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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

400 TB Storage Drives In Our Future: Fujifilm
One of the two leading manufacturers of tape cartridge storage, FujiFilm, claims that they have a technology roadmap through to 2030 which builds on the current magnetic tape paradigm to enable 400 TB per tape. AnandTech reports: As reported by Chris Mellor of Blocks and Files, Fujifilm points to using Strontium Ferrite grains in order to enable an areal data density on tape of 224 Gbit-per-square-inch, which would enable 400 TB drives. IBM and Sony have already demonstrated 201 Gbit-per-square-inch technology in 2017, with a potential release of the technology for high volume production in 2026. Current drives are over an order of magnitude smaller, at 8 Gbit-per-square-inch, however the delay between research and mass production is quite significant. Strontium Ferrite would replace Barium Ferrite in current LTO cartridges. Strontium sits on a row above Barium in the periodic table, indicating a much smaller atom. This enables for much smaller particles to be placed into tracks, and thankfully according to Fujifilm, Strontium Ferrite exhibits properties along the same lines as Barium Ferrite, but moreso, enabling higher performance while simultaneously increasing particle density. [...] Fujifilm states that 400 TB is the limit of Strontium Ferrite, indicating that new materials would be needed to go beyond. That said, we are talking about only 224 Gbit-per-square-inch for storage, which compared to mechanical hard disks going beyhind 1000 Gbit-per-square-inch today, there would appear to be plenty of room at the top if the technologies could converge.

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Qualcomm Made a Modern Smartwatch Chip: Meet the Snapdragon Wear 4100
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: After years of repackaging the same basic smartwatch chip over and over again, Qualcomm has graced Wear OS with a modern smartwatch SoC. Meet the Snapdragon Wear 4100, a Qualcomm smartwatch chip that, for the first time ever, is faster than the previous chip. The Wear 4100 uses four 1.7GHz Cortex A53 CPUs built on a 12nm manufacturing process, a major upgrade from the 28nm Cortex A7s that every other Qualcomm smartwatch chip has been up until now. It's not the state-of-the-art 7nm process that Qualcomm's high-end chip uses, and the Cortex A53 is an old CPU design, but for Qualcomm, it's a major upgrade. Between the new CPU, the Adreno 504 GPU, and faster memory, Qualcomm is promising "85% faster performance" compared to the Wear 3100. There are actually two versions of the 4100, the vanilla "4100" and the "4100+." The plus version is specifically for smartwatches with an always-on watch face, and like previous Wear SoCs, comes with an extra low-power SoC (based around a Cortex-M0) to keep the time updated and log sensor data (like step counts). Qualcomm is promising a better display image quality in this low-power mode, with more colors and a smoother display. There are also dual DSPs now, which Qualcomm says are for "optimal workload partitioning, support for dynamic clock and voltage scaling, Qualcomm Sensor Assisted Positioning PDR Wearables 2.0, low power location tracking support, and an enhanced Bluetooth 5.0 architecture." There are also dual ISPs with support for 16MP sensors (on a smartwatch?). As usual, connectivity options are plentiful, with onboard LTE, GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11n, and Bluetooth 5.

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First Apple Silicon Benchmarks Destroy Surface Pro X
As expected, developers with early access to Apple silicon-based transition kits have leaked some early benchmarks scores. And it's bad news for Surface Pro X and Windows 10 on ARM fans. Thurrott reports: According to multiple Geekbench scores, the Apple Developer Transition Kit -- a Mac Mini-like device with an Apple A12Z system-on-a-chip (SoC), 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of SSD storage -- delivers an average single-core score of 811 and an average multi-core score of 2871. Those scores represent the performance of the device running emulated x86/64 code under macOS Big Sur's Rosetta 2 emulator. Compared to modern PCs with native Intel-type chipsets, that's not all that impressive, but that's to be expected since it's emulated. But compared to Microsoft's Surface Pro X, which has the fastest available Qualcomm-based ARM chipset and can run Geekbench natively -- not emulated -- it's amazing: Surface Pro X only averages 764 on the single-core test and 2983 in multi-core. Right. The emulated performance of the Apple silicon is as good or better than the native performance of the SQ-1-based Surface Pro X. This suggests that the performance of native code on Apple silicon will be quite impressive, and will leave Surface Pro X and WOA in the dust.

