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Wednesday Afternoon (3 Comments) (link)
 Wednesday, 3-January-2024  17:28:25 (GMT +10) - by Agg

Here's an interesting article comparing a Cray 1 Supercomputer with modern devices. In 1978, the Cray 1 supercomputer cost $7 Million, weighed 10,500 pounds and had a 115 kilowatt power supply. It was, by far, the fastest computer in the world. The Raspberry Pi costs around $70 (CPU board, case, power supply, SD card), weighs a few ounces, uses a 5 watt power supply and is more than 4.5 times faster than the Cray 1.

Also from the pages of history, this story of the secret father of modern computing. This is the story of Ed Roberts, the man who created the personal computer, launched the careers of Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak, and decided—at the height of his success—to walk away. It is based on archival video interviews with Roberts, Gates, Steve Wozniak, and many of the other key figures involved. I also draw on written accounts by Forrest Mims, Paul Allen, and others who were there; contemporary publications, such as Dr. Dobbs Journal and Popular Electronics; and books like Fire in the Valley and Endless Loop: A History of Basic.

We don't often consider the environmental impact of new operating systems, but MUTMAN sent in this report that ending support for Windows 10 could send 240M PCs to landfill. Microsoft announced a plan to provide security updates for Windows 10 devices until October 2028 for an undisclosed annual price. If the pricing structure for extended Windows 10 support mirrors past trends, migrating to newer PCs could be more cost-effective, increasing the number of older PCs heading to scrap, Canalys said. Microsoft aims to discontinue support for Windows 10 by October 2025. The next generation of the OS, anticipated to bring advanced artificial intelligence technology to PCs, could potentially boost the sluggish PC market. Still happily using Windows 10 on this PC and my two (work/home) laptops.

Also from MUTMAN, this story about chatbots jailbreaking chatbots. The method used to jailbreak an AI chatbot, as devised by NTU researchers, is called Masterkey. It is a two-fold method where the attacker would reverse engineer an LLM's defense mechanisms. Then, with this acquired data, the attacker would teach another LLM to learn how to create a bypass. This way, a 'Masterkey' is created and used to attack fortified LLM chatbots, even if later patched by developers. Like professors using AI to spot students using AI, or the stockmarket, how long until it's all just bots vs bots out there? :)

IntelInside meanwhile sent in this advanced iPhone exploit campaign. Researchers on Wednesday presented intriguing new findings surrounding an attack that over four years backdoored dozens if not thousands of iPhones, many of which belonged to employees of Moscow-based security firm Kaspersky. Chief among the discoveries: the unknown attackers were able to achieve an unprecedented level of access by exploiting a vulnerability in an undocumented hardware feature that few if anyone outside of Apple and chip suppliers such as ARM Holdings knew of.

Intel, Samsung and TSMC are racing to create the the first 2nm chip. “Samsung sees 2 nanometer as a game-changer,” said James Lim, analyst at US hedge fund Dalton Investments. “But people are still doubtful it can execute the migration better than TSMC.”

On a related note, the big 3 are all also working on 3D-stacked transistors, thanks MUTMAN. In the FinFET, the gate controls the flow of current through a vertical silicon fin. In the nanosheet device, that fin is cut into a set of ribbons, each of which is surrounded by the gate. The CFET essentially takes a taller stack of ribbons and uses half for one device and half for the other. This device, as Intel engineers explained in the December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum, builds the two types of transistor—nFETs and pFETs—on top of each other in a single, integrated process.

If you wanted to start 2024 off with a fight, apparently we're all building our PCs wrong. Before I dive too deep into my theory, I wanted to bring up some historical context and even directly reference some of my motherboard reviews. This will help you understand why this is such a big deal and why the Computer Hardware Enthusiast community is to blame.

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All original content copyright James Rolfe. All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without written permission.