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Chris Williams

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Chris is The Register's US bureau chief based in San Francisco, California. He spends his days hunting for news, writing headlines, editing articles, penning the occasional feature, managing his team, and various other bits and bobs. His PGP public key can be found here on Keybase over HTTPS. Fingerprint: 1FD3 81D9 6344 FC49 9C5F FBC1 0EC6 E70E 3EB7 9D2E

Nuclear fusion simulator among boffinry tools picked for monster Summit supercomputer

In November, the US government announced it will build Summit, a $325m supercomputer capable of performing 300 quadrillion calculations per second if you redline it. When installed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2017 and powered up by 2018, it will be the fastest computer in the world compared to its publicly known …
Chris Williams, 15 Apr 2015

Intel, Cray bag $200m to build 180PFLOPS super for US nuke boffins

Intel and Cray have landed a $200m deal to build a 180-petaFLOPS supercomputer dubbed Aurora for the US Department of Energy. Intel will provide the chips – expected to include next-gen 10nm Knights Hill processor cores – and Cray will integrate it all together. If you look at the numbers, that's a rather small amount of money …
Tom Wheeler, Chair of FCC. Image by DonkeyHotey

AT&T, Verizon and telco pals file lawsuit to KILL net neutrality FOREVER

America's top telcos are suing the FCC over its efforts to impose net neutrality regulations on US broadband networks. AT&T, Verizon, and others, represented by trade body USTelecom, will drag the Federal Communications Commission to the appeals court in Washington DC in a bid to overturn fresh rules on what ISPs can and can't …
Chris Williams, 24 Mar 2015

AI guru Ng: Fearing a rise of killer robots is like worrying about overpopulation on Mars

GTC 2015 Artificial intelligence boffin Andrew Ng told engineers today that worrying about the rise of evil killer robots is like worrying about overpopulation and pollution on Mars before we've even set foot on it. Ng – chief scientist at Chinese web search giant Baidu and an associate professor at Stanford University – said fretting …
Chris Williams, 19 Mar 2015

IBM's OpenPower gang touts first proper non-Big Blue-badged server

GTC 2015 The OpenPower Foundation unveiled new hardware – including its first commercially available server – at its first OpenPower Summit on Wednesday, a mini-event nestled within Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference in California. The foundation has also forged a relationship with the Facebook-led Open Compute Project, which operates in …
Chris Williams, 19 Mar 2015

My self-driving cars may lead to human driver ban, says Tesla's Musk

GTC 2015 Self-driving cars are "almost a solved problem," Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk told the crowds at Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California. But he fears the on-board computers may be too good, and ultimately encourage laws that force people to give up their steering wheels. He added: "We’ll take autonomous cars …
Chris Williams, 18 Mar 2015

Nvidia tears wraps off GeForce Titan X (again) and $10,000 GPU brain for DIY self-driving cars

GTC 2015 Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang confirmed the arrival of the GeForce Titan X just a few minutes ago today, dubbing it Nvi's fastest single-chip GPU to date. He also showed off two development kits: a $15,000 deep-learning system, and a $10,000 DIY self-driving car brain. The US chip maker's boss was speaking at this year's GPU …
Chris Williams, 17 Mar 2015

AMD, ARM, Imagination, Samsung alliance publish official shared GPU-CPU blueprints

An effort to tightly knit together graphics chips, processors and other hardware to boost things like video search on your desktop has taken a step forward. The HSA Foundation today officially published version 1.0 of its Heterogeneous System Architecture specification, which (if we were being flippant) describes how GPUs, DSPs …
Chris Williams, 16 Mar 2015

Intel gives Facebook the D – Xeons thrust web pages at the masses

Open Compute Summit Facebook is using Intel's Xeon D processors to build stacks of web servers for the 1.39 billion people who visit the social network every month. The OpenRack server design is codenamed Yosemite, is pictured above, and is available for anyone to use under the OpenCompute project. The hardware "dramatically increases speed and …
Chris Williams, 10 Mar 2015

