Open source advances deeper into hardware: The CHIPS Alliance project

Open-source hardware is older than you might think. Sun released OpenSPARC in 2007, and IBM started OpenPOWER in 2013. OpenSPARC would die after Oracle bought Sun, and OpenPOWER remains largely IBM-driven. With the recent arrival of the RISC-V (pronounced Risk-Five), though, open-source CPU designs have finally caught fire. Now, the Linux Foundation is helping form the CHIPS Alliance project. CHIPS, in turn, will host and curate high-quality, open-source silicon device design code.

Backed by Esperanto, Google, SiFive, and Western Digital, the CHIPS Alliance will foster a collaborative environment for creating and deploying new open-source chip designs. These will be used across the entire spectrum of computing. This will include mobile, computing, consumer electronics, and Internet of Things (IoT) chip and System on a Chip (SoC) designs.

While these early CHIPS Alliance backers are all committed to the RISC-V architecture, they want to move beyond just RISC-V. They’re creating an independent entity for companies and individuals to collaborate and contribute resources to make open-source CPU chip and SOC design more accessible.

“Open collaboration has repeatedly proven to help industries accelerate time to market, achieve long-term maintainability, and create de facto standards,” said Mike Dolan, the Linux Foundation’s vice president of strategic programs, said in a statement. “The same collaboration model applies to the hardware in a system, just as it does to software components. We are eager to host the CHIPS Alliance and invite more organizations to join the initiative to help propel collaborative innovation within the CPU and SoC markets.”

Each of these early member companies are open-sourcing a wide variety of technologies. These include:

  • Google: A Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) based instruction stream generator environment for RISC-V cores. This environment provides configurable, highly stressful instruction sequences that can verify architectural and micro-architectural corner-cases of designs. I should also point out that Google has been hiring chip engineers in recent months.
  • SiFive: RocketChip SoC generator; TileLink interconnect fabric; Chisel, a new open-source hardware description language; and the FIRRTL intermediate representation specification and transformation toolkit. The company, founded by RISC-V’s inventors, will also contribute and maintain Diplomacy, the SoC parameter negotiation framework.
  • Western Digital: Its high performance, 9-stage, dual issue, 32-bit SweRV core, together with a test bench, and high performance SweRV instruction set simulator. WD will also contribute the specification and early implementations of OmniXtend cache coherence protocol.

Looking ahead, in a statement, Dr. Amir Salek, Google Cloud’s senior director of Technical Infrastructure, said: “We are entering a new golden age of computer architecture highlighted by accelerators, rapid hardware development and open source architecture and implementations. The CHIPS Alliance will provide the support and framework needed to nurture a vibrant open-source hardware ecosystem for high-quality, well-verified and documented components to accelerate and simplify chip design.”

Specifically, Yunsup Lee, SiFive’s co-founder and CTO, hopes CHIPS will reboot chip design. “Semiconductor design starts have evaporated due to the skyrocketing cost of building a custom SoC. A healthy, vibrant semiconductor industry needs a significant number of design starts, and the CHIPS Alliance will fill this need,” Lee said.

Dr. Zvonimir Bandic, Western Digital’s senior director of next generation platforms architecture ahd  co-founder of RISC-V added: “The CHIPS Alliance will provide access to an open-source silicon solution that can democratize key memory and storage interfaces and enable revolutionary new data-centric architectures. It paves the way for a new generation of compute devices and intelligent accelerators that are close to the memory and can transform how data is moved, shared, and consumed across a wide range of applications.”

Once upon a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, innovation rules in chip design. With the fresh air of open source blowing through processors, perhaps we’ll see those days returned. With all the inherent security problems revealed in the dominant x86 processor world by the Meltdown and Spectre bugs, it’s well past time for new ideas.

[This article stolen from: https://www.zdnet.com/article/open-source-advances-deeper-into-hardware-the-chips-alliance-project/]

It wasn’t antisemitic. Not a single “reputable” journalist could push back on this narrative?

After WWII, many Jews in America did endorse Israel as a nation and looked at it as a hedge against another holocaust. Yes, naturally, any American Jew could feel this way. I used the weasel-word “many” because I mean an indeterminate number, because I don’t know how many. If anyone said that all American Jews who support Israel have a dual allegiance, that would be an absurdly categorical statement. Likewise, it would be equally absurd to say that no American Jews who support Israel do indeed feel a dual allegiance, even if they also support Israel as a matter of practical American foreign policy. All these things are true. But you won’t hear that bald truth spoken in places ruled by fear and ignorance – like the newsroom. Or, for that matter, Congress.

All day long, on all of the news outlets, the word used was “trope”. Ask anyone using that word to choose other words to redescribe their problem and they will tip their hand in some way, exposing a thick ideological basis or just as bad, a tribal one. Remember USAF Col. Wilkerson who rushed Comey to Ashcroft’s bedside? He’s been a liberal media darling for years, and he has said, about the Isreal political lobby, exactly the same thing that Omar said. Because there is some truth in it. To completely toss nuance and realpolitik, meaning honesty, doesn’t endear me to the journalistic profession. Tell the truth, or die in a fire.

