Intel Enters Discrete GPU Market With Launch of Arc A-Series For Laptops

MojoKid writes: Today Intel finally launched its first major foray into discrete GPUs for gamers and creators. Dubbed Intel Arc A-Series and comprised of 5 different chips built on two different Arc Alchemist SoCs, the company announced its entry level Arc 3 Graphics is shipping in market now with laptop OEMs delivering new all-Intel products shortly. The two SoCs set the foundation across three performance tiers, including Arc 3, Arc 5, and Arc 7.

For example, Arc A370M arrives today with 8 Xe cores, 8 ray tracing units, 4GB of GDDR6 memory linked to a 64-bit memory bus, and a 1,550MHz graphics clock. Graphics power is rated at 35-50W. However, Arc A770M, Intel’s highest-end mobile GPU will come with 32 Xe cores, 32 ray tracing units, 16GB of GDDR 6 memory over a 256-bit interface and with a 1650MHz graphics clock. Doing the math, Arc A770M could be up to 4X more powerful than Arc 370M. In terms of performance, Intel showcased benchmarks from a laptop outfitted with a Core i7-12700H processor and Arc A370M GPU that can top the 60 FPS threshold at 1080p in many games where integrated graphics could come up far short. Examples included Doom Eternal (63 fps) at high quality settings, and Hitman 3 (62 fps), and Destiny 2 (66 fps) at medium settings. Intel is also showcasing new innovations for content creators as well, with its Deep Link, Hyper Encode and AV1 video compression support offering big gains in video upscaling, encoding and streaming. Finally, Intel Arc Control software will offer unique features like Smooth Sync that blends tearing artifacts when V-Synch is turned off, as well as Creator Studio with background blur, frame tracking and broadcast features for direct game streaming services support.

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MIT Reinstates SAT/ACT Requirement For Incoming Classes

“The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced it will once again require applicants to take the SAT or ACT, reversing a Covid-era policy that made the standardized tests optional and rejecting the idea that the tests hurt diversity,” reports CNN. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a blog post announcing the decision, writing: From the policy announcement, there’s an excess of delicacy — to the point where you might find it funny or terribly disturbing: “Our research can’t explain why these tests are so predictive of academic preparedness for MIT, but we believe it is likely related to the centrality of mathematics — and mathematics examinations — in our education. All MIT students, regardless of intended major, must pass two semesters of calculus, plus two semesters of calculus-based physics […]. The substance and pace of these courses are both very demanding, and they culminate in long, challenging final exams that students must pass to proceed with their education. In other words, there is no path through MIT that does not rest on a rigorous foundation in mathematics, and we need to be sure our students are ready for that as soon as they arrive.”

Did the entire admissions department threaten to quit? Or did the incoming class turn out to be morons? “Our research shows standardized tests help us better assess the academic preparedness of all applicants, and also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT,” Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill wrote in the policy announcement.

“We believe a requirement is more equitable and transparent than a test-optional policy.”

A number of elite schools, including Harvard and University of California, announced plans to stop using the SAT and ACT college admissions exams. Last May, Colorado became the first state to ban “legacy” admissions and signed a bill that removes a requirement that public colleges consider SAT or ACAT scores for freshmen.

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The Drone Operators Who Halted Russian Convoy Headed For Kyiv

“Ukrainian special forces teamed up with IT professionals on ATV four-wheelers to target the infamous Kiev convoy,” writes longtime Slashdot reader darkseid. “Every Help Desk Geek’s Walter Mitty fantasy!” The Guardian reports: One week into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia massed a 40-mile mechanized column in order to mount an overwhelming attack on Kyiv from the north. But the convoy of armored vehicles and supply trucks ground to a halt within days, and the offensive failed, in significant part because of a series of night ambushes carried out by a team of 30 Ukrainian special forces and drone operators on quad bikes, according to a Ukrainian commander.

The drone operators were drawn from an air reconnaissance unit, Aerorozvidka, which began eight years ago as a group of volunteer IT specialists and hobbyists designing their own machines and has evolved into an essential element in Ukraine’s successful David-and-Goliath resistance. […] The unit’s commander, Lt Col Yaroslav Honchar, gave an account of the ambush near the town of Ivankiv that helped stop the vast, lumbering Russian offensive in its tracks. He said the Ukrainian fighters on quad bikes were able to approach the advancing Russian column at night by riding through the forest on either side of the road leading south towards Kyiv from the direction of Chernobyl.

