Intel Unveils Compute Card, a Credit Card-Sized Compute Platform

Today, Intel is announcing a new modular compute platform called the Intel® Compute Card along with a range of partners who will be working with Intel to help accelerate the ecosystem of solutions based on the Intel Compute Card. Intel has been a leader in delivering technology to help realize the benefits of the Internet of Things and enable more smart and connected devices. The Intel Compute Card is being developed with that in mind, to transform the way compute and connectivity can be integrated and used in future devices.intel-compute-card

The Intel Compute Card has all the elements of a full computer, including Intel SoC, memory, storage and wireless connectivity with flexible I/O options so hardware manufacturers can optimize for their particular solutions – from interactive refrigerators and smart kiosks to security cameras and IoT gateways. Device makers simply design a standard Intel Compute Card slot into their device and then utilize the best Intel Compute Card for their performance and price needs. This reduces the time and resources needed to design and validate the compute block and helps speed up innovation to bring the power of intelligence into an ever wider range of devices.

Fact sheet: Newly Announced Intel® Compute Card, a Credit Card-Sized Compute Platform

Intel is working with a wide range of partners who share our vision that the Intel Compute Card could significantly change the way they and the rest of the industry design and productize a wide range of solutions in the near future. These partners are working to develop products that can take advantage of the simplified design, ease of serviceability and user upgradeability of the Intel Compute Card. Intel is proud to be working with leading global partners, including Dell*, HP*, Lenovo* and Sharp*, to bring this vision to reality. In addition, Intel is working with a range of regional partners who are all looking to bring unique solutions to their respective markets. These early partners include Seneca Data*, InFocus*, DTx*, TabletKiosk* and Pasuntech*.

The Intel Compute Card will be available in mid-2017 and will come with a range of processors options, including the latest 7th Gen Intel® Core™ processors.

For more information and to stay up to date on the Intel Compute Card, visit www.intel.com/ComputeCard.

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MIND BLOWN | Adobe Reveals Speech Synthesis Technology

It may be quite hard to trust the authenticity of any recorded speech in the not too distant future.


Adobe revealed what they’re calling Photoshop for the human voice. The project is currently in development as part of a collaboration between members of Adobe Research and Princeton University (published research). Like Photoshop, Project VoCo is designed to be a state-of-the-art audio editing application.

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This user interface belies an incredibly powerful speech manipulation engine. Not only can you edit dialogue by changing text, you can actually generate words that didn’t exist in the original recording.

In 2014, Andy Moorer shared his Visual Speech Editor project, which laid some of the groundwork for Project VoCo.

Adobe Audition has been featuring synthesized speech technology in the Generate Speech function since last year, which enables any TTS-compatible voice installed and licensed on the system to be used for generating speech directly in the waveform and multitrack environments.

Project VoCo builds on these concepts to provide what could be an incredible dialogue editing tool, which has really caught the attention of a lot of the industry, for a variety of reasons.

The demo presented at the Adobe Max Conference generated new words using a speaker’s recorded voice alone. Essentially, the software can understand the makeup of a person’s voice and replicate it, Photoshop ushered in a new era of editing and image creation… this tool will transform how audio engineers work with sound, polish clips, and clean up recordings and podcasts.

WATCH THE AMAZING DEMO of ADOBE PROJECT VOCO BELOW

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Don’t Talk Too Long

Project Voco can’t just generate convincing dialogue out of thin air – it needs around 20 minutes of the subject talking, in order to form some kind of “voice print”. This all sounds very 60’s science fiction I know, but it’s absolutely incredible, as this video from Adobe MAX (Sneak Peeks) shows –

Google’s DeepMind division showed off a rival voice-mimicking system called WaveNet via their website. While not nearly as amazing… it’s a close second as of now.

Fraud Potential

Obviously technology of this power could actually be very dangerous in the wrong hands. As Jordan Peele says in the video, just as they are working very hard making it sound perfect, they’re also working equally as hard to try and make it detectable, through some form of watermarking.

This factor has caused Adobe to release the following statement –

Project Voco gave us a first forward looking look at technologies from Adobe’s research labs… and may or may not be released as a product or product feature. No ship date has been announced.

I’m blown away by this leap in research, but we’ll probably have to wait a while before I’m writing any hands-on reviews!

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Facebook Drone Crash Under NTSB Investigation

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Aquila, Facebook’s ambitious drone that could bring high-speed internet to remote parts of the world, is being investigated by a government agency for an accident that took place during a test flight in June.

