Nvidia unveils new GPU architecture for computer graphics rendering


Nvidia on Monday unveiled a new GPU architecture, designed for the $250 billion visual effects industry, to power rich, cinematic-quality interactive experiences. The Turing GPU is the first ever GPU expressly for ray tracing — a rendering technique that creates realistic lighting effects.

The Turing architecture combines dedicated hardware acceleration of four core elements: AI, ray tracing, programmable shading, and simulation. It features new RT cores to accelerate ray tracing. These dedicated ray-tracing processors accelerate the computation of how light and sound travel in 3D environments at up to 10 GigaRays a second. Turing accelerates real-time ray tracing by up to 25x that of the previous Pascal generation.

The Turing architecture also features new Tensor cores for AI inferencing, providing up to 500 trillion tensor operations a second.

The combination of RT cores and Tensor cores makes real-time ray tracing possible.

“This fundamentally changes how computer graphics is going to be done,” Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang said at the SIGGRAPH conference in Vancouver, Canada.

a screenshot of a cell phone: nvidiaturing.png © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. nvidiaturing.png

Nvidia also announced its first Turing-based products — the Quadro RTXTM 8000, Quadro RTX 6000 and Quadro RTX 5000 GPUs.

“Turing is Nvidia’s most important innovation in computer graphics in more than a decade,” Huang said in a statement. “Hybrid rendering will change the industry, opening up amazing possibilities that enhance our lives with more beautiful designs, richer entertainment and more interactive experiences. The arrival of real-time ray tracing is the Holy Grail of our industry.”

With Turing’s hybrid rendering capabilities, applications can simulate the physical world at 6x the speed of the previous Pascal GPU generation.

Nvidia also announced the Quadro RTX Server, a reference architecture for highly configurable, on-demand rendering and virtual workstation solutions from the data center.

Quadro GPUs based on Turing will be initially available in the fourth quarter.


Huawei crosses 100M shipments mark, inches closer to Apple


Huawei may be a thorn in the flesh for US lawmakers but people elsewhere are showing it a lot of love.

The Chinese phone giant crossed its 100 million shipments mark on July 18, CEO Richard Yu said in a post on China’s Twitter-equivalent, Weibo.

At the launch of Huawei nova 3, Yu expressed hopes for the company to ship 200 million phones by end of the year, Chinese media reported.

If Huawei achieves its goal, that’ll make it a much bigger threat to Apple’s position as the world’s second-largest phone maker. This will be something to watch given Huawei has come close to shipping as many phones as Apple did before — selling 38.5 million phones compared to Apple’s 41 million in the second quarter last year.

In 2017, the California-based company shipped a total of 215.8 million phones.

CNET has reached out to Huawei for a comment.

Samsung opens world’s largest phone factory in India


Samsung Electronics on Monday announced the opening of what it said is the world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturing facility as the South Korean tech group seeks to expand production in the world’s fastest-growing major mobile phone market.

The facility, on the outskirts of New Delhi, will allow Samsung to manufacture phones at a lower cost due to its scale, while other phone making hubs in China, South Korea and Vietnam are getting expensive, analysts who track the sector said.

The factory, to be inaugurated jointly by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, will also help Samsung compete with rivals such as China’s Xiaomi, which became India’s biggest smartphone brand by shipments earlier this year.

Samsung also plans to export India-made handsets, the company said in a statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has imposed taxes on import of key smartphone components as part of a plan to make India a hub for electronics manufacturing to boost growth as well create tens of millions of new jobs.

WhatsApp to stop working on millions of older iPhones and Android smartphones


Millions of people will no longer be able to use WhatsApp after the messaging app announced it will be cutting support of its service on older iPhones and Android smartphones.

From 1 February 2020, users running older operating systems will be at risk of WhatsApp no longer functioning on their phones.

The company made the announcement in an update to a blog post listing which handsets will no longer be supported.