The Ukrainian soldiers were equipped with night vision goggles, sniper rifles, remotely detonated mines, drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras and others capable of dropping small 1.5kg bombs. “This one little unit in the night destroyed two or three vehicles at the head of this convoy, and after that it was stuck. They stayed there two more nights, and [destroyed] many vehicles,” Honchar said. The Russians broke the column into smaller units to try to make headway towards the Ukrainian capital, but the same assault team was able to mount an attack on its supply depot, he claimed, crippling the Russians’ capacity to advance. “The first echelon of the Russian force was stuck without heat, without oil, without bombs and without gas. And it all happened because of the work of 30 people,” Honchar said. “The Aerorozvidka unit also claims to have helped defeat a Russian airborne attack on Hostomel airport, just north-west of Kyiv, in the first day of the war,” adds the Guardian. Similar to the convoy ambush, they “[used] drones to locate, target and shell about 200 Russian paratroopers concealed at one end of the airfield.”

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40,000 Chromebooks and 9,600 iPads Went Missing At Chicago Public Schools During COVID

theodp shares a report from Chicago Sun-Times, written by Frank Main: When the school system [Chicago Public Schools] shifted to having students learn remotely in the spring of 2020 near the beginning of the pandemic, it lent students iPads, MacBooks and Windows computer devices so they could do school work and attend virtual classes from home. CPS then spent about $165 million to buy Chromebook desktop computers so that every student from kindergarten through senior year in high school who needed a computer could have one. Students borrowed 161,100 Chromebooks in September 2020. By June 2021, more than 210,000 of those devices had been given out. Of them, nearly 40,000 Chromebooks have been reported lost — nearly a fifth of those that were lent.

“Schools have made repeated efforts to recover the lost devices from families without success,” according to a written statement from CPS officials in response to questions about the missing school property. Also missing are more than 9,600 iPads, 114 televisions, 1,680 printers and 1,127 audiovisual projectors, among many other items. Officials say CPS has bought new computer devices to replace the missing ones. Longtime Slashdot reader theodp notes that “there were 340,658 students enrolled in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.”

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Lapsus$ Found a Spreadsheet of Passwords as They Breached Okta, Documents Show

The Lapsus$ hackers used compromised credentials to break into the network of customer service giant Sitel in January, days before subsequently accessing the internal systems of authentication giant Okta, according to documents seen by TechCrunch that provide new details of the cyber intrusion that have not yet been reported. The report adds: […] The documents provide the most detailed account to date of the Sitel compromise, which allowed the hackers to later gain access to Okta’s network. […] The documents, obtained by independent security researcher Bill Demirkapi and shared with TechCrunch, include a Sitel customer communication sent on January 25 — more than a week after hackers first compromised its network — and a detailed timeline of the Sitel intrusion compiled by incident response firm Mandiant dated March 17 that was shared with Okta.

According to the documents, Sitel said it discovered the security incident in its VPN gateways on a legacy network belonging to Sykes, a customer service company working for Okta that Sitel acquired in 2021. The timeline details how the attackers used remote access services and publicly accessible hacking tools to compromise and navigate through Sitel’s network, gaining deeper visibility to the network over the five days that Lapsus$ had access. Sitel said that its Azure cloud infrastructure was also compromised by hackers. According to the timeline, the hackers accessed a spreadsheet on Sitel’s internal network early on January 21 called “DomAdmins-LastPass.xlsx.” The filename suggests that the spreadsheet contained passwords for domain administrator accounts that were exported from a Sitel employee’s LastPass password manager.

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Global Science Project Links Android Phones With Satellites To Improve Weather Forecasts

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Collecting satellite data for research is a group effort thanks to this app developed for Android users. Camaliot is a campaign funded by the European Space Agency, and its first project focuses on making smartphone owners around the world part of a project that can help improve weather forecasts by using your phone’s GPS receiver. The Camaliot app works on devices running Android version 7.0 or later that support satellite navigation. Researchers think that they can use satellite signals to get more information about the atmosphere. For example, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere can affect how a satellite signal travels through the air to something like a phone.

