IBM’s Project Quicksilver sets data transfer record for flash memory


IBM has announced that its Project Quicksilver—a research project that combines solid state flash technology and IBM’s virtualization technology—has delivered more than 1 million input/output operations per second with a response time under one millisecond. That’s roughly two and a half times faster than the fastest disk storage available today. At this speed, businesses could  complete their traditional workloads 2–3 times faster. Additionally, the technology requires only 55 percent of the power and cooling of current systems and one-fifth the space. Project Quicksilver is composed of research teams from the IBM Hursley Lab in England and the IBM Almaden Research Center in California. (ZD Net UK)

Computers learning to sort data like humans


Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a model that helps computers see patterns in data as humans do. The model is based on an algorithm that considers a range of data structures—including trees, linear orders, rings, dominance hierarchies, clusters, and so on—and apply them? to the data. Josh Tenenbaum, a researcher on the project, says, “Instead of looking for a particular kind of structure, we came up with a broader algorithm that is able to look for all of these structures and weigh them against each other.” The human brain does this daily, often unconsciously; children display this skill at a very young age, such as when learning that words—dog, for example—fit into several overlapping categories. Scientists could use the model to analyze huge amount of data and also to help research on how the human brain discovers patterns. (Science Daily)

Comcast will cap data usage in October


Starting on 1 October, Comcast, the largest provider of cable-based Internet access in the US,  will cap data usage at 250 Gbytes per month for residential broadband subscribers. Users who exceed the monthly limit will receive a call from Comcast warning them about their excessive use. Users who exceed the data limit twice in a six-month period risk having their access suspended for a year. Comcast says the limits will affect less than 1 percent of its subscribers. The 250 Gbyte limit is roughly equivalent to sending 50 million emails, downloading 62,500 songs, or downloading 125 movies, the company said. Comcast made the announcement on its Web site as a change to its Acceptable Use Policy. (Beta News)

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)

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