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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

Major Breakthrough As Quantum Computing In Silicon Hits 99% Accuracy
nickwinlund77 shares a report from SciTechDaily: UNSW Sydney-led research paves the way for large silicon-based quantum processors for real-world manufacturing and application. Australian researchers have proven that near error-free quantum computing is possible, paving the way to build silicon-based quantum devices compatible with current semiconductor manufacturing technology. [...] [The researcher's] paper is one of three published today in Nature that independently confirm that robust, reliable quantum computing in silicon is now a reality. This breakthrough is featured on the front cover of the journal. [Professor Andrea Morello of UNSW, who led the work] et al achieved 1-qubit operation fidelities up to 99.95 percent, and 2-qubit fidelity of 99.37 percent with a three-qubit system comprising an electron and two phosphorous atoms, introduced in silicon via ion implantation. A Delft team in the Netherlands led by Lieven Vandersypen achieved 99.87 percent 1-qubit and 99.65 percent 2-qubit fidelities using electron spins in quantum dots formed in a stack of silicon and silicon-germanium alloy (Si/SiGe). A RIKEN team in Japan led by Seigo Tarucha similarly achieved 99.84 percent 1-qubit and 99.51 percent 2-qubit fidelities in a two-electron system using Si/SiGe quantum dots. The UNSW and Delft teams certified the performance of their quantum processors using a sophisticated method called gate set tomography, developed at Sandia National Laboratories in the U.S. and made openly available to the research community. Morello had previously demonstrated that he could preserve quantum information in silicon for 35 seconds, due to the extreme isolation of nuclear spins from their environment. But the trade-off was that isolating the qubits made it seemingly impossible for them to interact with each other, as necessary to perform actual computations. Today's paper describes how his team overcame this problem by using an electron encompassing two nuclei of phosphorus atoms. The three papers from the UNSW team, Delft team and RIKEN group in Tokyo can be found at their respective links.

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AMD Returns To Smartphone Graphics
AMD's GPU technology is returning to mobile handsets with Samsung's Exynos 2200 system-on-chip, which was announced on Tuesday. The Register reports: The Exynos 2200 processor, fabricated using a 4nm process, has Armv9 CPU cores and the oddly named Xclipse GPU, which is an adaptation of AMD's RDNA 2 mainstream GPU architecture. AMD was in the handheld GPU market until 2009, when it sold the Imageon GPU and handheld business for $65m to Qualcomm, which turned the tech into the Adreno GPU for its Snapdragon family. AMD's Imageon processors were used in devices from Motorola, Panasonic, Palm and others making Windows Mobile handsets. AMD's now returning to a more competitive mobile graphics market with Apple, Arm and Imagination also possessing homegrown smartphone GPUs. Samsung and AMD announced the companies were working together on graphics in June last year. With Exynos 2200, Samsung has moved on from Arm's Mali GPU family, which was in the predecessor Exynos 2100 used in the current flagship Galaxy smartphones. Samsung says the power-optimized GPU has hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which simulates lighting effects and other features to make gaming a better experience. [...] The Exynos 2200 has an image signal processor that can apparently handle 200-megapixel pictures and record 8K video. Other features include HDR10+ support, and 4K video decoding at up to 240fps or 8K decoding at up to 60fps. It supports display refresh rates of up to 144Hz. The eight-core CPU cluster features a balance of high-performing and power-efficient cores. It has one Arm Cortex-X2 flagship core, three Cortex-A710 big cores and four Cortex-A510s, which is in the same ballpark as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Mediatek's Dimensity 9000, which are the only other chips using Arm's Armv9 cores and are made using a 4nm process. An integrated 5G modem supports both sub-6GHz and millimeter wave bands, and a feature to mix LTE and 5G signals speeds up data transfers to 10Gbps. The chip also has a security processor and an AI engine that is said to be two times faster than its predecessor in the Exynos 2100.

