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Intel insists Xeon vs Epyc benchmark fight was fair, amends speed test claims anyway

Chipzilla says it didn't intentionally mislead anyone


Intel on Wednesday disputed a news report that Chipzilla had intentionally published misleading benchmarks in a comparison between the Intel Xeon Platinum 9282 and the AMD second-generation Epyc 7742 processors.

The accuser, after, ahem, discussing his concerns with Intel, moderated his criticism somewhat.

On Tuesday, Intel issued a blog post on Medium – rather than its own website, oddly enough – that presented figures indicating its Xeon 9282 chip outperformed AMD's Epyc 7742 in tests.

Later that day, ServeTheHome, a site focusing on reviews of servers, storage, networking and other data-center systems, challenged the validity of Intel's testing.

"We checked Intel’s work and found that they presented a number to intentionally mislead would-be buyers as to the company’s relative performance versus AMD," wrote Patrick Kennedy, editor-in-chief of STH.

Intel is facing real competition from AMD for the first time in years, a threat made more acute by Intel's past 10nm manufacturing delays and its ongoing inability to fully meet customer demand for processors. So Chipzilla is highly motivated to present its wares in the best light.

In its test (#31), Intel claimed its "56 core Xeon Platinum 9282 ranges from 8 per cent to 84 per cent better performance (31 per cent higher geomean) than AMD’s 64 core Rome-based system (7742) on leading real-world HPC workloads across manufacturing, life sciences, financial services and earth sciences."

Kennedy initially said the fight wasn't fair because Intel's benchmarking relies on GROMACS 2019.3, a version of the chemical simulation software that didn't support AMD's latest Epyc architecture, codenamed Rome.

In a followup post, Kennedy said after discussing matters with Intel, he had been told the GROMACS 2019.3 test in fact utilizes AMD's AVX2 vector math engines, giving the Rome chip a fair chance to flex its muscles. And he said that a discrepancy in the threads per core figure for AMD, listed as one, was in fact a typo, according to Intel: two hardware threads were actually used per core.

Intel simultaneously updated its Medium post to clarify that its GROMACS 2019.3 test had the best optimization for both platforms, and that its benchmarks using GROMACS 2019.4 were not appreciably different.

"Intel is committed to always provide fair, transparent, and accurate performance results and would not intentionally mislead," said Steven Collins, Intel Datacenter Performance Director.

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Asked whether he accepts Intel's benchmarks as fair, Kennedy told The Register in an email that he's willing to consider it a "reasonable marketing effort" once the company updates its post to reflect concerns he raised. "Not what an independent agency would setup for a fair test," he said, "but probably OK for marketing [after Intel clarifies everything]."

This is not the first time Intel has been challenged to defend the fairness of its benchmarks, which perhaps explains Chipzilla's eagerness to vindicate itself. In 2005, Intel was accused of engineering its compiler to cripple code running on non-Intel x86 hardware. In 2014, Intel settled a lawsuit alleging that the microprocessor maker in the 2000-2002 period relied on misleading benchmark figures to make its Pentium 4 chip appear to be faster than AMD's Athlon.

Though Intel settled [PDF] AMD's unfair competition claim in 2009 (and the FTC's claim in 2010), the two companies continue to spar, as can be seen in this 2016 AMD video criticizing the SYSmark benchmark test.

The Register asked AMD to comment. An AMD spokesperson replied with a link to a webpage containing various Epyc benchmarks. "There are 107 World Records here last I checked," AMD's spokesperson said. ®

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Apple Mac sales break records amid ex-86-odus to Arm M1 silicon

Cook & Co made $384M profit per day during latest quarter

Apple is hauling in the cash as Mac users escape Intel x86 processors and upgrade to Cupertino's homegrown Arm-compatible M1 chips in record numbers.

For the first quarter of its fiscal 2022 – the three months to December 25 – Apple reported [PDF] revenue of $123.9 billion, up 11 per cent year-over-year. Cupertino made $34.6 billion in profit (or $384M a day) through the quarter, growing 25 per cent from $28.76 billion at this time last year. The US giant's earnings per diluted share were set at $2.10.

