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Intel and Cray Collaborate With U.S. Government, Aims for Nation’s Fastest Computer

The world's current most powerful machine, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, contains chips from International Business Machines Corp. and Nvidia.

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Intel
This Jan. 1, 2018, file photo shows an Intel logo on the box containing an HP desktop computer on sale at a Costco in Pittsburgh. VOA

A U.S. government-led group is working with chipmaker Intel and Cray to develop and build the nation’s fastest computer by 2021 for conducting nuclear weapons and other research, officials said Monday.

The Department of Energy and the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago said they were working on a supercomputer dubbed Aurora with Intel, the world’s biggest supplier of data center chips, and Cray, which specializes in the ultra-fast machines.

The $500 million contract for the project calls on the companies to deliver a computer with so-called exaflop performance — that is, being able to perform 1 quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.

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It also heightens the stakes in a race in which the United States, China, the European Union and Japan have all announced plans to build exaflop-capable supercomputers. VOA

If the project succeeds, Aurora would represent nearly an order of magnitude leap over existing machines that feature so-called petaflop performance, capable of doing 1 quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) calculations a second.

It also heightens the stakes in a race in which the United States, China, the European Union and Japan have all announced plans to build exaflop-capable supercomputers.

One of Aurora’s primary functions would be simulating nuclear blasts, a pillar of weapons development since the ban of live detonation testings.

Aurora will be built with artificial intelligence capabilities for projects such as developing better battery materials and helping the Department of Veterans Affairs prevent suicides, Rick Stevens, an associate lab director with Argonne overseeing the exascale computing project, said during a news
briefing.

The project is a win for Intel, which will supply its Xeon CPU chips and Optane memory chips for Aurora.

FILE - The Nvidia booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 13, 2017.
The Nvidia booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 13, 2017. VOA

Intel has been fending off rival U.S. chipmaker Nvidia Corp.’s rise in the chip content of supercomputers as the machines take on more artificial intelligence work. Nvidia’s chips are found in five of the world’s current top 10 supercomputers, though the Nvidia chips are found alongside chips from its rivals, according to TOP500, which ranks the machines.

The world’s current most powerful machine, the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, contains chips from International Business Machines Corp. and Nvidia.

The source of chips for supercomputers has become a factor in trade tensions between the United States and China. The world’s third-fastest supercomputer — the Sunway TaihuLight in China — has chips developed domestically in China.

Also Read: U.S. Tariffs on China Could Remain Same, Even After Reaching The Trade Deal

Chirag Dekate, an analyst with Gartner who studies the supercomputing market, said that despite the small contract size relative to Intel’s overall revenue, the work done on Aurora will eventually filter down to the company’s commercial customers.

“It’s not just a jingoistic race between the U.S. and China,” Dekate said. “The innovations that Intel is developing here will percolate down to other parts of its business.” (VOA)

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Passwords on Sensitive Account Are Still Easy To Guess

The most common name to be used in passwords was "Ashley", followed by "Michael", "Daniel", "Jessica" and "Charlie".

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"Nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band," Pixabay

Millions of people are using easy-to-guess passwords on sensitive accounts, with “123456” being the most widely-used on breached accounts, suggests a security study.

The study by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) helped to uncover the gaps in cyber-knowledge that could leave people in danger of being exploited, the BBC reported on Sunday.

For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used.

password
Security expert Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said picking a good password was the “single biggest control” people had over their online security.
Pixabay

Top of the list was “123456”, appearing in more than 23 million passwords. The second-most popular string, “123456789”, was not much harder to crack, while others in the top five included “qwerty”, “password” and “1111111”.

The most common name to be used in passwords was “Ashley”, followed by “Michael”, “Daniel”, “Jessica” and “Charlie”.

When it comes to Premier League football teams in passwords, “Liverpool” came first and “Chelsea” second. “Blink-182” topped the charts of music acts.

hacking
For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used. Pixabay

People who use well-known words or names for a password put themselves people at risk of being hacked, said Ian Levy, technical director of the NCSC.

“Nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band,” he said.

Also Read: Violent Relationships Can Increase The Risk Of Mental Disorder in Women

Security expert Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said picking a good password was the “single biggest control” people had over their online security.

“We typically haven’t done a very good job of that either as individuals or as the organisations asking us to register with them.” (IANS)