Thursday, February 28, 2013

#MARKETS: "DoE Chooses MIC for Next-Gen Supercomputer"

View by talking head recounting the DoE's latest supercomputer project at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). By switching from quad-core AMD processors to 60+ core Intel Xeon Phi processors, the Lab hopes to boost performance while cutting costs simultaneously. Hear my video account by clicking "Further Viewing" below" R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Further Viewing

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#MEMS: "Sensor Fusion Simplified by Free Toolkit"

Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) are enabling every new consumer device—from smartphones to power-tools—but engineers need to ascend a steep learning curve to craft useful sensor-fusion algorithms for motion processing algorithms. Movea, however, aims to simplify the task with its SmartFusion Studio, which it announced today at Mobile World Congress 2013: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Movea's sensor fusion toolkit--SmartFusion--simplifies the designers job with turnkey calibration and debugging with integrated visualization tools (shown) for pedestrian navigation, gesture recognition, gaming, activity monitoring and contextual awareness.

Movea aims to make every engineer an instant-expert in sensor-fusion with its toolkit for motion processing applications such as pedestrian navigation, gesture recognition, gaming, activity monitoring and contextual awareness.
Further Reading

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

#CHIPS: "DoE Aims Xeon Phi at Top Supercomputer Slots"

One of the fastest supercomputers in the world will power the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), which has chosen the Intel many-integrated core (MIC) architecture with Xeon Phi coprocessors for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The Lab's current AMD-powered supercomputer using quad-core Opteron processors will make way for Intel's MIC with 60+ cores per Xeon Phi coprocessor chip, thereby boosting its performance into one of the Top20 supercomputer slots worldwide: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Atipa provides end-to-end solutions using Intel Xeon processors and Xeon Phi coprocessors (center) to extract extreme performance from highly parallel applications. SOURCE: Atipa

Atipa and Super Micro will be assembling the DoE's supercomputer in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory by the end of 2013.
Further Reading

Monday, February 25, 2013

#ALGORITHMS: "Big Data streamlines fabs"

Only a hermit could have missed the message that the world is being overtaken by an avalanche of Big Data, and manufacturing settings are not exception. In manufacturing realtime analytics aim to uncover semiconductor fabrication inefficiencies that will make the difference between success and failure. Microsoft is uniquely positioned to leverage their IT and software expertise to exploit realtime manufacturing line data to increase yields and avoid down time: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud computing platform and its SQL Server with StreamInsight aim to streamline manufacturing analytics.
Further Reading

Friday, February 22, 2013

#DESIGNWest: "'Lifestyle of Mobility' Book Author to Speak"

In Harald Neidhardt's just-released book Lifestyle of Mobility, a hundred industry movers-and-shakers predict the future of mobile applications. Indeed, Neidhardt declares that the post-PC era is already upon us. Neidhardt has the tech cred to make that statement. He's the founder of MLove, which is both a mobility "lifestyle" Web site and a series of South-by-Southwest-like "ConFestivals."

Mobility apps are being integrated into nearly every consumer field, from health to automotive to games to music to retail and lifestyle electronics.

The mobility tipping point is upon us because current devices now house arrays of MEMS sensors. This opens up possibilities for "empathetic" electronics, which adapt their functions to users and their local environment. According to Neidhardt, the first wave of mobility was borne by the telecommunications giants, from AT&T (U.S.) to NTT (Japan), which built walled gardens around their wireless devices and associated services. The second wave rose as a result of the iPhone, which initiated the app-economy that is also enjoyed today by Google's Android, Amazon's Kindle and Microsoft's Windows Phone along with tablets from the Apple iPad to Samsung's Galaxy Tab. The third wave washing over us now is integrating mobility into every other nook and cranny of electronics by virtue of the inclusion of wireless connectivity and MEMS sensors. Connected homes, connected automobiles ,and connected tools of every type are leveraging ubiquitous sensors and processors to add smarts to everything we do. Thus the smartphone is becoming the remote control of our lives by virtue of apps that use its touchscreen as their human interface.
Further Reading

