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Intel adapts to survive competition from Apple and AMD

Intel announced major changes in strategy, not only offering its own designs to other companies, but also outsourcing manufacturing of some of its own CPUs, as well as manufacturing ARM chips for other companies

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Intel Pat Gelsinger Engineering the Future 2

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger

For the last quarter century, Intel has built processors using its own, closely guarded designs and manufactured them in their own facilities. This formula has served it well, often dominating the market for long periods of time. But the past five years have seen the chip giant go from practically unchallenged market dominance to being on the back foot, even in the gaming PC market which has been dominated by Intel since the Core2 processors were released in the mid-2000s. So last month, Intel announced major changes in strategy, not only offering its own designs to other companies, but also outsourcing manufacturing of some of its own CPUs, as well as manufacturing ARM chips for other companies.

Companies in this position are often there due to complacency, but in this case, Intel was not sitting back and actually had a solid roadmap in place just before it all started to go wrong. There are two major aspects of a processor, and indeed other chips such as GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) – the Architecture, basically the design and layout of a processor, and feature size or process technology, which is measured in nanometers (nm) these days and refers to the size of transistors, the fundamental building blocks of any chip. While there have been some issues with the Architecture, the main problems Intel has faced have been delays in its transition from 14nm to 10 nm.

If you are wondering what all this has to do with anything, it all comes down to physics. The smaller the transistors, the more you can pack into a processor of the same size and the less energy is required to run each one, which in turn means more performance with the same energy, often with the side-effect of less heat being generated. While Intel has been stuck on a larger size, AMD uses TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) to manufacture its processors, a company powering ahead with smaller feature sizes. 

AMD, under the leadership of CEO Lisa Su, who has an electrical engineering background, has gone from strength to strength with each of their new Ryzen processors. Last year’s Ryzen 5000 series of processors not only crushed Intel’s offerings in productivity tasks such as video editing and graphic design, as AMD CPUs have done for the past few years, but they also finally matched Intel’s performance in many games and even came out on top in some of them. The high-end gaming PC market has been dominated by Intel CPUs for over a decade, so this marks the end of an era. AMD’s rise coupled with years of delays to its 10nm process have resulted in a perfect storm for Intel.

But Intel’s processor woes don’t end there. In 2019, Apple announced it would be transitioning away from Intel to its own, ARM-based processors for their Mac computers, having used their own chips in iPhones and iPads since 2010. Apple has used Intel CPUs in their Macs since 2006 and, while Intel tried to downplay the impact of Apple’s decision on their business, it was clearly a huge blow for the company. Apple has always tried to design as many of the components used in its devices as possible, but the company most likely decided to switch when Intel’s continued delays to its 10nm process started affecting its ability to release Macs with the capabilities they wanted at the times they needed, probably around 2015.

Ironically though, Apple was only really able to do this because of Intel’s lack of foresight over 15 years ago, when Steve Jobs asked it to make a mobile processor for an Apple phone. Intel’s leadership at the time did not feel it was worth the investment required to design and build a chip for a device they thought would not be high volume. Thanks to that snub, Apple put an ARM-based chip in the iPhone and, in 2010, launched the first iPad and the iPhone 4, both featuring the Apple A4 chip, the companies first designed in-house. Apple designed chips are now considered among the best in the world, delivering performance that has kept its iPhones and iPads at the cutting edge of performance, despite fewer cores and lower specs on paper than its rivals’ offerings.

Thanks to the expertise and success of Apple’s silicon design teams, not only was Apple able to make the switch, its first Apple Silicon chip for Macs, the M1, saw huge gains in performance and battery life compared to Intel offerings in the same category. While that is partly due to Apple being able to focus on performance of targeted areas their market needs more, TSMC’s superior process is certainly a significant factor.

Intel Engineering the future wafer
Intel Wafer: Processors are manufactured on wafers, before being cut into individual chips

Which brings us to last month’s huge announcements representing a fundamental shift in the principles Intel has operated on for decades. While much of Intel’s success has come from its formula of using its own designs manufactured in-house, the chip giant is making three changes. First, it will continue to build the majority of its own chips, but many will be made using newer technologies (such as Extreme ultraviolet lithography or EUV) that TSMC and Samsung have been using for some years now. Second, Intel will leverage external suppliers to manufacture some of its core processors, giving the company access to the best manufacturing processes for products that would benefit from them. Finally, the chip giant will become a foundry, manufacturing x86 (which their own processors currently use) and ARM chips, with the aim of becoming a major supplier of foundry to the industry. That last one is how Intel intends to try and win back business from Apple.

