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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

A New Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ Has Arrived With Bluetooth 4.2 and Dual-Band Wi-Fi For $25
Raspberry Pi has introduced a new version of one of its most popular models just in time to stuff your stocking: the Model A+. And this time around, it's even more attractive. From a report: The Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ costs $25, $5 more than the previous generation, but has a lot more going for it. Just like the top-of-the-line Model B+, the new Model A+ has a 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core processor, and you'll also get dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5 GHz), a feature that was missing from the previous A+. And you'll have to use it, since the A+ doesn't have an Ethernet port. It does, however, have Bluetooth 4.2 on board. For $10 less than the $35 Model B+, you'll also only get a single USB port (versus four on the B+) as well as 512MB of RAM (versus 1GB on the B+). But otherwise, the devices are identical, with a full-size HDMI port, CSI camera port, DSI display port, stereo output and composite video port, and a micro SD port. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ isn't the cheapest Pi model available -- the Zero costs $5 and the Zero W costs just $10 -- but it rounds out the options nicely. The new model is available now through Raspberry Pi retailers.

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China's Fusion Reactor Reaches 100 Million Degrees Celsius
hackingbear shares a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: The team of scientists from China's Institute of Plasma Physics announced this week that plasma in their Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) -- dubbed the 'artificial sun' -- reached a whopping 100 million degrees Celsius which is six times hotter than the core of the Sun. This temperature is the minimum required to maintain a fusion reaction that produces more power than it takes to run. The Chinese research team said they were able to achieve the record temperature through the use of various new techniques in heating and controlling the plasma, but could only maintain the state for around 10 seconds. The latest breakthrough provided experimental evidence that reaching the 100 million degrees Celsius mark is possible, according to China's Institute of Plasma Physics. "While the U.S. is putting new restrictions on nuclear technology exports to China, inventions and findings of EAST will be important contributions to the development of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)," writes Slashdot reader hackingbear. The reactor is currently being built in southern France with collaboration from 35 nations. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it is expected to be "the first device to consistently produce net energy, producing 500 megawatts of clean and sustainable power."

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Nasty Adobe Bug Deleted $250,000 Worth of Man's Files, Lawsuit Claims
Freelance videographer Dave Cooper has filed a class action lawsuit against Adobe, alleging that an update to Premiere Pro came with a flaw in the way it handles file management that resulted in the deletion of 500 hours of video clips that he claims were worth around $250,000. Adobe has since patched the bug. Gizmodo reports: Premiere creates redundant video files that are stored in a "Media Cache" folder while a user is working on a project. This takes up a lot of hard drive space, and Cooper instructed the video editing suite to place the folder inside a "Videos" directory on an external hard drive, according to court documents. The "Videos" folder contained footage that wasn't associated with a Premiere project, which should've been fine. When a user is done working on a project they typically clear the "Media Cache" and move on with their lives. Unfortunately, Cooper says that when he initiated the "Clean Cache" function it indiscriminately deleted the contents of his "Videos" folder forever. Cooper claims that he lost around 100,000 individual clips and that it cost him close to $250,000 to capture that footage. After spending three days trying to recover the data, he admitted that all was lost, the lawsuit says. He also apparently lost work files for edits he was working on and says that he's missed out on subsequent licensing opportunities. On behalf of himself and other users who wish to join the suit, he's asking the court for a jury trial and is seeking "monetary damages, including but not limited to any compensatory, incidental, or consequential damages in an amount that the Court or jury will determine, in accordance with applicable law."

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The British Army is Carrying Out a Massive Test of Military Robots and Drones
The British Army is testing out over 70 new technologies, including unmanned vehicles and surveillance drones, in a four-week experiment on one of its biggest training grounds. From a report: What sort of stuff? The department isn't giving out specifics but said the focus will be on "surveillance, long-range, and precision targeting, enhanced mobility and the re-supply of forces, urban warfare and enhanced situational awareness." The development is part of a $1030 million "innovation fund" launched in 2016. The aim? Primarily it's about reducing the danger to troops during combat, according to the UK's Ministry of Defense (MoD). One of the main areas it'll test is "last mile" supply of fuel, food, and ammunition. The exercise will culminate in a simulated battle involving over 200 soldiers to test out the ideas and products.

