Trending March 2024 # Tsmc Singapore Plant Could Alleviate Chip Shortage, Say Apple Chipmaker Sources # Suggested April 2024 # Top 6 Popular

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A new TSMC Singapore plant is being discussed, as a way to help tackle the global chip shortage. The company is said to be in discussion with the government over the potential move.

A Singapore plant would help Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company achieve another key objective, says the report …

Background

TSMC may be best known for making the A-series and M-series chips, which power Apple devices, but the company also produces many less exciting but still critical chips for things like display drivers and power management.

It is these so-called legacy chips that have been in especially short supply, and on which Apple relies as much as any other tech company. Indeed, it is mostly these shortages that led to the iPhone maker seeing greatly reduced revenue lately. CEO Tim Cook revealed that supply constraints cost Apple $6B in two quarters, and warned that the hit could be as high as $8B this quarter.

A recent report says that there have been shortages across seven chip categories, and that four of them will continue to be affected throughout 2023.

Potential TSMC Singapore plant

The WSJ reports that a TSMC Singapore plant would be geared to the older processes used to make these types of legacy chips.

For the Singapore project, TSMC is studying the feasibility of production lines that would make seven- to 28-nanometer chips, a person familiar with the plans said. These chips are based on older production technologies and are widely used in cars, smartphones and other devices.

TSMC is ramping up investment in these chips, which have caused some of the worst supply-chain bottlenecks, including for Apple Inc.

The report says that a final decision hasn’t yet been made, as ‘negotiations’ are still underway – code for the chipmaker seeking government incentives in order to build the plant.

Would meet a second objective

In addition to increasing manufacturing capacity for legacy chips, a Singapore base would help TSMC reduce its concentration of production in its home country. The pandemic has starkly demonstrated the risks involved in too much manufacturing capacity in a single country, and Taiwan is potentially at risk from a newly emboldened China.

This is likely the reason for TSMC to look toward Singapore rather than China.

TSMC has so far managed to work around lockdowns, but has still been caught up in the catch-22 of chips for chipmaking machines being one of the items in short supply.

Is in addition to Arizona plans

Another element of TSMC’s global diversification process is plans to build as many as six plants in the USA. The company first announced these plans a year ago, later saying that mass production was likely to begin in 2024.

However, it was reported earlier this year that the company had hit a number of snags, which may delay the planned start date.

A report indicates that the company is three to six months behind schedule. Nikkei Asia suggests that the company is having trouble building its plant. Labor shortage, COVID-19 infections in the US, and different types of licenses needed for construction are some of the factors making TSMC fall behind schedule.

Photo: Jiahao Li/Cambridge University

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Intel Chip Security Flaws Remain, Say Security Researchers, Despite Claims

Intel chip security flaws that affect all Macs, as well as Windows and Linux machines, still exist, say security researchers – despite the chipmaker’s claims to have fixed them. Similar flaws were found and patched in ARM processors, but there is no suggestion at this stage that further issues remain in these.

The ‘fundamental design flaw’ in Intel’s CPUs came to light last year, with the security vulnerabilities dubbed Spectre and Meltdown. They would allow an attacker to view data in kernel memory, which could span anything from cached documents to passwords …

Apple and Microsoft issued patches based on Intel fixes, but security researchers say they identified additional variants of the flaws which the chipmaker took six months to patch – and further unpatched vulnerabilities remain.

The New York Times reports that the researchers have now gone public as a result of concerns that Intel was misleading people.

Last May, when Intel released a patch for a group of security vulnerabilities researchers had found in the company’s computer processors, Intel implied that all the problems were solved.

But that wasn’t entirely true, according to Dutch researchers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam who discovered the vulnerabilities and first reported them to the tech giant in September 2023. The software patch meant to fix the processor problem addressed only some of the issues the researchers had found […]

The public message from Intel was “everything is fixed,” said Cristiano Giuffrida, a professor of computer science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and one of the researchers who reported the vulnerabilities. “And we knew that was not accurate.”

Responsible security researchers first privately disclose their findings to the companies concerned, typically allowing them six months to fix the problem before they go public. This normally works well, providing hardware and software suppliers time to create patches, while the public is informed about the need to update.