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The social media giant downplayed this “structural failure” in the aftermath of the initial test, and did not disclose that they were being investigated.facebook-has-said-internet-speeds-from-its-aquila-drone-will-be-similar-to-what-youd-find-over-fib-png

Bloomberg reports that the National Transportation Safety Board has been engaged in a previously undisclosed investigation into the accident, which took place as the done was landing on the morning of June 28.

The unmanned drone, which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing Co. 737, suffered a “structural failure” as it was coming in for a landing after an otherwise successful test. The NTSB as classified the incident as an accident, which means the damage was “substantial,” according to Bloomberg. There were no injuries on the ground.

 

Neither Facebook nor the NTSB have released further details about the accident.

With the exception of half a sentence in the eighth paragraph of a post on Facebook’s engineering blog in July, the company didn’t address this failure. Mark Zuckerberg was exclusively positive when he wrote about the test on his blog in July. Facebook didn’t disclose the NTSB investigation, nor did anyone at the company mention the extent of the damage in multiple interviews, according to The Verge.

Aquila certainly seems like a noble endeavor, and it’s understandable (if more than a little shady) that Facebook would want to focus on the positive aspects of the test rather than a crash landing. But, as we’re learning, you can’t always believe what you read on Facebook.

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Photo Book | 20 Years of Design by Apple

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Dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs, a hardcover photo book, titled “Designed by Apple in California” was revealed today. Shot by photographer Andrew Zuckerman in a deliberately spare style… the book contains 450 images that brilliantly illustrate Apple’s design process as well as chronicle the inside, outside & evolution of its finished products.

jonny-ive“The idea of genuinely trying to make something great for humanity was Steve’s motivation from the beginning, and it remains both our ideal and our goal as Apple looks to the future,” said Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer. “This archive is intended to be a gentle gathering of many of the products the team has designed over the years. We hope it brings some understanding to how and why they exist, while serving as a resource for students of all design disciplines.”

“Designed by Apple in California” is available in two sizes and printed on specially milled, custom-dyed paper with gilded matte silver edges, using eight color separations and low-ghost ink. This linen-bound, hardcover volume was developed over an eight-year period. It is published by Apple.

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Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, & to leaving the world better than they found it. Quite the noble goal.

// Read The Complete Press Release //

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Apple Developing Smart Glasses

Apple Inc. is weighing an expansion into digital glasses, a risky but potentially lucrative area of wearable computing, according to people familiar with the matter.

While still in an exploration phase, the device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, and may use augmented reality, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a secret project.

// WATCH BLOOMBERG COVERAGE OF APPLE’S LATEST R&D NEWS //

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Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers, according to people familiar with those discussions. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing, the people said. Apple hasn’t ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production, one of the people added.

Should Apple ultimately decide to proceed with the device, it would be introduced in 2018 at the earliest, another person said. The Cupertino, California-based company tests many different products and is known to pivot, pause, or cancel projects without disclosing them. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

apple-conference-wwdc-2014-ceo-tim-cookChief Executive Officer Tim Cook is under pressure to deliver new products amid slowing sales of the iPhone, which accounts for two-thirds of Apple’s revenue. In July, he expressed enthusiasm for augmented reality after the rise of Pokemon Go, a location-based game that uses the technology. AR, as it’s known, adds images and other digital information to people’s view of the real world, while virtual reality completely surrounds them with a computer-generated environment.

The glasses may be Apple’s first hardware product targeted directly at AR, one of the people said. Cook has beefed up AR capabilities through acquisitions. In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, which developed motion-sensing technology in Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect gaming system. Purchases of software startups in the field, Metaio Inc. and Flyby Media Inc., followed in 2015 and 2016.

“AR can be really great, and we have been and continue to invest a lot in this,” Cook said in a July 26 conference call with analysts. “We are high on AR for the long run. We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”

Apple has AR patents for things like street view in mapping apps. It was also awarded patents for smart glasses that make use of full-fledged virtual reality. Apple is unlikely to leverage VR in a mass-consumer product, Cook suggested in October.

“I can’t imagine everyone in here getting in an enclosed VR experience while you’re sitting in here with me, but I could imagine everyone in here in an AR experience right now,” he said during an onstage discussion in Utah.

Apple’s challenge is fitting all the technology needed into a useful pair of internet-connected glasses that are small and sleek enough for regular people to wear.

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Google’s attempt to develop internet-connected eye wear flopped in part because its tiny battery ran out quickly. Google Glass, as it was called, also suffered a privacy backlash and poor public perception of its external design.

After that disappointment, technology companies largely turned their immediate focus to VR and away from AR. Google recently introduced a VR headset alongside its Pixel smartphone, and Facebook Inc.’s Oculus VR unit has teamed up with Samsung Electronics Co. on a similar headset. Microsoft has the most public AR offering. Its HoloLens product shows holographic images in a user’s field of vision.

