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.

InfiniBand-on-die MIA in Oracle's new 'Sonoma' Sparc S7 processor

Oracle's Sparc S7 processor codenamed Sonoma will not feature on-chip InfiniBand interfaces as expected. The CPU, designed for scale-out systems and revealed in detail by The Register in August, was due to sport an integrated InfiniBand controller capable of shoveling 28GBit/s directly between the processor and other nodes and …
Chris Williams, 29 Jun 2016

Now Intel swings axe at sales, marketing peeps

Intel has turned its axe on sales and marketing staff as part of its ongoing workforce decimation. In April, Chipzilla announced it will lay off 12,000 employees worldwide – roughly one in ten of its 107,000 staffers – over the coming months as it weans itself off the dwindling desktop computer market. People working on doomed …
Chris Williams, 27 Jun 2016

Patch the Pidgin, patch the...

Dastardly security bugs in widely used chat app Pidgin have been discovered and patched. You should grab version 2.11 as it fixes the following exploitable information-leaking and buffer overflow programming blunders, all found by Cisco's Talos crew: CVE-2016-2365 - Pidgin MXIT Markup Command Denial of Service Vulnerability …
Chris Williams, 22 Jun 2016

You're not cool unless you have an app store, apparently. So Docker's building one

DockerCon Docker is sprucing up its container repositories website with fancy steel architecture and floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows to create a corporate-friendly online store. The San Francisco-based startup has gathered more than 100,000 free and open-source applications and services for its Docker Hub from which you can …
Chris Williams, 21 Jun 2016

Intel's Knights Landing lands

Intel's latest Xeon Phi processors for high-performance parallel computer systems are now, finally, shipping in volume. The 14nm chips, which feature eight billion transistors, were already in the hands of Cray, Sandia National Laboratory in the US and a few other boffinry types. Today, our sister site The Next Platform …
Chris Williams, 20 Jun 2016

Fujitsu picks 64-bit ARM for Japan's monster 1,000-PFLOPS super

ISC Fujitsu has signaled it will use 64-bit ARMv8 cores in the whopping exascale supercomputer it's building for Japan's boffins. Back in 2014, the Japanese IT giant was hired by the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science to construct the Flagship 2020 machine – dubbed the Post-K super because it will succeed Japan's K …
Chris Williams, 20 Jun 2016

Docker taps unikernel brains to emit OS X, Windows public betas

DockerCon Docker will kick off its DockerCon 2016 conference in Seattle this morning with a bunch of announcements: its OS X and Windows Docker clients will be made publicly available as beta software for anyone to try out; out-of-the-box orchestration is coming to Docker 1.12; and integration with Amazon's AWS and Microsoft's Azure is in …
Chris Williams, 20 Jun 2016

All aboard the PCIe bus for Nvidia's Tesla P100 supercomputer grunt

ISC Nvidia has popped its Tesla P100 accelerator chip onto PCIe cards for bog-standard server nodes tasked with artificial intelligence and supercomputer-grade workloads. The P100 was unveiled in April at Nvidia's GPU Tech Conference in California: it's a 16nm FinFET graphics processor with 15 billion transistors on a 600mm2 die. …
Chris Williams, 20 Jun 2016

RIP ROP: Intel's cunning plot to kill stack-hopping exploits at CPU level

Intel is pushing a neat technique that could block malware infections on computers at the processor level. That's the 40,000ft view of the new safety mechanism, the details of which were published on Thursday. What's really going on is this: Intel's so-called Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET) [PDF] attempts to thwart …
Chris Williams, 10 Jun 2016
apple_people_648

Apple App Store adds ads

Apple is making some changes to its App Store ahead of next week's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. Revenue from an iOS app is split 70-30 with the developer and Apple, respectively. Under the shakeup, that will change to 85-15 after an app's spent its first year in the online store. This will apply to …
Chris Williams, 08 Jun 2016

'MongoDB ate my containers!'

Line Break Welcome back to The Register's weekly software bug parade, Line Break: Season Two. After a hiatus, and a vacation here or there, Line Break has been recommissioned. You can catch up on previous episodes, here. The idea is simple: if you spot buggy code in the wild that's driven you bonkers or to hysterics, drop us a line with …
Chris Williams, 08 Jun 2016
Houses of Parliament in night-time

MPs pass new UK spy law

UK MPs tonight voted 444-69 in favor of passing the Investigatory Powers Bill, aka the Snoopers' Charter, thus sending the proto-law off to the House of Lords to debate. The government-pushed IPB ramps up the powers granted to British spies, effectively legalizing the mass surveillance systems revealed by Edward Snowden – …
Chris Williams, 07 Jun 2016