The new strategy, dubbed ‘IDM 2.0’, was announced by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who took over from Bob Swan in February this year, having come back to Intel after 12 years away, most recently as CEO of Dell-owned VMWare. Gelsinger immediately berated the company’s failure to keep up with competitors, as well as the loss of Apple’s business.

These changes won’t happen overnight and much of what was announced has already been in progress for many months. The semiconductor industry is not fast moving, as chip design and development of new manufacturing process technologies takes years. In the meantime, AMD will continue to assert itself in the market and Apple will complete its transition away from Intel processors next year. Intel still has some tough times ahead, but it is clearly working to ensure the company comes back fighting. One thing is certain however, the market for processors, which power personal computers, smartphones, tablets and more, is as competitive as it has ever been, which should mean better performance and maybe even battery life for our computers and devices in the years ahead.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. nc

    9 April 2021 at 10:52 am

    Very interesting. Compounds the situation on top of what’s already happening with the big tech firms + Huawei. Intel’s plan to resurface is quite poor aswell 😐 …

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Daily Brief

SumOfUs’s Researcher’s Avatar Sexually Assaulted in Horizon World’s Game

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Brelyon metaverse desk scaled
  • In Meta’s virtual reality platform, Horizon Worlds, the avatar of a 21-year old SumOfUs researcher was sexually assaulted. 
  • Meta confirms that it has set up safety tools in Horizon Worlds in order to prevent negative experiences, especially since there were earlier reports of virtual assaults and inappropriate behavior in February. 
  • One of the safeguards introduced was Personal Boundary, which prevents any avatars from coming within a set distance of 4 feet of each other in order to respect the avatar’s personal space. The company also offers other ways in order to block and report users as well.
  • Nevertheless, SumOfUS reported that the researcher was “encouraged” to disable the Personal Boundary feature, and was approached by 2 male avatars in a room, one of whom was observing and the other got fairly close to her. She also witnessed lewd comments, homophobic slurs, and virtual gun violence. 
  • SumOfUs has filed a resolution with some of the shareholders, requesting a risk assessment of the human rights impacts in the metaverse. A shareholder meeting is set to be held on Wednesday. 
  • SumOfUs’s campaigns director Vicky Wyatt stated, “Let’s not repeat and replicate [real-world issues] in the metaverse. We need a better plan here on how to mitigate online harms in the metaverse”.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Politics

Digital Authoritarianism – A Growing Challenge to The World Press Freedom

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Digital authoritarianism – a growing challenge to the world press freedom

Press and electronic media have been an active source of propagation of the discourse be it political, social, or religious. They make it easier for a piece of information to reach the common masses and thus it is crucial for the governments to control them to keep insuring the creation of “us” and “them” division in the society.  But this control has become a challenge for a free and independent press. Digital authoritarianism, cyber surveillance, and monitoring of political and social activities of people through media have made it difficult for the people of the present age and time to have freely expressed their opinion and easier for the governments to control the information.

While China has been controlling the influx of information and the regulation of ideologies in the country through a great fire, Other countries are joining in too with their measure to increase cyber-surveillance. Internet shutdowns are one of the tools for asserting digital authoritarianism and according to a survey conducted by a non-profit digital rights organization Access now, the year 2021 experienced 182 events of Internet shutdowns around the world.

The shutdowns measures were taken to contribute to the growing political tensions in the respective regions for example, during the coup in Maynmar, and to influence the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe, specifically Russia. Similarly, while Africa experienced an epidemic of coups in the year 2021, the number of internet shutdowns reached 19.

 India which claims to be the “world’s largest democracy” imposed an internet shutdown more than a hundred times in the year 2021 and more than half of them were on the already repressed people of Jammu and Kashmir.

While Russia became the only country in Europe to impose an internet shutdown in 2021, in the year 2022, the Russia and Ukraine war has forced other EU countries to ban the access to Russia Today, Sputnik other information sites regulated by Russia calling it a measure against “the war propaganda.” Similarly, since the beginning of the conflict, Russia has imposed new internet laws in the country to monitor the spread of news restricting the use of global applications like Instagram and Facebook.  