Apple Watch: HOT WRIST ACTION plus slim $1299 MacBooks - and HBO TV

Hype-gasm It's time for Apple to show off its hardware: the Apple Watch, a shiny and expensive accessory for a shiny and expensive accessory (the iPhone) – plus a new Intel Core M thin MacBook for $1,299, and a HBO Now tie-up with Apple TV. CEO Tim Cook is leading a presentation on the device in San Francisco today. You can watch live …
Chris Williams, 09 Mar 2015
Block diagram of the Power8 chip

IBM's Softlayer cloud to tout bare-metal Power8 boxes by the summer

In brief If you're dying to boot up bare-metal Power8-powered servers hosted in the cloud, today's your lucky day, and not in a I've-got-a-winning-lottery-ticket-outta-here sorta way. On Wednesday IBM will announce that its Softlayer public cloud will offer bare-metal Power8 servers as part of its ongoing OpenPower push. If you really, …
Chris Williams, 04 Mar 2015

Just want a simple, low-power GPU for your smart-gumble? Try using your Imagination

MWC 2015 Getting tired of chip designers bragging how their latest and greatest GPUs are stuffed full of transistors and can process a bazillion polygons a second? Well, Imagination has an antidote – the PowerVR G6020, which is aimed at smartwatches and embedded stuff where a slick 2D user interface is preferred over 3D might. The 400MHz …
Chris Williams, 02 Mar 2015

Reckon YOU can write better headlines than us? Great – apply within

Job The Register is expanding in the States: we're seeking a full-time US Production Editor to work in our San Francisco bureau in California. The successful applicant will work alongside our US editor and four reporters to prepare news, opinion and feature articles on the world of science and technology for our vast and …
Chris Williams, 27 Feb 2015

AMD's new Carrizo: The x86 notebook processor that thinks it's a GPU

ISSCC 2015 AMD claims its new x86-powered Carrizo system-on-chip for notebooks has more transistors and yet consumes less power than the previous generation Kaveri – and has shown off some of its engineering to help back that up. In time for this week's International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, AMD has …
Chris Williams, 24 Feb 2015

I'm the wire starter: ARM, IBM tout plug 'n' play Internet of Stuff kit

Pics ARM and IBM today hope to lure a few more engineers, tinkerers and the like into their Internet of Things (IoT) world with a cloud-connected development kit bundle. The new Ethernet IoT Starter Kit combines the gizmo-laden mbed Application Shield with a Cortex-M4-powered board from Freescale. You plug the two together, hook the …
Chris Williams, 24 Feb 2015

Anthem, America's second biggest health insurer, HACKED: Millions hit by breach

Hackers have invaded the servers of Anthem, a health insurer used by tens of millions of Americans, and stolen social security numbers, employment records, personal contact details and more. A veritable treasure trove for identity thieves. Anthem, the US's second biggest health insurer with about 70 million people on its books …
Chris Williams, 05 Feb 2015

Watt the CHIP!? ARM pops out THE most powerful 64-bit Cortex for mobes'n'slabs

ARM today reveals its most impressive design yet: the 64-bit Cortex-A72 processor core, aimed at giving next year's smartphones and tablets extra oomph for games and such. We're told a 16nm A72 has about twice the performance of a 20nm Cortex-A57, and consumes about half the power. Chip manufacturers are expected to package four …
Chris Williams, 03 Feb 2015
 photo by kudomomo http://www.flickr.com/photos/kudumomo/

Facebook, Instagram, Tinder TITSUP*: HOW did anyone even find out?

Updated It appears Facebook and its snap-slinging subsidiary Instagram have fallen off the web. Hook-up-finder Tinder is also reportedly having problems. As of 22.45 Pacific Time on Monday, (06.45 UTC Tuesday) the websites and apps are apparently still suffering a widespread outage, which kicked off about 40 minutes ago. Facebook …
Chris Williams, 27 Jan 2015

Lizard Squad gang moves from PlayStation, Xbox Live attacks to Tor

The developers of Tor, the software that tries to mask netizens' identities on the internet, have downplayed the arrival of 3,000 new relays – which are courtesy of a gang of mischief-makers. Tor Project members say the flood of nodes will largely be ignored by the network. The relays were seemingly introduced by Lizard Squad …
Chris Williams, 27 Dec 2014

