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charlesarthur : chip   10

How I lost and regained control of my microchip implant • Motherboard
Daniel Oberhaus:
<p>The NFC chip I got injected in my hand was made by Dangerous Things, a biohacking company started by Amal Graafstra that has also pioneered DIY biometric guns. Graafstra has been selling these chips since he raised $30,000 in a crowdfunding campaign in 2014. The chip is encased in a small glass tube that’s a little under a half an inch in length and just two millimeters in diameter. This tube is injected into the soft flesh between your thumb and index finger just above the webbing. When you hold your hand in certain positions, the outline of the chip can just barely be seen pushing against the skin.

The actual process of getting the implant went off without a hitch, but things quickly devolved after that. The thing about NFC chips is that anyone with a reader can also write to the device if it is not protected. While this isn’t exactly a huge security threat, given that someone would have to get the reader within several centimeters of your hand to write to the chip, when you’re at the world’s largest hacker conference it’s better to play it safe.

So, at the urging of everyone at the implant station, the first thing I did with my implant was secure it with a four-digit pin. I hadn’t decided what sort of data I wanted to put on the chip, but I sure as hell didn’t want someone else to write to my chip first and potentially lock me out. I chose the same pin that I used for my phone so I wouldn’t forget it in the morning—or at least, I thought I did.

If I had a single piece of advice for anyone thinking about getting an NFC chip implant it would be to do it sober. For starters, the piercer probably won’t even give you the implant if they suspect you’re intoxicated for reasons involving consent and safety (alcohol thins your blood, which is also why you shouldn’t get a tattoo while drunk.) But more importantly, you won’t wake up the next morning with a splitting headache and absolutely no idea how to unlock your hand.</p>

It's basically like getting a hi-tech tattoo, isn't it? Except you set off airport security systems forever.
Nfc  chip  implant  cyborg 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Thousands of Swedes are inserting microchips under their skin • NPR
Maddy Savage:
<p>The chips are designed to speed up users' daily routines and make their lives more convenient — accessing their homes, offices and gyms is as easy as swiping their hands against digital readers.

They also can be used to store emergency contact details, social media profiles or e-tickets for events and rail journeys within Sweden.

Proponents of the tiny chips say they're safe and largely protected from hacking, but one scientist is raising privacy concerns around the kind of personal health data that might be stored on the devices.

Around the size of a grain of rice, the chips typically are inserted into the skin just above each user's thumb, using a syringe similar to that used for giving vaccinations. The procedure costs about $180.

So many Swedes are lining up to get the microchips that the country's main chipping company says it can't keep up with the number of requests.

More than 4,000 Swedes have adopted the technology, with one company, Biohax International, dominating the market. The chipping firm was started five years ago by Jowan Osterlund, a former professional body piercer.</p>

RFID chips (thus passive). Who's going to be able to read it, though? Anyone? Where's the privacy? Could you put RFID readers everywhere?
sweden  rfid  chip 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
Facebook is forming a team to design its own chips • Bloomberg
Mark Gurman, Ian King and Sarah Frier:
<p>Facebook is building a team to design its own semiconductors, adding to a trend among technology companies to supply themselves and lower their dependence on chipmakers such as Intel and Qualcomm, according to job listings and people familiar with the matter.

The social media company is seeking to hire a manager to build an “end-to-end SoC/ASIC, firmware and driver development organization,” according to a job listing on its corporate website, indicating the effort is still in its early stages.

The Menlo Park, California-based company would join other technology giants tackling the massive effort to develop chips. In 2010, Apple started shipping its own chips and now uses them across many of its major product lines. Alphabet’s Google has developed its own artificial intelligence chip as well.

Facebook could use such chips to power hardware devices, artificial intelligence software and servers in its data centers. Next month, the company will launch the Oculus Go, a $200 standalone virtual-reality headset that runs on a Qualcomm processor. Facebook is also working on a slew of smart speakers. Future generations of those devices could be improved by custom chipsets. By using its own processors, the company would have finer control over product development and would be able to better tune its software and hardware together.

