Apple Invests $390M into Depth/Proximity Chip Maker Finisar

Apple just revealed that it is investing $390 million in Finisar, the company that manufactures the chips used in Apple’s products for depth and proximity sensing. Apple has made use of the chip’s capabilities in some of its new features, including Face ID, Animoji and ARKit, the software development kit for augmented reality. The investment comes from Apple’s $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund. The Sunnyvale, California-based Finisar will use the money to re-open a plant in Texas that will create 500 jobs. Continue reading Apple Invests $390M into Depth/Proximity Chip Maker Finisar

AMD, Intel, Nvidia Race to Build AI Chips for Booming Market

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Intel and Nvidia are racing to develop artificial intelligence chips as the market for AI hardware and software skyrockets. Nvidia, which has specialized in high-end GPUs, and AMD, its chief rival, have found that their products have proven useful in AI applications, an incentive for them to focus on that sector. Growth in the semiconductor industry has been volatile in recent months, leading to consolidation, such as the recently announced $105 billion bid by Broadcom to acquire Qualcomm. Continue reading AMD, Intel, Nvidia Race to Build AI Chips for Booming Market

Cisco, Google Partner to Gain Market Share in Cloud Services

Google and Cisco Systems are partnering to help companies manage software and technology services in their own data centers or an external cloud service. The two tech titans’ collaboration is aimed at breaking through Amazon and Microsoft’s domination of cloud services. With the new deal, Google will have access to Cisco’s corporate clients and Cisco will get a boost in its transition from computing networking equipment to cloud services. Cisco also competes with rivals such as VMware, another Amazon ally. Continue reading Cisco, Google Partner to Gain Market Share in Cloud Services

Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

At the Microsoft Ignite annual IT event in Orlando, Florida this week, Microsoft announced it will soon debut a customer-service virtual assistant as part of its Dynamics 365 product line that will incorporate artificial intelligence. A user will be able to describe a problem in her own words, and the virtual assistant will answer by relying on user manuals, help documents and other materials. The customer can request a human, in which case the bot will assist the human customer service agent; a manager can view the result on a dashboard. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

IBM and MIT Team Up for Artificial Intelligence Research Lab

Last week, IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a 10-year, $240 million partnership to establish the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The long-term initiative is expected to bring together industry experts, professors and students to research areas such as cybersecurity, healthcare, machine learning and quantum computing. Researchers will work at MIT and the nearby Watson Health and Security facilities. The lab will be co-chaired by IBM Research VP Dario Gil and MIT School of Engineering dean Anantha Chandrakasan. Continue reading IBM and MIT Team Up for Artificial Intelligence Research Lab

Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Despite an overall slowdown in U.S. productivity, tech companies currently lead the charge in overall spending on research and development, a key factor in measuring productivity of an economy. According to data about companies in the S&P 500 collected by analytic software firm FactSet, Amazon spends more on R&D than any other company in the U.S., followed by Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft and Apple. Other tech companies on the Top 20 list include Oracle, Cisco, Facebook, IBM and Qualcomm. Continue reading Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

China Set to Toughen IP Laws in Pursuit of Tech Dominance

China wants to become the most dominant nation in artificial intelligence, and it’s got three advantages that might help that become a reality. In addition to strong government support, which includes a willingness to share data about its citizens, China also has an immense number of engineers to write software and 751 million Internet users who can test out the work they do. As China seeks to gain market share, President Xi Jinping seeks to strengthen intellectual property laws to give its startups an advantage. Continue reading China Set to Toughen IP Laws in Pursuit of Tech Dominance

IBM Divides Data Among Servers, Speeds Up Deep Learning

IBM says it has made a significant improvement in its deep learning techniques, by figuring out a way to divide the data among 64 servers running up to 256 processors. Up until now, companies have run deep learning on a single server, because of the difficulty of synchronizing data among servers and processors. With IBM’s new capability, deep learning tasks will benefit from big improvements in speed, enabling advances in many different tasks. Customers using IBM Power System servers will have access to the new technology. Continue reading IBM Divides Data Among Servers, Speeds Up Deep Learning

