Chris Williams

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Chris is The Register's US bureau chief based in San Francisco, California. He writes about semiconductor chips and software engineering. You can look him up online at diodesign.co.uk, get his public PGP key at Keybase.io or find him on Twitter.

Docker emits LinuxKit: You can probably guess what it does

Docker will today release LinuxKit, an open-source toolbox for building fine-tuned Linux-based operating systems that run in containers. No, it's not replacing Alpine. Docker uses the minimalist Alpine Linux distribution as the foundation of its official container images, and will continue to do so in future, we're told. …
Chris Williams, 18 Apr 2017

Airplane bomb fears spark America's laptop, tablet carry-on ban

Updated Fears of terrorists smuggling bombs disguised as laptops onto airplanes has triggered a fresh crackdown on carry-on luggage. From today, passengers are banned from flying into the US from specific overseas airports if their carry-on luggage contains any devices larger than a mobile phone. The clampdown – introduced by American …

ARM's big.LITTLE now big.LITTLE.fat.SKINNY: CPU designer makes room for accelerators

ARM is today touting a new way of organizing processor chips – one that will squeeze accelerators designed for AI and such tasks into phones, PCs, cars, and so on. This layout, dubbed DynamIQ, builds on the Brit processor designer's big.LITTLE architecture that's been around since 2011. Big.LITTLE works by hooking a set of …
Chris Williams, 21 Mar 2017

Microsoft: Can't wait for ARM to power MOST of our cloud data centers! Take that, Intel! Ha! Ha!

Pic Microsoft today signaled more than half of its cloud data center capacity is set to be powered by 64-bit ARM servers. In a briefing to techies at this year's OCP Summit in Silicon Valley, top Azure engineer Leendert van Doorn flashed up the above slide: it lays out Redmond's desire, over the next few years, to see the majority …
Chris Williams, 09 Mar 2017

Windows Server ported to Qualcomm's ARM server chip. Repeat, Windows Server ported to ARM server chip

Microsoft has ported its Windows Server operating system to the Qualcomm Centriq – a 64-bit ARM-compatible server-grade system-on-chip. In a move that will pile further pressure on Intel – which dominates the data center market but is already unnerved by AMD's Naples server processor – Qualcomm and Microsoft will today show …
Chris Williams, 08 Mar 2017

'First ever' SHA-1 hash collision calculated. All it took were five clever brains... and 6,610 years of processor time

Google researchers and academics have today demonstrated it is possible – following years of number crunching – to produce two different documents that have the same SHA-1 hash signature. This proves what we've long suspected: that SHA-1 is weak and can't be trusted. This is bad news because the SHA-1 hashing algorithm is used …
Microsoft flagship store, New York

Qualcomm, Microsoft plot ARM Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs, tablets, phones

First, it fired shots at Intel's data center margins. Now Qualcomm is gunning for its rival's notebook processor cash cow. Qualcomm and Microsoft are hooking up to port full-fat Windows 10 to smartphones, tablets, PCs and virtual reality goggles powered by Qualcomm's 64-bit ARMv8-compatible Snapdragon system-on-chips. These …
Chris Williams, 08 Dec 2016

What can we use to hit Intel between the eyes, thinks Qualcomm – a 10nm ARM server chip

Qualcomm says it has started shipping to customers samples of the Centriq 2400, its 10nm 64-bit ARMv8-A general-purpose server-grade system-on-chip. The mobile chip designer, based in San Diego, California, has recruited engineers from AMD, Intel and Broadcom, as well as tapped its internal pool of techies, to work on the …
Chris Williams, 07 Dec 2016

Broadcom quietly dismantles its 'Vulcan' ARM server chip project

Broadcom is shutting down efforts to develop its own server-class 64-bit ARM system-on-chip, multiple sources within the semiconductor industry have told The Register. It appears the secretive project, codenamed Vulcan, did not survive Broadcom's acquisition by Avago and is gradually being wound down. Engineering resources …
Chris Williams, 07 Dec 2016

Sony kills off secret backdoor in 80 internet-connected CCTV models

Sony has killed off what, charitably, looks like a debug backdoor in 80 of its web-connected surveillance cameras that can be exploited to hijack the devices. The hardcoded logins can be potentially used by malware, such as variants of the Mirai bot and its ilk, to automatically and silently commandeer swathes of Sony-built …
Chris Williams, 06 Dec 2016

Why your gigabit broadband lags like hell – blame Intel's chipset

Intel's Puma 6 chipset, used in gigabit broadband modems around the world, suffers from latency jitter so bad it ruins online gaming and other real-time connections. The semiconductor giant is preparing a firmware update to correct spikes of lag and bouts of packet loss that repeatedly flare up in home internet hubs in America …
Chris Williams, 03 Dec 2016

Passengers ride free on SF Muni subway after ransomware infects network, demands $73k

Updated Hard-drive-scrambling ransomware infected hundreds of computers at San Francisco's public transit agency on Friday and demanded 100 bitcoins to unlock data, The Register has learned. Ticket machines were shut down and passengers were allowed to ride the Muni light-rail system for free on Saturday – a busy post-Thanksgiving …
Chris Williams, 27 Nov 2016