Facebook declined to comment on the job postings.</p>

Most likely it's trying to save power in its data centres by going for ARM designs. I'm a tiny bit wary of this story, for no better reason than that it has three authors. In my experience that means different people chucking in different pieces; it's not the same as a single person tracking down an interesting lead. And it can also mean misinterpretation.
facebook  chip 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
Apple is working on a dedicated chip to power AI on devices • Bloomberg
Mark Gurman:
<p>Apple devices currently handle complex artificial intelligence processes with two different chips: the main processor and the graphics chip. The new chip would let Apple offload those tasks onto a dedicated module designed specifically for demanding artificial intelligence processing, allowing Apple to improve battery performance.

Should Apple bring the chip out of testing and development, it would follow other semiconductor makers that have already introduced dedicated AI chips. Qualcomm Inc.’s latest Snapdragon chip for smartphones has a module for handling artificial intelligence tasks, while Google announced its first chip, called the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), in 2016. That chip worked in Google’s data centers to power search results and image-recognition. At its I/O conference this year, Google announced a new version that will be available to clients of its cloud business. Nvidia Corp. also sells a similar chip to cloud customers.

The Apple AI chip is designed to make significant improvements to Apple’s hardware over time, and the company plans to eventually integrate the chip into many of its devices, including the iPhone and iPad, according to the person with knowledge of the matter. Apple has tested prototypes of future iPhones with the chip, the person said, adding that it’s unclear if the component will be ready this year.</p>

Gurman says it's known internally as the "Apple Neural Engine". Makes perfect sense to put it on the phone - leave the GPU and CPU alone where possible.
apple  ai  hardware  chip  neural 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
How Intel makes a chip • Bloomberg
Max Chafkin and Ian King with an in-depth look which covers all sorts of elements (including hafnium - which "doesn't occur in nature"):
<p>Shrinking the transistors is only part of the challenge. Another is managing an ever more complex array of interconnects, the crisscrossing filaments that link the transistors to one another. The Xeon features 13 layers of copper wires, some thinner than a single virus, made by etching tiny lines into an insulating glass and then depositing metal in the slots. Whereas transistors have tended to get more efficient as they’ve shrunk, smaller wires by their nature don’t. The smaller they are, the less current they carry.

The man in charge of the Xeon E5’s wiring is Kevin Fischer, a midlevel Intel engineer who sat down in his Oregon lab in early 2009 with a simple goal: Fix the conductivity of two of the most densely packed layers of wires, known as Metal 4 and Metal 6. Fischer, 45, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, started the way Intel researchers usually do, by scouring the academic literature. Intel already used copper, one of the most conductive metals, so he decided to focus on improving the insulators, or dielectrics, which tend to slow down the current moving through the wires. One option would be to use new insulators that are spongier and thus create less drag. But Fischer suggested replacing the glass with nothing at all. “Air is the ultimate dielectric,” he says, as if stunned by the elegance of his solution. The idea worked. Metal layers 4 and 6 now move 10% faster.</p>

Plenty more like that.
intel  chip 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
Xiaomi launches its own chip, with an assist from Beijing • WSJ
Eva Dou:
<p>Chinese government funding helped Xiaomi Corp. produce its first smartphone processor, the company’s chairman said as he unveiled the chip at a packed launch event in the China National Convention Center here Tuesday.

The support is the latest sign of China’s push to develop its semiconductor industry, which has included attempts to buy overseas chip companies for their technology. Xiaomi is the second Chinese smartphone maker, after Huawei Technologies Co., able to develop its own processors.

Xiaomi Chairman Lei Jun disclosed the government funding as he described development of the new Pinecone Surge S1 chip, which will power the company’s new budget smartphone, the Mi 5C. The phone goes on sale in China Friday, with a starting price of 1,499 yuan ($218).

The Beijing-based smartphone company typically thanks private-sector partners during its product launches. But on Tuesday, it flashed a slide that read: “Thanks for the government’s support.”</p>

The question is quite what difference this can make for Xiaomi. Given that it runs its own OS inside China, it's possible it might yield some benefit - but it's a long road. It took Apple years, and a huge integrated system, to reap the value of buying PA Semi.
xiaomi  chip 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
Transistors will stop shrinking in 2021, Moore’s Law roadmap predicts • IEEE Spectrum
Rachel Courtland:
<p>After more than 50 years of miniaturization, the transistor could stop shrinking in just five years. That is the prediction of the 2015 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors [ITRS], which was officially released earlier this month. 