But the Dutch researchers say Intel has been abusing the process […] They said the new patch issued on Tuesday still doesn’t fix another flaw they provided Intel in May.

Intel acknowledged that the May patch did not fix everything the researchers submitted, nor does Tuesday’s fix. But they “greatly reduce” the risk of attack, said Leigh Rosenwald, a spokeswoman for the company.

The team cooperated with Intel for as long as it could, say the researchers, but eventually they decided that public disclosure was necessary, first to try to shame the company into acting, and second because details of the flaws were already beginning to leak, which would allow bad actors to create exploits.

The Dutch researchers had remained quiet for eight months about the problems they had discovered while Intel worked on the fix it released in May. Then when Intel realized the patch didn’t fix everything and asked them to remain quiet six more months, it also requested that the researchers alter a paper they had planned to present at a security conference to remove any mention of the unpatched vulnerabilities, they said. The researchers said they reluctantly agreed to comply because they didn’t want the flaws to become public knowledge without a fix.

“We had to redact the paper to cover for them so the world would not see how vulnerable things are,” said Kaveh Razavi, also a professor of computer science at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and part of the group that reported the vulnerabilities.

“We think it’s time to simply tell the world that even now Intel hasn’t fixed the problem,” said Herbert Bos, a colleague of Mr. Giuffrida and Mr. Razavi at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam […]

“Anybody can weaponize [the Intel chip security flaws]. And it’s worse if you don’t actually go public, because there will be people who can use this against users who are not actually protected,” Mr. Razavi said.

The full piece on the latest chapter on the story of the Intel chip security flaws is well worth reading.

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Apple Silicon Chip Vulnerability ‘Augury’ Surfaces, But Researchers Aren’t Worried Yet

After digging into Apple Silicon, researchers have discovered a new vulnerability that affects Apple’s latest M1 and A14 chips. The Augury Apple Silicon microarchitectural flaw has been demonstrated to leak data at rest but doesn’t appear to be “that bad” at this point.

Jose Rodrigo Sanchez Vicarte at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Michael Flanders at the University of Washington led a group of researchers who published details on their discovery of the novel Augury microarchitectural Apple Silicon flaw (all details were shared with Apple prior to publishing).

The group uncovered that Apple chips use what’s called a Data-Memory Dependent Prefetcher (DMP) which looks at memory content to decide what to prefetch.

How the Augury Apple Silicon vulnerability works

Specifically, Apple’s M1, M1 Max, and A14 were tested and found to prefetch with an array-of-pointers dereferencing pattern. The researchers discovered that process can leak data that is “never read by any instruction, even speculatively!” They also believe the M1 Pro and possibly older A-series chips are vulnerable to the same flaw.

Here’s how the researchers say Apple’s DMP is different from traditional ones:

Once it has seen *arr[0] … *arr[2] occur (even speculatively!) it will begin prefetching *arr[3] onward. That is, it will first prefetch ahead the contents of arr and then dereference those contents. In contrast, a conventional prefetcher would not perform the second step/dereference operation.

As for why data at rest attacks like this are troublesome, the paper says most hardware or software defensive strategies to prevent “microarchitectural attacks assume there is some instruction that accesses the secret.” But data at rest vulnerabilities don’t work that way. Explaining further, the research says:

Any defense that relies on tracking what data is accessed by the core (speculatively or non-speculatively) cannot protect against Augury, as the leaked data is never read by the core!

But David Kohlbrenner, Assistant Professor at the University of Washington and principal investigator on the research team notes that this DMP “is about the weakest DMP an attacker can get.”

The researchers highlight that sentiment saying this vulnerability isn’t “that bad” for now and they haven’t demonstrated any “end-to-end exploits with Augury techniques at this time. Currently, only pointers can be leaked, and likely only in the sandbox threat model.”

9to5Mac’s take

This is definitely an interesting discovery and fortunately, it looks like there’s not much to worry about as the researchers see it as the “weakest DMP an attacker can get.” But of course, important discoveries like this allow Apple to make its devices more secure and get ahead of malicious use.

