IBM develops ‘instantaneous’ memory, 100x faster than flash

You’ve got to hand it to IBM’s engineers. They drag themselves into work after their company’s 100th birthday party, pop a few Alka-Seltzers and then promptly announce yet another seismic invention. This time it’s a new kind of phase change memory (PCM) that reads and writes 100 times faster than flash, stays reliable for millions of write-cycles (as opposed to just thousands with flash), and is cheap enough to be used in anything from enterprise-level servers all the way down to mobile phones. PCM is based on a special alloy that can be nudged into different physical states, or phases, by controlled bursts of electricity. In the past, the technology suffered from the tendency of one of the states to relax and increase its electrical resistance over time, leading to read errors. Another limitation was that each alloy cell could only store a single bit of data. But IBM employees burn through problems like these on their cigarette breaks: not only is their latest variant more reliable, it can also store four data bits per cell, which means we can expect a data storage “paradigm shift” within the next five years. Combine this with Intel’s promised 50Gbps interconnect, which has a similar ETA, and data will start flowing faster than booze from an open bar on the boss’s tab. There’s more detailed science in the PR after the break, if you have a clear head. Continue Reading…

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A Window Into Mobile Device Security

A new independent study by security experts at Symantec attempted to measure how secure Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform are, and also to determine how these mobile platforms stack up against desktop operating systems. Symantec claims that these mobile platforms are much more secure than today’s popular desktop operating systems, though the firm does note that the key variable, as always, is the human element. “Today’s mobile devices are a mixed bag when it comes to security,” said Carey Nachenberg, Symantec Fellow and Chief Architect, in a statement. “While more secure than traditional PCs, these platforms are still vulnerable to many traditional attacks. Moreover, enterprise employees are increasingly using unmanaged, personal devices to access sensitive enterprise resources, and then connecting these devices to 3rd-party services outside of the governance of the enterprise, potentially exposing key assets to attackers.” While Symantec neglects to reach a firm conclusion regarding which mobile OS is the most secure, the firm definitely seems to favor iOS more often than not. It says iOS’ app screening procedure plays a big role in the operating system’s security, and it also says the platform’s architecture makes it better at resisting malware attacks and data integrity attacks. It also says iOS offers better encryption and more secure access control for apps. Symantec’s full press release follows below.

Symantec Analysis of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android Platform Cites Improved Security over PCs, but Major Gaps Remain

The mass adoption of both consumer and managed mobile devices exposes enterprises to new security risksMOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – June 28, 2011 – Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today announced the publication of “A Window into Mobile Device Security: Examining the security approaches employed in Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android” (PDF). This whitepaper conducts an in-depth, technical evaluation of the two predominant mobile platforms, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, in an effort to help corporations understand the security risks of deploying these devices in the enterprise.

Chief among the findings is that while the most popular mobile platforms in use today were designed with security in mind, these provisions are not always sufficient to protect sensitive enterprise assets that regularly find their way onto devices. Complicating matters, today’s mobile devices are increasingly being connected to and synchronized with an entire ecosystem of 3rd-party cloud and desktop-based services outside the enterprise’s control, potentially exposing key enterprise assets to increased risk.

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See here for the report.


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Everyone Wants Better. No One Wants Change

I turn on the radio and everyone’s talking about how they want change.

People want a better economy, but nobody’s willing to share in the financial hit it’ll take to get us back on track.

People want better schools, but nobody wants to rock the system, the unions, the teachers, the role of parents.

People want lower health care costs, but nobody wants to endure the changes to medicine, law and bureaucracy it’ll take to get it.

People want lower insurance, but nobody wants to adopt the changes in lifestyle and behavior that’ll drive it.

People want to be thinner, healthier and happier, but nobody wants to own actions it takes to get there.

People want lower gas prices, but nobody wants to radically shift their consumption patterns.

People want homeless brothers and sisters off the street, as long as it’s N.I.M.B.Y.

Everyone wants to own the result, nobody wants to own the process.

Especially when it involves change or disruption to the patterns around which they’ve grown accustomed.

A really smart entrepreneur once told me Maslow got it wrong.

The fundamental need is not survival, but rather the need to not have to endure change.

I laughed. But, increasingly, I’m finding truth in those words.

I often hear different definitions of leadership.

How about this…

A leader is someone who is willing to own not just the result, but the process.

What do you think?

Original Article here.

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Intel takes wraps off 50-core supercomputing coprocessor plans

Intel’s Larrabee GPU will finally go into commercial production next year, but not as a graphics processor. Instead, the part will make its debut in a 50-core incarnation fabbed on Intel’s 22nm and aimed squarely at one of the fastest growing and most important parts of NVIDIA’s business: math coprocessors for high-performance computing (HPC).

When Intel’s ambitious, hybrid software/hardware GPU effort failed in late 2009 due to delays, Intel insisted that the silicon side of the project would live on in some form. The next year, the company announced that Larrabee had morphed into the Knight’s family of HPC coprocessors, which the company began shipping in very limited quantities as a research testbed. Intel also began calling the basic architecture of the Knight’s family is Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture.

Today’s announcement is the official unveiling of Intel’s broader plan to commercialize the MIC-based Knight’s family, starting with the 50-core Knight’s Corner chip on 22nm. Intel is also announcing partnerships with SGI and other system integrators that plan to build commercial HPC systems around the MIC silicon.

The MIC products will compete directly with NVIDIA’s Tesla line, making MIC a threat to NVIDIA’s growth prospects in a world where integrated processor graphics (IPGs) like Sandy Bridge and AMD’s Llano are eating the discrete GPU market from the bottom up.

The main advantage that Intel touts vs. Tesla is that because MIC is just a bunch of x86 cores, it’s easy for users to port their existing toolchains to it. (When using Tesla, researchers must port to NVIDIA’s proprietary but well-loved CUDA platform.)

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scientists see jets as black hole swallows a star

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Gamma ray bursts are produced by some of the most energetic objects in the Universe, such as stars collapsing into supernovae. NASA’s Swift observatory is designed to catch these rare events as they unfold, with hardware and software that detect sudden spikes in high-energy photons and respond by pointing the main hardware at their source. In March of this year, a somewhat unusual object set off the observatory’s gamma ray trigger, and then did something that the scientists running the hardware called “unheard of”—it set it off three more times in less than 48 hours.

Normally, things catch the Swift’s attention by exploding, which is a one-time-only event, so the multiple triggering was already unusual. But looking through previous sweeps of the region showed that the source, called Sw 1644+57, was already present several days before setting off the trigger, and the source continued to emit prodigious X-rays for more than two weeks afterward. Also unusual was the variability of the emissions; the X-ray flux varied by a factor of two on timescales as short as 100 seconds.

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