Thursday, February 21, 2013

#BOOKS: "'Exploding the Phone' Exalts Hackers"

In this history of phone hacking--called phreaking--engineer Phil Lapsley tells how Steve Jobs (hacker handle: Oaf Tobar) and Steve Wozniak (hacker handle: Berkely Blue) started out by ripping off AT&T for free long-distance before starting Apple. "Exploding the Phone" describes the 1960-70s culture of hacking phones in numerous ways. One way I personally used, was to put in a dime then whack the 'return coin' button on pay-phones with handset which returned the coin and gave you a dial-tone for free local calls. More devious hackers--like Wozniak who writes the book's forward--outwitted the phone system with a 'Blue Box' which emitted tones that were reserved for AT&T equipment to make free long-distance calls.

Exploding the Phone traces the birth of long-distance communication and the telephone, the rise of AT&T’s monopoly, the creation of the sophisticated machines that made it all work, and the discovery of Ma Bell’s Achilles’ heel.

Phil Lapsley described his book as: weaving together the clandestine underground of “phone phreaks” who turned the network into their electronic playground, the mobsters who exploited its flaws to avoid the feds, the explosion of telephone hacking in the counterculture, and the war between the phreaks, the phone company, and the FBI.
Further Reading

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

#CHIPS: "Independent Test: Xeon Phi Shocks Tesla GPU"

Intel’s Xeon Phi coprocessor outperforms Nvidia’s Tesla graphic-processing unit (GPU) on the operations used by “solver” applications in science and engineering, according to independent tests at Ohio State University.

Intel’s Xeon Phi SE10P (red) beat Nvidia’s Tesla C2050 and K20 GPUs (light and dark green, respectively) in 18 out of 22 tests. The Xeon Phi also beat dual Xeon X5680s (each with six cores for 12 cores total, light blue) and dual Xeon E5-2670s (each with eight cores for 16 total, dark blue) in 15 out of 22 tests. Source: Ohio State
When comparing Intel’s Xeon Phi to Nvidia’s Tesla, most reviewers dwell on how much easier it is to rewrite parallel programs for the Intel coprocessor, since it runs the same x86 instruction set as a 64-bit Pentium.

Nvidia’s “Cuda” cores on its Tesla coprocessor, on the other hand, do not even try to emulate the x86 instruction set, opting instead for more economical instructions that allow it to cram many more cores on a chip.

As a result, Nvidia’s Tesla has 40-times more cores (2,496) than Intel’s Xeon Phi (60). The question then becomes: “is it worth it” to rewrite x86 parallel software for Nvidia’s Cuda, in order to gain access to the thousands of more cores available with Tesla over Xeon Phi?

To find the answer, Ohio State decided to narrow down the question to the types of parallel programs scientific researchers run regularly. For the test, researchers chose the parallel processing operations routinely performed on large sparse matrices. Variously called eigensolvers, linear solvers and graph-mining algorithms, these applications encode vast parallelism into wide-dense vectors multiplied by the large sparse matrices.

The results? Xeon Phi outperformed even the fastest Tesla coprocessor–the K20 with 2,496 cores each running at .7 GHz–while using only 61 cores each running at 1.1 GHz.
Further Reading

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

#DESIGNWest: "How to fund your tech startup with Kickstarter "

Does your entrepreneurial idea have a shot at crowd-sourced financing? What would you need to do to ensure your crowd-funded, startup is successful? Find out the answers to these questions and more at the DESIGN West session Why I Failed Kickstarter and My Friends Didn't, on Wednesday, April 24 in San Jose, Calif.

Portable Scores founder Bob Baddeley snext to his tri-pod mounted scoreboard, which can be updated via remote control or smartphone app.
Bob Baddeley, founder of Portable Scores will describe two Kickstarter projects which were launched on the same day. He'll analyze why he believes his friend's launch succeeded at Nomiku but his own Portable Scores failed to reach its funding goal. He'll also tell how he resurrected his failed project by emulating other successful campaigns at Kickstarter.
Further Reading

Monday, February 18, 2013

#ALGORITHMS: "Microsoft machine learning takes on 'big data' "

Microsoft distinguished scientist Eric Horvitz, who also serves the company as co-director of Microsoft Research (Redmond, Wash.), has been celebrating data, by describing how corporations – from banks to hospitals to The Weather Channel – are using Windows servers to make more accurate predictions in commerce, healthcare and weather prediction.

