Start Up No.1582: Intel’s next chip is delayed (again), bigger iPads coming?, the mystery of the Apple bodycams, WD’s bad code, and more


An Israeli company is producing “industrial cultured” meat, but it might be a while before it can meet even modest demands. CC-licensed photo by Isriya Paireepairit on Flickr.

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A selection of 9 links for you. Unlocked down. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.


Intel delays new chip in first setback for new CEO Gelsinger’s turnaround effort • WSJ

Asa Fitch:

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Chip maker Intel is delaying production of one of its newest chips to improve performance, the first significant product setback under new Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger as he seeks to rebuild the company’s competitiveness.

Intel now is planning to start producing the next generation of central processing units for servers—the brains of those machines—in early 2022 after previously saying it would be ready late this year, Lisa Spelman, the company’s corporate vice president, who manages the server-chip business, said in a Tuesday blog post.

The additional time, Ms. Spelman wrote, would allow Intel to improve the chips’ performance, in particular around the highly prized metrics of data handling and artificial-intelligence processing. Production is now set to begin in next year’s first quarter and ramp up in the second quarter, she wrote.

The delay of the new chips is the first under Mr. Gelsinger, who became chief executive in February following major delays in chip-making advances under his predecessor, Bob Swan. Intel almost a year ago said the following generation of even more advanced chips with super-small transistors wouldn’t be ready until late next year, about a year later than initially expected. 

Mr. Gelsinger has vowed to make Intel more reliable in producing new chips. At his first shareholder meeting as the company’s CEO in May, he said Intel was aiming to deliver a “steady cadence of leadership products that our customers can depend upon.”

The server-chip market is one of the largest, fastest-growing and most competitive in chip-making. Intel generated $5.6bn in revenue from its data-center business in the first quarter, roughly a quarter of all sales.

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“Ramp up in the second quarter” probably means “volume production in the third quarter” and “appearing in machines that are sold in the fourth quarter”. Intel’s a long way behind the game in this, and AMD isn’t going away. Plus companies like Google, which uses a lot of server chips, might find it useful to have its own chip team which could develop ARM-based chips for its colossal number of servers. Oh, Google does have its own chip team working on ARM-based chips? How interesting. And Amazon..?
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Big iPads, Apple car changes, Amazon AR glasses: inside big tech labs • Bloomberg

Marg Gurman:

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You’re reading Mark Gurman’s Power On newsletter. Sign up here to get the inside scoop on the latest gadgets and product reviews in your inbox weekly.

This week: Apple explores larger iPads and reshuffles its car team, Amazon eyes augmented reality, and Peloton takes on the Apple Watch.

Hey everyone! Welcome to Power On, a weekly newsletter where I’m going to write about my passions—Apple, new devices and Silicon Valley secrets—with the occasional riff about my non-work obsession, the NBA. This is the inaugural edition, and be warned, I’m just getting over the Lakers playoffs loss.

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I had ignored this, but as John Gruber points out the newsletter format frees Gurman from the stilted language of formal Bloomberg articles. Instead, he can just write sentences like

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I’m told that Apple has engineers and designers exploring larger iPads that could hit stores a couple of years down the road at the earliest.

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Which is how it would appear in any publication that wasn’t obsessed with some bizarre faux objectivity. And Gurman is well connected, so the newsletter is good value.
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Walmart rolls out a cheaper insulin • Gizmodo

Shoshana Wodinsky:

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Insulin is expensive. Really expensive. Like hundreds-of-dollars per vial expensive. Expensive enough that some diabetes patients can’t afford their monthly dose. And now Walmart, of all companies, is stepping in to make the drug a bit more affordable.

The retailer announced on Tuesday that it would be rolling out a budget version of analog insulin under its ReliOn label to adults and children with a prescription for the drug. Per Walmart’s announcement, these private-label insulin vials will be available for about $73 each—and pre-filled FlexPen needles for about $86 each—at any Walmart pharmacy starting this week, with a wider rollout to Sam’s Club pharmacies planned for mid-July. Considering how vials can cost anywhere between $150 to nearly $400 a pop, this could provide some relief for Americans.

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This is a modern insulin (you can buy a cheap, less effective form for less). Still a ridiculous price, but less ridiculous than it was. Maybe those biohackers we heard about yesterday won’t have to bother after all.
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Exclusive: Apple making employees wear police-grade body cams in response to leaks • FrontPageTech.com

Corina Garcia:

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For the first time ever reported, Apple is making some of its employees wear what we were told were “police-grade” body cameras similar to the #1 law enforcement camera, the Axon Body 2. “Similar,” if not the same.

As a response to an ever-expanding Apple leak culture, and staying true to their brand, the company has taken this new dramatic step to ensure that its hardware trade secrets stay out of the hands of leakers like our very own, Jon Prosser.