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Samsung Is Reportedly Working On a More Affordable Galaxy Fold
According to a report from a South Korean publication, Samsung is working on Galaxy Fold Lite for as cheap as $900. Samsung will reportedly cut costs by downgrading the camera capabilities and internal specifications. Bleeping Computer reports: The Galaxy Fold Lite will reportedly launch in 2021, but remember that this is just a rumor out of South Korea and it has to be taken with a grain of salt. It appears that the foldable device was planned to be announced during the August 5 event, but Samsung has reportedly postponed its launch to 2021. Galaxy Fold Lite is certainly possible and it was recently tipped off by XDA-Developers' Max Weinbach on Twitter. Another leaker revealed that the Galaxy Fold e could be named Galaxy Gold Lite and priced below $1100.

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Microsoft's Second Next-Gen Xbox Reportedly Set For August Reveal
Microsoft's second next-gen Xbox is rumored to be fully revealed in August. According to Eurogamer, the console will be named the Xbox Series S. From a report: Microsoft has been working on this second cheaper next-gen Xbox console for months. A Microsoft document, leaked last week, shed some further light on the company's plans. Microsoft's Xbox Series X devkit, codenamed "Dante," allows game developers to enable a special Lockhart mode that has a profile of the performance that Microsoft wants to hit with this second console. While we've been reporting this performance includes a slightly underclocked CPU, The Verge has seen additional documents that suggest Lockhart will actually have the same speed CPU as the Xbox Series X. The Lockhart console will also include 7.5GB of usable RAM, and around 4 teraflops of GPU performance. The Xbox Series X includes 13.5GB of usable RAM and targets 12 teraflops of GPU performance for comparison. If the reports are accurate, Microsoft could choose August to unveil this second next-gen Xbox alongside pricing for the Xbox Series X. This second console is designed as a more affordable option, with 1080p and 1440p monitors in mind. Microsoft would have to detail some type of pricing alongside its Lockhart reveal, and it's reasonable to assume it will be heavily tied to the Xbox All Access subscription.

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iPhone 12 Won't Include Charger In Box, Says Analyst
According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, iPhone 12 models will not include EarPods or a power adapter in the box. MacRumors reports: Kuo said that Apple will instead release a new 20W power adapter as an optional accessory for iPhones and end production of its existing 5W and 18W power adapters later this year. The form factor of the new 20W power adapter is said to be similar to the 18W version, with USB-C Power Delivery for fast charging, as seen in the leaked photo below. Kuo believes that iPhone 12 production costs will significantly increase due to 5G support, but he expects Apple to sell the new models at a comparable price to its iPhone 11 lineup, and removing the EarPods and power adapter from the box is one way to reduce costs. Apple would likely also tout the environmental benefits of such a move. Barclays still expects Apple to include a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box as the only accessory included with iPhone 12 models.

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Mercedes-Benz and Nvidia Partner On Software-Defined Autonomous Cars
ZDNet reports:Car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz and chipmaker Nvidia have partnered to build a software-defined computing infrastructure and system that enables vehicles to receive over-the-air software updates to ensure they are equipped with the latest autonomous features. "Together, we're going to revolutionise the car ownership experience, making the vehicle software programmable and continuously upgradeable via over the air updates," Nvidia CEO and founder Jensen Huang said. The pair will build the software-defined architecture based on Nvidia's Drive AGX Orin system-on-chip (SoC) platform, and it will be a standard feature in the next fleet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles from 2024... "Nvidia's AI computing architecture will help us streamline our journey towards autonomous driving," said Ola Källenius, chairman of the board of management of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz. "These new capabilities and upgrades will be downloaded from the cloud, improving safety, increasing value, and extending the joy of ownership for all Mercedes-Benz customers...." The pair said the new system would enable level two and three driving autonomy, as well as automated parking functions of up to level four. This would mean, according to the two companies, vehicles would have the ability to "automate driving of regular routes from address to address". Barron's reports:Nvidia and Mercedes are, in some respects, playing catch-up. Something the rest auto industry is used to these days regarding Tesla. Almost every other auto maker around the globe is pursuing an Electrical Vehicle (EV)-centric strategy nowadays, something unthinkable a few years ago. Tesla CEO Elon Musk deserves a lot of credit for the shift. Tesla led in EV development, and now it's leading in software too... And Forbes adds this telling quote from NVIDIA's senior director of automotive. "Revenues can be realized at the point of sale, as well as any time during the life of the vehicle. New features may be free of charge, single charge, pay by use, or subscription-based. Customers have shown that when they see the value, they are more than willing to pay for new apps and services."

