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.

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

Google: We look forward to running non-Intel processors in our cloud

Google has gently increased pressure on Intel – its main source for data-center processors – by saying it is "looking forward" to using chips from IBM and other semiconductor rivals. The web advertising giant said it hopes to use a mix of "architectures within our cloud" in the future. Back in April, Google revealed it had …
Chris Williams, 15 Oct 2016

Intel: New x86 AI instructions

Intel is adding new x86 instructions ideal for machine-learning applications to its upcoming Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processors. The instructions are part of the AVX-512 family: they are described by Chipzilla as "vector instructions for deep learning" with enhanced word-variable precision and single precision floating-point …
Chris Williams, 15 Oct 2016

GlobalSign screw-up cancels top websites' HTTPS certificates

Final update GlobalSign's efforts as a root certificate authority have gone TITSUP this afternoon – that's a total inability to support usual protocols. The result is that many websites big and small have had their HTTPS certificates incorrectly scrapped, meaning that for some people their browsers no longer trust websites and refuse or …
Credit: Richard Reininger / Next Thing Co

Pocket C.H.I.P. makers go Pro with cloud-linked ARM-flexing module for IoT gizmo builders

Pics The team behind the popular $9 C.H.I.P. single-board-computer has come up with a version for engineers, startups, and larger organizations to embed in their products. Essentially, if you're an aspiring gadget maker and you want to stick a small Linux-flavored computer into your thing and sell it, the C.H.I.P. Pro aims to be …
Chris Williams, 11 Oct 2016
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

Qualcomm eyes NXP lunch

California chip designer Qualcomm is considering buying Netherlands-based NXP for something like $30bn, allegedly. We're warned that the deal could fall through, and if it does happen, it could be done and dusted within the next two to three months. Qualcomm designs system-on-chips and modem components for smartphones and …
Chris Williams, 29 Sep 2016

Double KO! Capcom's Street Fighter V installs hidden rootkit on PCs

A fresh update for Capcom's Street Fighter V for PCs includes a knock-out move: a secret rootkit that gives any installed application kernel-level privileges. This means any malicious software on the system can poke a dodgy driver installed by SFV to completely take over the Windows machine. Capcom claims it uses the driver to …
Chris Williams, 23 Sep 2016
SimpliVity VMworld 2014 McLaren car giveaway

ARM emits Cortex-R52

ARM has emitted the Cortex-R52, a microcontroller-class core for safety-critical, real-time applications, such as vehicle systems and robotics. Self-driving cars are all the rage these days, and ARM couldn't resist the hype, spinning the R52 as something ideal for autonomous autos. But the R52 is a simple beast and doesn't …
Chris Williams, 23 Sep 2016
Photo by 360b / Shutterstock

Despite IANA storm, ICANN shows just why it shouldn't be allowed to take over internet's critical functions

Internet overseer ICANN has responded to allegations of mismanagement, opaque decision-making, and an institutional lack of accountability by launching a review. That review, however, will not touch on the most serious charges leveled at the organization, including the fact that its staff deliberately misled companies seeking …
Chris Williams, 22 Sep 2016
Oracle's cloud plan

Spoiler alert: What Oracle is going to announce today

OpenWorld It's that time of the year again. Oracle's OpenWorld is in San Francisco. Supremo Larry Ellison has given his Sunday keynote. Here's a summary of what the database giant is going to reveal today in easily digestible chunks. And, yeah, warning: everything is now cloud. Anything you'd call an application or a software service is …
Chris Williams, 19 Sep 2016

Let's Encrypt won its Comodo trademark battle – but now fan tools must rename

Popular Bash shell script LetsEncrypt.sh, which is used to manage free SSL/TLS certificates from the Let's Encrypt project, has renamed this week to avoid a trademark row. This comes in the wake of Let's Encrypt successfully fending off Comodo, which tried to cynically snatch "Let's Encrypt" for itself. LetsEncrypt.sh, …
Chris Williams, 18 Sep 2016