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Intel Launches New Core i9-9980XE 18-Core CPU With 4.5GHz Boost Clock
MojoKid writes: When Intel officially announced its 9th Generation Core processors, it used the opportunity to also unveil a refreshed line-up of 9th Gen-branded Core-X series processors. Unlike other 9th Gen Core i products, however, which leverage an updated Coffee Lake microarchitecture, new processors in Intel's Core-X series remain based on Skylake-X architecture but employ notable tweaks in manufacturing and packaging of the chips, specifically with a solder TIM (Thermal Interface Material) under their heat spreaders for better cooling and more overclocking headroom. The Core i9-9980XE is the new top-end CPU that supplants the Core i9-7980XE at the top of Intel's stack. The chip features 18 Skylake-X cores (36 threads) with a base clock of 3.0GHz that's 400MHz higher than the previous gen. The Core i9-9980XE has max Turbo Boost 2.0 and Turbo Boost Max 3.0 frequencies of 4.4GHz and 4.5GHz, which are 200MHz and 100MHz higher than Intel's previous gen Core i9-7980XE, respectively. In the benchmarks, the new Core i9-9980XE is easily the fastest many-core desktop processor Intel has released to date, out-pacing all previous-gen Intel processors and AMD Threadripper X series processors in heavily threaded applications. However, the 18-core Core i9-9980XE typically trailed AMD's 24 and 32-core Threadripper WX series processors. Intel's Core i9-9980XE also offered relatively strong single-threaded performance, with an IPC advantage that's superior to any AMD Ryzen processor currently.

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Israel Aims To Ban Gasoline, Diesel Vehicles By 2030
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CleanTechnica: 2030 seems like a long way off, but it's really just around the corner. And when the bell tolls at midnight on December 31, 2030, you may not be able to buy a gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle in Israel. After that date, all passenger cars will be electric and all trucks will be powered by electricity or compressed natural gas, if a proposal currently under consideration gets approved by the government. A final decision is expected by the end of this year. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz [told Reuters last month] the biggest challenge will be creating a "critical mass" of electric and CNG powered vehicles before the deadline arrives. "We are already encouraging [the transition] by funding ... more than 2,000 new charging stations around the country," he says. The plan was set in motion one day after the United Nations issued its latest climate assessment that finds nations must do far more than they are currently doing in order to stave off warmer global average temperatures that will put the environment at risk. In order to reach the goal, the Israeli government will "reduce taxation on electric cars to almost zero, so they are going to be much cheaper," Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said. He expects there will be about 177,000 electric cars on Israeli roads around 2025. By 2030, the expectation is that there will be nearly 1.5 million EVs in the country. The country has a ways to go though, as there are less than 100 electric cars on the roads today.

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Apple Confirms Its T2 Security Chip Blocks Some Third-Party Repairs of New Macs
An anonymous reader shares a report from The Verge about Apple's new security-focused T2 chip found in the newest Mac computers. The introduction of the chip "has renewed concerns that Apple is trying to further lock down its devices from third-party repair services," The Verge reports. From the report: The T2 is "a guillotine that [Apple is] holding over" product owners, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens told The Verge over email. That's because it's the key to locking down Mac products by only allowing select replacement parts into the machine when they've come from an authorized source -- a process that the T2 chip now checks for during post-repair reboot. "It's very possible the goal is to exert more control over who can perform repairs by limiting access to parts," Wiens said. "This could be an attempt to grab more market share from the independent repair providers. Or it could be a threat to keep their authorized network in line. We just don't know." Apple confirmed to The Verge that this is the case for repairs involving certain components on newer Macs, like the logic board and Touch ID sensor, which is the first time the company has publicly acknowledged the tool's use. But Apple could not provide a list of repairs that required this or what devices were affected. It also couldn't say whether it began this protocol with the iMac Pro's introduction last year or if it's a new policy instituted recently. First revealed last month by MacRumors and Motherboard, both of which got their hands on an internal Apple document, the T2 chip could render a computer inoperable if, say, the logic board is replaced, unless the chip recognizes a special piece of diagnostic software has been run. That means if you wanted to repair certain key parts of your MacBook, iMac, or Mac mini, you would need to go to an official Apple Store or a repair shop that's part of the company's Authorized Service Provider (ASP) network. If you want to repair or rebuild portions of those devices on your own, you simply can't -- at least, according to this document. The parts affected, according to the document, are the display assembly, logic board, top case, and Touch ID board for the MacBook Pro, and the logic board and flash storage on the iMac Pro. It is also likely that logic board repairs on the new MacBook Air and Mac mini are affected, as well as the Mac mini's flash storage. Yet, the document, which is believed to have been distributed earlier this year, does not mention those products because they were unannounced at the time. Regardless, to replace those parts, a technician would need to run what's known as the AST 2 System Configuration suite, which Apple only distributes to Apple Stores and certified ASPs. So DIY shops and those out of the Apple network would be out of luck.

