Informative Monday mornings with 100TB’s Technology News Roundup: Google skips three generations of Moore’s Law; Blockchain keeps data safe; EU adopts cybersecurity rules; Amazon open sources DSSTNE; Yubiko accused of security through obscurity.
Google Unveils Tensor Processing Unit
Google has made its first serious foray into the realm of custom computing hardware with the announcement of the Tensor Processing Unit, a device designed to vastly accelerate the performance of deep-learning systems based on its TensorFlow platform.
“We’ve been running TPUs inside our data centers for more than a year, and have found them to deliver an order of magnitude better-optimized performance per watt for machine learning,” claimed Google’s Norm Jouppi. “This is roughly equivalent to fast-forwarding technology about seven years into the future – three generations of Moore’s Law.”
Google has not yet announced whether it plans to sell TPU hardware as discrete upgrades for third-party servers.
Acronis Investigating Blockchain-Powered Backups
Acronis has announced that it is working on data protection for business backups based on the same blockchain technology that powers the noted cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
“The way I think of it is like this: you know how Docusign verifies your signature on a document,” Acronis’ chief marketing officer John Zanni told IT Brief NZ of the company’s plans. “Well, this technology enables solutions that not only verify the document but also just about anything you want.”
Acronis’ initial plans are to use blockchain technology to guarantee the privacy, control, and authenticity of corporate data protected via its backup solutions.
EC Adopts New Europe-Wide Cybersecurity Rules
The European Council has formally adopted new cybersecurity rules under the Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive.
Proposed in December last year, the NIS Directive is aimed at improving the state of the art in cybersecurity throughout the European Union, and lays down security obligations for what the Council describes as “operators of essential services in critical sectors such as energy, transport, health, and finance” as well as those providing “online marketplaces, search engines and cloud services.”
While the Directive has now been formally adopted, it must be ratified by an Act of the European Parliament before it becomes law. Following this, the Directive will enter force as an Act in August 2016.
Amazon Open-Sources Product Recommendation Technology
Amazon has released the machine learning software behind its highly effective product recommendation engine, known as the Deep Scalable Sparse Tensor Network Engine (DSSTNE), under a permissive open-source license.
Built for deep-learning tasks within Amazon at a large scale, DSSTNE is claimed to scale out to multiple processors for both training and prediction tasks using large layers and based on sparse data sets, all of which the company claim boost performance over rival software such as Google’s TensorFlow.
The company claims it has opened the software in order to foster a collaboration in wider applications of deep-learning networks and to help improve the quality of its own software, and has chosen the Apache 2.0 license for the release.
Yubico Hit By Closed-Source Complaints
Two-factor authentication expert Yubico has been castigated over a decision to close the source code to selected portions of the software running on its YubiKey 4 product.
With many in the media arguing that the company has opted for ‘security through obscurity’, and is preventing the proper auditing of its products for potential vulnerabilities by doing so, Yubico has published a defense of its approach with chief technical officer Jakob Ehrensvard claiming that “we are no less committed to open source and to the open source community” as a result of the shift away from a more open development model.