In the year and a half since Apple went all-in on making its own chips, we’ve only seen a few security concerns specifically around the M1 pop-up. One saw apps exchange data covertly but that wasn’t a real issue and another was custom-made Apple Silicon malware (a perennial problem on any hardware).

The researchers are not aware of Apple working on a patch for Augury, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for any developments around this flaw.

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Apple Could Have Kept Google Maps Until Ios 7

Apple could have kept the stock iOS Google Maps for another year, if it wanted, a new report alleges. When Apple publicly announced in June it would drop the native Google Maps app in favor of its own solution, Google was shocked as its contract with Apple to keep the maps app on the iPhone “had more time remaining”, the New York Times reports.

Luckily, if the paper’s sources are to be believed, Google is working on a standalone Google Maps app though it won’t be released immediately because Google wants to do it right and incorporate 3D view as it wants the program to be comparable to Apple Maps, namely its three-dimensional Flyover views of major cities…

Chris Ziegler first reported of this on The Verge:

Apple’s decision to ship its own mapping system in the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 was made over a year before the company’s agreement to use Google Maps expired, according to two independent sources familiar with the matter.

A standalone Google Maps for the iPhone “is still incomplete and currently not scheduled to ship for several months”, echoing previous reports.

Nick Bilton of The New York Times was able to corroborate the finding:

Google is developing a maps application for iPhone and iPad that it is seeking to finish by the end of the year, according to people involved with the effort who declined to be named because of the nature of their work.

Google apparently did not know that Apple had changed its mind until WWDC.

As to why the program won’t be released for a couple more months, the paper explains.

Google would likely prefer to release a maps app that includes 3-D imagery so it is comparable to Apple’s. But Google has 3-D images in Google Earth, which is a separate app with a separate code base from Google Maps, so it would take some time to combine the two.

The Verge sheds more light:

For its part, Apple apparently felt that the older Google Maps-powered Maps in iOS were falling behind Android — particularly since they didn’t have access to turn-by-turn navigation, which Google has shipped on Android phones for several years.

The Wall Street Journal reported in June that Google also wanted more prominent branding and the ability to add features like Latitude, and executives at the search giant were unhappy with Apple’s renewal terms.

But the existing deal between the two companies was still valid and didn’t have any additional requirements, according to our sources — Apple decided to simply end it and ship the new maps with turn-by-turn.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt suggested that the ball is now in Apple’s court.

“We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know?” Schmidt told a small group of reporters in Tokyo. “What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”

Following a very public ridicule (Mapgate, anyone?), Apple’s reportedly been poaching Google Maps engineers to improve the quality and accuracy of its map data.

It’s not just that Apple’s limited manpower is derailing its own mapping efforts  Google’s been perfecting their mapping service for more than seven years so Apple has some serious pluming work to do if it’s to rival Google Maps any time soon.

Needles to say, jailbreakers can easily put the Google Maps app back in iOS 6.

Are you looking forward to a standalone Google Maps app?

Apple Watch Could Slim Down With This Interesting New Patent

Apple Watch could slim down with this interesting new patent

The Apple Watch could get a little bit slimmer in future iterations if ideas in a new Apple patent ever see the light of day. The patent application in question details a haptic motor that takes up residence in the band of the watch instead of the watch itself.

This could do something to solve the problem of space within the Apple Watch. As we’ve seen with recent versions of the iPhone, Apple likes to make its devices as thin as it can, but because it has to fit all of the Apple Watch hardware within a relatively tiny space, slimming it down becomes more difficult. By applying this patent and moving the motor responsible for haptic feedback to the band, it could open up some addition space within the Watch.

Apple breaks down the idea pretty well in the patent application, but even without a detailed overview, the idea is pretty straightforward. The patent application discusses putting haptic sensors within attachment mechanisms – either the mechanisms that attach the band to the watch, or the clasp that attaches the band (and therefore the device as a whole) to the user, moving the haptic sensor to the underside of the wrist.

Going even further, the patent suggests generating the haptic feedback within the band itself. Essentially, there are a few different ways Apple considers implementing this idea, so the patent application covers a lot of ground. It also suggests either a wireless or wired connection between the sensor and processor:

The electronic device can be in communication with the one or more haptic devices through a wired and/or wireless connection. In some embodiments, a remote electronic device can be in communication with the electronic device attached to the wearable band and the remote electronic device can activate or deactivate a haptic response in one or more attachment mechanisms associated with the wearable band.

