tech, like Quick Sync, InTru 3D, etc. Other specs include 8GB of LPDDR3 memory, a 256GB Lite-On SSD, a 12" WUXGA screen, 802.11ac WiFi / Bluetooth and Verizon LTE support, a various IO including a built-in card reader and USB type C. The machine's detachable keyboard is held in place by magnets, similar to Microsoft's method. However, the Spectre X2's keyboard is quite similar to a full laptop keyboard. It's arguably superior to Microsoft's Type Cover, both aesthetically and functionally. Power users looking for a high-performance mobile device for heavy-duty workloads would probably be better served by something powered by a Core i5 or i7-series processor, but for the majority of users out there, the Core m at the heart of this machine should pack more than enough punch.

The Ups and Downs of AMD ( 225

szczys writes: In 2003 AMD was on top of the world. Now they're not, but they're also still in business. AMD continues to produce inexpensive, well-engineered semiconductors. The fall over the last 10 years is due to Intel, who used illegal practices and ethically questionable engineering decisions to knock AMD off their roost while still keeping them in business. The latter prevents the finger of antitrust from being pointed at Intel the way it was for Ma Bell.

$5 Raspberry Pi Zero Compared To Intel's NetBurst CPUs & Newer ( 99

An anonymous reader writes: Curious about the performance of a Raspberry Pi Zero, Phoronix has published a number of Raspberry Pi 2 + Pi Zero performance benchmarks with paired power consumption data. They found the Pi Zero performed slower than even an Intel Celeron 320 from the NetBurst era, but that the Raspberry Pi 2 was performing between that Celeron and a Pentium 4 "C" 2.8GHz CPU from 2004. While the Raspberry Pis didn't win in raw performance, the performance-per-Watt of the Raspberry Pi 2 was 220x greater than the Pentium Northwood. The Pi Zero had an average power consumption of 2.7 Watts and the Raspberry Pi 2 was at 3.5 Watts; however, compared to newer Broadwell and Skylake processors, Intel's low-end parts delivered greater power efficiency while the Raspberry Pi had the best value.

The Death of Electronic Surplus ( 138

szczys writes: For hardware developers, electronic surplus stores feel like being a kid in a candy shop. It's hard to walk down an aisle packed floor to ceiling with bins of seemingly-random components without feeling giddy. The wind down of domestic manufacturing, paired with the rise of online parts retailers (think eBay) has led to the shuttering of most electronic surplus shops. But a few of the best are still around. Brandon Dunson takes us on a nostalgic trip through surplus history and a tour of his local electronic surplus store. He brings it home with the saddest part of the trend: the loss of surplus means a loss of culture. Electronic flea markets and surplus stores are a nexus point of talented and interesting people. As they go, so does the opportunity to interact in person with the gurus of electronic development.

Remix Mini Review: a $70 Android Desktop PC ( 82

walterbyrd writes: Earlier this year, Jide released a 2-in-1 tablet called the Remix Ultra, which shipped with a custom version of Android called Remix OS. The software features a taskbar, a desktop, support for keyboard shortcuts, and support for running many apps either in full-screen mode or in smaller windows. The Remix Ultra tablet comes with a keyboard cover and touchpad, allowing you to use it like a laptop — and it worked... kind of. But the Remix Ultra is also kind of expensive. Now Jide is offering something much more affordable: the Jide Remix Mini is basically a small, low-power desktop computer that ships with Remix OS. After running a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money (and awareness) this fall, Jide is now shipping the Remix Mini to customers.

Why the Raspberry Pi Zero Isn't a Practical Tool For Teaching Students ( 190

An anonymous reader writes: This article criticizes the Raspberry PI Foundation's new computer the Zero. It points out that the Foundation says the purpose of the new Pi is to reach students but with all the needed equipment and experience it is ill suited for students. From the Hackaday story: "For development you need to set up the Zero with a power supply, mini-HDMI to HDMI adapter, HDMI cable, the USB OTG cable, USB hub, a keyboard, and possibly a mouse. After some hours of work you’re ready to try the software in your device. The cables are all disconnected and the board connected to the device. Tests are run. You pull the Zero out and plug everything back together for further software work. That’s going to get old really fast so you get a second Zero so one can stay in the device. Now all you need to do is swap the SD card. If you’re going to do that, you don’t need a second Zero since you can use a Pi 2 and get the advantages of its higher speed in development. Alternatively, you can use the USB OTG with a WiFi dongle, copy files to the Zero’s SD, and restart or reboot the device. Over WiFi you can also use SSH or a remote console to monitor the device’s activities. How long did it take you to figure out all the cable connections in the second paragraph above? Do you think a student without a hacker friend will understand that? Remember, the goal is to reach students who don’t know computers."

Zero-Day Bugs In Numerous Modems/Routers Could Compromise Millions of Users ( 81

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers have discovered a large number of zero-day flaws in 8 routers/modems from 4 manufacturers (ZTE, Huawei, Gemtek, Quanta) that would allow attackers to build a huge botnet by leveraging just a few exploits. Vulnerabilities include remote code execution, firmware rewrites, XSS, and CSRF. All these allow attackers to intercept both HTTP and HTTPS Web traffic, infect computers beyond the modem, intercept SMS messages, and detect the modem's geographical location. After six months, manufacturers have failed to fix the issues.

Sony Unlocks PlayStation 4's Previously Reserved Seventh CPU Core For Devs ( 143

MojoKid writes: Toward the beginning of the year, it was revealed that Microsoft was going to "unlock" the seventh core on the Xbox One's processor, enabling developers to eke just a bit more performance out of the console and offer more flexibility at resource utilization. It appears that Microsoft's move would inevitably be followed by Sony, as reports are now coming in that this will be made available on the PlayStation 4 as well. This subtle change was highlighted in the latest changelog for the FMOD sound engine which is labeled as a "LowLevel API." While the unlocked core could take on FMOD duties if developers want it to, it's now not going to be tied to any single purpose. Developers could make use of this core, for example, to boost AI performance, or any other process that has a heavy computation requirement. It could also be used to simply help ease overall system load.

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