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Those taking a shot each time Huawei uttered the phrase "US sanctions" during the opening of it's 2021 Global Analyst Summit would have been sozzled as the company laid a host of ills at the doorstep of Uncle Sam's "entity list". Eric Xu, Huawei's rotating chairman, said this morning he did not hold out much hope that things might change under the Biden administration and warned delegates that he expects the company to remain sat on the naughty step "for a very long time." Xu also blamed US sanctions for the current chip shortage. "Because of the sanctions, we are seeing panic-stockpiling by Chinese companies," he said, telling attendees Huawei estimates that anywhere from three to six months' worth of supply had been snapped up by firms fearful of suffering the same fate as Huawei. Huawei's 2020 financials tied to fortunes of Chinese clients as non-domestic biz shrinks READ MORE In an industry used to a just-in-time approach, such stockpiling can indeed cause the odd supply-chain hiccup or two. The US first instituted sanctions against the company in 2019, when the Trump administration placed Huawei and 70 or so affiliates on its entity list, which has effectively blocked the Chinese business from buying components from American companies and doing business with any American firms without the US government's approval. Also as a result of those sanctions, Xu noted the decline in the company's mobile phone business, although he talked up Harmony OS, which Huawei now reckons is now placed third behind the likes of Android and its ilk. He also highlighted a a greater focus on wearables and smart screens as an alternative to smartphones. Last month, although Huawei did not break out revenue streams, it noted a significant drop in smartphone sales due to supply chain woes in its calendar 2020 results. Even in China, Huawei's smartphone sales fell 13 per cent in the period (to 123.3 million units according to Canalys). Globally, Huawei smartphone sales were down 22 per cent to 188.5 million for the year. In the short term, however, Huawei must eke out its inventory as best it can until an alternative to the silicon it needs is available. Xu stated that the company could meet its current B2B needs, but warned that "does not mean [the inventory] will last for a long time." He also noted that Huawei was a big buyer of chipsets (the third behind Samsung and Apple) and held out hope that the size of China's market meant that some self-reliance would be on the cards before long. Xu hoped that suppliers would find a way to remain compliant with the US sanctions while also topping up Huawei's inventory. Absolutely fab: As TSMC invests $100bn to address chip shortage, where does that leave the rest of the industry? READ MORE American pressure on Huawei’s suppliers in 2020 made it impossible for the company’s HiSilicon chip division to keep making Kirin chipsets, according to reports. Its relationship with TSMC, which previously produced most of its chips, was severed in 2020 and Huawei remains cut off from other suppliers in the chip foundry sector due to its position on the Entity List. Complaining about "unwarranted" US sanctions a
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After Oracle announced plans to relocate its headquarters from California to Texas, CTO and founder Larry Ellison said he would not be coming along. But he has picked a spot to be a little closer at hand, buying a place in Florida. Yes, if reports are anything to go by, the man of many v-neck sweaters has added to his sizeable property portfolio with the purchase of an $80m Palm Beach mansion overlooking the ocean in the gated Seminole Landing neighbourhood. The mansion – built in the Tuscan style named as being more loathed by architects than even mock-Tudor – was purchased from G
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GTC Nvidia has created a pair of small data-center-friendly GPUs because it doesn’t think customers will get into AI acceleration unless they can use the servers they already operate. The new models – the A10 and A30 – require one and two full-height full-length PCIe slots, respectively. Both employ the Ampere architecture Nvidia uses on its other graphics processors. But both are rather smaller than the company’s other GPUs, and that matters in the context of the recently launched AI Enterprise bundle that Nvidia packages exclusively on VMware’s vSphere. Before VMware got ex
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British AI-powered infosec biz Darktrace is to go public in England's capital city, the company told the London Stock Exchange this morning. Sky News reported last night that chief exec Poppy Gustafsson is expected to make around £20m from the initial public offering, with shares trading on Darktrace expected to open “at around the end of this month.” A filing lodged with the London Stock Exchange and published on its website stated that Darktrace’s revenues were $199.1m in fiscal year 2020 with a claimed compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58.3 per cent between 2018 and 2020. “The majority of senior management has been with Darktrace since inception, including its Chief Executive Officer, Poppy Gustafsson OBE” boasted the filing as it quoted the chief exec saying: “Developed by our talented software engineering teams in Cambridge, our artificial intelligence was the first