I say “new,” but according to our sources, Apple has been rolling out this compliance to their teams for at least the last few weeks. To clarify, specific Apple teams only. Not all Apple employees are being made to wear the sophisticated tech.

This falls in line with the company’s latest stint to target well known Apple leakers like Kang, on the popular Chinese microblogging website Weibo, and even concept artists like Concept Creator, Jermaine. An exceptionally talented concept artist we’ve personally worked with in the past.

That’s great and all, except…Apple’s effort to arm its employees with police-grade body cams, effectively warning them about leaking…got leaked. We leaked it. This is that. The leaking of the warning to Apple employees not to leak.

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But which employees, exactly? Security guards? (Which seems likely.) They don’t know, but it makes an arresting headline. Or, of course, it could be a planted story which they’re using to flush out a leaker.
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Hackers exploited 0-day, not 2018 bug, to mass-wipe My Book Live devices • Ars Technica

Dan Goodin:

»

Last week’s mass-wiping of Western Digital My Book Live storage devices involved the exploitation of not just one vulnerability but also a second critical security bug that allowed hackers to remotely perform a factory reset without a password, an investigation shows.

The vulnerability is remarkable because it made it trivial to wipe what is likely petabytes of user data. More notable still was that, according to the vulnerable code itself, a Western Digital developer actively removed code that required a valid user password before allowing factory resets to proceed.

The undocumented vulnerability resided in a file aptly named system_factory_restore. It contains a PHP script that performs resets, allowing users to restore all default configurations and wipe all data stored on the devices.

Normally, and for good reason, factory resets require the person making the request to provide a user password. This authentication ensures that devices exposed to the Internet can only be reset by the legitimate owner and not by a malicious hacker.

As the following script shows, however, a Western Digital developer created five lines of code to password-protect the reset command. For unknown reasons, the authentication check was cancelled, or in developer parlance, it was commented out, as indicated by the double / character at the beginning of each line.

function post($urlPath, $queryParams = null, $ouputFormat = 'xml') {
// if(!authenticateAsOwner($queryParams))
// {
// header("HTTP/1.0 401 Unauthorized");
// return;
// }

“The vendor commenting out the authentication in the system restore endpoint really doesn’t make things look good for them,” HD Moore, a security expert and the CEO of network discovery platform Rumble, told Ars. “It’s like they intentionally enabled the bypass.”

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It’s like they put test code used so they wouldn’t have to authenticate endlessly (more precisely, production code downgraded for test purposes) into production without having any regression tests, which doesn’t say anything good about WD’s internal systems.
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Where there’s a grille: the hidden portals to London’s underworld • The Guardian

Oliver Wainwright:

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A gas lamp still flickers on the corner of Carting Lane in the City of Westminster, adding a touch of Dickensian charm to this sloping alleyway around the back of the Savoy Hotel. The street used to be nicknamed Farting Lane, not in reference to flatulent diners tumbling out of the five-star establishment, but because of what was powering the streetlamp: noxious gases emanating from the sewer system down below.

The Sewer Gas Destructor Lamp, to give the ingenious device its proper patented name, was invented by Birmingham engineer Joseph Webb in 1895, and it still serves the same purpose today. As a plaque explains, it burns off residual biogas from Joseph Bazalgette’s great Victorian sewer, which runs beneath the Victoria Embankment at the bottom of the lane. It is the last surviving sewer-powered streetlamp in London, but it is one of many such curious vents, shafts and funnels scattered across the city, servicing the capital’s underground workings in all manner of unlikely disguises, now brought together in a fascinating gazetteer, titled Inventive Vents.

“We were led to the topic by Eduardo Paolozzi,” says Judy Ovens, cofounder of Our Hut, the architectural education charity behind the project. “We had always admired his robotic metal sculpture in Pimlico, but never realised it was actually designed as a ventilation shaft for an underground car park.”

Paolozzi’s striking metallic totem pole set the team, and their army of volunteers, off on a subterranean treasure hunt. Listening for unusual hums emanating from statue plinths, looking out for wisps of steam rising from kiosk rooftops, and consulting engineers’ maps, they have charted a plethora of hidden portals to the secret worlds that rumble away below the streets of the capital, compiled using the Layers of London website.

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Amazing archaeology that you can conduct right now in the modern world.
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Oklo planning nuclear micro-reactors that run off nuclear waste • CNBC

Catherine Clifford:

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Oklo will build reactors “far smaller” than the ones TerraPower is building. TerraPower’s main nuclear reactor, the Natrium, will have a capacity of 345 megawatts of electrical energy (MWe), where the first Oklo reactor, called the Aurora, is expected to have a capacity of 1.5 MWe, making it a true micro-reactor. A 2019 report prepared by the Nuclear Energy Institute defined micro-reactors to be between one and 10 MWe. Other companies in the space include Elysium Industries, General Atomics, HolosGen, NuGen and X-energy, to name a few.