San Francisco's sinking luxury Millennium Tower: Tilt spotted FROM SPACE

San Francisco's $350m leaning Millennium Tower is continuing to sink into the ground, European satellites orbiting Earth have confirmed. The 58-story landmark, at 301 Mission Street, is one of the tallest structures in the tech-playground city, overlooking the bay and the metropolis's startup land. The swanky skyscraper, an …
Chris Williams, 25 Nov 2016

Twitter bans own CEO Jack Dorsey from Twitter

Twitter today briefly suspended the Twitter account of Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey. For a moment, we all thought the big boss had been unceremoniously booted out of the troubled biz or had fallen foul of his own anti-abuse complaints system. But it was probably a bug or something mundane like that. Twits surfing over …
Chris Williams, 23 Nov 2016
Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego

Qualcomm makes China pay

Qualcomm has had quite a boffo quarter to round off a pretty sound year. The California-based mobile processor and cellular modem designer says it now has nine of the top 10 Chinese handset manufacturers paying it royalties in one form or another on its wireless technologies. (Qualcomm has had a colorful history with Chinese …
Chris Williams, 03 Nov 2016
polygonal canary

ARM draws new Mali GPUs

ARM has drawn up a couple of new Mali GPUs – the V61 and the G51 – for next-generation chips in smartphones and other handhelds. The Mali-V61's unique selling point, we're told, is its ability to efficiently handle live streams of 4K video, which is useful if you're broadcasting from your cellphone to the internet. It can do …
Chris Williams, 31 Oct 2016

ARM: Hold my beer, we'll install patches for your crappy IoT gear for you

ARM TechCon Processor designer ARM will squirt security fixes directly into internet-connected gadgets to hopefully keep them defended from hackers. Manufacturers of Internet-of-Things gizmos and other embedded products have complained that updating gear in the field is too much hard work. That means devices are rarely patched when …
Chris Williams, 25 Oct 2016

SUSE: Question. What do you call second-place in ARM enterprise server linux? Answer: Red Hat

ARM TechCon SUSE is claiming victory over Red Hat by announcing – and these caveats are all crucial – "the first commercial enterprise Linux distribution optimized for ARM AArch64 architecture servers." In plainer English, SUSE has developed an enterprise-grade Linux distribution that runs on 64-bit ARM servers (should you happen to ever …
Chris Williams, 25 Oct 2016
Cohesity_Santa_clara_office

Cohesity COO Riccardo Di Blasio cut loose by board after HR probe

Exclusive Cohesity has parted ways with its chief operating officer, Riccardo Di Blasio, one year after he joined the startup. The firm supplies a software platform to converge all secondary storage into a single repository. It was founded in 2013 by Mohit Aron, its CEO, and has had two rounds of funding for a total of $70m. We …
head of 50s-style robot

Today the web was broken by countless hacked devices – your 60-second summary

Updated Today a vast army of hijacked internet-connected devices – from security cameras and video recorders to home routers – turned on their owners and broke a big chunk of the web. Compromised machines, following orders from as-yet unknown masterminds, threw massive amounts of junk traffic at servers operated by US-based Dyn, which …
Chris Williams, 21 Oct 2016
AMD CEO Lisa Su speaking at the firm's 2015 financial analyst day

AMD is a rounding error on Intel's spreadsheet and that sucks for us all

On Tuesday, Intel said it expects to bank in the final quarter of the year $15.7bn in sales, plus or minus $500m. That's a billion-dollar swing. Two days later, on Thursday, AMD proudly revealed that its entire revenue for the three months to September 24 was $1.3bn. Just over a billion dollars. AMD is little more than …
Chris Williams, 21 Oct 2016

Intel stock falls on glum Q4

Intel's share price is down 5.22 per cent to $35.78 apiece in after-hours trading today after the biz predicted a slightly less rosy fourth quarter than expected. Analysts had hoped Chipzilla would promise to deliver a $16.1bn quarter in the final three months of the year – the processor giant instead said it's aiming to bag $ …
Chris Williams, 19 Oct 2016
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

New Snapdragons coming

Qualcomm has crafted three new ARM-compatible Snapdragon system-on-chips. These aren't the next-gen 800-series processors you may be expecting for 2017's top-of-the-line Android smartphones – instead they're extensions to Qualy's mid- and lower-tier designs. There's the new Snapdragon 653 which is a slightly faster version of …
Chris Williams, 18 Oct 2016

Samsung to fab 10nm FinFET SoCs for next year's exploding phones

Pocket explosives maker Samsung claims it has started the "mass production" of the world's first 10nm FinFET system-on-chips. These SoCs are expected to be next-generation Samsung-designed Exynos chips, and possibly Qualcomm Snapdragons, which are at the heart of today's ARM-powered Android handhelds. The South Korean giant, …
Chris Williams, 17 Oct 2016

How a chunk of the web disappeared this week: GlobalSign's global HTTPS snafu explained

GlobalSign has performed a postmortem examination on how, as one of the world's root certificate authorities, it managed to break a chunk of the web. The New Hampshire, US-based biz has to date sold 2.5 million SSL/TLS certificates to websites around the world. This week, it inadvertently smashed its own chain of trust: it …
Chris Williams, 15 Oct 2016

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