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Proof of Concept Verifies Physics That Could Enable Quantum Batteries
An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Atlas: For the first time, a team of scientists has now demonstrated the quantum mechanical principle of superabsorption that underpins quantum batteries in a proof-of-concept device. "Superabsorption is a quantum collective effect where transitions between the states of the molecules interfere constructively," James Quach, corresponding author of the study, told New Atlas. "Constructive interference occurs in all kinds of waves (light, sound, waves on water), and occurs when different waves add up to give a larger effect than either wave on its own. Crucially this allows the combined molecules to absorb light more efficiently than if each molecule were acting individually." In a quantum battery, this phenomenon would have a very clear benefit. The more energy-storing molecules you have, the more efficiently they'll be able to absorb that energy -- in other words, the bigger you make the battery, the faster it will charge. At least, that's how it should work in theory. Superabsorption had yet to be demonstrated on a scale large enough to build quantum batteries, but the new study has now managed just that. To build their test device, the researchers placed an active layer of light-absorbing molecules -- a dye known as Lumogen-F Orange -- in a microcavity between two mirrors. "The mirrors in this microcavity were made using a standard method to make high quality mirrors," explained Quach. "This is to use alternating layers of dielectric materials -- silicon dioxide and niobium pentoxide -- to create what is known as a 'distributed Bragg reflector.' This produces mirrors which reflect much more of the light than a typical metal/glass mirror. This is important as we want light to stay inside the cavity as long as possible." The team then used ultrafast transient-absorption spectroscopy to measure how the dye molecules were storing the energy and how fast the whole device was charging. And sure enough, as the size of the microcavity and the number of molecules increased, the charging time decreased, demonstrating superabsorption at work. "The idea here is a proof-of-principle that enhanced absorption of light is possible in such a device," Quach told New Atlas. "The key challenge though is to bridge the gap between the proof-of-principle here for a small device, and exploiting the same ideas in larger usable devices. The next steps are to explore how this can be combined with other ways of storing and transferring energy, to provide a device that could be practically useful." The research was published in the journal Science Advances.

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1.7 Million People Live for a Week on 100% Renewable Energy
1.77 million people live in South Australia, speading across 984,321 square kilometres (or 380,048 square miles), according to Wikipedia. Today the Sydney Morning Herald announced that South Australia "sourced an average of just over 100 per cent of the electricity it needed from renewable power for 6 and a half days leading up to December 29 last year." They're calling it "a record for the state and perhaps for comparable energy grids around the world."The state's previous record was just over three days, says Geoff Eldridge, an energy analyst who runs the website NEMlog.com.au, which tracks the operations of the National Energy Market covering Australia's east-coast states and South Australia. His analysis shows that for the six days identified, the state produced on average 101 per cent of the energy it needed from wind, rooftop solar and solar farms, with just a fraction of the energy the state used being drawn from gas, in order to keep the grid stable. At times during the period, slightly less renewable energy was available and at other times renewable capacity was higher than needed, he says. Bruce Mountain, director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre, said he believed that aside from some small island grids such as those in Hawaii and Tasmania, it was likely that South Australia's six-day run on renewables was a record for a grid supporting an advanced economy. During the unprecedented 156-hour renewable run, the share of wind in total energy supplied averaged 64.4 per cent, while rooftop solar averaged 29.5 per cent and utility-scale solar averaged 6.2 per cent, clean energy website RenewEconomy.com.au reported, using Mr Eldridge's data. (Thanks to Slashdot reader betsuin for sharing the article)

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Pine64's 'PineNote' E-Ink Tablet Now Available for $399 for Developers
"The PineNote is a tablet with a 10.1 inch grayscale E Ink display and pen support," reports Liliputing. "It's designed to be a hackable, Linux-friendly device and it's one of the latest products from the makers of the PinePhone and PineBook line of devices."First introduced last summer, the PineNote began shipping to developers in limited quantities in December. Now it's available for anyone to purchase for $399 — no invitation required. But it's probably only a good idea to buy one if you're a developer or very early adopter because there's very little software available for the PineNote so far. At this point, Pine64 is shipping the PineNote without an operating system installed. It will have only a bootloader, allowing developers and enthusiasts to load their own software... [D]evelopers have already made some progress in getting builds Alpine and Debian Linux to run on the E Ink slate, and according to Pine64, there are ports for NixOS and other operating systems on the way. There's already a partially working display driver, but it's still a work in progress. The goal is to allow developers to port mainline Linux operating systems and applications to play well with a monochrome display with a slow refresh rate. Developers have also figured out how to enable support PineNote's touchscreen, audio playback, and USB port, making it possible to use USB keyboards, storage devices, and other peripherals.

