Chris Williams

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Chris is The Register's US bureau chief based in San Francisco, California. He writes about chips and code. You can contact him securely using his public PGP key [ A57B 6DAC 2FDD 335A 4A81 8654 7EF3 24FC 8FF5 C9E7 ] and look him up online at diodesign.co.uk or on Keybase.io or Twitter.
Google, photo by lightpoet via Shutterstock

Google login URL phish 'bug'

A chap called Aiden Woods has found a way to potentially phish people for their Google login information. First, create a Google Form that asks the user to confirm their personal details such as their social security number, date of birth and password, then publicly share that form. Next, send a link to your victim that …
Chris Williams, 31 Aug 2016

Holy friggin' Dell! $67bn EMC mega-gobble to complete on Sept 7

Dell and EMC will officially merge next Wednesday – September 7 – after getting approval from Chinese monopoly officials. The combined tech monster will have 140,000 staffers worldwide, and will be called Dell Technologies with Michael Dell as CEO and chairman. A little final financial chicanery is needed because Dell is a …
Chris Williams, 30 Aug 2016

Intel's makeshift Kaby Lake Cores hope to lure punters from tired PCs

Intel's stop-gap Kaby Lake processors – aka the seventh-generation Core family – will ship in laptops starting from September, we're told. According to Chipzilla, the first wave of the new Cores will appear in 10mm-thick notebooks and two-in-one convertible tablets aimed at small businesses and normal folk. The CPUs will …
Chris Williams, 30 Aug 2016

Kindle Paperwhites turn Windows 10 PCs into paperweights: Plugging one in 'triggers a BSOD'

Plugging a Kindle Paperwhite into a PC running Windows 10 with the Anniversary Update installed sparks a full system meltdown, it is claimed. Connecting the Amazon e-reader to a fully up-to-date W10 machine via USB triggers an immediate Blue Screen of Death, according to complaints on Microsoft's support forum. All the trouble …
Chris Williams, 25 Aug 2016

Stop lights, sunsets, junctions are tough work for Google's robo-cars

Hot Chips After cruising two million miles of public roads, Google's self-driving cars still find traffic lights, four-way junctions and other aspects of everyday life hard work. To be sure, the hardware and software at the heart of the autonomous vehicles is impressive. But it's just not quite good enough yet to be truly let loose on …
Chris Williams, 24 Aug 2016

If you want to build your own Nvidia-powered self-driving car – or hack one – here's a blueprint

Hot Chips Nvidia is channelling Thunderbirds legend Parker for its latest system-on-chip for self-driving cars. Two Parker processors are used in the PX 2 box we saw at the start of the year. This hardware adds a super-cruise-control to vehicles by hoovering up video feeds from onboard cameras and other sensor data, feeding it through …
Chris Williams, 23 Aug 2016

Fujitsu: Why we chose 64-bit ARM over SPARC for our exascale super

Hot Chips Fujitsu chose 64-bit ARM CPU cores for its upcoming exascale supercomputer for two reasons: Linux and the ability to customize its own processors. It was a bit of a surprise when the Japanese IT giant picked ARMv8-A over SPARC64 and x86 for its Post-K beast, which will be used by Japanese boffins to carry out climate-change …
Chris Williams, 23 Aug 2016

Microsoft's HoloLens secret sauce: A 28nm customized 24-core DSP engine built by TSMC

Hot Chips Microsoft today revealed a first look at the inside of its Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) chip used in its virtual reality HoloLens specs. The secretive HPU is a custom-designed TSMC-fabricated 28nm coprocessor that has 24 Tensilica DSP cores arranged in 12 clusters. It has about 65 million logic gates, 8MB of SRAM, and a …
Chris Williams, 22 Aug 2016

'Neural network' spotted deep inside Samsung's Galaxy S7 silicon brain

Hot Chips Samsung has revealed the blueprints to its mystery M1 processor cores at the heart of its S7 and S7 Edge smartphones. International versions of the top-end Android mobiles, which went on sale in March, sport a 14nm FinFET Exynos 8890 system-on-chip that has four standard 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A53 cores and four M1 cores running at …
Chris Williams, 22 Aug 2016

Little ARMs pump 2,048-bit muscles in training for Fujitsu's Post-K exascale mega-brain

Hot Chips ARM is bolting an extra data-crunching engine onto its 64-bit processor architecture to get it ready for Fujitsu's Post-K exascale supercomputer. Specifically, ARM is adding a Scalable Vector Extension (SVE) to its ARMv8-A core architecture. SVE can handle vectors from 128 to 2,048 bits in length. This technology is not an …
Chris Williams, 22 Aug 2016
Large leaver switch on a board of push button switches

ICANN takeover in October

DNS overlord ICANN is all set to take control of the internet's highest level from the US government on October 1, it was confirmed this week. California-based non-profit ICANN runs a technical body called IANA, which oversees the world's DNS, IP address allocations, and protocol assignments. ICANN operates IANA for the US …
Chris Williams, 19 Aug 2016

Gawker.com to shut down

In the aftermath of losing a $140m privacy lawsuit to Hulk Hogan after publishing a private sex tape of the wrestler, Gawker Media is being sold off – well, nearly all of it. The vast majority of Gawker Media – including websites like Gizmodo and Lifehacker – has been gobbled up by Spanish-language telly giant Univision for $ …
Chris Williams, 19 Aug 2016