Mac sales totaled $10.9 billion, growing by 25 per cent year-over-year. That was record growth, according to Luca Maestri, Apple's chief financial officer, on an earnings call with analysts on Thursday.

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Bonus features: Sony uses Blu-ray tech to simulate 466Mbps laser link from the stratosphere to space

Together with Japanese space agency, now imagining optical comms terminals on sats

Sony Computer Science Laboratories (CSL) and the Japanese space agency have conducted an experiment to transmit data from the stratosphere to space and declared the results promising as a complete file was delivered at 446 megabits per second.

Data networking is hard in space, because distances and latency are substantial and radiation can impact transmissions. Those challenges have led to efforts like the Interplanetary networking SIG and its delay-tolerant networking (DTN) tech that makes internet standards work despite the challenges of space.

DTN also addresses the problem of network nodes disappearing over the horizon – and therefore beyond the reach of radio or optical signals – by (as its name implies) not getting grumpy if packets take a while to reach their intended destinations.

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Silk could tie up all-but-unbreakable encryption, say South Korean boffins

At last, a worm that improves security

Silk could become a means of authentication and unbreakable encryption, according to South Korean boffins.

Silk can take on this role, as explained in Nature Communications, because security boffins are increasingly interested in "physical unclonable functions" (PUFs) – physical objects whose properties are impossible to replicate. As we explained in 2018, the electrical variation present in individual semiconductors has seen them used to generate keys unique to each device, making each chip a PUF.

The authors of the Nature paper, from South Korea's Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, think we need more PUFs to help with tasks ranging from better encryption keys to providing unique identifiers for physical objects.

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VMware fixes vSphere release it pulled, sorts out Log4j while it's at it

Driver drama is done, new dev practices should prevent repeats, says Virtzilla

VMware has restored availability of vSphere 7 Update, a release that it withdrew in late 2021 after driver dramas derailed deployments.

Paul Turner, Virtzilla's veep for vSphere product management, told The Register that the source of the problem was Intel driver updates that arrived out of sync with VMware's pre-release testing program. When users adopted the new drivers – one of which had been renamed – vSphere produced errors that meant virtual server fleet managers could not sustain high availability operations.

Turner said around 30,000 customers had adopted the release, of which around eight per cent encountered the issue. That collection of around 2,400 impacted users was enough for VMware to pull the release before the other 270,000 vSphere users hit trouble. That level of potential problems, Turner admitted, was considered a sufficient threshold to justify a do-over and the embarrassment of a pulled release.

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How can we recruit for the future if it takes an hour to send an email, asks Air Force AI bigwig in plea for better IT

Billions spent on weapons and boondoggles while service members battle away on cheapo PCs

A US Air Force director of ops this week blasted the Pentagon for failing to overhaul its outdated computer IT infrastructure after his work machine apparently took an hour to send an email and completely froze when he tried to use Microsoft Excel.

"I am writing an open letter echoing some recent service member frustrations regarding computers in the Department of Defense. It's titled: 'Fix Our Computers', Michael Kanaan wrote in a post circulated widely on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Kanaan, who is a director of operations at the USAF-MIT Artificial Intelligence Accelerator in Boston, lamented how he and his colleagues are facing an uphill battle trying to do their jobs due to old, slow computers and laptops packed with bloatware.

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Intel fails to get Spectre, Meltdown chip flaw class-action super-suit tossed out

Cheesed-off customers have 'alleged enough facts at this stage' to allow legal battle to continue, says judge

Intel will have to defend itself against claims that the semiconductor goliath knew its microprocessors were defective and failed to tell customers.

On Wednesday, Judge Michael Simon, of the US District Court of Oregon, partially denied the tech giant's motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit arising from the 2018 public disclosure of Meltdown and Spectre, the family of data-leaking chip microarchitecture design blunders.