Phones including Androids older than version 2.3.7, Nokia S40 and iPhones running iOS 7 or older are included in the purge.

According to Google figures, 0.3 percent of Android devices still run this operating system – amounting to around six million smartphones and tablets.

Users of these devices will no longer be able to create new accounts but will still be able to continue using WhatsApp up until the deadline.

“Because we’ll no longer actively develop for these operating systems, some features might stop functioning at any time,” WhatsApp said in the blog post.

The Facebook-owned app boasts close to half a billion users around the world, however, it is unclear how many users will be affected by WhatsApp’s latest announcement.

WhatsApp announced in December that it would be ending support for Windows Phone 8.0 and older, as well as the Nokia Symbian S60 and Blackberry OS and Blackberry 10

Facebook releases 500 pages of damage control in response to Senators’ questions


When Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in April, the CEO faced a public grilling from lawmakers — and left them with several lingering questions. Now, Facebook has followed up with 500 of pages of answers to written questions from two Senate committees, although some of the responses may be cause for even more digging.

In the documents, Facebook strikes a cautious tone as it answers questions about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, ad targeting, moderation policies, and more, giving a broad, if shallow, look at the company’s policies and practices. The documents seem, by design, to shed little new light — many of the questions are answered by pointing to publicly available policies, or through answers the company has previously offered.

And while Zuckerberg’s in-person testimony was already highly polished, the written questions have reached a flawless sheen. In response to some of the most pointed queries, the company offered replies that obfuscated the issues. Responding to a question about how ads might be used to exclude people with certain characteristics, for example, Facebook explained that it did not offer to target based on “race” but on “multicultural affinity” — still a controversial practice.

When asked about “shadow profiles” — the idea that Facebook follows non-users, which became one of the most explosive topics during Zuckerberg’s testimony — the company said it does not create “profiles” for non-users but admitted it “may take the opportunity to show a general ad that is unrelated to the attributes of the person or an ad encouraging the non-user to sign up for Facebook.”

Some of the issues where Facebook didn’t quite provide a full response may ultimately provide the biggest revelations. After replying affirmatively to a series of specific questions about what information the company tracks, Facebook did not give a simple yes or no when asked whether it tracks “every IP address ever used when logging into Facebook.” Instead, the company pointed to a vague “retention schedule”:

Facebook automatically logs IP addresses where a user has logged into their Facebook account. Users can download a list of IP addresses where they’ve logged into their Facebook accounts, as well as other information associated with their Facebook accounts, through our Download Your Information tool, although this list won’t include all historical IP addresses as they are deleted according to a retention schedule.

Facebook did provide more information about what kind of data the platform gathers — and the scope of that collection may surprise some. The company notes that it tracks “operations and behaviors” on devices, including “whether a window is foregrounded or backgrounded, or mouse movements (which can help distinguish humans from bots).” Device signals, settings, and “unique identifiers” are also tracked.

Facebook also followed up in areas where Zuckerberg’s testimony was wanting. The CEO struggled to name a single competitor during hearings, but in writing the company rattled off a long list of services such as Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Vimeo, and others — through those services are still, at best, partial replacements for the Facebook experience.

Zuckerberg similarly wavered during testimony when asked whether Facebook would extend Europe’s GDPR privacy protections to the United States. In the written response, the company contends that the “controls and settings that Facebook is enabling as part of GDPR are available to people around the world.”

Other written questions veered off-track from privacy issues. During the Zuckerberg hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz asked a line of questions about an alleged anti-conservative bias at Facebook, and followed up in writing with dozens of pages of questions that turned bizarrely specific: “Nathaniel Friedman, an author at GQ magazine, stated that ‘Taylor Swift’s cover of “September” is hate speech.’ Does Facebook agree?” The company responded with a broad answer about its hate speech policy.