Oklo plans to own and operate these micro-reactors, Cochran said, and customers could include utility companies, industrial sites, large companies, and college and university campuses, DeWitt said.

“Today’s large reactors fit the bill to meet city-scale demand for clean electricity,” Jonathan Cobb, senior analyst at the World Nuclear Association, told CNBC. “But smaller reactors will be able to supply low-carbon electricity and heat to remote regions and other situations where gigawatt-scale capacities would be too much.”

Because of their small size, micro-reactors are faster to build than conventional reactors. “Less than a year to construct the powerhouse is a conservative estimate,” Cochran told CNBC.

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Except.. they’re “fast reactors” which breed fuel from spent fuel, which can be considered a proliferation risk. However, I think this is more likely to succeed than our next offering…
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Inside Neeva, the ad-free, privacy-first search engine from ex-Googlers • Fast Company

Harry McCracken:

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about 30% of the roughly 60-person staff they’ve assembled at Neeva consists of ex-Googlers, including Hall-of-Famers such as Udi Manber (a former head of Google search) and Darin Fisher (one of the inventors of Chrome). They’ve also secured $77.5 million in funding, including investments from venture-capital titans Greylock and Sequoia.

At its highest level, Neeva represents a bet that the way Google monetizes search and other services through advertising—as it’s done for more than two decades to wildly profitable effect—has hampered its user experience, thereby opening up an opportunity. “I tell people that Neeva is as much a social experiment as it is a technological experiment,” says Ramaswamy, the company’s CEO. “It’s looking for the answer to the question, ‘If there was a high-quality product that clearly benefits you in multiple ways, would you pay for it as opposed to having it be free, supported by ads?’”

Whatever the answer to that question, Neeva’s creators understand what they’re getting into. “Sridhar and Vivek, with their depth of knowledge on everything from technology to what people actually need and do, are probably the only people in the world where I would go, ‘Okay, I’ll go on this journey with you, because you know how to go on this journey,’” says Greylock partner and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman.

(Which is not to say there aren’t other ambitious privacy-centric search engines on journeys at least somewhat similar to Neeva’s. DuckDuckGo has been on its own for 13 years; once a one-man operation, it now has 129 employees and $100m in annual revenue from ads that don’t involve tracking individual users. And Brave, the browser company founded by web pioneer Brendan Eich, is beta-testing its own privacy-first search engine and says free and for-pay versions will be available.)

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McCracken can’t say it, of course, but zero chance any appreciable number of people will sign up for this. The idea that you might segment the market for search into premium, valuable payers and cheaper payers as Apple has for phones just doesn’t wash. How many months before they pivot into something that works with personal data?
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Future Meat Technologies launches world’s first industrial cultured meat production facility • PR Newswire

Future Meat Technologies:

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 Future Meat Technologies, an industry-leading company developing innovative technology to produce cultured meat, has opened the world’s first industrial cultured meat facility. With the capability to produce 500 kilograms of cultured products a day, equivalent to 5,000 hamburgers, this facility makes scalable cell-based meat production a reality.

“This facility opening marks a huge step in Future Meat Technologies’ path to market, serving as a critical enabler to bring our products to shelves by 2022,” says Rom Kshuk, CEO of Future Meat Technologies. “Having a running industrial line accelerates key processes such as regulation and product development.”

Currently, the facility can produce cultured chicken, pork and lamb, without the use of animal serum or genetic modification (non-GMO) with the production of beef coming soon. Future Meat Technologies’ unique platform enables fast production cycles, about 20-times faster than traditional animal agriculture.  

“After demonstrating that cultured meat can reach cost parity faster than the market anticipated, this production facility is the real game-changer,” says Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, founder and chief scientific officer of Future Meat Technologies. “This facility demonstrates our proprietary media rejuvenation technology in scale, allowing us to reach production densities 10 times higher than the industrial standard. Our goal is to make cultured meat affordable for everyone, while ensuring we produce delicious food that is both healthy and sustainable, helping to secure the future of coming generations.”

The facility further supports Future Meat Technologies’ larger efforts to create a more sustainable future. The company’s cruelty-free production process is expected to generate 80% less greenhouse emissions and use 99% less land and 96% less freshwater than traditional meat production.

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OK, but that’s a drop in the ocean. McDonald’s sells about 6.5m burgers per day across 39,140 restaurants, or 1,660 burgers on average per franchise. As with everything technological, the question is: will it scale? Notice there’s no mention of price here either.
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Now on sale: Social Warming, my latest book.


Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified

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