Apple’s effort may be more difficult because the chips, batteries and other components that will be available in a year or two may still not be small enough and powerful enough to build slim glasses capable of handling compelling AR experiences.

However, given time, technical challenges may play to Apple’s strengths. The company specializes in turning technology that others have struggled with into easy-to-use devices for the masses. For example, Apple simplified fingerprint technology into an unlocking mechanism for the iPhone and took touch screens mainstream with the original iPhone.

Augmented reality “is going to take a while, because there are some really hard technology challenges there, but it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it,” Cook said last month. “Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.”

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BREAKTHROUGH: Quantum Data Transfer –From Matter To Light

Quantum physics formulas over blackboard

logo_cnrslogo03 Qubits have only remained stationary until now. Researchers have successful created flying qubits that move at speeds never reached before…. This feat, achieved by a team from Polytechnique Montréal & France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), brings the state-of-the-art ever closer to the era when information is transmitted via quantum principles.

// Read Other Research Papers Curated by luvatfirstbyte

physical-review-letter-physical-review-letters-prl-cover-110318The achievement is the focus of a paper titled “High-Fidelity & Ultrafast Initialization of a Hole-Spin Bound to a Te Isoelectronic Centre in ZnSe” published recently in the prestigious scientific journal, Physical Review Letters.

Specifically, the creation of a qubit in zinc selenide, a well-known semi-conductor material, made it possible to produce an interface between quantum physics that governs the behavior of matter on a nanometre scale & even the transfer of information at the speed of light, thereby paving the way to producing quantum communications networks.

Classical Physics vs. Quantum Physics

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In today’s computers, classical physics rules. Billions of electrons work together to make up an information bit: 0, electrons are absent & 1, electrons are present. In quantum physics, single electrons are instead preferred since they express an amazing attribute: the electron can take the value of 0, 1 or any superposition of these two states. This is the qubit, the quantum equivalent of the classical bit. Simply put, Qubits provide stunning possibilities for researchers.
An electron revolves around itself, somewhat like a spinning top. That’s the spin. By applying a magnetic field, this spin points up, down, or simultaneously points both up and down to form a qubit.  Better still, instead of using an electron, we can use the absence of an electron; this is what physicists call a “hole.” Like its electron cousin, the hole has a spin from which a qubit can be formed. Qubits are intrinsically fragile quantum creature, they therefore need a special environment.
Zinc Selenide, Tellurium Impurities: A World First

Zinc selenide, or ZnSe, is a crystal in which atoms are precisely organized. It is also a semi-conductor into which it is easy to intentionally introduce tellurium impurities, a close relative of selenium in the periodic table, on which holes are trapped, rather like air bubbles in a glass.
This environment protects the hole’s spin – our qubit – & helps maintaining its quantum information accurately for longer periods; it’s the coherence time, the time that physicists the world over are trying to extend by all possible means. The choice of zinc selenide is purposeful, since it may provide the quietest environment of all semiconductor materials.
philippe-st-jeanPhysMosaicA team effort lead by Phillipe St–Jean (far left) & Professor Sébastien Francoeur (left) of Polytechnique Montréal & CNRS of France,  generated photons from a laser to initialize the hole & record quantum information on it. To read it, he excites the hole again with a laser & then collects the emitted photons. The result is a quantum transfer of information between the stationary qubit, encoded in the spin of the hole held captive in the crystal, & the flying qubit – the photon, which of course travels at the speed of light.
This new technique shows that it is possible to create a qubit faster than with all the methods that have been used until now. Indeed, a mere hundred or so picoseconds, or less than a billionth of a second, are sufficient to go from a flying qubit to a static qubit, & vice-versa.

Although this accomplishment bodes well, there remains a lot of work to do before a quantum network can be used to conduct unconditionally secure banking transactions or build a quantum computer able to perform the most complex calculations. That is the daunting task which Sébastien Francoeur’s research team will continue to tackle.

Visit Polytechnique Montréal To Learn More

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NSA + Undetectable “Trapdoors” = Millions of Useless Crypto-keys

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Technique allows attackers to passively decrypt Diffie-Hellman protected data.

Last week researchers revealed how undetectable backdoors could be placed in the cryptographic keys protecting most all websites, virtual private networks, and Internet servers. The technique devised, a feat in and of itself, allows hackers to passively decrypt hundreds of millions of encrypted communications as well as cryptographically impersonate key owners.

While all this may sound unnerving or at best like technical jargon it is… NO JOKE.