Horvitz, who was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his work computational decision making, explains that the streams of mega-data coming into companies today can empower them, but only if they know how to capture, store, interpret and leverage the insights contained in such so-called 'Big Data.'
Further Reading

Friday, February 15, 2013

#BOOK: "'Love in the Time of Algorithms' Redefines Romance"

Once stigmatized as a venue for losers, on-line data services have now become mainstream. In fact, the author of "Love in the Time of Algorithms"--journalist Dan Slater--was conceived by parents that met on such a service. Called the "mother of all search algorithms" by reviewers, the book shows how online dating has already changed the world, but is only getting started.

Online dating algorithms are altering society in ways that were never imagined when the service was conceived.

According to Slater, by reconditioning the way people feel about commitment and by challenging the traditional paradigm of "adult" life, the digital revolution has redefined "normal" upwards. "Why should we settle for someone who falls short of our expectations if there are thousands of other options just a click away?" The long-term question is: Can commitment thrive in a world of unlimited choice?
Further Reading

Thursday, February 14, 2013

#BOOK: "'Death of the Internet' Portends

In 2012, the volume of malware traffic on the Internet passed 50 percent, and the maliciousness of cyberattacks began to approach world-war proportions. This book extrapolates this trend, exageratting it somewhat, but does accurately list the problems and the possible cures--if only the political courage to solve them can be mustered: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Here's what the publisher says about "The Death of the Internet": A major attack on the Internet could wreak havoc on society—bringing down telephony, banking, business, government, media, and the energy grid. This book addresses the growing threats to the Internet from different sources, offering in-depth guidance on how to combat them on both desktop and mobile platforms.

Edited by a specialist in holistic security with contributions from experts in industry and academia, The Death of the Internet presents a unique, cross-disciplinary approach to Internet security. It goes beyond computer science to explore its social and psychological components, discussing politically motivated attacks, human error, and criminal tendencies. Geared to non-technical readers and experts alike, the book clearly explains the general concepts of Internet security for managers and decision-makers and provides engineers and industry professionals with detailed instructions on how to develop effective designs with security in mind. The Death of the Internet:
Further Reading

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

#BOOKS: "'Critical Play: Radical Games' Changing Rules"

"Shoot'em Up" was the motto of designers of the world's most popular games, that is until designers started adding creativity into the mix, starting with games like The Sims. Now artists and designers worldwide are lending their creativity to a new approach to game design--the subject matter of "Critical Play: Radical Games": R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Here is what the publisher says about "Critical Play: Radical Games": For many players, games are entertainment, diversion, relaxation, fantasy. But what if certain games were something more than this, providing not only outlets for entertainment but a means for creative expression, instruments for conceptual thinking, or tools for social change? In Critical Play, artist and game designer Mary Flanagan examines alternative games -- games that challenge the accepted norms embedded within the gaming industry -- and argues that games designed by artists and activists are reshaping everyday game culture.
Further Reading

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

#CHIPS: "Neuromorphic: Ultimate Parallel Processors"

Purdue University is working with semiconductor researchers, including Intel research scientist Charles Augustine of its Circuits Research Lab (Hillsboro, Ore), to develop spin-based neuromorphic microchips as the ultimate parallel processors–consuming as little as 300-times less power than circuits today.

By combining bipolar spin neurons with memristors (phase change memory), input signals can program self-adaptive weights sandwiched between metal interconnects. SOURCE: Purdue

Traditional semiconductor chips use electrical charge to store information, requiring thousands of electrons to be transferred onto a storage device, like a capacitor, until its voltage exceeds a threshold. However, switching from encoding digital ones and zeros with electrical charge to using the spin-state of electrons can drastically cut the energy consumption of electronic circuits.