Google Push Could Spark Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Google is getting closer to offering quantum computing over the cloud. It’s uncertain if a quantum computer, which is based on “qubits” rather than 1s and 0s, can out-perform a supercomputer, but Google and other companies are betting it will be able to perform certain important tasks millions of times faster. Google and its rivals would be more likely to rent quantum computing over the Internet, since the computers are too bulky and require too much special care to live in most companies’ data centers. Continue reading Google Push Could Spark Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Apple to Open New Data Center in China With Local Partner

Apple will open its first data center in southwest China, in response to a new Chinese law that requires companies to store data within its borders. The data center, which will be operated in partnership with a local data management company, is part of a $1 billion investment Apple will make in the Guizhou province. Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have built data centers in Germany, France and the Netherlands among other countries for technical reasons and in response to security concerns of governments and customers. Continue reading Apple to Open New Data Center in China With Local Partner

Intel Eyes the Future With New Family of Xeon Server Chips

Intel just unveiled its Xeon Scalable line, a new generation of 58 processors designed for “secure, agile, multi-cloud data centers.” Priced from $200 to $10,000 each, this array of new chips should serve as a clear message to would-be competitors that Intel plans to continue its dominance in the data-center market segment, which offers better profit margins than chips for PCs. Threatening Intel’s leadership are companies creating specialized chips aimed at maximizing performance of artificial intelligence programs. Continue reading Intel Eyes the Future With New Family of Xeon Server Chips

Google Releases Public Beta of Cloud Video Intelligence API

Google’s Cloud Video Intelligence API just entered public beta. Using a system called label detection, the API lets users upload a video and get back information about the objects appearing in it. Google also added support to identify pornographic content and announced improvements to the Cloud Vision API to make several features more accurate. By putting its Cloud Video Intelligence API into public beta, Google is taking another step in its plan to make artificial intelligence more accessible to more developers. Continue reading Google Releases Public Beta of Cloud Video Intelligence API

IBM, Tribeca Award Best Idea on Applying AI to M&E Industry

For two months, IBM, in partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival, held a “Storytellers With Watson” competition, asking for submissions of ideas on how the media and entertainment industry can use AI. Now, after an all-day pitch event at IBM’s New York-based THINKLab, the competition has a winner: filmmaker/producer Seth Grossman, whose idea is to use AI to automatically create sizzle reels. His Rip-o-matic With Watson would analyze, index and edit together “rips” from videos that express the creator’s vision. Continue reading IBM, Tribeca Award Best Idea on Applying AI to M&E Industry

IBM Watson to Serve AI-Driven Content for Wimbledon Fans

Artificial intelligence is coming to the Wimbledon tennis tournament, via IBM’s Watson, which will generate video highlight reels, give tours through the All England Lawn Tennis Club and help fans in numerous other ways. A digital voice assistant, dubbed Fred (after the British tennis star Fred Perry), will provide directions to Wimbledon locations, information on players and where to buy merchandise. IBM also unveiled a technology that analyzes player stats, and a joint IBM-AELTC metric called “competitive margin.” Continue reading IBM Watson to Serve AI-Driven Content for Wimbledon Fans

U.S. and China Continue to Compete in Supercomputing Race

In an experiment described in Science, Chinese researchers used photons (also known as light particles) from the country’s quantum-communications satellite and established an instantaneous connection between two ground stations more than 744 miles apart. By doing so, say the experts, China is now a pioneer in harnessing matter and energy at a subatomic level — and a leader in the field of using quantum technology to build a global communications network that can’t be hacked. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy is paying for companies to develop new supercomputers in pursuit of at least one “exascale” system. Continue reading U.S. and China Continue to Compete in Supercomputing Race

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