The calm before the storm: AMD's Zen bears down on Intel CPUs

AMD is continuing to drip feed information about Zen, its long-awaited designed-from-scratch x86 processor microarchitecture. Zen is a big deal, or rather needs to be a big deal, for AMD because its previous Bulldozer microarchitecture was, well, bulldozed by Intel's Core series. Thus, AMD needs Zen to succeed in order to win …
Chris Williams, 18 Aug 2016

Qualcomm piqs 'Centriq' as specifiq honorifiq for slicq ARM server chip

Qualcomm will today announce it has picked the name Centriq for its forthcoming family of 64-bit ARMv8-compatible server processors. The chip designer, headquartered in San Diego, California, applied for "Centriq" and "Qualcomm Centriq" as US trademarks on July 27 this year. In its application paperwork, Qualcomm said it will …
Chris Williams, 18 Aug 2016

Cisco axes up to 5,500 workers in scramble to remain relevant

Cisco will lay off up to 5,500 staff, or seven per cent of its worldwide workforce, from this month – the start of its 2017 financial year. That's someway off earlier rumors of 9,000 to 14,000 redundancies, which would be about a fifth of the networking Borg's global headcount. For what it's worth, Cisco usually trims its …
Chris Williams, 17 Aug 2016
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Intel teases geeks with 2017 AI hyper-chip: Xeon Phi Knights Mill

IDF16 Intel is working on a powerful Xeon Phi processor for servers and workstations that is "optimized" for artificial-intelligence software – and it's codenamed Knights Mill. Chipzilla's data center group boss Diane Bryant flashed up this slide during this morning's Intel Developer Forum keynote in San Francisco: The chip is …
Chris Williams, 17 Aug 2016

Light at the end of Intel's Silicon Photonics: 100Gbps network tech finally shipping, sorta

IDF16 Intel is beginning volume shipments of its fabled Silicon Photonics networking technology, which uses light through thin glass fibers to replace copper wires. This tech can shuttle up to 100Gbps over 2km or more of cable that's just a few millimeters thick, creating a high-speed nervous-system for clusters and data centers. As …
Chris Williams, 17 Aug 2016

Wanna build your own drone? Intel emits Linux-powered x86 brains for DIY flying gizmos

IDF16 Intel has a bunch of new and updated hardware kits for engineers to toy with and use to build prototypes – from a DIY drone kit to a bunch of beefy Internet of Things packages. The most interesting is the Aero drone-building kit, available now to order. You use this single-board computer as the control electronics in a …
Chris Williams, 17 Aug 2016

Say Alloy to my Intel friend: Chipzilla touts 'open' VR techno-specs

IDF16 Intel has vowed to open up its new all-in-one Project Alloy virtual reality headset, unveiled today at its Developer Forum in San Francisco. Alloy is described as "an open hardware platform," and will rival Samsung's Gear VR and similar virtual reality goggles. Alloy is powered by an Intel chipset and RealSense cameras, and, …
Chris Williams, 16 Aug 2016

Intel fabs to churn out 10nm ARM chips for LG smartphones next year

IDF16 Intel's chip fabs will roll out 10nm ARM-compatible processors starting next year. The state-of-the-art factories will produce the mobile system-on-chips for LG Electronics using a 10nm process, with the door left wide open for other ARM licensees to jump in and use the assembly lines. At the heart of the collaboration deal …
Chris Williams, 16 Aug 2016

Microsoft to overhaul Windows 10 UI – with a 3D Holographic Shell

IDF16 First, it scrapped the classic Start Menu and gave us Tiles. Now Microsoft has confirmed it really is working on yet another radical user interface update – one that will allow you to use your desktop Windows 10 PC with virtual reality headsets. The feature, due to arrive next year, is dubbed the Windows Holographic Shell. It …
Chris Williams, 16 Aug 2016

Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that golden backdoor keys are a terrible idea

Updated Microsoft leaked the golden keys that unlock Windows-powered tablets, phones and other devices sealed by Secure Boot – and is now scrambling to undo the blunder. These skeleton keys can be used to install non-Redmond operating systems on locked-down computers. In other words, on devices that do not allow you to disable Secure …
Chris Williams, 10 Aug 2016

Intel gobbles AI chip biz Nervana for $350m

Intel is knuckling down its efforts into artificial intelligence by buying Nervana Systems, a startup company that specializes in deep learning. The deal is, we're told, worth $350m. Chipzilla's server-grade processors, the Xeon and Xeon Phi, power a lot of the world's deep learning training, and it's the algorithms from …
Honeywell Voice Controlled Thermostat

Thermostat ransomware

Ransomware for smart thermostats and other Internet of Things devices was demonstrated at DEF CON in Las Vegas last week by security bods Andrew Tierney and Ken Munro. The Pen Test Partners pair have written up their work here if you want to see how they managed to infect a thermostat with a software nasty that demands one …
Chris Williams, 08 Aug 2016

BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

Updated The BBC's creepy detector vans will be dragged into the 21st century to sniff Brits' home Wi-Fi networks, claims the UK Daily Telegraph's Saturday splash. From September 1, you'll need a telly licence if you stream catch-up or on-demand TV from the BBC's iPlayer service, regardless if you've got a television set or not – phone …
Chris Williams, 06 Aug 2016