IBM technology makes faster CPUs with reduced power consumption


IBM has invented technology that reduces the size of static random access memory (SRAM) cells in memory chips, which could let processors perform faster while using less power. The technology shrinks the cells to 22 nanometers and lets IBM add more functions, such as animation or 3D graphics capabilities, to processors. IBM conducted the SRAM research at the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering with several partners, including Advanced Micro Devices and Toshiba. (Computerworld)

reCaptcha captures hard to read words for book digitization


In a paper published online, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University detail the results of their reCaptcha program. The program uses captcha technology to help digitize old books and newspapers. The researchers report that the program is more than 99 accurate. During the program’s first year, 1.2 billion reCaptchas were solved and more than 440 million words have been correctly deciphered. The program uses optical character recognition (OCR) to scan text; when the OCR technology can’t recognize words or phrases, it creates images of the indecipherable text. These images are then used as captchas on Web sites to prevent spam or automated email registrations. The reCaptchas system compares each image to several others to determine if the deciphered words are correct. Carnegie Mellon’s researchers estimate that more than 100 million reCaptchas are solved each day and 4 million words are transcribed. (Science Daily)

Gag order stays in effect in subway hack case


A federal judge has refused to lift a restraining order against three MIT students in a case involving the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the students’  presentation showing a hack of the MBTA’s e-ticketing system. The presentation was scheduled for the Defcon convention in Las Vegas, but was scrapped when the MBTA sued to stop the presentation, claiming the students had not given it enough time or information to assess the vulnerabilities. Though the presentation was cancelled, slides from the demonstration were on a CD that Defcon attendees received and are now publicly available. The order will remain in effect until August 19 when a hearing is scheduled. (Computerworld)

WiMax helps scientists monitor volcanoes


Researchers from the WiMax Extension to Isolated Research Data (WEIRD) project have developed a volcano monitoring system that harnesses the power and flexibility of WiMax. The system uses the Diameter protocol, which identifies and prioritizes data from volcanic monitors so high-priority data isn’t blocked by less important network traffic. The WEIRD researchers combined WiMax with software they developed for next-generation networks so that monitoring signals will be exchanged from end to end regardless of the underlying network. For applications that aren’t designed to run on NGNs, the researchers created adaptors they call WEIRD agents or WEIRD application programming interfaces. In addition, they developed software that lets researchers easily make end-to-end connections without the need for specialized training. Using remote cameras, the researchers can also zoom in on trouble spots and receive data from them. WEIRD researchers will use the system to monitor activity from Mount Vesuvius in Italy and volcanoes in Iceland. (Science Daily)

Antivirus system integrates the cloud


Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed CloudAV, an antivirus system that uses the cloud computing approach to ward off malicious software. Traditional antivirus software scans documents and programs as they are accessed and typically uses only one antivirus detector to keep performance requirements low. CloudAV, however, uses 12 antivirus detectors that work in parallel to analyze each incoming file. The system puts each antivirus detector in a virtual machine to avoid technical incompatibilities and security issues. Networked computers access CloudAV through a software interface that detects new documents as they’re received or requests to run applications. The system sends the requested item to CloudAV for analysis. The researchers hope to extend the system to devices that don’t have the memory or processing power to run antivirus software, such as cell phone or other mobile devices. (Science Daily)

Adobe warns of fake Flash Player software


Adobe has advised users to stay away from Flash Player updates that don’t come directly from its servers after a spam outbreak that tries to trick users into installing malware. The spam purports to come from, Facebook, and MySpace, and includes links to the news site’s top news stories and video clips. The links, however, pop up a window advising users to upgrade their Flash Player software. Users who click on the link install a Trojan that installs malware. Users who try to cancel out of the window are thrust into an endless loop of popup windows and must shut down the browser to get ride of the window. Security researchers estimate that roughly 1,000 hacked sites are hosting the phony Flash Player update. MX Logic, a security company, estimates more than 160 million spam messages have been sent in the attack. (Computerworld)

GreenLight project will study energy efficiency of real-time computing


The US National Science Foundation has provided US$2 million in funding for the GreenLight project at UC San Diego (UCSD). The project’s goal is to make computing processes more energy efficient by using photonics—light over optical fiber. As part of the project, researchers will measure energy consumption and output using sensors and make the data available to researchers in real time. The project will use Sun Modular Datacenter S20s, which can house up to 280 servers in an environmentally friendly design that uses closed-loop water-cooling systems to reduce cooling costs by up to 40 percent compared to traditional server rooms. GreenLight’s data center will provide computing and storage services to projects in metagenomics, ocean observing, microscopy, bioinformatics, and digital media. Some of the research groups participating in the project will relocate servers to the data center and work virtually over UCSD’s high-performance network. (Science Daily)

Google upgrades search appliance


In September, Google plans to begin shipping the Search Appliance GB-7007, an updated search box that can index up to 10 million documents. The Search Appliance is a hardware box loaded with search software that lets enterprises index and retrieve data across their corporate data infrastructures. The GB-7007 builds on the GB-1001, which has a maximum indexing load of 3 million documents. The GB-7007 can’t be clustered, so Google will still produce the GB-1001, which can be clustered in configurations of five or eight units to provide indexing capabilities for up to 10 million or 30 million documents respectively. The GB-7007 also lets IT administrators tailor search results based on user types—employees in accounting will receive different results than those in marketing when searching on similar terms. Additionally, the GB-7007 natively supports the Kerberos authentication protocol. (Techworld)

IBM releases open source software for supercomputers


At the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, IBM released the HPC Open Software Stack, software designed to facilitate the deployment of supercomputer clusters. Included in the software are the Extreme Cluster Administration Toolkit (xCAT), developed for large clusters using IBM’s Power architecture, and Advance Toolchain for Power Systems 1.1, a resource management tool.  HPC Open Software supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 and IBM Power6 processors.  The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois is hosting the software for download from its repository. (ZDNet UK)

Comcast must stop P2P throttling


The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered Comcast to stop throttling P2P traffic on its networks. Comcast must comply with the FCC’s request by the end of this year. Press reports in 2007 revealed Comcast’s networking throttling—which was conducted without notifying subscribers. In a statement, FCC chairman Kevin Martin  likened Comcast’s actions to the post office screening mail and withholding delivery. “Would you be OK with the post office … if they opened letters mailed to you, decided that because the mail truck is full sometimes, letters to you could wait, and then hid both that they read your letters and delayed them? Unfortunately, that is exactly what Comcast was doing with their subscribers’ Internet traffic.” If Comcast fails to comply with the FCC’s order, it faces an injunction and penalties. (Computerworld)

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