Breakthrough In Electronics Opens Up The Possibility For Zero Heat Devices And High Data Storage

Physicists from the University of Leeds have made a breakthrough, they have created a spin capacitor that can generate and hold the spin state of electrons for several hours. This is the first time this has ever been accomplished, previous attempts have only ever held the spin state for a fraction of a second.

In electronics, a capacitor stores an electric charge. A spin capacitor not only holds a charge but also stores the spin state of a group of electrons-which basically freezes the spin position of each of the electrons.

The ability of this new capacitor makes it possible to create highly efficient storage devices. So much so that a spin capacitor measuring just one square inch could store 100 Terabytes of data.

Ransomware That Attacks Manufacturers And Utilities

Dragos, a Hanover Maryland based cybersecurity firm has detected a new form of ransomware that targets industrial control systems. The treat is known as both Snake and Ekans, basically encrypts files and demands payment in the form of cryptocurrency to return control of computers. This particular ransomware is concerning since it can target any utility, these include power grids, manufacturing plants, oil refineries, and sewage treatment plants.

Unlike other ransomware that has been state-sponsored, Ekans seems to be the work of independent cyber criminals seeking financial gain. For more information about this threat click here.

Intel’s New “Ghost Canyon” NUC

Intel has just announced there new NUC computer named “Ghost Canyon“. This is the first NUC computer from Intel that supports a PCIe x16 desktop graphics card “up to 8 inches in length”. Another unique feature of this system is the ability to upgrade its compute unit, which according to Intel keeps it relevant into the future.

The Ghost Canyon system supports the 9th generation series laptop processor up to an i9-9980HK. When it comes to ports, the system comes with a full array including four USB 3.1 jacks, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet sockets, and an HDMI port. The NUC also has two M.2 NVMe slots, two standard DDR4 laptop memory slots, as well as, Wifi 6.

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Intel plans to start selling barebones system beginning in March starting around $1,050 for a Core i5, $1,250 for Core i7, and $1,700 for the flagship Core i9 version.

An International Team Has Created A New Un-Hackable Security System

An international team of researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), and the University of St Andrews and the Center for Unconventional Processes of Sciences (CUP Sciences) have created a new uncrackable security system. The system uses optical chips that enable information to be sent from user to user using a one-time un-hackable communication that achieves “perfect secrecy” allowing confidential data to be protected more securely than ever before.

With more and more powerful processors coming out every year and quantum computers coming out very soon, all current encryptions algorithms will be broken. This puts all current and past communications at risk.

The new method uses the classical law of physics to protect the messages and in particular the second law of thermodynamics. Keys generated by the chip, which unlock each message, are never stored and are not communicated with the message, nor can they ever be recreated which adds extra security.

Currently the team is working on commercial applications for this patented technology, which includes a fully functioning demo and building user-friendly software for this system.

Computer Input At The Tip Of Your Finger

Computer scientists at the University of Waterloo in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have created a wearable computer input device suitable for many possible applications, just by touching your fingertips in different ways.

Known as Tip-Tap, the device is inexpensive and is the first device of its kind that doesn’t require a battery or cumbersome wires to make it work. Tip-Tap uses radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to sense when fingertips touch. This technology, therefore, can be applied to disposable surgical gloves.

One of the most promising applications for Tip-Tap is in the surgical arena. Currently, operation digital preplanning is done by an assistant responsible for navigating the computer and communicating with the surgeon, but this is slow and difficult. With Tip-Tap in surgical gloves, surgeons could navigate the computer themselves from where they are, and it won’t affect their other actions like picking up the scalpel.

Scientists Create A Device Which Bridges The Fields Of Optical And Electronic Computing

Scientists in Harish Bhaskaran’s Advanced Nanoscale Engineering research group at the University of Oxford in collaboration with researchers at the universities of Münster and Exeter, have created a first-of-a-kind electro-optical device which bridges the fields of optical and electronic computing. This new development makes computing at the speed of light finally within reach.  Read the full article to learn more.