The Register broke the Meltdown story on January 2, 2018, as Intel and those who confidentially reported the security vulnerabilities were preparing to disclose them. The following day, Google's Project Zero published details of Meltdown and its cousin Spectre, revealing that efforts to make CPU cores faster using speculative execution have opened them up to side-channel attacks that can read memory that should be out of reach and leak confidential information.

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FCC pulls the plug on China Unicom's permission to provide telecoms in the US

As commissioner suggests watchdog gets ability to crack down further on China-controlled data centers

Updated Citing national security concerns, America's Federal Communications Commission has barred Chinese carrier China Unicom from providing telecoms services in the United States.

China Unicom Americas touts a wide range of technology services, and bills itself as "the trusted partner of US-based businesses seeking one-stop connectivity with China and beyond."

But the FCC believes no US business should trust China Unicom, for communications at least. The watchdog has investigated the provider's operations since early 2021, when it signaled its preference for revoking the carrier's authorization to operate telecommunications services in the Land of the Free. That's an authorization that's been in place for about 20 years.

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US DoD staffer with top-secret clearance stole identities from work systems to apply for loans

Plus: Apple patches exploited-in-the-wild bug, White House zero-trust order, and more

In brief A US Department of Defense staffer with top-secret clearance stole the identities of dozens of people from a work SharePoint system to apply for loans totaling nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Kevin Lee, 41, of Chula Vista, southern California, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to wire fraud.

Lee, who worked for Uncle Sam's Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) as an analyst, raided the organization's Microsoft SharePoint system for people's private data to pull off his nefarious scheme. It's said that he applied for and was able to get as much as $244,500 in loans under other people's names to cover his own debts, personal expenses, and bills.

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Carked it, Diem? Zuckerberg's grand cryptocurrency thing may sell off assets for $200m

Facebook-born blockchain payment system's day well and truly seized

Diem, the spurned cryptocurrency payment system spawned under the name Libra by Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook (itself now operating as Meta) will reportedly sell its assets to Silvergate Capital Corporation. 

Silvergate, which announced a partnership with the Diem Association in May 2021, is negotiating with Diem to buy its technology for something like $200m, according to reports from Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and Politico.

The deal has not yet been publicly finalized but it may be soon – a Diem spokesperson declined comment when asked to confirm the reports but said he'd be in touch immediately if the situation changes.

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FPGA now means Finally, PRC Grants Approval: China OKs AMD's $35bn Xilinx buy

hurdles <= hurdles - 1;

Chip megadeals have become daunting, with governments looking at transactions suspiciously, though AMD can breathe a sigh of relief: the path to acquire FPGA giant Xilinx is now clearer.

The National Anti-Monopoly Policy Bureau of the State Administration for Market Regulation of the People's Republic of China has approved the $35bn all-stock takeover that was announced in October 2020, according to an 8-K filing [PDF] by AMD with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

In late December, AMD said it had to delay closing the deal as China's regulators were still reviewing the proposal. The US and EU have already approved the acquisition; AMD now expects the merger to close in the first quarter of 2022 thanks to the Middle Kingdom's approval.

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Thanks for the memory: Samsung says DRAM, NAND profits up Q-on-Q, sales down as global supply chain bites

Expects more stability but warns of potential fab lockdowns on road ahead

Samsung blamed disruptions in the global supply chain for failing to meet its own guidance for DRAM and NAND shipments during final three months of 2021, nevertheless racked up a record quarterly sales at group level.

The South Korean megacorp said Q4 2021 delivered revenue of ₩76.57 trillion ($63.8bn), up 24 per cent year-on-year, and an operating profit of ₩13.87trn ($11.6bn), up almost 5 per cent.

Indicating the volatility in the sector, Semiconductor unit turnover was up 43 per cent year-on-year to ₩26.01trn ($21.6bn) but fell 2 per cent on the prior quarter. Similarly, the Memory division grew 44 per cent year-on-year to ₩19.45trn ($16.16bn), but fell 7 per cent sequentially.

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