The technique is notable because it puts a backdoor—or in the parlance of cryptographers, a “trapdoor”—in 1,024-bit keys used in the Diffie-Hellman key exchange. Diffie-Hellman significantly raises the burden on eavesdroppers because it regularly changes the encryption key protecting an ongoing communication. Attackers who are aware of the trapdoor have everything they need to decrypt Diffie-Hellman-protected communications over extended periods of time, often measured in years. Knowledgeable attackers can also forge cryptographic signatures that are based on the widely used digital signature algorithm.

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As with all public key encryption, the security of the Diffie-Hellman protocol is based on number-theoretic computations involving prime numbers so large that the problems are prohibitively hard for attackers to solve. The parties are able to conceal secrets within the results of these computations. A special prime devised by the researchers, however, contains certain invisible properties that make the secret parameters unusually susceptible to discovery. The researchers were able to break one of these weakened 1,024-bit primes in slightly more than two months using an academic computing cluster of 2,000 to 3,000 CPUs.

Backdooring crypto standards—”completely feasible”

To the holder, a key with a trapdoored prime looks like any other 1,024-bit key. To attackers with knowledge of the weakness, however, the discrete logarithm problem that underpins its security is about 10,000 times easier to solve. snowdenThis efficiency makes keys with a trapdoored prime ideal for the type of campaign former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden exposed in 2013, which aims to decode vast swaths of the encrypted Internet.

“The Snowden documents have raised some serious questions about backdoors in public key cryptography standards,” Nadia Heninger, one of the University of Pennsylvania researchers who participated in the project. “We are showing that trapdoored primes that would allow an adversary to efficiently break 1,024-bit keys are completely feasible.”

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While NIST—short for the National Institute for Standards and Technology—has recommended from sinister looking headquarters in Maryland, minimum key sizes of 2,048 bits since 2010, (note keys of half that size remain abundant on the Internet). As of last month, a survey performed by the SSL Pulse service found that 22 percent of the top 200,000 HTTPS-protected websites performed key exchanges with 1,024-bit keys. A belief that 1,024-bit keys can only be broken at great cost by nation-sponsored adversaries is one reason for the wide use. Other reasons include implementation and compatibility difficulties. Java version 8 released in 2014, for instance, didn’t support Diffie-Hellman or DSA keys larger than 1,024 bits. And, to this day, the DNSSEC specification for securing the Internet’s domain name system limits Digital Signature Algorithm keys to a maximum of 1,024 bits.

poisoning-the-wellPoisoning The Well

If the NSA or another adversary succeeded in getting one or more trapdoored primes adopted as a mainstream specification, the agency would have a way to eavesdrop on the encrypted communications of millions, possibly hundreds of millions or billions, of end users over the life of the primes. So far, the researchers have found no evidence of trapdoored primes in widely used applications. But that doesn’t mean such primes haven’t managed to slip by unnoticed.

In 2008, the Internet Engineering Task Force published a series of recommended prime numbers for use in a variety of highly sensitive applications, including the transport layer security protocol protecting websites and e-mail servers, the secure shell protocol for remotely administering servers, the Internet key exchange for securing connections, and the secure/multipurpose Internet mail extensions standard for e-mail. Had the primes contained the type of trapdoor the researchers created, there would be virtually no way for outsiders to know, short of solving mathematical problems that would take centuries of processor time.

Similarly, Heninger said, there’s no way for the world at large to know that crucial 1,024-bit primes used by the Apache Web server aren’t similarly backdoored. In an e-mail, she wrote:

We show that we are never going to be able to detect primes that have been properly trapdoored. But we know exactly how the trapdoor works, and [we] can quantify the massive advantage it gives to the attacker. So people should start asking pointed questions about how the opaque primes in some implementations and standards were generated. Why should the primes in RFC 5114 be trusted without proof that they have not been trapdoored? How were they generated in the first place? Why were they standardized and pretty widely implemented by VPNs without proof that they were generated with verifiable randomness?

Unlike prime numbers in RSA keys, which are always supposed to be unique, certain Diffie-Hellman primes are extremely common. If the NSA or another adversary managed to get a trapdoored prime adopted as a real or de facto standard, it would be a coup. From then on, the adversary would have possession of the shared secret that two parties used to generate ephemeral keys during a Diffie-Hellman-encrypted conversation.

Remember Dual_EC_DRBG?

