Wednesday, July 24, 2013

HARDWARE - nVidia's Next Generation Mobile GPU

"Kepler to go:  nVidia brings high-end graphics core technology to Tegra 5" by Agam Shah, PC World 7/24/2013

Augmented reality, image recognition and other multimedia features could be standard in future smartphones and tablets, and nVidia’s upcoming Tegra 5 mobile chip will have features to handle such demanding graphics capabilities.

nVidia on Wednesday said that it has made its biggest advance in mobile graphics technology with the integration of its latest graphics core code-named Kepler into Tegra 5, which is code-named Project Logan.  The chip is due next year, and will be able to handle the most demanding graphics applications through ray-tracing, tessellation, advanced lighting and post processing, said Daniel Vivoli, senior vice president at nVidia.

The graphics capabilities in Logan will be demonstrated at the SIGGRAPH show in Anaheim, California.  The demo will highlight the ability of a mobile processor to show a lifelike human face while consuming just two to three watts of power.  The 3D simulation of the human face will show “full features,” Vivoli said, including light refraction, microscopic wrinkles on the skin, and other small details such as skin oils.

The human face — called Ira by nVidia — was demonstrated on stage at nVidia’s GPU Technology Conference and was rendered with server-class graphics processors based on Kepler.  Features from those high-end GPUs are being scaled down to fit into the power constraints of mobile devices, Vivoli said.  The Ira demonstration was ported to Logan after paring down some hardware capabilities and also with tweaks in clock gating and cache.

Tegra 5 is scheduled to ship next year.  nVidia has just started shipping its Tegra 4 chip, which will be in devices such as Hewlett-Packard’s SlateBook X2 tablet.

nVidia declined to provide numbers on the graphics performance gains versus Tegra 4.  But the graphics core will be faster and more power efficient, and nVidia said it will use less than a third of the power of graphics cores in tablets like the iPad when rendering the same graphics.  Logan will provide better graphics performance at the same power consumption levels.

nVidia is known for its graphics, and its chips are considered among the best at handling multimedia in mobile devices.  The company’s high-end Tesla graphics chips based on Kepler are being used in some of the world’s fastest supercomputers, and now similar features will be available in mobile devices going ahead.

It’s also the first time that nVidia is bringing its latest graphics core to the mobile processor, effectively uniting all graphics products on the same microarchitecture.

“We’ve always have a separate architecture,” Vivoli said.  “We’ve been working for years where we can converge the graphics roadmaps.”

nVidia earlier offered a graphics development platform called Kayla in which a Tegra processor was attached to a Kepler GPU via a PCI-Express interconnect.  The platform was intended to get programmers to start writing mobile applications for the Kepler GPU.  But with Logan, the Kepler graphics processor is integrated inside the Tegra chip.

Programmers will have to write algorithms and programs to enable augmented reality, face recognition and other high-end multimedia, Vivoli said.  Processing such tasks will be quicker when off-loaded to the Kepler graphics core, Vivoli said.

It will also be the “first time” GPGPU (general-purpose graphics processing unit computing) comes to mobile devices, Vivoli said, referring to a concept in which processing is being increasingly moved to from CPUs to graphics cores in systems.

But the CPUs and graphics processors still need to work in a coherent manner, and the Tegra 5 chip will support a range of parallel programming tools such as CUDA 5.5, OpenCL 2.0 and Microsoft’s DirectX.  Such tools harness the joint processing power of CPUs and GPUs to bring performance gains in supercomputers, and with mobile devices, the performance boosts have to fit within a specific power limit.

There are multiple parallel programming development tools for mobile devices and supercomputing.  Intel offers development tools to work with its Xeon Phi accelerator chip, while Advanced Micro Devices is pushing with specifications from the HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) Foundation, a group that hopes to provide tools so applications can be easily ported across different chip architectures and devices.  nVidia is not a member of HSA, which is backed by ARM, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and others.

Beyond Logan, nVidia is making more hardware improvements that should make graphics rendering faster.  The Tegra 6 processor code-named Parker will unite CPU and GPU and make it a shared resource.  Parker will also have a 3D structure in which transistors will be stacked on top of each other, which should make the GPU faster and more power efficient.  Parker is due for release in 2015.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CYBER SECURITY - Cyberattacks on U.S. Universities

"Universities Face a Rising Barrage of Cyberattacks" by RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA, New York Times 7/16/2013


America’s research universities, among the most open and robust centers of information exchange in the world, are increasingly coming under cyberattack, most of it thought to be from China, with millions of hacking attempts weekly.  Campuses are being forced to tighten security, constrict their culture of openness and try to determine what has been stolen.

