Pulkit Chandna

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AMD’s A-Series 64-bit ARM Server SoCs Begin Sampling; Launch Set for Fourth Quarter

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Opteron A1100

Opteron A1100 chips support up to eight 28nm Cortex A57 cores

AMD began sampling its Opteron A1100 64-bit ARM processors (codenamed “Seattle”) last month, the chipmaker announced during its first quarter financial results conference call Thursday. Hailing it as a key milestone “in our ambidextrous strategy,” AMD CEO Rory Read said that the company planned to begin shipping the chips in the final quarter of 2014.

"We have introduced Seattle, our first 64-bit ARM server processor and the industry's first at 28nm technology, positioning AMD as the only SoC provider to bridge the x86 and ARM ecosystems for server applications," Read said. "We're catching it just as the wave is forming. This is going to be an important market over the next three, five, 10 years."

Meanwhile, Lisa Su, AMD's SVP and GM of global business units, talked of the immense interest Seattle has managed to inspire in customers. But even she isn’t sure how much of that interest will actually translate into revenue for the beleaguered company. "Relative to revenue, it's probably too early to tell what's going to happen in 2015,” she said, “but I'd say the interest in the platform is quite high.”

“I think the important thing for us and what we're working with the customers on is platform development and software development and ensuring that we get some of the ecosystem there.”

When asked about Seattle finding its way into SeaMicro systems, Su had this to say: “One of the advantages of having a systems business is that we can do co-development between our chip development and our systems development. So it will be quite important for us to have Seattle in SeaMicro systems, and that’s in development.” However, she refused to put a date on the launch of such SeaMicro Fabric servers, clarifying that the “Q4 statement was a chip statement.”

The upcoming 64-bit ARM-based server SoCs (system-on-chip) from AMD will be available with four or eight ARMv8-based Cortex A57 cores, up to 4MB of shared Level 2 cache, 8MB of shared Level 3 cache, eight PCI-Express Gen 3 lanes, two 10 GB/s Ethernet, and eight SATA 3 ports. Further, the A-series chips support up to 128GB of DDR3 or DDR4 ECC memory as unbuffered DIMMs, registered DIMMs or SODIMMs.

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Vast Majority of Top Sites No Longer Vulnerable to Heartbleed

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Heartbleed

Over 20,000 top sites still vulnerable

Many a heart skipped a beat when it emerged earlier this month that millions of web servers around the world were vulnerable to a yawning hole in the open-source OpenSSL cryptographic software library. The discovery sent IT execs and web admins around the world scampering to plug the hole. Ten days after coverage of Heartbleed first began, security research firm Sucuri decided to scan the Internet’s top one million websites (as ranked by Alexa) to see how many of them were still vulnerable.

“After 10 days of massive coverage, we expected to see every server out there patched against it. To confirm our expectations, we scanned every web site listed in the Alexa top 1 million rank,” Sucuri CTO Daniel Cid wrote in a blog post Thursday. “Yes, we scanned the top web sites in the world to see how many were still infected.”

Here’s what the firm found: “We were glad to see that the top 1,000 sites in the world were all properly patched, and that just 0.53% of the top 10k still had issues. However, as we went to less popular (and smaller) sites, the number of unpatched servers grew to 2%. That is not surprising, but we expected better.”

If you are a website owner, Sucuri suggests that you use this website to check whether or not your site is affected and, in case it is, to patch the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability post-haste.

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Canonical Rolls Out Ubuntu 14.04

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Trusty Tahr Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Move over Precise Pangolin and Windows XP, Trusty Tahr is here

The Ubuntu team recently announced the release of what is only the fifth long-term support (LTS) version of the popular Linux distro. In keeping with the current Ubuntu release cycle, this latest LTS release, dubbed Ubuntu 14.04 “Trusty Tahr”, comes two years after the last one.

One look at the accompanying release notes is all it takes for one to realize that Trusty Tahr is as much about burnishing existing functionality as it is about paving the way for, as Canonical put it in its press release, “true convergence across desktop, phone and tablet.” Although Ubuntu Touch 14.04, notable for being the first to support the tablet form-factor, is still not a supported release and only available as a separate download from the desktop flavor, Canonical’s ultimate aim is to combine the two.

"Full convergence means that the same code for operating systems and applications will be running on all types of devices, from phones to tablets to desktops, and even both smaller and larger devices," Ubuntu’s engineering VP Rick Spencer told ArsTechnica in a statement. "Convergence is still a work in progress, and we will continue to move the code to the desktop as it is ready in each release."