In addition to using this patent to make the watch thinner, Apple could also choose to keep the size of the Apple Watch the same and add additional components. As it stands right now, the size of the current Apple Watch is roughly on par with more conventional watches, so it doesn’t necessarily need to get thinner. Apple could instead use that space to increase the size of the battery, giving the Apple Watch extended life.

While this would allow for increased functionality within the band, one downside is that it could also make buying additional bands a more expensive endeavor. That could be offset by perhaps decreasing the cost of other Apple Watch hardware, but there’s no guarantee Apple would go that route. Still, at this point, it’s probably too early to speculate on any price changes this patent would bring forth.

It’s an interesting patent to be sure, and the full text can be found via the source link below. Considering that a new Apple Watch just launched a few months back, we likely won’t see this technology implemented for quite some time, if it’s even implemented at all. Still, there’s always the possibility that we’ll see such a band in the next Apple Watch model, assuming Apple moves forward with the idea.

SOURCE: US Patent and Trademark Office

Molecular Basis Of Plant Organ Differentiation

Introduction

Totipotency is the ability of the cells to give rise to a whole new organism providing appropriate nutritional and environmental conditions. This property of Totipotency is seen in spores and zygotes. In plants, this Totipotency is seen in meristematic cells.

In Totipotency, every single cell can form either tissue, an organ, or an entire plant. Due to this property of plants, we can observe tissue regeneration.

Molecular Basis of Cellular Totipotency

Every organism has almost identical DNA and this genetic material is packaged with the help of histones and other remodeling complexes to form chromosomes or chromatin. This chromatin is free to get compacted or loosen up depending upon the developmental stage, surrounding environment, stress, nutritional availability, hormones, and other factors.

These factors decide and signal the cell either to divide and form an identical cell or a cell of identical function which usually happens during mitosis or these factors may program a cell by altering its chromatin structure allowing a specific set of genes to be turned on and others to remain off and differentiate to form another specialized type of cells.

This process is termed as cellular differentiation. And the obtained differentiated cell can form another cell of its own type or further differentiate and specializes in function or do not divide at all.

For example, it is the result of cell division and differentiation to give rise to various kinds of cell specialties by a stem cell that gives rise to a whole multicellular organism. However, under normal conditions, a differentiated cell type specialized to a specific fate cannot give rise to another cell type. But if factors such as hormones are altered appropriately a differentiated cell can undergo genetic reprogramming, become undifferentiated, and even re-differentiated to give rise to a different cell type with a different function.

This means we can take any live plant cell, provide the right factors and conditions and it is capable to rise to a whole plant. This is the basis of Totipotency in plants. Example: If you take cells from embryos that are already undifferentiated, which can naturally form a whole plant. But if we take a shoot apical meristem, it normally has the ability to form a shoot.

Likewise, root apical meristem will give rise to root only. But we can treat plants and alter the hormones or other factors in a way that you can make any cell that may be the shoot, root, or any other type of the cell to dedifferentiate, re-differentiate, divide and form a whole plant. It is due to Totipotency, with tissue culture one can rapidly generate billions of plants from plant tissue.

Differentiation in Plants

In plants, meristematic cells are known to be totipotent and the cells formed from these like sieve cells, leaf cells, root cells, etc., can be differentiated into different types of cells. Cells derived from the meristems differentiate and mature to perform specific functions. Cells lose the protoplasm and develop a lignocellulosic secondary cell wall to form treachery elements to carry water.

Leaf cells formed have different structures and functions from that of other cells like root cells and sieve cells. Leaf has chloroplast which is involved in photosynthesis and the root needs to get ready for absorption of water and nutrients as they possess root hair.

All genes which are responsible for the differentiation into organs or even a complete plant though present in all cells of different plant parts, only the genes specific to that organ or part are expressed and the rest all will be in an inactive form. Only such cells when grown on a culture medium with phytohormones, express all their genes and are hence used to produce all the different organs or a whole plant.