on the market to be deployed at-scale in the enterprise, and today is responsible for protecting over 4,700 organizations worldwide from the most sophisticated cyber-threats.” The statement made no mention at all of the fact that Darktrace was heavily backed by Mike Lynch, former chief exec of Cambridge-headquartered software business Autonomy; indeed, Gustafsson was Lynch's colleague at the controversial firm before she and fellow Autonomy alumnus Nicole Eagan founded Darktrace. Lynch, as reported by El Reg over the past few years, is currently being pursued for several billion by Hewlett Packard Enterprise over allegations that he deliberately published falsehoods overstating Autonomy’s revenues, including by presenting multi-year sales and support deals as upfront lump sums. These alleged irregularities caused HPE to write down Autonomy’s value by $8.8bn after buying the British firm in August 2011. Tellingly, in light of the Autonomy-shaped shadow looming over it, Darktrace’s “expected intention to float” document includes the statement: “Revenues are primarily derived from prior period billings recorded as deferred revenue to be recognised in future periods.” Lynch’s involvement also caused a minor fuss back in February when Swiss bank UBS declared it would no longer work on the IPO after the US government launched extradition proceedings against Lynch. The US also accused Lynch of paying “hush money” to ex-Autonomy personnel by
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In Brief A year-long investigation into Clearview, the dodgy facial recognition startup, has revealed how its software has been used by over 1,800 public agencies in an attempt to identify over 7,000 people from 2018 to 2020. The data collected by BuzzFeed News showed just how haphazardly the machine learning software was used. In an attempt to win customer contracts, Clearview gave out free trials to public agencies, including law enforcement and even places, like the Department of Fish and Wildlife in Washington and Minnesota’s Commerce Fraud Bureau. Employees could apparently use the technology on whomever they wanted, whether they were trying to identify a suspect in a criminal case or students at universities. In one case that was particularly disturbing, police officers in Alameda, California continued to use Clearview's tools although the local City Council voted to ban the use of public facial recognition tools in 2019. AI algorithms aren’t perfect, and particularly struggle with correctly identifying women and people of colour. The data has been compiled into a handy searchable database. Google AI Research manager resigns after org is reshuffled The manager that oversaw Google’s AI ethics unit, which has seen two researchers pushed out, has resigned. Samy Bengio, a well-known name in the academic world of machine learning, has become the most senior member of the Chocolate Factory to leave after it controversially ousted Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell. Although Bengio did not explicitly say why he decided to leave in an email to his colleagues, he hinted at the recent fiasco, where Google fired its Ethical AI team co-leads over a paper that was critical about massive language models. “I learned so much with all of you, in terms of machine learning research of course, but also on how difficult yet important it is to organize a large team of researchers so as to promote long term ambitious research, exploration, rigor, diversity and inclusion,” he wrote, according to Bloomberg. Google has since reshuffled the management of its AI research teams. Intel’s AI chips are going into a new academic supercomputer Chipzilla's own-brand machine learning chips will be used to build Voyager, a new supercomputer for the University of California, San Diego, and it's expected to be up and running later this year. Intel has been trying to give Nvidia a run for its money by developing its own training and inference chips to challenge the GPU. But it fell woefully behind and abandoned previous attempts led by Nervana, a startup it acquired in 2016. It later snapped up Habana, another AI hardware startup in 2019, and it was out with the old and in with the new. Now, it appears some of Intel’s or, rather, Habana’s hard work is paying off. “The Voyager supercomputer will use Habana’s unique interconnectivity technology to efficiently scale AI capacity with 336 Gaudi processors for training and 16 Habana Goya processors for AI inference,” the company said in a statement. It’s difficult to work out just how good these chips really are, however, an Intel representative declined to comment on the performan