Spin states are inherent to electrons, which are constantly spinning, imparting a momentum to their electrical charge which can be oriented “up” or “down”. Such spin-polarized electrons can be used to encode digital ones and zeros using much less energy than just piling up charge on a capacitor. Ideally, a single electron could be used to store a digital one as “up” spin and a digital zero as “down” spin, enabling the ultimate downsizing for parallel processors to one-bit-per-electron. And for intrinsically parallel applications, such as emulating the billions of neurons in the human brain, the super low power achieved by spin-polarized digital encodings could enable the ultimate parallel processing applications of the future.
Further Reading

Friday, February 08, 2013

#CHIPS: "Microserver Market to Triple in 2013"

Micro-servers have become the fastest growing segment of the cloud-computing and datacenter market, tripling in size in 2013, according to IHS iSuppli. A half-dozen startups will be hawking ARM-based processors for micro-servers starting in 2014, which will compete with Intel Atom-based micro-servers for about 10 percent of the total server market by 2016: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Micro-server markets will grow at about a 130 percent compound annual rate until 2016, according to IHS iSuppli.
Further Reading

Thursday, February 07, 2013

#OPTICS: "Light Funnels Enable Reflective Displays"

Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) are already used for reflective displays, such as the Mirasol from Qualcomm which modulates the depth of nanoscale slits. Now University of Michigan researchers have demonstrated how adjusting both the depth and the width of sub-wavelength grooves enables a widening of the field-of-view--even when viewed in bright sunlight: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Nanoscale grooves whose depth and width is proportional to the wavelength of filter light illustrate here the full visible spectrum--from violet to blue to green to red to yellow.
Further Reading

#CHIPS: "Fujitsu HPCs Pack Xeon Phi Coprocessor"

Fujitsu is aiming to boost its ranking in high-performance computing (HPC) by adopting the Xeon Phi for its Pimergy line of servers housing up to 920 parallel processing x86 cores per rack, with larger supercomputers configured using its Smart Scale-Out building blocks: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Fujitsu adopted the Xeon Phi for its next-generation high-performance computing (HPC) platform using its Primergy servers. SOURCE: Fujitsu
Further Reading

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

#WIRELESS: "Smartphones, Tablets in Everybody's Future"

Apple sold almost 48 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2012 alone, but ABI Research claims that the total installed base of 45 million Windows Phones and 20 million Blackberry-10s is still enough to interest software app developers in supporting them. The total installed base of smartphones worldwide will be 1.4 billion by the end of 2013 with 57 percent running Android and 21 percent iOS; whereas there will be 268 million tablets total--62 percent using iOS and 28 percent Android. Annual growth for smartphones will be 44 percent and a whopping 125 percent for tablets, all according to ABI Research (Oyster Bay, N.Y.): R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

ABI’s Mobile Application Technologies Research Service takes a deep dive into the technologies enabling "transformative" applications.SOURCE: ABI Research
Further Reading

#ENERGY: "Self Powered Sensors Eliminate Battery"

All our mobile devices require regular recharging of their batteries, but what if they didn't have batteries because they were self-powered. Columbia University researchers asked that question, then answered it with a new microchip architecture that uses 100-times less power--small enough to be self-powered from light--indoors or out: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Columbia University demonstration chip shows that by cutting power 100-times plus communicating only when necessary, ambient light can power battery-free standalone self-powered sensors.
Further Reading

Monday, February 04, 2013

#MEMS "MooMonitor Keeps Cows Happier"

Farm animals represent billions of units for MEMS sensor makers, that is if original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Dairymaster can convince farmers to collar all their animals. The MooMonitor, for instance, keeps track of every cow in the herd, letting them into the barn for milking and out to the pasture for grazing through automatic doors keyed to their collars, plus alerts the farmer when a cow needs a bull for the night during ovulation: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog

Dairymaster's MooMonitor tracks a herd, monitors each cows activity, letting them in and out of automatic doors and detects when they are ovulating.
Further Reading