To express the totipotent cell first, the differentiated cell must undergo de-differentiation and then re-differentiation.

De-differentiation: The phenomenon of matured cells reverting back to their meristematic stage and forming an undifferentiated callus tissue is called de-differentiation.

Re-differentiation: The ability of an undifferentiated cell to form a whole plant or organ is called re-differentiation. Example-callus to an organ.

If we have a totipotent cell that is induced by a de-differentiation process will produce a clump of cells called callus which is in an undifferentiated stage. Then this clump of a cell is induced with phytohormones in a culture medium for embryogenesis (formation of embryoids) or organogenesis (For callogenesis which is shoot formation, for rhizogenesis for root formation, and caulo-rhizogeensis for both shoot and root formation) or histogenesis (for xylem and phloem formation which is a vascular tissue).

Meristems

Meristem is the tissue that contains un-differentiated cells called meristematic cells which have the capability to give rise to the various organs of an entire plant and are responsible for the growth of a plant. Usually, differentiated cells cannot be divided and produce cells of other types. Meristematic cells have the properties of stem cells and are of 3 types

Apical meristem.

Intercalary meristem.

Lateral meristem.

Apical meristem is the tip of the shoot or root where the auxins are produced and as a result primary growth occurs increasing the length. This apical meristematic tissue is again of 2 types SAM (shoot apical meristem) and RAM (root apical meristem).

Shoot Apical Meristem (SAM)

It is the most important site for embryogenesis in flowering plants. Primordia of leaves, sepals, petals, stamens, and ovaries are initiated here.

SAM has three layers L1, L2 and L3. L1 is an outer layer which forms epidermis in shoot. L2 second later is a source of tissue to form plant body and L3 third layer is again a source of tissue to form plant body. Each layer has their own stem cells and all three contribute to the stem and lateral organ formation.

Shoot meristem

Mainly 4 types of cell groups are present in SAM.

Stem cells.

Daughter cells of stem cells.

Organizing center.

Founder cells for organ initiation.

Initiation of a shoot from apical meristem requires the action of many genes. Mainly 3 classes of genes are involved.

STM (Shoot meristemless) which is a member of KNOX family – KNOX genes are expressed in SAM and are important for promoting the identity of SAM. These are necessary for shoot formation but not root.

WUS (Wuschel) – present in the organizing center and promotes cell division.

CLAVATA (CLV) –CLV1, CLV 2 and CLV3, required to regulate the size of stem cell reservoir in SAM by controlling rate of cell division. CLV1 encodes leucine rich receptor kinase (LRRK) a receptor, CLV3 codes ligand for CLV1, CLV2 codes a receptor without kinase domain.

STM and WUS promote the growth of SAM in a positive way by keeping meristem in un-differentiated state so these are free to give rise to any organ like leaves, stem etc. whereas CLV genes inhibit this growth as they limit the number of undifferentiated cells. CLV genes negatively regulate WUS expression. Interaction of CLV1 and 2 with CLV3 protein they inhibit the WUS expression minimizing the size of SAM. Mutation in CLAVATA gene causes bigger SAM.

Root Apical Meristem (RAM)

RAM is sub-terminal because of the presence of root cap at the terminal end. It produces cells even away from the axis to initiate root cap. Apex of the root is not associated with the formation of lateral organs like in shoot. Here lateral organs are formed away from the apical meristem. Like in the shoot, there are no structural changes in the size and form of the root apex.

Many theories are proposed for the root organization

Apical cell theory.

Histogen theory.

Korper-Kappe theory.

Quiescent Centre.

Plant root structure

Conclusion

The phenomenon where the differentiated cells that lost the capacity to divide can regain its capacity of division under certain special conditions is called as de-differentiation. Such meristems divide and produce cells that once again lose the capacity to divide and mature for specific functions is known as re-differentiation.

Totipotency is the total genetic potential of a cell to form a complete organism or plant and cellular Totipotency is an important concept for the differentiation of meristematic cells into various organs and even a whole plant.

The final structures at the maturity of cells or tissue are determined by the location of cells in the plants. Example: Cells positioned away from root apical meristems differentiate into root caps and near cells form epidermis.

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