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In case you hadn't noticed, Prince Philip, aka the Duke of Edinburgh, aka the Queen's hubby, aka Stavros, shuffled off this mortal coil on Friday and thus the UK entered a period of "national mourning". Far from citizens taking to the streets and screaming at the sky, fists balled in anguish, most folk are pretty chill about the passing of the nation's slightly inappropriate grandad, who missed hitting a century by about two months. This collective "mourning" was nowhere more keenly felt than on nationalrail.co.uk, whose overlords deemed it necessary to render the train booking website in greyscale as a tribute to Phil. There's your sort-of-IT angle. But far from the maudlin design choice inspiring bittersweet memories of that time when Prince Phil told a 13-year-old kid he was "too fat to be an astronaut", it instead invoked the ire of visually impaired users. Indeed, some of the Reg readers who got in touch insisted that "a black and white colour scheme for everything" was an absolutely dreadful idea, especially "if you can't see clearly ([and] especially when things like bold text and links can become indistinguishable)." "As a mark of respect for the passing of an elderly gentleman, they've stopped any other folk with failing eyesight from using the site." National Rail went hard on the damage control this morning, deleting some tweets and pinning this message to the top of its feed: The National Rail website has been temporarily greyscaled as a mark of respect following the death of HRH Duke of Edinburgh. We are listening to feedback about how people are using the website and are making further changes today to make it more accessible to all our customers. — National Rail (@nationalrailenq) April 12, 2021 And what, pray, might that feedback include? "Looking to book a train ticket and... struggling with it in greyscale," said one visitor. "@nationalrailenq why's it gone black and white? Thanks." To which the service's Twitter wrangler responded: "Hello, we've put our website into black and white as mark of respect for Prince Phillip [sic] who passed away last week. Do you need any help with your booking?" "Oh okay, is there a way to change it back please? Finding it very hard to use..." "I don't think there is I'm afraid. We're keeping the grey-scale until the end of the week I think... Sorry for the inconvenience of all this." Others were less forgiving. Sorry, but this is objectively insane. — James Cherry (@lechuzzles) April 12, 2021 How about showing a mark of respect for your living, visually-impaired customers? Just a thought. — Amy T 💙 (@JolinarSG1) April 12, 2021 Just going to be really direct, you are actively making your website more difficult for disabled people to use, and that's not a worthwhile trade off to make. — Laura Kate Dale (@LaurakBuzz) April 12, 2021 Oh dear. But the fix was pretty simple – ad/tracker blockers. Yes, while researching this story (read: laughing at the Twitter bloodbath), it took us a minute to figure out what everyone was going on about because nationalrail.co.uk looked its usual full-colour mess to us. It was only when we switched off our "shields" on the Brave b
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Logowatch It has been a busy couple of months for creatives toiling away in IBM's strategy boutique but the team has conjured marketing magic with a scintillating new brand name that will head up the breakaway Global Technology Services unit. Kyndryl. Whisper it again. Kyndryl. It will be synonymous with quality tech infrastructure services, Big Blue promises. GTS will be spun out into a newly traded public entity in 2021 that until today's daring rebrand was simply known as New Co. "Kyndryl evokes the spirit of true partnership and growth," said Martin Schroeter, CEO at Kyndryl, which is definitely not a rural family dental practice with a sense of humour. "Customers around the worl
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The FreeBSD project will offer "Tier 1" support to 64-bit ARM processors in FreeBSD 13.0, expected to be released shortly. The only other Tier 1 platform is AMD64. FreeBSD defines four tiers of platform support, with only Tier 1 fully supported for production use. Tier 1 architectures have official release images and full documentation. There is also a commitment that changes to the main tree of source code must not "knowingly break the build of a Tier 1 platform." Tier 2 platforms are for developmental and niche architectures, or those reaching end of life. In FreeBSD 13, 32-bit x86 has been demoted to Tier 2 from Tier 1. There is a big difference: Tier 2 platforms are "not supporte
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The results are in for an IBM initiative launched last June to find and replace internal outdated and biased IT terminology. A GitHub post from Dale Davis Jones, vice president and Distinguished Engineer at IBM Global Technical Services, reveals which terms will be switched out. The changed terms include: old term new term Chinese wall firewall or ethical wall man hour / man day person hour / person day segregation separation or segmentation white hat hacker offensive security researcher black hat hacker attacker master (when paired with slave) controller, leader, manager, main, coordinator, parent or primary slave worker, child, helper, replica, follower or
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In case you hadn't noticed, Prince Philip, aka the Duke of Edinburgh, aka the Queen's hubby, aka Stavros, shuffled off this mortal coil on Friday and thus the UK entered a period of "national mourning". Far from citizens taking to the streets and screaming at the sky, fists balled in anguish, most folk are pretty chill about the passing of the nation's slightly inappropriate grandad, who missed hitting a century by about two months. This collective "mourning" was nowhere more keenly felt than on nationalrail.co.uk, whose overlords deemed it necessary to render the train booking website in greyscale as a tribute to Phil. There's your sort-of-IT angle. But far from the maudl