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Mysterious Spike In Radioactivity Over Northern Europe, Accident At Russian Nuclear Plant Suspected
An anonymous reader quotes the International Business Times:Watchdog agencies last week detected an increase in radioactivity levels in the atmosphere over northern Europe, suggesting a potential damage at a nuclear plant. Authorities noted the possibility that the spike may be the result of accidental release of radioactive material from one of the nuclear plants in Russia, but a spokesman denied any problems with the Russian power plants. Several Scandinavian watchdog agencies detected elevated levels of radionuclides cesium-134, cesium -137 and ruthenium-103 over parts of Finland, southern Scandinavia and the Arctic. Although the levels are not considered harmful to human health and the environment, radionuclides are artificial, unstable byproducts of nuclear fission, suggesting that the sudden increase in levels may have resulted from a damage in a nuclear power plant. According to the Associated Press, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority noted Tuesday (June 24) that locating the origin of the radionuclides is "not possible" but by Friday, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands announced that calculations revealed that the radionuclides may actually have come from the direction of Western Russia... In 1986, it was a similar detection in Sweden that contributed to the reveal that a disaster had occurred in Chernobyl.

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Renewable Energy Breaks UK Record In First Quarter of 2020
Renewable energy made up almost half of Britain's electricity generation in the first three months of the year, with a surge in wind power helping to set a new record for clean energy. The Guardian reports: The government's official data has revealed that renewable energy made up 47% of the UK's electricity generation in the first three months of the year, smashing the previous quarterly record of 39% set last year. The government's renewable energy data includes electricity from the UK's windfarms, solar panels and hydro power plants as well as bioenergy generated by burning wood chips instead of coal. The "substantial increase" in the UK's total renewable energy output was chiefly driven by a growth in electricity generated by solar panels and windfarms which climbed by more than a third over the last year, according to the government's energy analysts. The report added that the start up of new windfarms combined with the UK's unusually wet and windy weather at the start of the year -- particularly storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge -- helped to generate record wind power generation. Offshore windfarms powered the largest increase in renewable energy in the first quarter of the year, climbing by 53% compared with the previous year, while onshore wind generation grew by a fifth. In total, wind power generated 30% of the UK's electricity in the first quarter, beating the previous record of 22.3% set in the final months of 2019.

