University of Chicago Debuts First U.S. Quantum Accelerator

The University of Chicago and partners launched the first U.S. program to support quantum-tech startups. University of Chicago physicist and molecular engineer professor David Awschalom, who helped create the Duality accelerator, said, “we are at the birth of a new field of technology … at the point where the transistor is being invented.” Chicago is home to three of the eight federally funded quantum research centers founded in 2020. The University of Toronto has also unveiled a program to support quantum-tech startups. Continue reading University of Chicago Debuts First U.S. Quantum Accelerator

HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 2

In a conversation on cloud-enabled virtual production during the HPA Tech Retreat, Jack Wenzinger of Amazon Web Services’ Global M&E Partners vertical asked how those interested in virtual production can retool existing skills. ETC@USC senior consultant Erik Weaver stated that participating in Epic Games’ Unreal Fellowship program was “an eye-opening experience.” “Understanding what a blueprint is and how to put things in a timeline gave me a fundamental understanding,” he said. “I highly recommend watching all the videos you can on Unreal and start walking through the tutorials.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 2

HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 1

Jack Wenzinger of Amazon Web Services’ Global M&E Partners vertical moderated a discussion during the HPA Tech Retreat on what’s been learned about cloud-enabled virtual production during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also noted that Epic Games’ Unreal Engine has published a field guide to virtual production that focuses on the work being done in pre-production and post. Joining the conversation was ETC@USC senior consultant Erik Weaver, Solstice Studios chief technology officer Edward Churchward and Mo-Sys Engineering technical director James Uren. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 1

National Security Commission on AI Pinpoints Chinese Threat

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence identified China as the first to challenge U.S. technological dominance since the end of World War II. To counter this potential threat to the United States, the 15-member commission issued a 756-page report urging a $40 billion investment in artificial intelligence research and development to be “AI ready” by 2025. The report also called for the U.S. to stay two generations ahead of China in semiconductor manufacturing. To that end, it suggested a significant tax credit for chip makers. Continue reading National Security Commission on AI Pinpoints Chinese Threat

After SolarWinds Hack, Big Tech Debates Cloud Data Security

The SolarWinds hack invaded at least nine U.S. government agencies and 100+ corporations. Now, Microsoft is at odds with Dell Technologies and IBM on the best way to secure data. Microsoft president Brad Smith stated that “cloud migration is critical to improving security maturity,” but the other two companies opine that a hybrid cloud and on-premise data storage is preferable. Smith stated that all the breached accounts Microsoft identified involved on-premise systems and that a hybrid system is more vulnerable to attacks. Continue reading After SolarWinds Hack, Big Tech Debates Cloud Data Security

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role he has held since he started the Big Tech company 26 years ago and will assume the role of executive chairman. Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy will replace Bezos as Amazon’s new chief executive. Bezos hands over the reins during a time in which COVID-19 has helped the company achieve record-breaking sales, while it also faces regulatory and legal investigations. Personally, he vies with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk as the world’s wealthiest person. Continue reading Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Amazon’s robust holiday shopping quarter garnered $125.5 billion in sales and net income of $7.2 billion, the first time the company reached $100+ billion in quarterly revenue, and only days after Apple achieved the same milestone. Amazon amped up sales when it moved its two-day Prime Day shopping event from summer to October. The company’s overall 2020 sales hit $386.1 billion, a 38-percent year-over-year jump. According to analysts, e-commerce grew about 50 percent during the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Chipmakers Intel, Nvidia Now Compete with Their Customers

Companies such as Intel and Nvidia have long dominated the design and manufacture of semiconductor chips, but they are now facing competition from their own customers. Amazon, Google and Microsoft, all of which have seen strong growth in cloud computing, are looking to create their own chips to ensure better performance and lower costs. Amazon, for example, debuted a chip intended to speed up AI algorithms. Traditional chip manufacturers are creating specialized processors to retain their long-time customers. Continue reading Chipmakers Intel, Nvidia Now Compete with Their Customers

VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

New Zealand-based Weta Digital, a visual effects company that has worked on such high-profile films as “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame,” is making a play to create its own original content. Co-founded by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, Weta Digital recently added firepower to its board of directors, including former Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, and is also searching to make strategic purchases in the special effects and animation business since animation can be produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

Amazon Commits to Train Millions Worldwide in Cloud Skills

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically change the work landscape, Amazon plans to retrain 29 million people globally in cloud-computing skills by 2025. In addition to building on existing programs, Amazon will invest in new ones by teaming with schools, nonprofits and other organizations. Last year, Amazon earmarked $700 million to retrain 100,000 of its own workers. Some of those trained in the new programs may find employment at Amazon or in other companies that use Amazon Web Services. Continue reading Amazon Commits to Train Millions Worldwide in Cloud Skills

Amazon, Apple Lead Movement to Develop Their Own Chips

Amazon and Apple are abandoning Intel chip technology in favor of their own Arm-based products. Last month, Apple introduced Mac computers with its own chips and, in June, Amazon began marketing a new computing service based on its Arm chips that the company contends is 20 percent cheaper and faster than its Intel-based services. Amazon is also creating the foundation for building its own quantum computer and its cloud computing division is adding products to allow customers greater local control of their data. Continue reading Amazon, Apple Lead Movement to Develop Their Own Chips

Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

In an otherwise glum economic picture, Big Tech companies have boomed. The general economy is improving, while Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are reporting profits that suggest they may be capable of generating the kind of wealth that a single industry hasn’t seen in generations. In fact, those four companies had a quarterly net profit of $38 billion, despite regulator scrutiny and other obstacles. Amazon saw an almost 200 percent rise in profits, and Facebook had a stupendous quarter, despite the advertiser boycott. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Report Strong Third Quarter Revenues

With Spinoff, IBM Aims to Lead In Corporate Cloud Services

To accelerate its shift to cloud computing, IBM revealed it is breaking out its IT unit to focus on that and artificial intelligence. Chief executive Arvind Krishna called it a “landmark day” for the 109-year old company. IBM’s move acknowledges the powerful shift to the cloud, with almost all new software created as cloud services delivered online from remote data centers. Amazon pioneered the cloud market by launching Amazon Web Services in 2006, and IBM is a latecomer but has made significant moves in recent years. Continue reading With Spinoff, IBM Aims to Lead In Corporate Cloud Services

BlueField-2: Nvidia Debuts Data Center Services Accelerator

In his keynote address at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC), Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang stated that the company shipped more than one billion GPUs and its CUDA software development kit had six million downloads thus far in 2020. He revealed 80 new SDKs and 1,800 GPU-accelerated applications are available. The company also unveiled its BlueField-2, a powerful data center services accelerator. GTC was expected to draw 30,000 global attendees this week for more than 1,000 sessions and coincides with the Arm DevSummit, which features a chat between Huang and Arm chief executive Simon Segars. Continue reading BlueField-2: Nvidia Debuts Data Center Services Accelerator

Microsoft Inks Deal With OpenAI for Exclusive GPT-3 License

Microsoft struck a deal with AI startup OpenAI to be the exclusive licensee of language comprehension model GPT-3. According to Microsoft EVP Kevin Scott, the deal is an “incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology.” Among potential uses are “aiding human creativity and ingenuity in areas like writing and composition, describing and summarizing large blocks of long-form data (including code), converting natural language to another language.” Continue reading Microsoft Inks Deal With OpenAI for Exclusive GPT-3 License

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