The more recent rerouting of the internet traffic of occupied Ukrainian regions to be redirected through Russian cyber routes. Netblocks, an internet observatory, noted that: “Connectivity on the network has been routed via Russia’s internet instead of Ukrainian telecoms infrastructure and is hence likely now subject to Russian internet regulations, surveillance, and censorship.”

However, while countries around the world are being exposed to exerting digital dominance, and being accused to collect user data for their own benefit, it is becoming a challenge for them to create “democracy-affirming technologies” to combat the digital authoritarianism that has been challenging the world’s press freedom around the world.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Society

Sexualized Child Images “Meet Community Guidelines” on Instagram

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Instagram Face

Instagram has come under a lot of heat, and rightly so, for not removing accounts that showed pictures of children in swimwear or partial clothing attracting loads of sexualized comments even after such accounts were reported via the in-app reporting tool. 

The above-mentioned tool allows users to flag accounts that have suspicious activity which is then reviewed by the system’s automated moderation technology, which in this case ruled such concerning accounts as “acceptable” and conforming to “community guidelines” resulting in such accounts remaining live.

An independent researcher challenged this and reported one such concerning account to Instagram using the in-app reporting tool, only to be met with a response tagged with a phrase many of us a too familiar with i.e., “due to the high volume of reports” submitted it can not view the report but the “(automated) technology has found that this account probably doesn’t go against our community guidelines”. The said account, with more than 33,000 followers remained live the whole day.

All this while Instagram’s parent company, Meta, as do other social media companies claims an approach that has zero tolerance towards child exploitation – claims that remain unsubstantiated by their actions/policies.

Instagram is not alone in failing to effectively handle this issue. Twitter has many similar accounts often known as “tribute pages”. This is evident from the example of this one account which was ruled not to be breaking twitter’s rules after being reported through the in-app reporting tool despite posting pictures of a man performing sexual acts with images of a 14-year-old TikTok underage influencer. Other tweets from the same account reading “looking to trade some younger stuff” were also seemingly not concerning enough, until it was publicly called out by a campaign group ‘Collective Shout’ at which point the account was taken down.

Should such accounts suspicious of illegal activity and clearly harmful be allowed to remain live only because they do not meet a criminal threshold, yet?

Are “Zero tolerance” claims consistent with companies allowing the content that is a threat to children to remain live despite being reported, let alone proactively moderate content?

Should the social media companies be relying on automated detections for preventing the serious risk of sexualization, harassment and exploitation of our children when such technologies have been known to have failed miserably for even keeping up with simple hate speech?

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Health

Tired of Carrying a Wallet? Have Your Credit Card Microchipped Under Your Skin

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Dr Mark Gasson has an RFID microchip implanted in his left hand by a surgeon March 16 2009 1 scaled

Walletmor, a British-Polish startup, claims to have created the first implantable microchip that can be used at any contactless payment machine around the world. Walletmor has sold over 500 microchips that are slightly bigger than a grain of rice and weigh less than one gram. Each microchip goes for £199 and can be sewn in by professionals at any aesthetics clinic. 

Walletmor claims that the microchip is entirely safe and has received regulatory approval. Once implanted, the microchip is ready to use and will not shift from its place. The microchip requires no batteries or an external power source to function. The implantable capsule is made of biocompatible material and consists of a microprocessor for storing encrypted payment data and a proximity antenna to connect to nearby payment terminals. 

The founder of Walletmor, Wojciech Paprota claims that the microchips are impossible to hack stating, “our payment implant cannot be forgotten or lost. This means that, unlike a standard payment card, it cannot end up in the wrong hands. It will not fall out of our wallet, and no one will take it from there. The implant cannot be scanned, photographed or hacked.” 

At the moment, the microchip connects to a mobile app called ICard, where a user can refill funds for contactless payments. 

Paprota believes that credit card implants will one day be as popular as regular payment cards and that Walletmor’s long-term goal is to provide more functionalities to their chip such as identification and key card access capabilities. 

But before microchip implants can be widely accepted, Paprota and other emerging microchip-based companies must first assure citizens of their safety. Though implanted microchips are convenient for day-to-day tasks, many fear that as technology continues to advance, a person’s data and specific location can potentially be hacked causing safety concerns. 