<img src="" width="100%" />

After 2021, the report forecasts, it will no longer be economically desirable for companies to continue to shrink the dimensions of transistors in microprocessors. Instead, chip manufacturers will turn to other means of boosting density, namely turning the transistor from a horizontal to a vertical geometry and building multiple layers of circuitry, one on top of another…

…The new report embraces these trends, predicting an end to traditional scaling—the shrinking of chip features—by the early 2020’s. But the idea that we’re now facing an end to Moore’s Law “is completely wrong,” [chair of the ITRS Paulo] Gargini says. “The press has invented multiple ways of defining Moore’s Law but there is only one way: The number of transistors doubles every two years.”

Moore’s Law, he emphasizes, is simply a prediction about how many transistors can fit in a given area of IC—whether it’s done, as it has been for decades, in a single layer or by stacking multiple layers. If a company really wanted to, Gargini says, it could continue to make transistors smaller well into the 2020s, “but it’s more economic to go 3-D. That’s the message we wanted to send.”  </p>
moore  chip 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
Google is leading a 'chip development effort' that could turn the heat up on Apple » Business Insider
Alexei Oreskovic and Jillian D'Onfro:
<p><a href="!t=jo&jid=137935001&">new job listing</a> shows Google is seeking a "multimedia chip architect" who can "lead a chip development effort" and "work with other engineers to take chip to product shipment."

The phrasing of the job posting suggests Google is about to get a lot more serious about designing, and perhaps even building, its own chips, following in Apple's footsteps.

The job posting comes from the company's Pixel team, which recently announced its high-end productivity tablet, the Pixel C, a person close to the matter tells Business Insider.</p>

Apple bought an entire chip design company. Google's hiring a couple of people?
google  chip  design 
october 2015 by charlesarthur
The five chip companies who will buy all the others » DIGITS to DOLLARS
Jay Greenberg:
As growth slows in an industry, the only way for companies to keep growing is to win market share (hard) or buy other companies. This is especially true in semiconductors because most of these companies outsource their manufacturing to the foundries like TSMC and Global Foundries. When one chip company buys another, the combined entity gets better pricing at the foundry (as they are now a bigger customer). The combination also gets to eliminate the duplicated non-design functions. You do not need two CEOs, nor two CFOs, not even two Corporate Development VPs (a not so subtle reminder that I am now looking for a new job).

For several months now, I have been going around talking to friends at chip companies preaching this view – the industry will consolidate from over a hundred companies today down to five in a few years. In these conversations, I have always used Broadcom as an example. I would note that “Even Broadcom is not too big to get acquired someday.” So apparently, someday is yesterday.

When the dust settles, I think there will be just five massive companies left in the business. (That will clear the decks for a new form of semis companies to emerge, but that is years away.) Here is my guess as to who the survivors will be.

You can probably guess three of them, but all five?
chip  semiconductor 
may 2015 by charlesarthur
Wal-Mart exec calls credit card upgrade a 'joke' » CNN
Wal-Mart's executive in charge of payments thinks the United States' switch to chip-based credit cards is going to be a disappointment.

The new "chip & signature" program is barely an improvement on security and fraud, said Mike Cook, Wal-Mart's assistant treasurer and a senior vice president, at this week's Electronic Transaction Association's Transact conference in San Francisco. Cook said Wal-Mart would have preferred a "chip and PIN" system that Europe and Africa have, since PINs would protect cards from being stolen.

"The fact that we didn't go to PIN is such a joke," Cook told CNNMoney.

Cook said signatures on checks were sufficient 100 years ago, but they're outdated today. PINs on debit cards were a major improvement to stop thieves decades ago. They'd do the same for credit cards -- which is why banks should use them for all cards.

"Signature is worthless as a form of authentication," Cook said during a presentation at the conference. "If you look at the Target and Home Depot breaches ... not a single PIN debit card needed to be reissued in those breaches. The card number was worthless to the individual thief and fraudsters, because they didn't know the PIN."

Americans truly have no idea how backwards their financial systems are.
finance  us  chip 
april 2015 by charlesarthur

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