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It’s amazing. We should be amazed. And yet.. • The Register

Opinion On March 9th, Apple had its spring reveal. The stars of the show were a nice monitor, a new budget iPhone, and the Mac Studio, a Mac Mini stretched in Photoshop. Reaction was muted. There’d been some very accurate pre-launch leaks, sure, but nobody had cared about those either.

If you’re over five years old, you’ll remember when pre-launch leaks didn’t happen, while plausible fakes caused more buzz than John McAfee’s stash of speed.

We all have gadget fatigue, we all have other things on our minds.

Yet the actual tech within the Mac Studio is genuinely breathtaking, not because Apple has rewritten the rulebook, but because it’s the clearest marker yet of how extreme small personal computers have become. You should be amazed. You should be talking about nothing else. You’re not. We have a problem. 

Take some raw numbers. The Mac Studio Ultra starts at $4k. It weighs about 4 kilograms. It has a 400 watt power supply. It can clock up around 20 TFLOPS – twenty million million floating point operations a second, if you’re feeling blasé – thanks to its M1 Ultra SoC, one of the highest performing devices in mainstream computing. 

The Mac Studio Ultra is vastly superior to the world’s fastest supercomputer from 2001, IBM’s one-off ASCI White. That cost $170m, weighed over 100,000 kilograms, took six megawatts in processing and cooling, and produced a paltry 12 TFLOPS.

Do the sums to combine everything that’s better in FLOPS per kilo per watt per dollar, and the Mac Studio Ultra is twenty million million times ahead of ASCI White. Plus you can buy it online, it runs Netflix, and it’s too small for your cat to sit on. 

It’s true that the M1 Ultra chip, for all Apple’s fanfare, isn’t the fastest general purpose CPU you can buy, and is even further behind the buffest GPU cards. Nonetheless, you can outperform the biggest computer in the world from a couple of decades ago, twice over, in your living room. You probably won’t bother. If you don’t care, why should anyone? That’s the problem. 

If you’ve been in IT for most, all or more than the years between ASCI White and Mac Studio, ask yourself what, in 2001, you would have said if offered the chance to have the world’s most powerful computer all to yourself.

Those were crazy days, my friend, days when each new generation of computer let you do something for the first time you could never do before. This was the time of insane momentum that had taken us from monochrome text to colour graphics to photo-quality, from single-note bleeps to CD quality sound editing, from Space Invaders to 3D gaming, from tape to gigabyte drives, from downloads barely faster than typing to video – but not TV-quality streaming, YouTube was still some years away. 

All that, and the Web was just getting going. Oh. My. Gawd. What next? 

If you were a developer – “programmer” in the Old Tongue – or had other scientific or technical interests in computation, then it was even better. The regular leaps in performance and potential kept your love for the field alive. Your code magically ran faster, your data could grow ever bigger, your UIs become ever more gorgeous, and you just had to sit back and let it happen. You could even see what next might be like.

Above it all, the stratospheric mysteries of supercomputing hung like the PCs the gods themselves ordered from the Mount Olympus edition of Byte.  Supercomputers were 20 years ahead again, but they’d be with us mere mortals if we just stuck around. 

We didn’t know it back then, but Gen X were being both pleasured and spoiled by growing up alongside Moore’s Law, and got to see the digitisation of global culture and technology happen at first hand.

It was easy to be in love with IT; if you had the geek gene, impossible to avoid. Now, even for those who lived those years and are habituated in our expectations and interests, the automatic magic has gone. Every two years used to bring a wow moment when tech gave you something new. You’ll remember your first, and your second, and your third. Can you remember your last?

This would be so much bah-millennials old fartism if the industry didn’t have such a tearing need for new blood, and the constant infusion of people engaged, enthusiastic and eager to put in the work for intellectual rewards. This isn’t a new observation. It’s what led to the invention of the Raspberry Pi 10 years ago, making something cheap, open and capable of regenerating those wow moments by stripping away the crud of commercial computing. That only goes so far, though. It works if you’re not put off by naked PCBs, and most are.  It doesn’t solve the other huge demographic brake on fresh ideas in tech, the lack of diversity.

Look again at our desktop supercomputer. It’s still producing wow moments, but they’re focused in areas that still seem magic to their practitioners. Like the supercomputers always have, it earns its spurs modelling realities. Graphics mavens scan and sculpt, build and tinker, with instant gratification. Developers build and deploy ideas in minutes from components and tools that would have taken months of teamwork. Astronomers make and explore galaxies.

What the personal supercomputer has become is a divinely powerful construction set for ideas in any medium, technical and artistic, but only for the skilled and the experienced. You have to push it: golden age IT pulled you along behind it, if you just had the wit to hold on. 

Serving up wow has to be a top priority. Where is the IT chemistry set? Where is the Build Your Own Cosmos for ages 7-11? Where is the Fisher-Price digital audio workstation? Where, in short, is the Toys-R-Us of the digital world? Our computers, our networks and our tools are more than good enough to offer anyone of any genre, any age, geek or normcore, a wow reward for creative engagement. We are twenty million million times better at computers now than 20 years ago: it’s time we cashed in some of those chips to earn the love of the next generation. ®

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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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Culture

European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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