When you’ve finally found the right one

There is an unspeakable sadness that is waiting for you, since one of you is bound to leave the other one, in time. You want it to be you, first, and you want to be sure the other has what they need when you are gone. That’s how you know you have found the right one.

CBP says system at breaking point with more than 76,000 migrants illegally crossing or inadmissible last month

…screams the headline from CNN. I dunno. Sounds kinda like an emergency. Right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to go? CNN and Trump sort of define the Hegelian boundaries, here, and CNN is, unwittingly, I’m sure (rolls eyes), doing their job. Don’t get me wrong – I have no reason to believe it is less than the enormous thing that it is. I just want to point out when and where I see the fabric of the political machine that is below the paint.

HIV-1 remission following CCR5Δ32/Δ32 haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation

Abstract

HIV-1 cure remains elusive with only one reported case a decade ago1,2. Termed the ‘Berlin patient’, the individual underwent two allogeneic haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) procedures using a donor with a homozygous mutation in the HIV coreceptor CCR5 (CCR5Δ32/Δ32) to treat his acute myeloid leukaemia. Total body irradiation was given with each HSCT. Critically, it is unclear which treatment or patient parameters contributed to this only documented case of long-term HIV remission. Here we show that HIV-1 remission may be possible with a less aggressive and toxic approach. An HIV-1-infected adult underwent allo-HSCT for Hodgkin’s lymphoma using cells from a CCR5Δ32/Δ32 donor. He experienced mild gut graft versus host disease. Antiretroviral therapy was interrupted 16 months after transplantation. HIV-1 remission has been maintained through a further 18 months. Plasma HIV-1 RNA has been undetectable at less than 1 copy per millilitre along with undetectable HIV-1 DNA in peripheral CD4 T lymphocytes. Quantitative viral outgrowth assay from peripheral CD4 T lymphocytes shows no reactivatable virus using a total of 24 million resting CD4 T cells. CCR5-tropic, but not CXCR4-tropic viruses were identified in HIV-1 DNA from CD4 T cells of the patient prior to transplant. CD4 T cells isolated from peripheral blood post-transplant did not express CCR5 and were only susceptible to CXCR4-tropic virus ex vivo. HIV-1 Gag-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell responses were lost after transplantation, whereas cytomegalovirus (CMV)-specific responses were detectable. Likewise, HIV-1-specific antibodies and avidities fell to levels comparable to those in the Berlin patient following transplantation. Although at 18 months post-treatment interruption it is premature to conclude that this patient has been cured, these data suggest that single allo-HSCT with homozygous CCR5Δ32 donor cells may be sufficient to achieve HIV-1 remission with reduced intensity conditioning and no irradiation, and the findings further support the development of HIV remission strategies based on preventing CCR5 expression.

[Stolen from Nature.com: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1027-4]

Some Android VPN apps request access to sensitive permissions they don’t need

Some of the Android VPN apps available through the official Google Play Store request access to “dangerous” user permissions that a normal VPN app would have no use for, according to research viewed today by ZDNet.

The study, carried out by John Mason from TheBestVPN.com, analyzed 81 Android apps available for download through the Google Play Store.

Mason said he downloaded and extracted the permissions requested by each VPN app from their respective APK installer files.

The researcher used Google’s definition for classifying permissions.

“Normal” referred to the permissions the Android OS gave apps without prompting the user –because they aren’t considered a privacy risk.

“Dangerous” referred to permissions that accessed user data and which apps can only access after the user has granted explicit permission by clicking a button inside a popup window.

According to Mason, 50 of the 81 Android VPN apps he tested requested access to at least one dangerous permission that accessed user data.

While many apps had legitimate uses for the permissions they requested, some apps requested access permissions that a VPN app wouldn’t normally need.

Mason said he discovered VPN apps that requested access to read/write permissions for external device storage, wanted access to precise location data, wanted the ability to read or write system settings, and, in some cases, wanted to access call logs or manage local files.

“In theory, VPN apps should only need a few permissions to function. INTERNET and ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE should usually be enough,” Mason told us. “The use of a large number of dangerous permissions could be cause for suspicion.”

Some of the biggest offender VPN apps are listed in the table below. This Google Docs spreadsheet includes a breakdown of every VPN app and the permissions it requested at the time of the tests. Mason’s research will go live later today at this link.

VPN Name# of dangerous permissionExact permission name
Yoga VPN: Google Play link6android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE
android.permission.WRITE_SETTINGS
android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
proXPN VPN:Google Play link5android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE
android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
Hola Free VPN:Google Play link4android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE
android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
Seed4.Me VPN:Google Play link4android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
OvpnSpider:Google Play link4android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_LOGS
android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
SwitchVPN:Google Play link4android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
Zoog VPN:Google Play link4android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION
android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION
android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE
android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE

[This article stolen from: https://www.zdnet.com/article/some-android-vpn-apps-request-access-to-sensitive-permissions-they-dont-need/]