ISC.org website hacked: Scan your PC for malware if you stopped by

The website for the Internet Systems Consortium, which develops the BIND DNS and ISC DHCP tools, has been hacked. Anyone who recently browsed ISC.org is urged to check their PC for malware as miscreants booby-trapped the site to infect visitors. The website has been replaced by a placeholder page warning netizens of the attack …
Chris Williams, 26 Dec 2014

Intel: Grab these platform shoes and dance to OUR Internet of Things standard

The Internet of Things is becoming the Standards Wars of Things: Intel has now thrown its hat into the ring with its own IoT Platform to connect stuff end-to-end. Announced in the past few minutes at a morning presentation in San Francisco, the platform will describe how to hook up gizmos on the edge – the sensors, the wearables …
Chris Williams, 09 Dec 2014

Exit the dragon: US govt blows $325m on China-beating 300PFLOPS monster computer

Vid The US government has chosen IBM and Nvidia chips to build the world's fastest supercomputer – a 300 petaFLOPS beast that would trounce today's most powerful super: China's Tianhe-2. The Department of Energy has commissioned two supercomputers, it was revealed on Friday: one is a system codenamed "Summit", which will be …
Chris Williams, 14 Nov 2014

Symantec's already virtually split, says letter to suppliers

Symantec's been preparing to split into two entities for about six months, according to a letter sent to the company's suppliers sighted by The Reg. The missive comes from Symantec's procurement team and explains that suppliers won't see any change in the company's behavior “until we complete the separation, which we expect to …
Chris Williams, 17 Oct 2014
Tim Cook as Mr T

The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters

Live Tweetblurt So here it is, the edge-of-the-seat rollercoaster ride as seen from Vulture West HQ (sadly we lost our invite to Cupertino). We take you now back in time to last night: Today's the AMAZING day, no, MOMENT Apple is expected to launch new MAGICAL iPads – quite possibly the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 – plus perhaps a proper …
Chris Williams, 16 Oct 2014
DNA

Applied Micro: Get lost, PowerPC! We're flinging 64-bit ARM HeliX cores at robots next year

ARM TechCon Applied Micro revealed today that it will ship 64-bit ARM-compatible embedded processors dubbed HeliX sometime next year – leaving behind its legacy PowerPC range of chips. "HeliX is sampling today and it will ship in 2015. We will have production parts shipping that year. It's a done deal," Applied Micro CEO Paramesh Gopi said …
Chris Williams, 02 Oct 2014

Internet of Things? Hold my beer, I got this: ARM crafts OS to rule them all

ARM TechCon ARM will today announce a new operating system called mbed OS: it seeks to smooth over all the differences between various competing system-on-chips so that high-level applications can talk to sensors and other gizmos whether they're using silicon from Atmel, Marvell, ST, Freescale, NXP, and so on. Diagram of mbed OS and server …
Chris Williams, 01 Oct 2014
Tangle of cables attached to a telegraph pole

Meet AMD's pole-dancing 64-bit ARM chip: Hierofalcon wants to be in a mast near you

AMD is today pitching its 64-bit ARMv8 system-on-chip codenamed Hierofalcon at software-defined networks in telcos. Essentially, it thinks the processor can do the job of dedicated hardware better, in terms of size and performance per watt. We're told the processor can have up to eight Cortex-A57 cores, is being sampled by "the …
Chris Williams, 01 Oct 2014

ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7

ARM has had a look at the fridges, speakers and robots that use its Cortex-M series processor cores and decided they need a few maths lessons. The Cortex-M7's block diagram The Brit CPU designer has today revealed its new 32-bit Cortex-M7, which will sit at the top of its its microcontroller-grade family of cores in terms of …
Chris Williams, 24 Sep 2014
Solar flare

Sun's MASSIVE solar storm belch to light up Earth's skies

Video A "significant" solar flare emitted by the Sun on Wednesday will hit our planet over the next few days – most likely causing auroras to appear over certain areas. As a result of an X1.6 solar flare intercepting Earth, a dazzling overhead light display could reach as far south as Maryland in the east of the US and down to Kansas …
Chris Williams, 11 Sep 2014