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'Why PC Builders Should Stock Up on Components Now'
Michael Kan, writing for PCMag: NZXT is a popular PC desktop case vendor, but the California-based company recently had to raise its prices. The reason? The new US tariffs on Chinese imports includes PC cases. In September, the Trump administration imposed the 10 percent duty, which also cover motherboards, graphics cards, and CPU coolers from the country. As a result, NZXT had to introduce a 10 percent price increase on PC cases to deal with the added costs, VP Jim Carlton told PCMag in an interview. And building a PC could get even more expensive in 2019; US tariffs on Chinese-made goods will rise from 10 percent to 25 percent in January. "If I needed to build a system in the next six months, I'd definitely build it before the end of the year," Carlton told us. For PC builders, the tariffs risk adding a few hundred dollars to the total cost of components for a custom desktop. "If it's a $2,000 purchase on 25 percent tariffs, it's going to be a $2,500 purchase," Carlton said. "So we are very concerned with the direction of where this is going. I don't have a 10 percent [profit] margin I can just throw away and absorb the tariffs," he added. "And certainly no one has a margin for 25 percent."

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Apple Blocks Linux From Booting On New Hardware With T2 Security Chip
AmiMoJo writes:Apple's new-generation Macs come with a new so-called Apple T2 security chip that's supposed to provide a secure enclave co-processor responsible for powering a series of security features, including Touch ID. At the same time, this security chip enables the secure boot feature on Apple's computers, and by the looks of things, it's also responsible for a series of new restrictions that Linux users aren't going to like. The issue seems to be that Apple has included security certificates for its own and Microsoft's operating systems (to allow running Windows via Bootcamp), but not for the certificate that was provided for systems such as Linux. Disabling Secure Boot can overcome this, but also disables access to the machine's internal storage, making installation of Linux impossible.

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Mac Mini Teardown Reveals User-Upgradable RAM, But Soldered Down CPU and Storage
iFixit has released their teardown of the new Mac mini, providing a look inside the portable desktop computer. Some of the notable findings include user-upgradable RAM and soldered CPU and SSD. Mac Rumors reports: While the RAM in the previous-gen Mac mini from 2014 was soldered to the logic board, the new Mac mini has user-upgradeable RAM, as discovered earlier this week. As seen in older iMacs, the RAM is protected by a perforated shield that allows the memory modules to operate at a high frequency of 2666 MHz without interfering with other device functions, according to iFixit. To upgrade the RAM, the shield can be removed by unfastening four Torx screws. Other silicon on the logic board of this particular Mac mini includes the Apple T2 security chip, a 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 630, 128GB of flash storage from Toshiba, an Intel JHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, and a Gigabit Ethernet controller from Broadcom. Despite the good news about the RAM, the CPU and SSD are soldered to the logic board, as are many ports, so this isn't a truly modular Mac mini. iFixit awarded the new Mac mini a repairability score of 6/10, with 10 being the easiest to repair, topping the latest MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro, and trailing only the 2013 Mac Pro.

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Micron Kicks Off Mass Production of 12Gb DRAM Chips
Micron is now producing its first LPDDR4X memory devices using its second-generation 10nm-class process technology. "The new memory devices offer standard LPDDR4X data transfer rates of up to 4.266 Gbps per pin and consumes less power than earlier LPDDR4 chips," reports AnandTech. From the report: Micron's LPDDR4X devices are made using the company's 1Y-nm fabrication tech and feature a 12 Gb capacity. The manufacturer says that its LPDDR4X memory chips consume 10% less power when compared to its LPDDR4-4266 products; this is because they feature a lower output driver voltage (I/O VDDQ), which the LPDDR4X standard reduces by 45%, from 1.1 V to 0.6 V. Micron's 12 Gb (1.5 GB) LPDDR4X devices feature a slightly lower capacity than competing 16 Gb (2 GB) LPDDR4X offerings, but they are also cheaper to manufacture. As a result, Micron can offer lower-cost quad-die 64-bit LPDDR4X-4266 packages with a 48 Gb (6 GB) capacity and a 34.1 GB/s bandwidth than some of its competitors.