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Germany To Dedicate 2% Of Its Land To Wind Power Development
The new German government is proposing a bold new initiative to dramatically increase onshore wind power in the country by 2030. "If successful, the plan would add up to 10 gigawatts of new onshore wind capacity every year for the rest of the decade," reports CleanTechnica. "In total, 2% of Germany's land area will be set aside for wind energy generation. [T]he German government also plans to increase its offshore wind target to 30 GW by 2030." From the report: During a press conference, [the nation's new Green Minister for Economics and Climate, Robert Habeck] made it clear that wind energy, particularly onshore wind, will remain the most important source of electricity in Germany and is the key to further emission reductions, according to WindEurope. "The Energiewende is roaring again. Germany wants a huge expansion of onshore wind. And the Government fully understands that that requires faster permitting of new wind farms -- and they intend to deliver this ASAP with a dedicated new 'Onshore Wind Law.' Today's announcements mark the comeback of German leadership on renewables -- fantastisch!" says WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson. Habeck intends to remove restraints on onshore wind development caused by concerns about radar installations for civilian and military aviation. He estimates the government plan could free up 4 to 5 GW of new wind projects currently blocked by aviation radar, and an additional 4 GW currently blocked by the military. Support for renewable energies will be paid from the state budget, reducing the burden on low income households and small businesses. The package is also said to define the energy transition as a 'matter of public interest' in order to prioritize wind energy projects over other forms of land use -- an important precondition to streamlining the permit process and finding new sites for wind energy projects.

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Tesla Expands Gigafactory Nevada Solar Array Toward Goal To Become World's Biggest
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: New satellite images show that Tesla significantly expanded its rooftop solar array at Gigafactory Nevada as it aims for it to become the world's biggest. In 2017, Tesla announced plans for a giant 70 MW rooftop array at Gigafactory Nevada, which would be the largest in the world by a wide margin. The project has been lagging for a long time. Tesla finally started construction of the solar array in 2018 and expanded on it throughout the next few years, but it has never grown near the size Tesla has been talking about. Last summer, the automaker said that it had deployed 3.2 MW at the site. At the time, Tesla also changed its goal to deploy 24 MW instead of 70 MW on the rooftop of the factory, which itself is now smaller than originally planned. The company said that it believes this would still be enough to be the largest rooftop deployment of solar power. To be fair, there are much bigger solar farms than 24 MW out there, but Tesla is specifically talking about rooftop solar arrays and not ground-mounted installations. Now a few months later, it looks like Tesla has made a lot of progress with several more MW of solar power deployed at Gigafactory Nevada based on new satellite images. The image on the left is from September 2021 and the one on the right is from yesterday, January 12 (via Building Tesla). It's hard to determine exactly how much capacity Tesla deployed, but it looks like a significant increase over the last few months. As for the factory itself, it has been expanding in size for a long time. The factory has been producing a lot of battery cells, packs, and drivetrains for Tesla, but the giant structure has been stuck at ~30% completion for the past four years.

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The PC Market Just Had Another Big Year Thanks To Pandemic Demand
The PC market experienced its first big growth in a decade during 2020, when the pandemic began to force people to work and learn from home. Market research firms Gartner and IDC are now reporting that the worldwide PC market has grown again throughout 2021, as demand for traditional PCs continued during a global chip shortage. From a report: Nearly 340 million PCs were shipped in 2021, according to Gartner. That's a nearly 10 percent increase over the already unprecedented numbers seen in 2020. IDC puts the figure at 348.8 million, up nearly 15 percent. "2021 has truly been a return to form for the PC," said Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager at IDC. "Consumer need for PCs in emerging markets and global commercial demand remained strong during the quarter with supply being a gating factor." Ongoing supply issues relating to a global chip shortage mean the PC market "could have been even larger than it was in 2021," according to Tom Mainelli, an executive at IDC. Gartner reports that 2021 saw the highest shipment volume of PCs since 2013, after a 2017 milestone of five years of PC decline.