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Rosetta 2 is Apple's Key To Making the ARM Transition Less Painful
At WWDC 2020 earlier this week, Apple announced that it's moving Macs away from Intel processors to its own silicon, based on ARM architecture. To help ease the transition, the company announced Rosetta 2, a translation process that allows users to run apps that contain x86_64 instructions on Apple silicon. The Verge reports: Rosetta 2 essentially "translates" instructions that were written for Intel processors into commands that Apple's chips can understand. Developers won't need to make any changes to their old apps; they'll just work. (The original Rosetta was released in 2006 to facilitate Apple's transition from PowerPC to Intel. Apple has also stated that it will support x86 Macs "for years to come," as far as OS updates are concerned. The company shifted from PowerPC to Intel chips in 2006, but ditched support for the former in 2009; OS X Snow Leopard was Intel-only.) You don't, as a user, interact with Rosetta; it does its work behind-the-scenes. "Rosetta 2 is mostly there to minimize the impact on end-users and their experience when they buy a new Mac with Apple Silicon," says Angela Yu, founder of the software-development school App Brewery. "If Rosetta 2 does its job, your average user should not notice its existence." There's one difference you might perceive, though: speed. Programs that ran under the original Rosetta typically ran slower than those running natively on Intel, since the translator needed time to interpret the code. Early benchmarks found that popular PowerPC applications, such as Photoshop and Office, were running at less than half their native speed on the Intel systems. We'll have to wait and see if apps under Rosetta 2 take similar performance hits. But there are a couple reasons to be optimistic. First, the original Rosetta converted every instruction in real-time, as it executed them. Rosetta 2 can convert an application right at installation time, effectively creating an ARM-optimized version of the app before you've opened it. (It can also translate on the fly for apps that can't be translated ahead of time, such as browser, Java, and Javascript processes, or if it encounters other new code that wasn't translated at install time.) With Rosetta 2 frontloading a bulk of the work, we may see better performance from translated apps. The report notes that the engine won't support everything. "It's not compatible with some programs, including virtual machine apps, which you might use to run Windows or another operating system on your Mac, or to test out new software without impacting the rest of your system," reports The Verge. "(You also won't be able to run Windows in Boot Camp mode on ARM Macs. Microsoft only licenses the ARM version of Windows 10 to PC manufacturers.) Rosetta 2 also can't translate kernel extensions, which some programs leverage to perform tasks that macOS doesn't have a native feature for (similar to drivers in Windows)."

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AMD Delivers a Major Mobile Efficiency Milestone
AMD has exceeded its goal to improve the energy efficiency of its mobile processors by 25 times by 2020. According to Thurrott, " The new AMD Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor improves on the energy efficiency of the 2014 baseline measurement by 31.7 times, the firm says, while offering 'leadership performance' for portable PCs." From the report: "We have always focused on energy efficiency in our processors, but in 2014 we decided to put even greater emphasis on this capability," AMD CTO Mark Papermaster says in a prepared statement. "Our engineering team rallied around the challenge and charted a path to reach our stretch goal of 25 times greater energy efficiency by 2020. We were able to far surpass our objective, achieving 31.7 times improvement leading to gaming and ultrathin laptops with unmatched performance, graphics and long battery life. I could not be prouder of our engineering and business teams." As AMD notes, greater energy efficiency leads to significant real-world benefits, including improved battery life, better performance, lower energy costs, and reduced environmental impact from computing. And with the focus in mobile computing hardware switching to performance-per-watt these days, AMD is trying to position itself as the traditional PC chipmaker that can rise to the ARM challenge.

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Former Intel Engineer Claims Skylake QA Drove Apple Away
UnknowingFool writes: A former Intel engineer has put forth information that the QA process around Skylake was so terrible that it may have finally driven Apple to use their own processors in upcoming Macs. Not to say that Apple would not have eventually made this move, but Francois Piednoel says Skylake was abnormally bad with Apple finding the largest amount of bugs inside the architecture rivaling Intel itself. That led Apple to reconsider staying on the architecture and hastening their plans to migrate to their own chips. "The quality assurance of Skylake was more than a problem," says Piednoel. "It was abnormally bad. We were getting way too much citing for little things inside Skylake. Basically our buddies at Apple became the number one filer of problems in the architecture. And that went really, really bad. When your customer starts finding almost as much bugs as you found yourself, you're not leading into the right place." "For me this is the inflection point," added Piednoel. "This is where the Apple guys who were always contemplating to switch, they went and looked at it and said: 'Well, we've probably got to do it.' Basically the bad quality assurance of Skylake is responsible for them to actually go away from the platform." Apple made the switch official at its developer conference on Monday, announcing that it will introduce Macs featuring Apple-designed, ARM-based processors later this year.

