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Nvidia cosies up to Open Robotics for hardware-accelerated ROS

Hopes to tempt roboticists over to its Jetson platform with new simulation features, drop-in acceleration code


Nvidia has linked up with Open Robotics to drive new artificial intelligence capabilities in the Robot Operating System (ROS).

The non-exclusive agreement will see Open Robotics extending ROS 2, the latest version of the open-source robotics framework, to better support Nvidia hardware – and in particular its Jetson range, low-power parts which combine Arm cores with the company's own GPU and deep-learning accelerator cores to drive edge and embedded artificial intelligence applications.

"Our users have been building and simulating robots with Nvidia hardware for years, and we want to make sure that ROS 2 and Ignition work well on those platforms," Brian Gerkey, Open Robotics' chief exec, told The Register.

"We get most excited by two things: robots and open source. This partnership has both. We're working together with Nvidia to improve the developer experience for the global robotics community by extending the open source software on which roboticists rely. We're excited to work directly with Nvidia and have their support as we extend our software to take maximum advantage of their hardware."

The team-up will see Open Robotics working on ROS to improve the data flow between the various processors – CPU, GPU, NVDLA, and Tensor Cores – on Nvidia's Jetson hardware as a means to boost processing of high-bandwidth data.

As part of that, Open Robotics' Ignition and Nvidia's Isaac Sim simulation environments are to gain interoperability – meaning robot and environment models can be moved from one to the other, at least when the software is finished some time early next year.

As for why Nvidia's accelerated computing portfolio, and in particular its embedded Jetson family of products, should appeal to robot-makers, Gerkey said: "Nvidia has invested heavily in compute hardware that's relevant for modern robotics and AI workloads. Robots ingest and process large data volumes from sensors such as cameras and lasers. Nvidia's architecture allows that data flow to happen incredibly efficiently."

Murali Gopalakrishna, head of product management, Intelligent Machines, at Nvidia said of the hookup: "Nvidia's GPU-accelerated computing platform is at the core of many AI robot applications and many of those are developed using ROS, so it is logical that we work closely with open robotics to advance the field of robotics.

The work also brings with it some new Isaac GEMs, hardware-accelerated packages for ROS designed to replace code which would otherwise run on the CPU. The latest GEMs include packages for handling stereo imaging and point cloud data, colour space conversion, lens distortion correction, and the detection and processing of AprilTags – QR Code-style 2D fiducial tags developed at the University of Michigan.

The partnership doesn't mean the two are going steady, though. "We are eager to extend ROS 2 in similar ways on other accelerated hardware," Gerkey told us of planned support for other devices like Intel's Myriad X and Google's TPU – to say nothing of GPU hardware from Nvidia rival AMD.

"In fact, we plan for the work we do together with Nvidia to lay the foundation for additional extensions for additional architectures. To other hardware manufacturers: please contact us to talk about extensions for your platform!"

The latest Isaac GEMs are available on Nvidia's GitHub repository now; the interoperable simulation environments, meanwhile, aren't expected to release until the (northern hemisphere) spring of 2022.

Nvidia's Gopalakrishna said it was possible for ROS developers to begin experimenting before the release date. "The simulator already has a ROS 1 and ROS 2 bridge and has examples of using many of the popular ROS packages for navigation (nav2) and manipulation (MoveIT). Many of these developers are also leveraging Isaac Sim to generate synthetic data to train the perception stack in their robots. Our spring release will bring additional functionality like interoperability between Gazebo Ignition and Isaac Sim."

When we asked what performance uplift could users expect from the new Isaac GEMs compared to CPU-only packages, we were told: "The amount of performance gain will vary depending on how much inherent parallelism exists in a given workload. But we can say that we are seeing an order of magnitude increase in performance for perception and AI related workloads. By using the appropriate processor to accelerate the different tasks, we see increased performance and better power efficiency."

As for additional features in the pipeline, Gopalakrishna said: "Nvidia is working with Open Robotics to make the ROS framework more streamlined for hardware acceleration and we will also continue to release multiple new Isaac GEMs, our hardware accelerated software packages for ROS.

"Some of these will be DNNs which are commonly used in robotics perception stacks. On the simulator side, we are working to add support for more sensors and robots and release more samples that are relevant to the ROS community." ®

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UK Home Secretary Priti Patel green-lights Mike Lynch's extradition to US to face Autonomy fraud charges

Brit tycoon's bad Friday just got worse

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel tonight approved Autonomy founder Mike Lynch's extradition to America to face criminal charges over the multi-billion-dollar sale of his tech biz to Hewlett-Packard.

The British businessman is wanted in the United States to stand trial on 17 charges of fraud and false accounting. American prosecutors claim Lynch overstated his firm's value and cheated Hewlett Packard investors when he sold his firm Autonomy to the US IT giant in 2011 for $11bn – an acquisition that led to a staggering $8.8bn writedown by HP the following year.

Lynch denies any wrongdoing.

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US Navy in mad dash to salvage F-35C that fell off a carrier into South China Sea

Where Britain leads, America follows

The US Navy has managed to drop an F-35C fighter jet off one of its aircraft carriers into the South China Sea, just months after the Royal Navy did the same thing with an F-35B in the Mediterranean.

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You're fabbing it wrong: Chip shortages due to lack of investment in the right factories, says IDC

Not enough money going into 40nm+ process nodes

Semiconductor shortage issues will continue through the first half of 2022 as the industry attempts to build up inventory to normal levels, according to research firm IDC.