Nada Kakabadse, a Professor of Ethics at Reading University questioned the ethics behind getting microchips implanted. Kakabadse stated, “there is a dark side to the technology that has a potential for abuse…to those with no love of individual freedom, it opens up seductive new vistas for control, manipulation and oppression.. And who owns the data? Who has access to the data? And, is it ethical to chip people like we do pets?”

So the question arises, how much are we willing to risk for the sake of convenience?

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Born and raised in the Bay Area, California, Faiza is a mother of two with a degree in Psychology and Paralegal Studies. She is passionate about lending her voice to those who are disadvantaged.

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Tech

Elon Musk is now the largest shareholder in Twitter

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Screenshot 2022 04 05 at 23.09.00
Heisenberg Media via Wikimedia Commons

Tesla founder Elon Musk has become the largest shareholder in Twitter. His shares are four times greater than that of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

Elon Musk has purchased 9.2% shares equating 73.5 million shares in the social network. His shares are a passive stake but news that he has become the largest shareholder in the company caused a surge in Twitter share price. His stake is now worth more than $3bn.

Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter, tweeted on Tuesday “I’m excited to share that we’re appointing @elonmusk to our board! Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board.”

Elon is running a poll on twitter about the edit button, which will be helpful for twitter users to edit mistakes but some, including Jack Dorsey, have rejected the idea because people can change the meaning of what they have said, after they have shared it. 

Dan Ives, from analyst firm Wedbush said that Elon will soon go for an active role in company management. 

He said, “We would expect this passive stake as just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board/management that could ultimately lead to an active stake and a potential more aggressive ownership role of Twitter,”.

This is supported by the reports of the Wall Street Journal that his application to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which should have a line saying he doesn’t intend to influence the company, had a ‘Not Applicable’ mark.

There is an issue reported about his investment in twitter. He filed his investment on 14th of March and after filing and before it became public knowledge, he asked users whether they believed that free speech was essential to a functioning democracy and whether Twitter adheres to this principle.

Cornell University’s assistant professor Alexandra Cirone considers this as an evidence he may “try to influence Twitter practices” and have a “more active play in the social media eco-system”.

On the other hand, Howard Fischer, partner at law firm Moses & Singer, said that considering he had bought the share already, “I do suspect the SEC is going to look long and hard into whether they can bring manipulation charges”. 

Elon Musk is a regular user of twitter, whether he uses his influence to establish free speech or market manipulation, twitter users will find out soon. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Society

Is Technology Making Children Grow Up Faster?

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Technology
  • Research has found that children’s exposure to technology may allow for them to be more intellectually savvy at a younger age, however it is seen to also push ‘maturity’ milestones to an older age.
  • Despite this supposed maturity, the younger generations seem to delay many adult milestones such as dating, drinking, engaging in intimate relations, and driving unlike previous generations.
  • With all things kept in mind, studies find that children are not growing up faster in terms of society, culture, or biology. 

Research has found that children’s exposure to technology may allow for them to be more intellectually savvy at a younger age, however it is seen to also push ‘maturity’ milestones to an older age. The advent of smartphones, tablets, and other such electronics has put the world’s knowledge into the palms of children at a younger age than ever seen before. With most parents buying their child a smartphone at age 10, it is no question that the newer generation has practically unlimited access to news, social media, games, and the like.

Marketing geared towards kids is not new and the concept of “kids getting older younger” (KGOY) is one used by companies constantly to raise revenues. Games such as Roblox have capitalized on such ideas and the effects are clear. Speaking to strangers and having open access to the internet is pulling children towards emotional maturity. 

Despite this supposed maturity, the younger generation seems to delay in many adult milestones such as dating, drinking, engaging in intimate relations, and driving, unlike previous generations. any experts argue that this view is skewed, including senior Vice President and Director of the Center for Children and Technology, Shelley Pasnik. Pasnik stated “The basic stages of children’s development aren’t changing…what has changed is [kids’] exposure to information.” 

Experts in sociology also warn that technology alone is not shaping children and their maturity. Confounding variables found in much more intensive parenting styles will also reflect on the youth. With all things kept in mind studies find that children are not growing up faster in terms of society, culture, or biology. Rather a view of what constitutes a ‘grown-up’ may be skewed in society. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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