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Column You won't be paying an Oracle tax on your next Android phone. After 10 years of Big Red claiming dibs on Android internals and Google telling them to GTFO, the legals have finally been settled by the US Supreme Court. Google has won. The case was in many ways a classic troll. Way back when, Google thought Java SE would be a good platform to build its new Android phone around. That didn't work out, thank your favourite deity, so Google wrote its own platform with just enough Java structure to bring caffeinated programmers – of whom there were millions – along for the ride. Everyone was happy until Oracle turned up. It fancied a new revenue line for the profit centre it call
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Feature Times change, and so has the www. Cast your mind back 20 years. Web pages used to be svelte little things, really just text and images, with the occasional Flash banner ad thrown in for good measure. Now, they're applications, with even the simplest of pages buried under a mountain of JavaScript. We could argue all day over whether this is a necessary evil or a cancer on the modern internet. One thing is certain: the march of time has rendered the web all but inaccessible to older (yet still functional) machines. One new project aims to change that, translating the cacophony of the modern web to something that can be comprehended by the most early of web browsers.
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The UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) has strongly denied it hands census data over to police and law enforcement agencies – and claims it has "never" handed personal information to the security services. In a Freedom of Information Act response published on its website, the ONS came out fighting when a member of the public asked if the stats agency handed personal data from the UK census to law enforcement bodies. Concern has swirled for years about the security of census data, both from ne'er-do-wells and state snoopers looking to expand their little empires. With the British government's finely honed instinct for casually repurposing data collected for good reasons into something completely different, it's right that people want to know that data innocently handed to the government isn't going to be turned against them later on. Somebody asked whether this 2011 commentary on the census by Amberhawk Training was still accurate 10 years later. It highlighted how census data could be lawfully purloined by government agencies for their own purposes. Uncompromisingly, the ONS replied: The UKSA [Statistic Authority], the ONS and the National Statistician will never volunteer to disclose personal information for any non-statistical purpose. If disclosure is sought, such as through a court order, the UKSA and the National Statistician will always refuse to allow it, and will contest the case to the maximum extent possible under the law, using each stage of appeal in the Courts if necessary, in order to ensure statistical confidentiality; and will do so in an open, public and transparent manner, to the extent permitted under the law. Not only that, the agency said it had "never passed information onto the security services." Such an unambiguous response is exceedingly rare from any organ of the British state – and is all the more welcome for it. The law is section 39 of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. Subsection 4 lists all the occasions on which the state can help itself to census data for any reason other than counting how many people are at home on a given day, including for "criminal investigation" or to "approve
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Who, Me? We return to the Cold War in today's Who, Me? Start your week with suspected sabotage, computer sleuthery, and a satisfying slug of Grand Marnier deep in the heart of 1970s Москва. It was 1978 and our reader was working for a firm that had just sold a computer to the company that manufactured the Moskvitch. Sadly now defunct, the Moskvitch was the must-have car of the time for citizens of the Soviet Union (officially, at least). Despite being the butt of a thousand jokes, demand for the vehicle outstripped supply and people found themselves with a substantial wait before they could get their hands on the rear-wheel-drive engineering marvel. Our reader, who was initially Regomised as "Boris", but whom we've opted to call "Ivan Ivanovich" was sent to the site to investigate multiple mysterious system crashes. A bit of background: a bespoke application known as "the 'Quality Control' system" ran on this computer. "It was actually a messaging system," Ivan explained, "whereby inspectors at the end of the line could send messages to assembly stations, such as 'rear door installed upside down.' I know it seems laughable now, but at that time, this was big business." However, there were problems. The system crashed at least once per shift, causing delay
