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Facebook is forming a team to design its own chips

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Facebook Inc is building a team to design its own semiconductors, adding to a trend among technology companies to supply themselves and lower their dependence on chipmakers such as Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc, according to job listings and people familiar with the matter.

The social media company is seeking to hire a manager to build an “end-to-end SoC/ASIC, firmware and driver development organization,” according to a job listing on its corporate website, indicating the effort is still in its early stages. The Menlo Park, California-based company would join other technology giants tackling the massive effort to develop chips. In 2010, Apple Inc started shipping its own chips and now uses them across many of its major product lines. Alphabet Inc’s Google has developed its own artificial intelligence chip as well.

Facebook could use such chips to power hardware devices, artificial intelligence software and servers in its data centers. Next month, the company will launch the Oculus Go, a $200 standalone virtual-reality headset that runs on a Qualcomm processor. Facebook is also working on a slew of smart speakers. Future generations of those devices could be improved by custom chipsets. By using its own processors, the company would have finer control over product development and would be able to better tune its software and hardware together. Facebook declined to comment on the job postings.

 

A system on chip, or SoC, is a type of semiconductor that contains several discrete components built into one piece of silicon. They’re typically used in mobile devices where their space and power-saving properties are more valuable.

The main functions of most smartphones are provided by SoCs. An ASIC, or applications specific integrated circuit, is a chip designed for a narrow purpose. Such components are often the fastest or most-efficient at running a particular piece of software. Their weakness is that they’re locked down and may become redundant over time if software and workloads evolve.

The postings didn’t make it clear what kind of use Facebook wants to put the chips to other than the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence. A job listing references “expertise to build custom solutions targeted at multiple verticals including AI/ML,” indicating that the chip work could focus on a processor for artificial intelligence tasks. Facebook AI researcher Yann LeCun tweeted about some of the job postings on Wednesday, asking for candidates interested in designing chips for AI.


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Researchers develop camera to capture polarised light, study atmospheric chemistry

The Kashmir Monitor

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US scientists have developed a highly compact and portable camera that can capture polarised light, help in study atmospheric chemistry and used to detect camouflaged objects.

Polarisation, the direction in which light vibrates, is invisible to the human eye (but visible to some species of shrimp and insects). But it provides a great deal of information about the objects with which it interacts. Cameras that see polarised light are currently used to detect material stress, enhance contrast for object detection, and analyse surface quality for dents or scratches. The miniature camera — about the size of a thumb — could find a place in the vision systems of autonomous vehicles, onboard planes or satellites to study atmospheric chemistry, or be used to detect camouflaged objects.

“Polarisation is a feature of light that is changed upon reflection off a surface,” said Paul Chevalier from Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) in the US. “Based on that change, polarisation can help us in the 3D reconstruction of an object, to estimate its depth, texture and shape, and to distinguish man-made objects from natural ones, even if they’re the same shape and colour,” he said. To unlock that powerful world of polarisation, the researchers harnessed the potential of metasurfaces, nanoscale structures that interact with light at wavelength size-scales.

 

“If we want to measure the light’s full polarization state, we need to take several pictures along different polarization directions,” said Noah Rubin, first author of the study. “Previous devices either used moving parts or sent light along multiple paths to acquire the multiple images, resulting in bulky optics. But this approach does not measure the full polarisation state and requires a non-standard imaging sensor.

In this work, we were able to take all of the optics needed and integrate them in a single, simple device with a metasurface,” he added. According to the study, published in the journal Science, the device is about two centimeters in length and no more complicated than a camera on a smartphone. With an attached lens and protective case, the device is about the size of a small lunch box. The researchers tested the camera to show defects in injection-molded plastic objects, took it outside to film the polarisation off car windshields and even took selfies to demonstrate how a polarisation camera can visualise the 3D contours of a face.

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Fiio M11 High Resolution Lossless Audio Player With Dual-DAC Setup Launched in India

The Kashmir Monitor

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Chinese audio brand Fiio is known for making some of the best specialised high-resolution audio players in the world, and its products are generally well received by users and experts alike. The latest product to launch in India from the company is the Fiio M11, which is the company’s most advanced high-resolution audio player yet. The Fiio M11 is priced at Rs. 39,990, and features various wired and wireless connectivity options, along with support for most popular high-resolution audio formats.

The Fiio M11 has a dual-DAC setup, with two AKM AK4493 digital-analogue converters powering audio output. The DAC supports 32-bit/ 384kHz high-resolution audio, with various popular file formats supported, including DSD256, DXD, Apple Lossless, AIFF, FLAC, WAV, and WMA lossless. Compressed audio formats such as MP3, OGG, WMA, and AAC are also supported.

Powered by the Samsung Exynos 7872 SoC, the Fiio M11 has a 5.15-inch 18:9 HD-resolution (720×1440-pixel) touch screen for navigation and visual cues. The device also has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of in-built storage, along with support for expandable storage with two microSD card slots, each supporting up to a theoretical 2TB of storage. Fast charging, Wi-Fi audio, and AirPlay are also supported, and the device runs on an Android-based operating system.

 

For wired connectivity, the Fiio M11 allows for headphones and speakers to be connected using the popular 3.5mm plug, but also supports 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced audio outputs.For wireless connectivity, the device supports popular Bluetooth codecs, including SBC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC. Charging and external connectivity is through a USB Type-C port, and the Fiio M11 can be used as a standalone DAC when connected to a compatible device such as a laptop.

The Fiio M11 is available now on Fiio’s official website, and can also be purchased on Amazon. While it does come across as expensive, the device is among the most feature-filled and well-equipped high-resolution audio players you can buy today. For users looking for a more affordable option, the company also has the excellent Fiio M6 available, which is priced at Rs. 14,990.

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Kangana to play a spy

The Kashmir Monitor

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Actress Kangana Ranaut is set play a spy in the upcoming heroine-centric action thriller,Dhaakad.

“‘Dhaakad’ is an action film and it is (a) big film. For us, it’s like venturing into a genre that is absolutely missing in Hindi films. It is something of a thriller — intriguing and more of like a spy thriller. In the film, my name is Agni. I play a spy,” Kangana said.

The project is helmed by Razneesh “Razy” Ghai.

 

The makers are looking to rope in a leading action director from Hollywood to choreograph the elaborate sequences.

Filming will take place across India, South East Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

“After the success of ‘Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi’, it has been proven that audiences across the globe are loving larger than life films with a female hero. ‘Dhaakad’ is not only a benchmark film for my career but will be a turning point for Indian cinema as well,” Kangana said in a statement earlier.

“The film is mounted on a large scale, is one of a kind female-led action film, and is apt for a Diwali release. If it is received well, there will be no looking back for women in Indian cinema.”

Right now, Kangana is gearing up for the release of JudgeMentall Hai Kya, which opens on Friday. JudgeMentall Hai Kya is with Rajkummar Rao, who has earlier worked with Kangana in Queen. Written by Kanika Dhillon and produced by Ekta Kapoor under her banner Balaji Motion Pictures, Judgemantall Hai Kya is directed by Prakash Kovelamudi.

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