Such a scenario, assuming it happened, wouldn’t be the first time the NSA intentionally weakened standards so it could more easily defeat cryptographic protections. In 2007, for example, NIST backed NSA-developed code for generating random number generators. Almost from the start, the so-called Dual_EC_DRBG was suspected of containing a deliberately designed weakness that allowed the agency to quickly derive the cryptographic keys that relied on the algorithm for crucial randomness. In 2013, some six years later, Snowden-leaked documents all but confirmed the suspicions.

rsa_emcRSA Security, at the time owned by the publicly traded corporation EMC, responded by first lying and denying claims of cooperating with the NSA to weaken its products as reported here on Luvatfirstbyte. Then RSA warning customers to stop using Dual_EC_DRBG. At the time, Dual_EC_DRBG was the default random number generator in RSA’s BSAFE and Data Protection Manager programs.

Early this year, Juniper Networks also removed the NSA-developed number generator from its NetScreen line of firewalls after researchers determined it was one of two backdoors allowing attackers to surreptitiously decrypt VPN traffic.

In contrast to 1,024-bit keys, keys with a trapdoored prime of 2,048 bits take 16 million times longer to crack, or about 6.4 × 109 core-years, compared with the 400 core-years it took for the researchers to crack their trapdoored 1,024-bit prime. While even the 6.4 × 109 core-year threshold is considered too low for most security experts, the researchers—from the University of Pennsylvania and France’s National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control at the University of Lorraine—said their research still underscores the importance of retiring 1,024-bit keys as soon as possible.

“The discrete logarithm computation for our backdoored prime was only feasible because of the 1,024-bit size, and the most effective protection against any backdoor of this type has always been to use key sizes for which any computation is infeasible,” they wrote in a research paper published last week. “NIST recommended transitioning away from 1,024-bit key sizes for DSA, RSA, and Diffie-Hellman in 2010. Unfortunately, such key sizes remain in wide use in practice.”

In addition to using sizes of 2,048 bits or bigger, the researchers said, keys must also be generated in a way that holders can verify the randomness of the underlying primes. One way to do this is to generate primes where most of the bits come from what cryptographers call “a ‘nothing up my sleeve‘ number such as pi or e.” Another method is for standardized primes to include the seed values used to ensure their randomness. Sadly, such verifications are missing from a wide range of regularly used 1,024-bit primes. While the Federal Information Processing Standards imposed on US government agencies and contractors recommends a seed be published along with the primes they generated, the recommendation is marked as optional.

The only widely used primes the researchers have seen come with such assurances are those generated using the Oakley key determination protocol, the negotiated Finite Field Diffie-Hellman Ephemeral Parameters for TLS version 1.3, and the Java Development Kit.

Cracking crypto keys most often involves the use of what’s known as the number field sieve algorithm to solve, depending on the key type, either its discrete logarithm or factorization problem. To date, the biggest prime known to have its discrete logarithm problem solved was 768 bits in length from last year. The feat took about 5,000 core years. By contrast, solving the discrete logarithm problem for the researcher’s 1,024-bit key with the trapdoored prime required about a tenth of the computation.

“More Distressing”

Since the early 1990s, researchers have known that certain composite integers are especially susceptible to being factored by NFS. They also know that primes with certain properties allow for easier computation of discrete logarithms. This special set of primes can be broken much more quickly than regular primes using NFS. For some 25 years, researchers believed the trapdoored primes weren’t a threat because they were easy to spot. The new research provided novel insights into the special number field sieve that proved these assumptions wrong.

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Nadia Heninger, Professor of Computer & Information Science @ University of Pennsylvania

Heninger wrote:

The condition for being able to use the faster form of the algorithm (the “special” in the special number field sieve) is that the prime has a particular property. For some primes that’s easy to see, for example if a prime is very close to a power of 2. We found some implementations using primes like this, which are clearly vulnerable. We did discrete log computations for a couple of them, described in Section 6.2 of the paper.

But there are also primes for which this is impossible to detect. (Or, more precisely, would be as much work to detect as it is to just do the discrete log computation the hard way.) This is more distressing, since there’s no way for any user to tell that a prime someone gives them has this special property or not, since it just looks like a large prime. We discuss in the paper how to construct primes that have this special property but the property is undetectable unless you know the trapdoor secret.

It’s possible to give assurance that a prime does not contain a trapdoor like this. One way is to generate primes where most of the bits come from a “nothing up my sleeve” number like e or pi. Some standards do this. Another way is to give the seeds used for a verifiable random generation algorithm.

With the current batch of existing 1,024-bit primes already well past their, well, prime, the time has come to retire them to make way for 2,048-bit or even 4,096-bit replacements. Those 1,024-bit primes that can’t be verified as truly random should be viewed with special suspicion and banished from accepted standards as soon as possible.

Buckle up & get ready for things to get nasty… Luvatfirstbyte will keep you posted.

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