According to the company, the first commercially available Ubuntu tablets, whenever they become available, will be based on 14.04 LTS. As for those of you who just can’t wait any longer, you’ll be happy to note that you can install the latest version of Ubuntu Touch on the Nexus 10, Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 4 right now.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, which includes version 3.13 of the Linux kernel, also packs a number of improvements on the desktop front, including support for high-DPI screens, the option to choose the application menu position, a redesigned application spread, and some new window decorations.

All in all, Canonical feels, 14.04 LTS has enough to be a good replacement for Windows XP. Here’s what Canonical CEO Jane Silber said in a press release: “The 14.04 LTS release offers a solid, intuitive experience which is easy to manage. It is a viable and affordable alternative for those organisations considering a switch from Microsoft, and specifically those replacing XP or Windows 7 as they come to the end of life.”

“Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is the first long-term support release with support for the new 'arm64' architecture for 64-bit ARM systems, as well as the 'ppc64el' architecture for little-endian 64-bit POWER systems. This release also includes several subtle but welcome improvements to Unity, AppArmor, and a host of other great software,” the Ubuntu team wrote in a recent blog post.

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PC Gaming is in Rude Health, Concludes PC Gamer PAX East Panel

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PAX East PC Gamer Panel

Panel discussion delves into the future of PC gaming

Our sister publication PC Gamer on Friday convened a star-studded, four-man panel at the ongoing Boston PAX East conference to discuss the future of PC gaming (see video below). The starry quartet, comprising Nvidia director of technical marketing Tom Petersen, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey, PlanetSide 2 creative director Matt Higby and Star Citizen creator Chris Roberts, touched on a wide range of issues, including the prospects of streaming games and Microsoft’s role in the future of PC gaming.

The first thing to come up for discussion was the rise of cloud-based streaming games and its implications for traditional gaming. Nvidia’s Tom Petersen was of the view that the general direction of PC gaming’s evolution is towards it becoming a “much more cloud-oriented experience,” with both public and personal cloud game streaming gaining in popularity in the future.

The panel moderator, Evan Lahti (US editor-in-chief of PC Gamer), evoked widespread laughter from those in attendance when he jokingly asked Petersen if he was suggesting that people “won’t have to buy a graphics card in the future.” Meanwhile, Luckey and Roberts were equally unconvinced. Identifying latency associated with remotely rendered games as a major deal breaker, Roberts, an avowed 4K aficionado, said he as a PC gamer wants the best experience possible and that is something he doesn’t see cloud gaming delivering anytime soon.

The panel then proceeded to discuss some of the obstacles to delivering better gaming experiences on the PC. According to Higby, overcoming hardware fragmentation remains one of the biggest challenges from a developer’s standpoint. However, he also credited this variety — a byproduct of the immense control PC owners wield over their hardware — for making the PC a truly special gaming platform.

The PlanetSide 2 dev then broached the topic of piracy, noting that it continues to decline as digital distribution becomes more widespread. Others on the panel concurred, attributing the decline to the fact that it is now becoming more convenient to buy a game than to pirate it. Of course, the lesser the piracy, as Higby put it, “the more you can run a company off of the games you’re making.” Speaking of the economics of PC gaming, Petersen pointed out that it is currently estimated to be a $24 billion a year industry.

As soon as Lahiti asked the panel if they thought PC gaming would continue to be essentially Windows gaming, Luckey quipped, “Yeah, don’t you remember Games for Windows Live?” This prompted a discussion on Microsoft’s contribution to PC gaming.  While Petersen and Rogers lauded Redmond for some of things it is doing with DX12, the general consensus was that it needs to do a lot more to prevent gamers from abandoning Windows for Linux.

Image Credit: PC Gamer

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YouTube’s Rumored Paid Music Service Allegedly Delayed

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YouTube Music Streaming Service

Was originally rumored for a late 2013 launch

YouTube has been rumored to be prepping a premium on-demand music service since October 2013. Initially rumored for a late 2013 release, there is still no sign of the music streaming service. According to Billboard, which was the first to report on the yet unconfirmed service last year, the launch has been pushed back to “the second quarter or later”

The delay, per a senior label executive Billboard talked to, is on account of YouTube’s refusal to launch anything short of a great product. "They feel that there's just too much scrutiny of this product, and that they need to get it right out of the gate," the executive was quoted as saying by Bloomberg Thursday.

Chief among the challenges YouTube is grappling with are: figuring out the best possible way of dealing with songs that have no official videos and, more importantly, getting people to pay for something they’re used to getting for free. As for the visual treatment of video-less songs, the company is currently gravitating toward “art videos” — those made up of random pictures and videos. But with YouTube allegedly hoping to charge users up to $10-a-month for the premium service without it impacting the way non-paying users currently use the site, the latter is clearly a lot trickier.

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