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Evidence is thin, but Natanz enrichment facility is offline Iran has admitted that one of its nuclear facilities went offline over the weekend, and a single report claiming Israeli cyber-weapons were the cause has been widely accepted as a credible explanation for the incident. Iran on Sunday published this announcement that said an “accident” impacted the “electricity distribution network” at its Natanz enrichment facility. The facility was inaugurated the previous day, and is thought to have the capability to enrich Uranium and to represent capacity for uses prohibited under the US/Iran nuclear deal. The Trump administration tore up that deal, but the Biden administration hoped to revisit the pact. Iranian officials have said that whatever hit Natanz was an act of “nuclear terrorism”. The Register can find no indication that any radioactive material has been exposed. Few nations like the idea of Iran enhancing its nuclear capabilities, but Israel is implacably opposed to the idea. In 1981 Israel bombed a nuclear plant in the early stages of construction and in the early 2000s 2010 is thought to have collaborated on the Stuxnet worm that eventually damaged centrifuges used to refine nuclear materials at Natanz. Iranian contractor named as Stuxnet 'patient zero' READ MORE Not long after the news of this weekend’s electrical incident, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation reported that intelligence sources had told its reporters the accident was in fact a cyber-attack. The Corporation is an independent public broadcaster. But the say-so of just one of the Corporation’s shows is all the evidence that Israel had any hand in the attack. While Israel does not comment on such matters officially, Israeli politicians have claimed that Natanz was more badly damaged than Iran is letting on. Iran says it is investigating the cause incident and will announce its findings in due course. ®
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Alibaba has humbly accepted that it broke China's antitrust laws and will pay a colossal fine. Chinese authorities fined Alibaba Group US$2.77B on Saturday, the largest antitrust penalty Beijing has ever issued. The fine represents four percent of Alibaba's most recent full-year earnings. China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) issued a statement detailing Alibaba's transgressions and its investigation. “Since 2015, Alibaba Group has abused its dominant position in the market and has imposed ‘choose one out of two’ requirements on merchants on the platform,” said SAMR. SAMR said Alibaba's rules prohibited merchants from opening stores or participating in promotional activities on rival platforms. SAMR also claimed Alibaba used market forces, platform rules and data, algorithms, and a variety of rewards and punishment measures to gain an unfair advantage. Alibaba did not dispute the facts or contest the fine. “We accept the penalty with sincerity and will ensure our compliance with determination,” said the letter on Alibaba's company news website. The letter described internet platform economies as “new economic structures created out of the latest cycle of technological revolution” and therefore ahead of regulation Alibaba stated: In addition to the fine, the e-commerce giant was given 15 days to deliver a report explaining to SAMR how it will correct its violations, then submit three annual self-evaluating compliance reports. Public disclosure of its compliance efforts was strongly recommended. On a conference call today, CEO Daniel Zhang said he did not expect any material impact from the forced changes to Alibaba’s exclusivity arrangements. While this initially seems like a placating statement, it comes with some credibility given Alibaba’s growth: between 2015 and 2019, Alibaba's average annual growth rate was 24.1 percent and the Taobao and Tmall services it operates account for over 50 percent of the total online retail merchandise transactions in China. China commenced investigations of the e-commerce giant's business strategies in December 20202. In March, the group was told to sell some of its
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India’s Software Freedom Law Center has assisted an open-source developer and advocate to challenge the nation’s new Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code on grounds it imposes unfair burdens on developers. A petition [PDF] to the Kerala High Court filed by Praveen Arimbrathodiyil, a free and open-source software (FOSS) developer, former Pirate Party candidate, and volunteer member of the Free Software Community of India, points out that numerous open-source projects are covered by the new Code. Arimbrathodiyil’s petition argues that software such as the open Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP), or the Diaspora messaging tool, could therefore covered by the new code’s requirement for users to be identifiable by Indian authorities and for messag
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America's plan to compete with China includes a call for the land of the free to dominate tech standards bodies, especially for 5G, and to appoint an ambassador level official to lead a new “Technology Partnership Office” that Washington will use to drive tech collaboration among like-minded nations. Released last Thursday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and expected to have bipartisan support, the draft Strategic Competition Act of 2021 offers 281 pages of policy aimed at “ensuring the United States is postured to compete with China for decades to come,” in the words of ranking member US Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho). The bill [PDF] devotes a section to “digital technology and connectivity,” the first item of which is a “statement of policy on leadership in
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