Is that a 64-bit ARM Warrior in your pocket? No, it's MIPS64

Chip designer Imagination Technologies today went public about its new processor design – the 64-bit MIPS Warrior I6400. It's an ambitious blueprint, aimed at car dashboards, digital TVs and tablets – the usual space for Imagination – all the way up to data center-grade compute, storage and networking kit. In other words, …
Chris Williams, 02 Sep 2014
Two teenage girls - one whispering in other's ear

6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)

1. Facebook has declared war on "click-baiting headlines", slamming them as "spammy". 2. The social network has noticed that lazy, poorly written headlines that lure in readers with an ultimately unfilled promise are almost universally hated 3. BuzzFeed and Upworthy-style 'you won't believe this' garbage is drowning out …
Chris Williams, 25 Aug 2014

Silicon Valley jolted by magnitude 6.1 quake – its biggest in 25 years

Pics A magnitude 6.1 earthquake shook northern Californians out of bed today at 3.20am, shutting down power and wrecking homes in the state's wine country. The Sunday morning tremor was the biggest to hit the Bay Area since the destructive M6.9 quake in 1989. The epicenter of today's shallow quake was just a few miles from Napa, …
Chris Williams, 24 Aug 2014

Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is today stepping down from the Windows giant's board of directors – just six months after he was succeeded by incoming chief exec Satya Nadella. Ballmer announced his retirement in August last year, but remained at the helm until Nadella took over in February. Shy-and-retiring Ballmer also …
Chris Williams, 19 Aug 2014

AMD's first 64-bit ARM cores star in ... Heatless in Seattle*

Hot Chips 26 AMD today sheds more light on its "Seattle" 64-bit ARM architecture processor at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California. Take one glance at this new Opteron A1100-series system-on-chip, and you'll realize it's aimed squarely at servers rather than the traditional ARM scene of handheld gadgets and embedded computing – …
Chris Williams, 11 Aug 2014
Gardiner's frog

IBM boffins stuff 16 million-neuron chips into binary 'frog' brain

Updated IBM researchers developing chips that mimic mortal brains say they've built a 4,096-core processor that simulates a million neurons. The SyNAPSE silicon, fabricated by Samsung using a 28nm process, has 5.4 billion CMOS transistor gates, consumes 70mW of power, and uses a processor architecture completely unlike today's CPUs. …
Chris Williams, 07 Aug 2014

New iGasm: Apple to unveil not one but TWO iPhone 6 models on 9 Sept

Poll Apple will, we're told, hold a "big media event" on Tuesday, September 9, which is expected to be the day the long-awaited iPhone 6 is officially revealed. El Reg's invite to the bash appears to have been lost in the post; instead we learned word of the launch party from the Wall Street Journal and others. Bloomberg reckons …
Chris Williams, 06 Aug 2014

What the FLOCK? Addictive 'Flappy Bird' is back – and it's coming for your family

Pic Infuriating yet stupidly popular crapp Flappy Bird has officially returned, it appears – and it's now a multi-player game called Flappy Birds Family. It's available for free for Amazon's set-top box, the Android-based Fire TV. According to its app store listing, the software was built by Dotgears Studio, aka Flappy Bird creator …
Chris Williams, 01 Aug 2014

Will GCHQ furtle this El Reg readers' poll? Team Snowden suggests: Yes

Poll UK eavesdropping nerve center GCHQ has developed tools to manipulate online polls, ramp up page views for articles, and obtain private photos on Facebook. That's according to Glenn Greenwald's latest trawling of documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The surveillance agency can also, we're told, arrange calls between two selected …
Chris Williams, 14 Jul 2014
Sarcasm detector Simpsons

Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

Some software has supposedly passed the Turing Test – a controversial benchmark of artificial intelligence – by fooling a handful of humans into thinking it's a talkative 13-year-old Ukrainian lad. Cyborg prof Kevin Warwick argues this is the first time a machine has ever passed the famous test. We're told the successful chat- …
Chris Williams, 09 Jun 2014

OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts

Updated Robin Seggelmann, the man who accidentally introduced the password-leaking Heartbleed bug into OpenSSL, says not enough people are scrutinizing the crucial cryptographic library. The Heartbleed flaw, which was revealed on Monday and sent shockwaves through the IT world all week, allows attackers to reach across the internet and …
Chris Williams, 11 Apr 2014