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Oculus Discontinues Its Low-End Go Headset To Focus On Oculus Quest
Oculus is ending sales of its budget Oculus Go virtual reality headset and opening its Quest headset to a wider range of software. The Verge reports: The company will maintain Oculus Go firmware through 2022 and accept new apps through December 2020, but it will stop selling Go hardware after the current stock runs out. Meanwhile, it will add a new Quest app distribution channel without the current strict approval process, encouraging more developers to work with the headset. In a blog post, Facebook-owned Oculus says it's retiring the Go after positive response to the Quest -- which features the same all-in-one format but tracks full spatial (or 6DoF) motion, not just head orientation. "You've told us loud and clear that 6DoF feels like the future of VR. That's why we're going all-in, and we won't be shipping any more 3DoF VR products," the post says. Oculus already listed the $149 Go as out of stock before its cancelation, and it dropped the Go from its business VR platform in January, saying the Quest was the "best solution" for most users. Oculus launched the Quest with a highly curated app selection aimed at giving new VR users a consistent experience. Now, with Go developers getting nudged toward the Quest, it's apparently developing an alternative option for early 2021. This system will let developers "share their apps to anyone with a Quest" as long as they meet Oculus' content standards. They won't get the visibility of an Oculus Store page, but users won't have to manually sideload the apps onto their headsets, making it easier to deploy software that's in testing or built for a limited audience.

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80,000 Printers Are Exposing Their IPP Port Online
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: In a report published earlier this month, security researchers from the Shadowserver Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on improving cyber-security practices across the world, have published a warning about companies that are leaving printers exposed online. More specifically, Shadowserver experts scanned all the four billion routable IPv4 addresses for printers that are exposing their IPP port. IPP stands for "Internet Printing Protocol" and, as the name suggests, is a protocol that allows users to manage internet-connected printers and send printing jobs to printers hosted online. The difference between IPP and the multiple other printer management protocols is that IPP is a secure protocol that supports advanced features such as access control lists, authentication, and encrypted communications. However, this doesn't mean that device owners are making use of any of these features. Shadowserver experts said they specifically scanned the internet for IPP-capable printers that were left exposed without being protected by a firewall and allowed attackers to query for local details via the "Get-Printer-Attributes" function. In total, experts said they usually found an average of around 80,000 printers exposing themselves online via the IPP port on a daily basis. The number is about an eighth of all IPP-capable printers currently connected online. A normal scan with the BinaryEdge search engine reveals a daily count of between 650,000 and 700,000 devices with their IPP port (TCP/631) reachable via the internet. What are the issues with not securing the IPP port? Shadowserver experts say this port can be used for intelligence gathering, since many of the printers scanned returned additional info about themselves, such as printer names, locations, models, firmware, organization names, and even Wi-Fi network names. "To configure IPP access control and IPP authentication features, users are advised to check their printers' manuals," adds ZDNet. "Most printers have an IPP configuration section in their administration panel from where users can enable authentication, encryption, and limit access to the device via access lists."

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What Happens If Apple Switches to Its Own ARM Chips for Macs?
CNN reports that Apple could announce "a long-rumored switch" from Intel chips to its own ARM-based chips for Macs at its WWDC conference Monday -- citing a report from Bloomberg. Then they consider the possible advantages:When that does happen, the major changes Mac users are likely to see include better battery life and sleeker devices. Apple's in-house chips have a smaller architecture and are more efficient because they are designed for smartphones, according to David McQueen, research director at ABI Research... "Moving to ARM-based chips can bring efficiencies and better battery life without sacrificing performance," McQueen said. "It may also help to cut out some size issues, possibly allowing Macs to be made thinner, while also negating the need for fans," he added. McQueen says having the same chips running on iPhones, iPads and Macs would also make it easier to standardize the user experience across all three devices. "It will allow all Apple devices to work more seamlessly together," he said. "It should also make it much easier for developers to create apps that are capable of running across Apple devices." There's another big potential benefit to using the same chips for iPhones and Macs, particularly with the growth of 5G networks. "Although Apple has given no indication that it is looking to do so, this switch does also open the doors for Apple to launch MacBooks with cellular connectivity capabilities," Mardikar said. For Apple, bringing processor production in-house will likely allow the company to offer better performance upgrades with each generation of devices because it will no longer be tied to Intel's upgrade cycle for new chips. "They also get to control their own product launch cadence," said Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager at IDC. "In the past, they had to really wait on Intel to launch new processors before they could refresh the Mac lineup."

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