University officials concede that some of the hacking attempts have succeeded.  But they have declined to reveal specifics, other than those involving the theft of personal data like Social Security numbers.  They acknowledge that they often do not learn of break-ins until much later, if ever, and that even after discovering the breaches they may not be able to tell what was taken.

Universities and their professors are awarded thousands of patents each year, some with vast potential value, in fields as disparate as prescription drugs, computer chips, fuel cells, aircraft and medical devices.

“The attacks are increasing exponentially, and so is the sophistication, and I think it’s outpaced our ability to respond,” said Rodney J. Petersen, who heads the cybersecurity program at Educause, a nonprofit alliance of schools and technology companies.  “So everyone’s investing a lot more resources in detecting this, so we learn of even more incidents we wouldn’t have known about before.”

Tracy B. Mitrano, the director of information technology policy at Cornell University, said that detection was “probably our greatest area of concern, that the hackers’ ability to detect vulnerabilities and penetrate them without being detected has increased sharply.”

Like many of her counterparts, she said that while the largest number of attacks appeared to have originated in China, hackers have become adept at bouncing their work around the world.  Officials do not know whether the hackers are private or governmental.  A request for comment from the Chinese Embassy in Washington was not immediately answered.

Analysts can track where communications come from — a region, a service provider, sometimes even a user’s specific Internet address.  But hackers often route their penetration attempts through multiple computers, even multiple countries, and the targeted organizations rarely go to the effort and expense — often fruitless — of trying to trace the origins.  American government officials, security experts and university and corporate officials nonetheless say that China is clearly the leading source of efforts to steal information, but attributing individual attacks to specific people, groups or places is rare.

The increased threat of hacking has forced many universities to rethink the basic structure of their computer networks and their open style, though officials say they are resisting the temptation to create a fortress with high digital walls.

“A university environment is very different from a corporation or a government agency, because of the kind of openness and free flow of information you’re trying to promote,” said David J. Shaw, the chief information security officer at Purdue University.  “The researchers want to collaborate with others, inside and outside the university, and to share their discoveries.”

Some universities no longer allow their professors to take laptops to certain countries, and that should be a standard practice, said James A. Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a policy group in Washington.  “There are some countries, including China, where the minute you connect to a network, everything will be copied, or something will be planted on your computer in hopes that you’ll take that computer back home and connect to your home network, and then they’re in there,” he said.  “Academics aren’t used to thinking that way.”

Bill Mellon of the University of Wisconsin said that when he set out to overhaul computer security recently, he was stunned by the sheer volume of hacking attempts.

We get 90,000 to 100,000 attempts per day, from China alone, to penetrate our system,” said Mr. Mellon, the associate dean for research policy.  “There are also a lot from Russia, and recently a lot from Vietnam, but it’s primarily China.”

Other universities report a similar number of attacks and say the figure is doubling every few years.  What worries them most is the growing sophistication of the assault.

Being a computer expert and a retired IT Technician the comment "free flow of information you’re trying to promote" does NOT mean that universities should not have very high network security.  Network security does not mean restricting free flow of information between AUTHORIZED users.

Friday, July 12, 2013

SOFTWARE - Virtual Reality Games

"How Virtual Reality Games Can Impact Society, Encourage Prosperity" PBS Newshour 7/11/2013


RAY SUAREZ (Newshour):  Finally tonight: video games, virtual reality and how changes in those technologies may be connected with economic behavior.

NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman and Paul's avatar are our guides, part of his ongoing reporting Making Sense of financial news.

And you should know his story contains some video game violence.

MAN:  You should feel like you're there.

MAN:  Oh, gosh. Oh, my gosh.

PAUL SOLMAN (Newshour):  Video games, one of the world's fastest-growing industries, with more than $80 billion a year in revenues now, more than twice that of movies.

MAN:  The feeling of dropping is really awesome.

PAUL SOLMAN:  And at a recent developers conference in San Francisco, the race was on to try out a breakthrough that could take the industry to an entirely new level.

MAN:  This is insane.

PAUL SOLMAN:  Though not yet ready for retail -- it's expected to sell for about $300 -- the Oculus Rift is already being hailed as the Holy Grail of gaming, a lightweight, affordable headset to deliver totally immersive virtual reality, or V.R.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

CYBERWAR - About Chinese Cyber Theft

"US Government, Industry Fed up with Chinese Cyber Theft; What’s Being Done?" PBS Newshour 7/8/2013


SUMMARY:  As U.S. and Chinese officials meet this week in Washington to discuss cyber issues -- as well as broader strategic and economic issues -- a number of Congress members and computer security experts say they are fed up with China stealing proprietary data from American companies.  Ray Suarez reports.