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Nvidia taps Intel’s Sapphire Rapids CPU for DGX H100 system • The Register

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Nvidia has chosen Intel’s next-generation Xeon Scalable processor, known as Sapphire Rapids, to go inside its upcoming DGX H100 AI system to showcase its flagship H100 GPU.

Jensen Huang, co-founder and CEO of Nvidia, confirmed the CPU choice during a fireside chat Tuesday at the BofA Securities 2022 Global Technology Conference. Nvidia positions the DGX family as the premier vehicle for its datacenter GPUs, pre-loading the machines with its software and optimizing them to provide the fastest AI performance as individual systems or in large supercomputer clusters.

Huang’s confirmation answers a question we and other observers have had about which next-generation x86 server CPU the new DGX system would use since it was announced in March.

The GPU giant has previously promised that the DGX H100 [PDF] will arrive by the end of this year, and it will pack eight H100 GPUs, based on Nvidia’s new Hopper architecture. By using its fourth-generation NVLink interconnect to connect the GPUs, the chip designer has claimed that a single system will be capable of delivering 32 petaflops of AI performance using its FP8 format.

Huang confirmed Nvidia’s selection of Sapphire Rapids for the DGX H100 while voicing his continued support for x86 CPUs as the company plans to introduce its first Arm-based server CPU, Grace, next year. He also said that Nvidia will use Sapphire Rapids for new supercomputers.

“We buy a lot of x86s. We have great partnerships with Intel and AMD. For the Hopper generation, I’ve selected Sapphire Rapids to be the CPU for Nvidia Hopper, and Sapphire Rapids has excellent single-threaded performance. And we’re qualifying it for hyperscalers all over the world. We’re qualifying it for datacenters all over the world. We’re qualifying it for our own server, our own DGX. We’re qualifying it for our own supercomputers,” he said at the Tuesday event.

The selection of Intel’s upcoming Sapphire Rapids chip, which has already started shipping to some customers, marks a reversal of sorts for Nvidia after it chose AMD‘s second-generation Epyc server CPU, code-named Rome, for its DGX A100 system that was introduced in 2020.

This comes after industry publication ServeTheHome reported in mid-April that Nvidia had motherboard designs for both Sapphire Rapids and AMD’s upcoming Epyc CPU, code-named Genoa, for the DGX H100 as the GPU giant had not yet decided on which x86 chip it would use.

While Intel will consider this a victory as the semiconductor giant works to regain technology leadership after years of missteps, it’s a relatively small win when considering the bigger battle over GPUs and other accelerators that is playing out between Nvidia, Intel, AMD and other companies. It’s why, for instance, Intel is making a big bet on its upcoming Ponte Vecchio GPU and why AMD has pushed to become more competitive against Nvidia with its latest Instinct GPUs.

One major reason why Nvidia has decided to build its own Arm-compatible CPU is so it can put a CPU and a GPU together in the same package to significantly speed up the flow of data between the two components to fuel AI workloads and other kinds of demanding applications.

Nvidia plans to introduce its first iteration of this design, called the Grace Hopper Superchip, next year alongside the 144-core, CPU-only Grace Superchip, and we think it’s likely that Nvidia will introduce a new kind of DGX system that will use Grace. Intel also plans to introduce a CPU-GPU design for servers with the Falcon Shores XPU in 2024.

During the Tuesday talk, Huang promised that “Grace is going to be an amazing CPU” that will allow the Nvidia to fine-tune everything from the components to the systems to the software. While the GPU giant is designing the Arm-compatible chip to benefit recommender systems and large language models used by so-called hyperscale companies, it will be used for other applications too, according to Huang.

“Grace has the advantage that in every single application domain that we go into, we have the full stack, we have all of the ecosystem all lined up, whether it’s data analytics, or machine learning, or cloud gaming, or Omniverse, [or] digital twin simulations. In all of the spaces that we’re going to take Grace into, we own the whole stack, so we have the opportunity to create the market for it,” he said. ®

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US offers $10m reward for info on five Conti ransomware members

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Rewards for Justice shared a photo of someone it claims to be an associate of the ransomware gang and is offering a reward to identify him and four others.

The US Department of State is offering a $10m reward for any information on five malicious cyber actors who are believed to be high-ranking members of the Conti ransomware gang.

The US has been offering rewards for information on this ransomware gang since May, including a $5m reward for any intel that leads to the arrest of anyone conspiring or attempting to participate in a Conti attack.

Yesterday (11 August), the department’s Rewards for Justice programme shared an alleged photo of an associate of the ransomware gang. The department said on Twitter that it is “trying to put a name to the face” and believes the individual is the hacker known as “Target”.

Illustration showing an image of a man with four figures next to it. A reward offer for information on the Conti ransomware gang.

A request for information by the Rewards for Justice programme. Image: US Department of State/Rewards for Justice

Conti, also known as Wizard Spider, has been linked to a group believed to be based near St Petersburg, Russia. The US has labelled it a “Russian government-linked ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) group”.

