Four years ago, Google was faced with a conundrum: if all its users hit its voice recognition services for three minutes a day, the company would need to double the number of data centers just to handle all of the requests to the machine learning system powering those services. Rather than buy a bunch of new real estate and servers just for that purpose, the company embarked on a journey to create dedicated hardware for running machine- learning applications like voice recognition. The result was the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), a chip that is designed to accelerate the inference stage of deep neural networks. Google published a paper on Wednesday laying out the performance gains the company saw over comparable CPUs and GPUs, both in terms of raw power and the performance per watt of power consumed. A TPU was on average 15 to 30 times faster at the machine learning inference tasks tested than a comparable server-class Intel Haswell CPU or Nvidia K80 GPU.
Whether you've just gotten rid of cable or want to supplement your TV package with online video, now's an excellent time to buy a media streaming device. Compared to the typical smart TV, standalone streamers such as the Roku Streaming Stick and Amazon Fire TV tend to have bigger app selections, faster performance, and more features. And with so much competition between device makers, the hardware is becoming faster, more capable, and more affordable. We constantly test all the latest devices, including Roku players, Fire TV devices, Android TV devices, Apple TV, and Chromecast. We review each new generation of hardware and constantly revisit the software and app selection so we can help you determine which platform is right for you.
Microsoft just announced that the Windows 10 Creators Update will start rolling out on April 11, building upon the foundation laid by vanilla Windows 10 and its subsequent "November" and "Anniversary" updates. While not every feature that Microsoft promised at the Creators Update's reveal last fall actually made the final cut, it's still overflowing with helpful new extras that polish rough edges and just plain make things more fun. You'll need to read PCWorld's comprehensive Windows 10 Creators Update review for our hands-on impressions, or PCWorld's mammoth Creators Update roundup for nitty-grittier feature details, but here are the five biggest changes you'll encounter when it rolls out to your device. The first change you'll notice in the Windows 10 Creators Update is literally the first thing you'll see when you boot up: An improved installation process. Microsoft's taken a lot of heat for Windows 10's deeper hooks into your personal data.
Microsoft's Windows 10 Creators Update offers the most significant upgrade to Windows 10 since its launch, splashing a bright, cheery coat of fun over Windows 10's productivity foundation. Microsoft announced Wednesday morning that this free upgrade will begin rolling out to existing users as soon as April 11. New users will need to pay $120 for Windows 10 Home or $200 for Windows 10 Pro--remember, Windows 10 itself is no longer free. Insiders already have the Creators Update, as the company also confirmed Wednesday, and we used the Insider build to write this review. The Creators Update adds numerous new capabilities that Windows previously lacked.
Intel surprised many observers when the company hired outsider Venkata Renduchintala to lead the company's PC, Internet of Things, and Systems Architecture groups. With more than a year under his belt, he's spearheading a cultural change inside the company, getting employees to think beyond PCs and talk about technologies like 5G and IoT. There's been a lot of chatter about changes in the company's chip development strategy, with the recent announcement of the 8th Generation Core processors, an unprecedented fourth chip architecture on the 14-nanometer process. The chip industry veteran sat down with the IDG News Service at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to talk about what spurred the move and also his thoughts on 5G. Renduchintala: I'm noticing there are a hell of a lot more people interested in 5G.
A new PowerVR graphics architecture from Imagination Technologies will give a serious graphics boost to Apple's future iPhones, including 4K graphics. Imagination is announcing Furian, the first major graphics architecture upgrade since Rogue, which was announced in 2010. Apple's iPhone 7 currently has graphics based on the Rogue architecture. The Furian architecture also sets up future iPhones for graphics-intensive applications like virtual reality. Furian will be used in new PowerVR GPUs like the Series8XT, according to Imagination.
The BMW 7 Series will be used as the initial platform for Intel processor and Mobileye computer vision technology during the global trials. Mobileye and Delphi plan to demonstrate their "Central Sensing Localization and Planning" (CSLP) platform for self-driving cars in urban and highway driving conditions during the Consumer Electronics Show taking place now in Las Vegas. Mobileye and Delphi plan to demonstrate their platform for self-driving cars in urban and highway driving conditions during CES 2017 and start production in 2019. In related news, Intel announced Intel GO In-Vehicle Development Platforms for Automated Driving, which is specifically tailored for the self-driving technology market in that it's highly scalable and designed to meet the high compute demands of the fully autonomous driving industry.
With the Radeon Instinct line, AMD joins Nvidia and Intel in the race to put its chips into AI applications--specifically, machine learning for everything from self-driving cars to art. The company plans to launch three products under the new brand in 2017, which include chips from all three of its GPU families. The passively cooled Radeon Instinct MI6 will be based on the company's Polaris architecture. It will offer 5.7 teraflops of performance and 224GBps of memory bandwidth, and will consume up to 150 watts of power. The small-form-factor, Fiji-based Radeon Instinct MI8 will provide 8.2 teraflops of performance and 512GBps of memory bandwidth, and will consume up to 175 watts of power.
Japan plans to build a super-efficient computer that could vault it to the top of the world's supercomputer rankings by the end of next year. With a processing capacity of 130 petaflops, the planned computer would outperform the current world leader, China's Sunway TaihuLight, which delivers 93 petaflops. One petaflop is one million billion floating-point operations per second. Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) isn't just aiming to build the world's fastest supercomputers, it also wants to make one of the most efficient. It is aiming for a power consumption of under 3 megawatts -- a staggering figure, given that Japan's current highest entry in the Top500 supercomputer list, Oakforest-PACS, delivers one-tenth the performance (13.6 petaflops) for the same power.
The company will release new Xeon server chips based on Skylake in mid-2017, and they will boast big performance increases, said Barry Davis, general manager for the accelerated workload group at Intel. The move toward machine learning is even driving changes in server configurations, with more customers buying servers with graphics processors. The new chips will boast advanced processing features that will bring big performance gains to AI tasks, Davis said. Another feature is on-chip support for Intel OmniPath, a proprietary high-speed interconnect that links servers, storage, networking, and other data-center hardware.