Researchers Find Serious Security Flaw In Many Common Processors

Researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have discovered serious security vulnerabilities in computer chips made by Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics. The flaws announced today are located in TPMs or trusted specialized platform modules tamper-resistant chips that computer manufacturers have been deploying in nearly all laptops, smartphones, and tablets for the past 10 years. TPMs are used to secure encryption keys for hardware authentication and cryptographic keys, including signature keys and smart card certificates.

One of the flaws the WPI team discovered is in Intel’s TPM firmware, software that runs in the Security and Management Engine in processors the company has produced since 2013. With this vulnerability, researchers used the timing leakage to recover the signature key in less than two minutes. With the signature key, hackers could forge digital signatures, enabling them to alter, delete, or steal information.

The second flaw is in STMicroelectronics’ TPM on the company’s ST33 chip. The vulnerability in STMicroelectronics’ TPM basically leaks the signature key, which should remain safely inside the hardware. The consequences for this vulnerability is the same as the Intel one, which is hackers will have the keys to the castle.

According to both companies, the vulnerabilities have been addressed and patched. With computer hardware getting more and more complicated every year, one has to wonder how many vulnerabilities are not getting noticed.

The Dual Screen Tablet From Microsoft Coming in 2020

On October 2, Microsoft held their Surface Event which showed the newest in the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop lineup. Toward the end of the event, Microsoft debuted an upcoming device, a dual-screen tablet called the Surface Neo.

The Surface Neo will feature a dual 9-inch screen with gorilla glass and a custom Intel Lakefield processor with 11th gen graphics. At its thinnest point, the Surface Neo measures 5.6mm and weights it at 655 grams. This will be the first device to come with Microsofts new Windows 10 X operating system which was designed and optimized for dual-screen devices.

As for accessories, the two that were showed were a rechargeable magnetic pen and a rechargeable magnetic keyboard. According to Microsoft, the Surface Neo will be available holiday season 2020.

 

Microsoft’s ARM-Based Surface Pro X

Microsoft has announced that they are releasing an ARM-based tablet calling it the Surface Pro X. The 13-inch device will feature a custom-designed SQ1 processor based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and an AI accelerator. Microsoft and Qualcomm also worked on building custom-designed GPU cores for the Pro X, which will run Microsoft’s version of Windows 10 for ARM.

As far as specifications, the device has a 13-inch display which features a 1400:1 contrast ratio and a 2880 x 1920 resolution and can be extended to a 4K screen. When it comes to connectivity, the pro x has 2x USB-c ports, 1x surface connect port, and 1x nano-sim for LTE connectivity. The memory and storage options are 8GB or 16GB LPDDR4x RAM at 3733Mbps, removable SSD 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. At its thinnest point, the Pro X is 5.3mm thin and weighs 1.68 pounds.

With this announcement, Microsoft has joined the likes of Lenovo and Samsung who also have ARM-based devices coming soon. The Surface Pro X is going to be released on November 5 with a starting price of $999.

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A Better Augmented Reality Viewing Experience

Many of us have or have tried some form of virtual reality, for a few virtual reality is a very unpleasant experience due to VR motion sickness. VR sickness is caused by conflicting signals sent to the brain from the person’s eyes, inner ear and body tissue sensory receptors.

Thanks to Cambridge engineers, VR sickness may no longer be a problem, as they have developed a new augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display (HMD) that delivers a realistic 3-D viewing experience, without the commonly associated side effects of nausea or eyestrain.

The device has an enlarged eye-box that is scalable and an increased field of view of 36º that is designed for a comfortable viewing experience. It displays images on the retina using pixel beam scanning which ensures the image stays in focus regardless of the distance that the user is fixating on.

In a study conducted with more than 50 participants between the ages of 16 – 60, the participants said that the images and videos to be of vibrant color and high contrast with no observable pixels. None of the participants experienced nausea or eyestrain even after prolonged periods of usage up to all-day testing.