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To Keep Pace With Moore's Law, Chipmakers Turn to 'Chiplets'
As chipmakers struggle to keep up with Moore's law, they are increasingly looking for alternatives to boost computers' performance. "We're seeing Moore's law slowing," says Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at chip designer AMD. "You're still getting more density but it costs more and takes longer. It's a fundamental change." Wired has a feature story which looks at those alternatives and the progress chipmakers have been able to make with them so far. From a report: AMD's Papermaster is part of an industry-wide effort around a new doctrine of chip design that Intel, AMD, and the Pentagon all say can help keep computers improving at the pace Moore's law has conditioned society to expect. The new approach comes with a snappy name: chiplets. You can think of them as something like high-tech Lego blocks. Instead of carving new processors from silicon as single chips, semiconductor companies assemble them from multiple smaller pieces of silicon -- known as chiplets. "I think the whole industry is going to be moving in this direction," Papermaster says. Ramune Nagisetty, a senior principal engineer at Intel, agrees. She calls it "an evolution of Moore's law." Chip chiefs say chiplets will enable their silicon architects to ship more powerful processors more quickly. One reason is that it's quicker to mix and match modular pieces linked by short data connections than to painstakingly graft and redesign them into a single new chip. That makes it easier to serve customer demand, for example for chips customized to machine learning, says Nagisetty. New artificial-intelligence-powered services such as Google's Duplex bot that makes phone calls are enabled in part by chips specialized for running AI algorithms. Chiplets also provide a way to minimize the challenges of building with cutting-edge transistor technology. The latest, greatest, and smallest transistors are also the trickiest and most expensive to design and manufacture with. In processors made up of chiplets, that cutting-edge technology can be reserved for the pieces of a design where the investment will most pay off. Other chiplets can be made using more reliable, established, and cheaper techniques. Smaller pieces of silicon are also inherently less prone to manufacturing defects.

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UK Renewable Energy Capacity Surpasses Fossil Fuels For First Time
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago. In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels' has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic. The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants. Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, said the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the "dash for gas" in the 1990s. However, the amount of power from fossil fuels was still greater over the quarter, at about 40% of electricity generation compared with 28% for renewable sources. In total, 57% of electricity generation was low carbon over the period, produced either by renewables or nuclear power stations. In terms of installed capacity, wind is the biggest source of renewables at more than 20GW, followed by solar spread across nearly 1m rooftops and in fields. Biomass is third.

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Google Is Adding Android Support For Foldable Screens
At its Android Developer Summit today, Google detailed plans to bake support for folding phones into the mobile operating system. One of the first Android phones to hit the market with a foldable display looks to be from Samsung with a launch date of "early next year." TechCrunch reports: "You can think of the device as both a phone and a tablet," Android VP of Engineering Dave Burke explained. "Broadly, there are two variants -- two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, it looks like a phone, fitting in your pocket or purse. The defining feature for this form factor is something we call screen continuity." Among the additions here is the ability to flag the app to respond to the screen as it folds and unfolds -- the effect would likely be similar to the response of applications as handsets switch between portrait and landscape modes.

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A Robot Scientist Will Dream Up New Materials To Advance Computing
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: In a laboratory that overlooks a busy shopping street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a robot is attempting to create new materials. A robot arm dips a pipette into a dish and transfers a tiny amount of bright liquid into one of many receptacles sitting in front of another machine. When all the samples are ready, the second machine tests their optical properties, and the results are fed to a computer that controls the arm. Software analyzes the results of these experiments, formulates a few hypotheses, and then starts the process over again. Humans are barely required. The setup, developed by a startup called Kebotix, hints at how machine learning and robotic automation may be poised to revolutionize materials science in coming years. The company believes it may find new compounds that could, among other things, absorb pollution, combat drug-resistant fungal infections, and serve as more efficient optoelectronic components. The company's software learns from 3-D models of molecules with known properties. Kebotix uses several machine-learning methods to design novel chemical compounds. The company feeds molecular models of compounds with desirable properties into a type of neural network that learns a statistical representation of those properties. This algorithm can then come up with new examples that fit the same model. To strain out potentially useless materials, Kebotix uses another neural network and "then the company's robotic system tests the remaining chemical structures," reports MIT Technology Review. "The results of those experiments can be fed back into the machine-learning pipeline, helping it get closer to the desired chemical properties. The company dubs the overall system a 'self-driving lab.'"

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