The app gathers information to track signal strength, the distance between the satellite and the phone being used, and the satellite’s carrier phase, according to Camaliot’s FAQs. With enough data collected from around the world, researchers can theoretically combine that with existing weather readings to measure long-term water vapor trends. They hope to use that data to inform weather forecasting models with machine learning. They can also track changes in Earth’s ionosphere — the part of the atmosphere near space. Creating better ionospheric forecasts could be relevant in tracking space weather and could eventually make Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) more accurate by accounting for events like geomagnetic storms. Camaliot could eventually expand to include more attempts at collecting data on a massive scale using sensors present in “Internet of Things” connected home devices. According to The Verge, these are the steps to take to begin using the Camaliot app on your Android phone:

1. Select “start logging” and place your phone in an area with a clear sky view to begin logging the data
2. Once you have measured to your liking, select “stop logging”
3. Then, upload your session to the server and repeat the process over time to collect more data. You can also delete your locally-stored log files at this step.

“In addition to being able to view your own measurements against others accumulated over time, you can also see a leaderboard showing logging sessions done by other participants,” adds The Verge. “Eventually, the information collected for the study will be available in a separate portal.”

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Amateur Detectives are Now Crowdfunding DNA Sequencing to Solve Murders

In 2018 police arrested “the Golden State Killer” — now a 72-year-old man who had committed 13 murders between 1974 and 1986, the New York Times remembers:
What made the investigation possible was GEDmatch, a low-frills, online gathering place for people to upload DNA test results from popular direct-to-consumer services such as Ancestry or 23andMe, in hopes of connecting with unknown relatives. The authorities’ decision to mine the genealogical enthusiasts’ data for investigative leads was shocking at the time, and led the site to warn users. But the practice has continued, and has since been used in hundreds of cases.
But now using similar techniques, a wellness coach born in Mississippi (through a Facebook group called DNA Detectives) has helped over 200 strangers identify their unknown parents, the Times reports.

And she’s recently donated more than $100,000 to a genetics lab called Othram — to fund the sequencing of DNA to solve cold cases back in her home state. “These families have waited so long for answers,” she told the New York Times, which calls her “part of a growing cohort of amateur DNA detectives…”
[Othram] created a site called DNASolves to tell the stories of horrific crimes and tragic John and Jane Does — with catchy names like “Christmas tree lady” and “angel baby” — to encourage people to fund budget-crunched police departments, so that they can hire Othram. A competitor, Parabon NanoLabs, had created a similar site called JusticeDrive, which has raised around $30,000.

In addition to money, Othram encouraged supporters to donate their DNA, a request that some critics called unseemly, saying donors should contribute to databases easily available to all investigators. “Some people are too nervous to put their DNA in a general database,” said Mr. Mittelman, who declined to say how large his database is. “Ours is purpose-built for law enforcement.”
Another group raising money for genetic investigations are the producers of true-crime podcasts — and their listeners. According to the article, the podcast-producing company Audiochuck has donated roughly $800,000 to organizations doing investigative genealogical research (including Othram), though the majority went to a nonprofit started by the host of the “Crime Junkie” podcast. (And that nonprofit raised another $250,000, some through crowdfunding.)

“Why just listen to a murder podcast when you can help police comb through genealogical databases for the second cousins of suspected killers and their unidentified victims?” the Times asks?

So far donors around the country have given at least a million dollars to the cause. They could usher in a world where few crimes go unsolved — but only if society is willing to accept, and fund, DNA dragnets…. A group of well-off friends calling themselves the Vegas Justice League has given Othram $45,000, resulting in the solving of three murder-rape cases in Las Vegas, including those of two teenage girls killed in 1979 and in 1989…. [T]he perpetrators were dead….

Natalie Ram, a law professor at the University of Maryland, expressed concern about “the public picking and choosing between cases,” saying investigative priorities could be determined by who can donate the most. Ms. Ram said the “largest share” of cases solved so far with the method “tend to involve white female victims….”
Ms. Ram is also concerned about the constitutional privacy issues raised by the searches, particularly for those people who haven’t taken DNA tests or uploaded their results to the public internet. Even if you resolve never to put your DNA on a site accessible to law enforcement authorities, you share DNA with many other people so could still be discoverable. All it takes is your sibling, aunt or even a distant cousin deciding differently.

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