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US To Hold Largest-Ever Offshore Wind Farm Auction Next Month
The US government announced Wednesday it will auction more than 480,000 acres off the coasts of New York and New Jersey to build wind farms as part of its campaign to supply renewable energy to more than 10 million homes by 2030. Tech Xplore reports: Offshore wind developers will bid February 23 on six areas in the New York Bight -- the most lots ever offered in a single auction -- which could generate between 5.6 to seven gigawatts of energy, enough to power two million homes, the Interior Department said. The auction will be the first under President Joe Biden, whose administration aims to build as many as to seven major offshore wind farms and review plans for at least 16 others along the US coasts. The effort is part of Washington's fight against climate change, and the Biden administration says the wind investment would cut 78 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and create tens of thousands of jobs.

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Taiwan Will Soon Have More Electric Scooter Battery Swap Stations Than Gas Stations
According to Electrek, the number of Gogoro electric scooter battery swap stations in Taiwan will soon eclipse the country's total number of gas stations. From the report: Gogoro's battery swap stations look something like a bright green and white vending machine. Users of Gogoro's batteries (which include scooters of many different brands thanks to its partnerships), simply roll up to a station and swap out their depleted battery for a freshly charged unit. A subscription service makes it a quick and easy process that takes just a few seconds. At the end of 2021, Gogoro counted a total of 2,215 GoStations nationwide, according to the Taipei Times. The number of gas stations stood barely higher at 2,487. At Gogoro's current rate of expansion, 2022 very well may be the year that the number of GoStations surpasses the number of gas stations.

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Raspberry Pi Can Detect Malware By Scanning For Electromagnetic Waves
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A team of researchers at France's Research Institute of Computer Science and Random Systems created an anti-malware system centered around a Raspberry Pi that scans devices for electromagnetic waves. As reported by Tom's Hardware, the security device uses an oscilloscope (Picoscope 6407) and H-Field probe connected to a Raspberry Pi 2B to pick up abnormalities in specific electromagnetic waves emitted by computers that are under attack, a technique the researchers say is used to "obtain precise knowledge about malware type and identity." The detection system then relies on Convolution Neural Networks (CNN) to determine whether the data gathered indicates the presence of a threat. Using this technique, researchers claims they could record 100,000 measurement traces from IoT devices infected by genuine malware samples, and predicted three generic and one benign malware class with an accuracy as high as 99.82%. Best of all, no software is needed and the device you're scanning doesn't need to be manipulated in any way. As such, bad actors won't be successful with their attempts to conceal malicious code from malware detection software using obfuscation techniques. "Our method does not require any modification on the target device. Thus, it can be deployed independently from the resources available without any overhead. Moreover, our approach has the advantage that it can hardly be detected and evaded by the malware authors," researchers wrote in the paper.

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'UltraRAM' Breakthrough Could Combine Memory and Storage Into One
Scientists from Lancaster University say that we might be close to combining SSDs and RAM into one component. "UltraRAM," as it's being called, is described as a memory technology which "combines the non-volatility of a data storage memory, like flash, with the speed, energy-efficiency, and endurance of a working memory, like DRAM." The researchers detailed the breakthrough in a recently published paper. Tom's Hardware reports: The fundamental science behind UltraRAM is that it uses the unique properties of compound semiconductors, commonly used in photonic devices such as LEDs, lasers, and infrared detectors can now be mass-produced on silicon. The researchers claim that the latest incarnation on silicon outperforms the technology as tested on Gallium Arsenide semiconductor wafers. Some extrapolated numbers for UltraRAM are that it will offer "data storage times of at least 1,000 years," and its fast switching speed and program-erase cycling endurance is "one hundred to one thousand times better than flash." Add these qualities to the DRAM-like speed, energy efficiency, and endurance, and this novel memory type sounds hard for tech companies to ignore. If you read between the lines above, you can see that UltraRAM is envisioned to break the divide between RAM and storage. So, in theory, you could use it as a one-shot solution to fill these currently separate requirements. In a PC system, that would mean you would get a chunk of UltraRAM, say 2TB, and that would cover both your RAM and storage needs. The shift, if it lives up to its potential, would be a great way to push forward with the popular trend towards in-memory processing. After all, your storage would be your memory -- with UltraRAM; it is the same silicon.

