China Approves IBM-Lenovo Deal

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s anti-monopoly department has approved Lenovo Group's proposed $2.3 billion deal to buy IBM’s low-end server business. The purchase would give the manufacturer control of IBM’s x86 servers, as well as its blade networking and maintenance operations. The US government has not yet approved the deal. US security officials and members of the government’s interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States have raised national security concerns, including whether the deal would enable Chinese officials or hackers to compromise US government Lenovo servers. Lenovo says it expects the transaction to be completed by the end of 2014. (Reuters)(ZDNet)(eWeek)

Symantec: Hacker Network Targets Energy Companies

A group of hackers thought to be based in Eastern Europe are accessing industrial-control systems and may be poised to commit cybersabotage on power grids, oil and gas pipelines, electricity-generation plants, energy-industry equipment providers, and other critical facilities, according to a report by Symantec security researchers. The majority of the systems that the so-called Dragonfly hackers have accessed since 2013 are in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the US. Targets were also located in Greece, Romania, and Serbia. Symantec hasn’t identified the attackers but says their approach “bears the hallmarks” of state-sponsored operations. The researchers note that they found evidence that a Russian speaker modified the attack tool used in the recent incidents. Upon discovering the intrusions, Symantec says, it contacted all targeted companies and relevant national cybersecurity centers. It then delayed publishing its report until the issues were corrected. (re/Code)(Symantec)

Qualcomm Invests in WiGig

Qualcomm has purchased startup Wilocity, a company developing products based on the WiGig high-speed wireless technology. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, although some industry observers say the price was roughly $300 million. Wilocity has been shipping WiGig devices for six months. WiGig, short for Wireless Gigabit, lets devices communicate at up to 7 Gbits per second without using much energy. Proponents say it is ideal for the wireless transmission of high-quality video. Qualcomm says it will incorporate the technology in high-end mobile products using the company’s Snapdragon 810 processor. (The Wall Street Journal)(Forbes)(PC World)

New Exhibit Traces “Digital Revolution”

A new exhibit at London’s Barbican Centre entitled “Digital Revolution” shows four decades of the way technology has transformed art. The exhibition, which occupies 14 rooms, shows the evolution of digital technology in areas such as games, music, film, design, fashion, and art in the UK since the 1970s. In addition to commercial artefacts—such as the Speak & Spell toy, introduced in 1978; Pong, released in 1972; and Pac-Man, which debuted in 1980—the show displays new works, including some that are interactive. The exhibit will run through 14 September 2014. (The Verge)(BBC)(Wired UK)

Google Acquires Streaming Music Service

Google is the latest technology company to enter the increasingly competitive streaming music business with its purchase of Songza Media. Although terms of the deal were not released, Google is said to be spending at least $15 million for Songza Media, which differentiated itself from competitors via its human curation and custom playlists based on time of day and activities. Google, which has several music services, will offer Songza as a stand-alone product. The streaming music market is fraught with challenges beyond just attracting customers, such as licensing content, but has proven attractive to tech companies. For example, Apple purchased Beats Electronics in May 2014. And Twitter is reportedly in talks with the privately-owned SoundCloud, which is valued at $700 million. (Businessweek -- 1)(Businessweek -- 2)(The San Jose Mercury News)

Wireless Network-on-a-Chip Increases Throughput, Reduces Power Consumption

Researchers have developed a wireless network-on-a-chip that promises to boost data rates while cutting energy consumption. The Washington State University scientists say the chips could reduce energy consumption at huge data farms by as much as 20 percent. A significant problem in multicore chips typically used in datacenters is that the data moves in numerous hops through the cores, which makes transmissions slower and uses considerable energy. The Washington State design uses direct wireless links between all cores to increase throughput and reduce energy consumption. Each processor has what the researchers call a miniature cell tower system, as well as antennas and a tiny, low-power transceiver. The chip—which has 4 billion transistors—is reportedly among the world’s smallest and most efficient. The researchers are refining a prototype now. Their work, funded by the US National Science Foundation and Army Research Office, appears in the ACM Journal on Emerging Technologies in Computing Systems. (Washington State University)(ACM Journal on Emerging Technologies in Computing Systems)

Nanoparticles Help Keep Devices Cool

As computers and other electronic devices continue to run faster, they are increasingly susceptible to overheating, which can make them slow down or fail. A new nanoparticle-infused liquid promises to help keep these devices cool. University of Malaya and Universiti Brunei Darussalam researchers investigated several nanofluids—using a microchannel heat sink to simulate an electronic system—to determine the best for the task. They considered factors such as heat transfer, energy loss, and friction. The scientists found that all their nanofluids performed better than water and that the best was a mix of copper oxide and water. The researchers published their findings in the American Chemical Society journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. (EurekAlert)(Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research)

EU Clears Telefónica Purchase of German Carrier

In the latest example of European telecommunications consolidation, EU regulators have approved Telefónica’s bid to purchase Dutch telecommunications company KPN’s German mobile company E-Plus for €8.6 billion ($11.6 billion). The new company will be Germany's largest mobile operator by customers with a 31 percent market share. To gain regulatory approval of its E-Plus purchase and address concerns about possible excessive market dominance, Telefónica agreed to sell some of its 2.1- and 2.6-GHz radio spectrum and rent its 4G network capacity to other mobile virtual network operators. Market analysts say the purchase could encourage similar deals under discussion in France, Italy, and Spain. The market in Europe is rapidly consolidating as telecommunications companies try to reverse declining revenues and improve their infrastructures. (Reuters)(The New York Times)

US Venture Capitalist Wins Seized Bitcoins

Venture capitalist Tim Draper submitted the winning bid in a US Marshals Service auction of bitcoins seized from the Silk Road, a controversial underground website allegedly involved in drug dealing. Draper paid $18 million for 30,000 bitcoins that formerly belonged to Silk Road, which the FBI shut down in 2013. More than 40 people participated in the recent auction. Draper will reportedly use the virtual currency in partnership with the Vaurum bitcoin exchange. (Reuters)(Tech Crunch)(Vaurum)

Rackspace Set to Go Private

Publicly-traded cloud-services provider Rackspace Hosting says it is considering going private and is in discussions with a private equity firm regarding financing the move, according to technology-news website Tech Crunch. The company had been for sale, but without a deal, it may now be acting as if it wants to go private to pressure potential buyers such as telecommunications provider CenturyLink, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. Rackspace told Reuters and Tech Crunch it “does not comment on rumors and speculation.” Rackspace, currently valued at $6.1 billion, has faced increasing competition from big companies that provide cloud and hosting services, such as Amazon and Google. “The pressures of being a public company are too much,” a Rackspace source told Tech Crunch. (Reuters)(Tech Crunch)

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