FTC top techie's mobe fraud

Talk about picking on the wrong person. Lorrie Cranor, chief technologist at US consumer watchdog the FTC, said today she fell victim to a brazen identify thief. Cranor now wants to use her experience to alert citizens, helping them and phone carriers to take action to combat scammers. As she explained: A few weeks ago an …
Chris Williams, 07 Jun 2016

Ransomware dodges EMET

Infosec biz FireEye has blogged in detail about how new versions of the Angler Exploit Kit – used by malicious webpages to inject ransomware and other software nasties into people's PCs – sidestep Microsoft's EMET protections. Included with Windows, EMET has a whole bundle of features designed to thwart attempts by hackers to …
Chris Williams, 07 Jun 2016

Intel reveals Xeon E7 v4: Is that 24TB in your pocket or are... oh, it is

As expected, following the announcement of the Xeon E5 v4 server chips, here comes Intel's Xeon E7-8800 and E7-4800 v4 processors. While the E5 v4 CPUs are specced for scale-out systems, the E7 v4 family – announced today – is aimed at scale-up work: think analytics and in-memory database software that need lots and lots of …
Chris Williams, 06 Jun 2016

Yahoo!'s secret! FBI! orders!

Yahoo! today published three redacted National Security Letters (NSLs) it received from the FBI, which demanded information about the web portal's users. As is standard, the NSLs [PDF] contained a gagging clause that prevented Yahoo! from warning its customers of the data slurp. The letters were received in April 2013, August …
Chris Williams, 01 Jun 2016
Space Invaders schematic

ARM Cortex-A73: How a top-end mobe CPU was designed from scratch

Analysis For its latest top-end smartphone processor core – the Cortex-A73 – ARM designed its microarchitecture more or less from scratch. Whereas its predecessor, 2015's Cortex-A72, was drawn up in Austin, Texas, the new A73 microarchitecture was designed by a team in France, starting about three years ago. Although we're told the …
Chris Williams, 01 Jun 2016
AMD underwater

AMD emits gen-7 laptop chips

AMD has officially torn the wraps off its seventh-generation processors for laptops and notebooks. These are, we're told, shipping in volume in gear from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. As warned in April, and announced today at Computex 2016 in Taipei, the CPUs use AMD's Excavator architecture as found in Carrizo. AMD's …
Chris Williams, 01 Jun 2016

$10bn Oracle v Google copyright jury verdict: Google wins, Java APIs in Android are Fair Use

Google has won the latest round in its long-running battle with Oracle over the use of Java class library APIs in Android. A San Francisco jury today found that Google's reuse of Java's core software interfaces in its own mobile operating system should be considered fair use – meaning Google can avoid paying royalties to …
Google, photo by lightpoet via Shutterstock

Android security 'shame list'

Google may name and shame makers of Android phones, slabs and gizmos that do not push out security patches fast enough to people, it's reported. The ad giant is a bit cheesed-off that some manufacturers are being rather tardy in signing off and distributing patches for the lowest levels of its mobile operating system Its …
Chris Williams, 26 May 2016

123-reg email goes TITSUP

Comedy internet vehicle 123-reg has been busy today fixing its email systems – after some customers were unable to access their messages. The web hosting company – which accidentally wiped away hundreds of websites when it deleted dozens of virtual servers in April and went all wobbly earlier this month – said only a "small …
Chris Williams, 25 May 2016

Docker lets security bug sniffer dogs off the leash at container images

Docker has hit upon an idea that perhaps other platforms could potentially incorporate: scanning software components for publicly known vulnerabilities prior to deployment. Today, the software container biz will announce Docker Security Scanning, which scours private repositories in the Docker Cloud for recognized security …
Chris Williams, 10 May 2016

ImageMagick exploits spotted

Malicious images exploiting server-hijacking holes in ImageMagick have been spotted and documented by web host biz CloudFlare. As we reported last week, ImageMagick – a tool used by countless websites to process images submitted by users – has a pretty bad bug that allows images to execute commands on vulnerable systems. The …
Chris Williams, 09 May 2016

Nvidia Pascal GTX launch

Unless Nvidia has a massive last-minute change of heart, it will tonight unveil a couple of Pascal-powered GTX cards for gamers. Pascal is Nv's latest GPU design: word of it emerged in 2014, it finally arrived last month, and you can find deep dives into how it works and why here, and over here. So far Pascal has emerged in …
Chris Williams, 07 May 2016

Official: Microsoft's 'Get Windows 10' nagware to vanish from PCs in July

Microsoft's "Get Windows 10" nagware will be killed off in July, the tech giant has told us. The software has been worming its way into Windows PCs via Windows Update since last year using aggressive malware-like techniques and frequent pop-up reminders. It quietly downloads and installs Windows 10 automatically for you, and …
Chris Williams, 06 May 2016