The group’s malware is believed to be responsible for more than 1,000 ransomware operations targeting critical infrastructure around the world, from law enforcement agencies to emergency medical services and dispatch centres.

In May 2021, the Conti group was behind the HSE ransomware incident that saw more than 80pc of the IT infrastructure of healthcare services across Ireland impacted. It was said to be the most serious cyberattack ever to hit the State’s critical infrastructure.

The US Department of State previously said the Conti ransomware variant is the “costliest strain of ransomware” ever documented. The FBI estimates that, as of January 2022, there had been more than 1,000 victims of attacks associated with Conti ransomware, with victim payouts exceeding $150m.

When Russia began its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the Conti group declared its allegiance to the Russian government. Shortly after, a Ukrainian researcher took the cybersecurity world by storm after publishing more than 60,000 internal messages of the ransomware gang.

Raj Samani, chief scientist at cybersecurity firm Rapid7, said the latest reward offer is just “the tip of the iceberg as enforcement agencies make “considerable strides” through public-private collaboration to hold cybercriminals to account.

“Announcing a reward and revealing the details of Conti members sends a message to would-be criminals that cybercrime is anything but risk-free,” said Samani.

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Meditation app Calm sacks one-fifth of staff | Meditation

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The US-based meditation app Calm has laid off 20% of its workforce, becoming the latest US tech startup to announce job cuts.

The firm’s boss, David Ko, said the company, which has now axed about 90 people from its 400-person staff, was “not immune” to the economic climate. “In building out our strategic and financial plan, we revisited the investment thesis behind every project and it became clear that we need to make changes,” he said in a memo to staff.

“I can assure you that this was not an easy decision, but it is especially difficult for a company like ours whose mission is focused on workplace mental health and wellness.”

The Calm app, founded in 2012, offers guided meditation and bedtime stories for people of all ages. It received a surge of downloads triggered by the 2020 Covid lockdowns. By the end of that year, the software company said the app had been downloaded more than 100 million times globally and had amassed over 4 million paying subscribers.

Investors valued the firm, which said it had been profitable since 2016, at $2bn.

In the memo, Ko went on: “We did not come to this decision lightly, but are confident that these changes will help us prioritize the future, focus on growth and become a more efficient organization.”

More than 500 startups have laid off staff this year, according to layoffs.fyi, a website that tracks such announcements.

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Let there be ambient light sensing, without data theft • The Register

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Six years after web security and privacy concerns surfaced about ambient light sensors in mobile phones and notebooks, browser boffins have finally implemented defenses.

The W3C, everyone’s favorite web standards body, began formulating an Ambient Light Events API specification back in 2012 to define how web browsers should handle data and events from ambient light sensors (ALS). Section 4 of the draft spec, “Security and privacy considerations,” was blank. It was a more carefree time.

Come 2015, the spec evolved to include acknowledgement of the possibility that ALS might allow data correlation and device fingerprinting, to the detriment of people’s privacy. And it suggested that browser makers might consider event rate limiting as a potential mitigation.

By 2016, it became clear that allowing web code to interact with device light sensors entailed privacy and security risks beyond fingerprinting. Dr Lukasz Olejnik, an independent privacy researcher and consultant, explored the possibilities in a 2016 blog post.

Olejnik cited a number of ways in which ambient light sensor readings might be abused, including data leakage, profiling, behavioral analysis, and various forms of cross-device communication.

He described a few proof-of-concept attacks, devised with the help of security researcher Artur Janc, in a 2017 post and delved into more detail in a 2020 paper [PDF].

“The attack we devised was a side-channel leak, conceptually very simple, taking advantage of the optical properties of human skin and its reflective properties,” Olejnik explained in his paper.

“Skin reflectance only accounts for the 4-7 percent emitted light but modern display screens emit light with significant luminance. We exploited these facts of nature to craft an attack that reasoned about the website content via information encoded in the light level and conveyed via the user skin, back to the browsing context tracking the light sensor readings.”

It was this technique that enabled the proof-of-concept attacks like stealing web history through inferences made from CSS changes and stealing cross origin resources, such as images or the contents of iframes.

Snail-like speed

Browser vendors responded in various ways. In May 2018, with the release of Firefox 60, Mozilla moved access to the W3C proximity and ambient light APIs behind flags, and applied further limitations in subsequent Firefox releases.

Apple simply declined to implement the API in WebKit, along with a number of other capabilities. Both Apple and Mozilla currently oppose a proposal for a generic sensor API.

Google took what Olejnik described his paper as a “more nuanced” approach, limiting the precision of sensor data.

But those working on the W3C specification and on the browsers implementing the spec recognized that such privacy protections should be formalized, to increase the likelihood the API will be widely adopted and used.

So they voted to make the imprecision of ALS data normative (standard for browsers) and to require the camera access permission as part of the ALS spec.

Those changes finally landed in the ALS spec this week. As a result, Google and perhaps other browser makers may choose to make the ALS API available by default rather than hiding it behind a flag or ignoring it entirely. ®



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