It cites limited investment in mature process technology as one reason, with many vital components for the automotive industry and other sectors manufactured using these older processes.

The semiconductor market continues to experience uneven shortages and tight supply, IDC noted, and the research firm highlights that one of the key supply constraints for semiconductors has been in mature process nodes.

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Microsoft brings Jenny, Aria, and more interface tweaks to new Windows 11 Insider build

Exorcising the ghost of Windows past

Microsoft has dropped another Windows 11 Insider build into the hands of unpaid testers, demonstrating it is serious about tidying up the mismatch of user interface cues in its flagship operating system.

Build 22543 arrived in the Dev Channel last night and while the company was keen to trumpet the arrival of more natural voices for its Narrator ("Jenny" and "Aria") and new keyboard commands, the updated visuals are a welcome bit of polish – particularly in light of the ravaging of Notepad and Task Manager.

After finally sorting out hardware indicators for the brightness and volume, today's emission brought tweaks to the media controls on the lock screen (for some Insiders) so it looks more like the design in Quick Settings when they are signed in.

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California's net neutrality law dodges Big Telecom bullet

Federal appeals court upholds decision not to block connection protection rules

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court's refusal to block California's net neutrality law (SB 822), affirming that state laws can regulate internet connectivity where federal law has gone silent.

The decision is a blow to the large internet service providers that challenged California's regulations, which prohibit network practices that discriminate against lawful applications and online activities. SB 822, for example, forbids "zero-rating" programs that exempt favored services from customer data allotments, paid prioritization, and blocking or degrading service.

In 2017, under the leadership of then-chairman Ajit Pai, the US Federal Communications Commission tossed out America's net neutrality rules, to the delight of the internet service providers that had to comply. Then in 2018, the FCC issued an order that redefined broadband internet services, treating them as "information services" under Title I of the Communications Act instead of more regulated "telecommunications services" under Title II of the Communications Act.

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Joe Danger rides to the rescue as ageing title tugs at the heartstrings

Hobby project sees Hello Games' first baby return at the request of a dedicated dad

In these times of political uncertainty, economic upheaval, and an ongoing pandemic, it’s heartening to reveal a human story in software development.

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Not Azure thing: Using MS's Quantum to schedule chats with spacecraft on the DSN

Oh boy

While Microsoft's Azure Quantum continues to hover between vapourware and hardware – a state of quantum if you will – NASA boffins have been putting tech inspired by the research to work in spacecraft communications.

As for those that think the Moon landings never happened, just wait until you hear about scalable quantum computing.

In this instance, the fabled hardware is not being put to use by engineers and scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Instead, the team is looking for ways of optimising communication with missions via the very finite resource of the Deep Space Network (DSN).

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Blistering bandwidth: JEDEC pushes out HBM3 memory specs

All that and improved energy efficiency

The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association has published the official standards for HBM3 memory, the latest update to the High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) Standard.

HBM is a high-performance memory type that uses vertically stacked memory chips that are typically mounted on the same substrate close to a CPU or GPU. There are just a few suppliers of HBM memory: SK hynix, Micron, and Samsung spring to mind.

The HBM3 standard was designed for greater bandwidth, doubling the per-pin data rate of HBM2 generation components up to 6.4Gbps, equivalent to 819GBps bandwith per device, according to JEDEC, which is in line with the HBM3 DRAM design SK hynix announced last year.

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Despite growth, questions remain over whether SAP can get customers off-prem fast enough to appease investors

€500m cloud investments drag on profit

SAP's operating profit has fallen 45 per cent year-on-year in the fourth calendar quarter pf 2021 to €1.47bn as cloud investments drag on profitability.

Despite boasting 17 per cent growth in cloud revenue to £9.4bn, the full-year results also show the pain involved as one of the world's largest software vendors attempts to transition to a new business model.

On a call with investors, CEO Christian Klein said: "These are very strong results during a challenging time for most businesses. They demonstrate the confidence our customers have in SAP and in the unique value we offer in helping them address an unprecedented set of challenges. We are optimistic about the year ahead and we are well on track to achieving our 2025 ambitions."

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New tools to simplify wrapping your head around Kubernetes

Where to begin when you're ready to get your K8s on

Engineer Nelson Elhage offers several reasons Kubernetes is so complex but this does at least mean that multiple companies offer tools to try to help you master it.

The Google-backed container-management system is famously difficult, even to spell or pronounce. (It's often called "k8s" for short: since "kubernetes" is 10 letters long, "k8s" signifies "k" + eight letters + "s", and is pronounced "kates".) The Mountain View mammoth even commissioned a comic to explain what it is. (It's long, but quite good.)

K8s is a set of tools for managing clusters – but not everyone has a spare cluster lying around that they can play with.

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ISO.org outage hits day 3: Still in the dark as the important matter of bunk bed standards enters discussion

Time to get out ISO 22300:2021, Security and resilience – Vocabulary

The great International Organization for Standardization outage is entering its third day as consultants find themselves bereft of technical documents with which to beat engineers.

Problems first appeared as 26 January drew to a close and the organisation noted: "We are currently facing a technical outage impacting our application's availability and performance. This outage is under investigation."

The following day brought good news. At 0822 CET on 27 January the group announced it had identified the issue (something to do with IT infrastructure) and a couple of hours later reported that some applications were being brought back up.

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LYNCH LATEST: UK Home Secretary Priti Patel green-lights Mike Lynch's extradition to US to face Autonomy fraud charges