Anatomy of OpenSSL's Heartbleed: Just four bytes trigger horror bug

Analysis The password-leaking OpenSSL bug dubbed Heartbleed is so bad, switching off the internet for a while sounds like a good plan. A tiny flaw in the widely used encryption library allows anyone to trivially and secretly dip into vulnerable systems, from your bank's HTTPS server to your private VPN, to steal passwords, login cookies …
Chris Williams, 09 Apr 2014
Angry woman on mobile

It's not you, it's EE: UK mobile network goes titsup, blames gremlins

Updated Brits on the UK cell network EE are reporting dodgy connections, delayed text messages and other problems tonight. Some users are unable to make calls even though they have a full signal strength showing on their mobiles. According to handy uptime monitoring website downdetector.co.uk, most of the complaints are coming in from …
Chris Williams, 19 Mar 2014

Update your Mac NOW: Apple fixes OS X 'goto fail' SSL spying vuln

Apple has released OS X 10.9.2 which, you'll be delighted to know, improves the "accuracy" of the unread message count in Mail, and fixes the autofill feature in Safari among other little tweaks. It also just so happens to snap shut a gaping security vulnerability that potentially allowed hackers to hijack users' bank accounts …
Chris Williams, 25 Feb 2014
Apple product placement

Apple Safari, Mail and more hit by SSL spying bug on OS X, fix 'soon'

Apple has admitted a bug in Mac OS X 10.9.1 allows hackers to intercept and decrypt SSL-encrypted network connections – and has promised to release a fix "very soon." Sensitive information, such as bank card numbers and account passwords, sent over HTTPS, IMAPS and other SSL-protected channels from vulnerable Mac computers could …
Chris Williams, 23 Feb 2014

Update your iThings NOW: Apple splats scary SSL snooping bug in iOS

Updated2 Apple has updated its mobile operating system iOS to patch a bug that blows apart the integrity of encrypted connections. Versions 7.0.6 and 6.1.6, available now for download, fixes a vulnerability that could allow "an attacker with a privileged network position" to "capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS," …
Chris Williams, 21 Feb 2014
Google_skull

Gmail falls offline, rest of Google struggles on: NO! Not error code 93!

Updated2 Netizens complained today that Google's social network Plus was knackered and the webmail service Gmail fell completely offline. In a painful twist of fate, the systems went down just as Google's crack site-reliability team was preparing for a live question'n'answer session on Reddit. And it came after strangers' email addresses …
Chris Williams, 24 Jan 2014

Cicada 3301: The web's toughest and most creepy crypto-puzzle is BACK

Poll The internet is full of daft things. Animated cat GIFs, stupid headlines, NSA spies, etc. But the online world isn't just fields of mindless dreck. For instance, you could always take a crack at the web's toughest crypto-puzzle: the ever-baffling Cicada 3301. Appearing each year since 2012, these strange series of challenges …
Chris Williams, 11 Jan 2014
Antares on the launch pad Wallops Flight Facility. Pic: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus resupply truck blasts off to the Space Station

Updated Private space biz Orbital Sciences Corporation has successfully launched its Cygnus space truck to resupply the International Space Station. The craft blasted off at 1307 EST (1007 PST, 1807 GMT), from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, US. Minutes later Cygnus separated from its rocket as it reached orbit, and opened …
Chris Williams, 09 Jan 2014
Delia Derbyshire behind the custom built 20-channel mixing desk

Yes, the BBC still uses FTP. And yes, a Russian crook hacked the server

A BBC FTP server ftp.bbc.co.uk was compromised by a Russian hacker and access to it touted online, say computer security researchers. The miscreant behind the attack on the internet-facing file store tried to sell access to the infiltrated system to other crims on Christmas Day, we're told. Hold Security – which this year has …
Chris Williams, 30 Dec 2013

Snowden leak journo leaks next leak: NSA, GCHQ dying to snoop on your gadgets mid-flight

Top-secret documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have been plastered across our screens and front-pages for months by Glenn Greenwald and his team. And on Friday the journalist couldn't help but leak a few details about a forthcoming wave of fresh revelations regarding the US and UK governments' mass surveillance …
Chris Williams, 27 Dec 2013