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PCI Express 6.0 Specification Finalized: x16 Slots To Reach 128GBps
PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) has released the much-awaited final (1.0) specification for PCI Express 6.0. From a report: The next generation of the ubiquitous bus is once again doubling the data rate of a PCIe lane, bringing it to 8GB/second in each direction -- and far, far higher for multi-lane configurations. With the final version of the specification now sorted and approved, the group expects the first commercial hardware to hit the market in 12-18 months, which in practice means it should start showing up in servers in 2023. First announced in the summer of 2019, PCI Express 6.0 is, as the name implies, the immediate follow-up to the current-generation PCIe 5.0 specification. Having made it their goal to keep doubling PCIe bandwidth roughly every 3 years, the PCI-SIG almost immediately set about work on PCIe 6.0 once the 5.0 specification was completed, looking at ways to once again double the bandwidth of PCIe. The product of those development efforts is the new PCIe 6.0 spec, and while the group has missed their original goal of a late 2021 release by mere weeks, today they are announcing that the specification has been finalized and is being released to the group's members. As always, the creation of an even faster version of PCIe technology has been driven by the insatiable bandwidth needs of the industry. The amount of data being moved by graphics cards, accelerators, network cards, SSDs, and other PCIe devices only continues to increase, and thus so must bus speeds to keep these devices fed. As with past versions of the standard, the immediate demand for the faster specification comes from server operators, whom are already regularly using large amounts of high-speed hardware. But in due time the technology should filter down to consumer devices (i.e. PCs) as well.

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Samsung No-showed On Its Major Exynos 2200 Launch
ArsTechnica: So here's a crazy story. Samsung was supposed to have a big SoC launch on Tuesday, but that launch did not happen. Samsung didn't cancel or delay the event. The January 11 date was announced, but when the time for the event came, nothing happened! Samsung pulled a no-call no-show for a major product launch. [...] The Exynos 2200 was (?) shaping up to be a major launch for Samsung. It is, after all, the first Samsung SoC with the headline-grabbing feature of having an AMD GPU. The two companies announced this deal a year ago, and we've been giddy about it ever since. The Exynos 2200 is (or was) going to debut in the Galaxy S22. That launch event is currently scheduled for February 8, assuming Samsung doesn't ghost everyone again.

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Chip Shortage Has Canon Telling Customers How To Defeat Its DRM
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For years, printers have been encumbered with digital rights management systems that prevent users from buying third-party ink and toner cartridges. Printer companies have claimed that their chip-enabled cartridges can "enhance the quality and performance" of their equipment, provide the "best consumer experience," and "protect [the printers] from counterfeit and third-party ink cartridges." Left unsaid is the fact that requiring first-party cartridges also ensures a recurring revenue stream. It's an old business model -- Gillette sold its razor handles cheaply to sell more razors, for example -- and it's one that printer companies have enthusiastically embraced. Lexmark, HP, Canon, Brother, and others all effectively require users to purchase first-party ink and toner. To enforce the use of first-party cartridges, manufacturers typically embed chips inside the consumables for the printers to "authenticate." But when chips are in short supply, like today, manufacturers can find themselves in a bind. So Canon is now telling German customers how to defeat its printers' warnings about third-party cartridges. "Due to the worldwide continuing shortage of semiconductor components, Canon is currently facing challenges in procuring certain electronic components that are used in our consumables for our multifunction printers (MFP)," a Canon support website says in German. "In order to ensure a continuous and reliable supply of consumables, we have decided to supply consumables without a semiconductor component until the normal supply takes place again." [...] The software on these printers comes with a relatively simple way to defeat the chip checks. Depending on the model, when an error message occurs after inserting toner, users can press either "I Agree," "Close," or "OK." When users press that button, the world does not end. Rather, Canon says users may find that their toner cartridge doesn't give them a low-toner warning before running empty. "Although there are no negative effects on print quality when consumables are used without electronic components, certain additional functions, such as the detection of the toner level, may be impaired," Canon's support site says.

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