In the two months that it took Facebook to deliver these responses, more questions about Facebook’s data sharing policies have emerged. Just last week, a New York Times report suggested that the platform had shared user data with over 60 device makers and that a bug had potentially set 14 million users’ private Facebook posts to be publicly viewable. The steady stream of bad headlines suggests Facebook’s efforts to address concerns are being outpaced by its own scandals.

Facebook alerts 14M to privacy bug that changed status composer to public


Facebook has another privacy screwup on its hands. A bug in May accidentally changed the suggested privacy setting for status updates to the public from whatever users had set it to last, potentially causing them to post sensitive friends-only content to the whole world. Facebook is now notifying 14 million people around the world who were potentially impacted by the bug to review their status updates and lock them down tighter if need be.

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by TechCrunch

Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wrote to TechCrunch in a statement: We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts. We have fixed this issue and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time. To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before – and they could still choose their audience just as they always have. We’d like to apologize for this mistake”.

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by TechCrunch

The bug was active from May 18th to May 27th, with Facebook able to start rolling out a fix on May 22nd. It happened because Facebook was building a ‘featured items’ option on your profile that highlights photos and other content. These featured items are publicly visible, but Facebook inadvertently extended that setting to all new posts from those users.

The issue has now been fixed, and everyone’s status composer has been changed back to default to the privacy setting they had before the bug. The notifications about the bug lead to a page of info about the issue, with a link to review affected posts.

Facebook tells TechCrunch that it hears loud and clear that it must be more transparent about its product and privacy settings, especially when it messes up. And it plans to show more of these types of alerts to be forthcoming about any other privacy issues it discovers in the future.

Facebook depends on trust in its privacy features to keep people sharing. If users are worried about their personal photos, sensitive status updates or other content could leak out to the public and embarrass them or damage their reputation, they’ll stay silent.

With all the other issues swirling after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, this bug shows that Facebook’s privacy issues span both poorly thought-out policies and technical oversights. It moved too fast, and it broke something.

Facebook announces first original news shows, with partners


Facebook on Wednesday announced its first original news shows for the social network, joining other online platforms producing a video to compete with television.

The news shows will be produced for Facebook by a variety of partners including CNN, Fox News, ABC News and Univision.

The programs are producing the social network’s on-demand video service called Facebook Watch, which is part of an effort to compete with platforms such as Google-owned YouTube, and potentially develop a wider following.

Facebook said the launch of news shows was also aimed at offering its members “trusted” content following concerns that the platform was used to spread misinformation.

“Earlier this year we made a commitment to show news that is trustworthy, informative, and local on Facebook,” said a statement from Facebook news partnerships chief Campbell Brown.

“As a part of that commitment, we are creating a dedicated section within Watch for news shows produced exclusively for Facebook by news publishers. With this effort, we are testing a destination for high quality and timely news content on the platform.”

The first programs include ABC’s “On Location” featuring a contribution from the network’s journalists from around the globe; CNN’s “Anderson Cooper Full Circle” featuring the popular CNN host; and “Fox News Update” hosted by chief news anchor Shepard Smith.

Facebook last week said it was getting rid of a “trending” topics feature as it tests ways for publishers to deliver the reliable breaking news.

The Trending feature introduced four years ago listed stories buzzing on Facebook at any given time.

“We’re exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources,” Alex Hardiman, Facebook’s head of news products, said in a blog post.

Facebook and other social media platforms have been criticized for their role in allowing disinformation to spread during the 2016 US election, in many cases with the help of automated “bots” or disguised Russian-based accounts.

Trending was only available in a handful of countries, and accounted for a paltry fraction of clicks through to news publishers, according to Hardiman.

Facebook said it is working with 80 publishers in Australia, Europe, India, and the Americas on a “Breaking News” label to adorn posts in News Feed.

The California-based social network is also testing a “Today” section dedicated to “breaking and important news” from local publishers, officials, and organizations, according to Hardiman.

Facebook Watch zone for online video viewing will get a news section complete with live coverage, daily briefings, and “deep dives,” he added.