Intel finally offers a chip

Intel finally offers a chip

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: after years of delay, Intel’s latest server chips have arrived (in limited configurations), Okta has a plan to solve the biometrics hack, and security professionals are fleeing to Mastodon.

Hey, Intel shipped a server chip

After delaying full-scale production of its next generation of server chips by more than a year, Intel has unveiled technical details for its first batch of high-performance silicon.

Intel announced two processors on Wednesday: a chip based on the long-delayed Sapphire Rapids design and a version of its future Ponte Vecchio server GPUs. Both target high-performance computing and AI – and are likely the most expensive version of its next full line of server chips.

  • High-end supercomputer chips are called the Max series, and Intel executives have touted them as well-suited for high-performance computing and artificial intelligence uses.
  • The new chips are well suited for uses such as climate modeling and molecular dynamics.
  • Intel said the new processors and GPUs will be integrated into a supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory.

The new high-performance processors rely on more chips than any previous generation, and are built on the company’s Intel 7 process technology, which has suffered from its own share of issues and delays.

  • Intel claims the GPU is the company’s highest-density processor and combines 100 billion transistors in a 47-chip package, for example.
  • Some of the GPU chiplets will be made by Intel, and others by rival TSMC.
  • The new processor will also include chiplets, but Intel executives have pushed the extra performance provided by High Bandwidth Memory, or HBM, into the processor as one of the main selling points.
  • The Max processor will generally be available in January and the Max GPU is expected to be available early in the second quarter, Intel executives said during the conference call.

Sapphire Rapids server chip lags have been legion.

  • The chips were originally slated to launch in 2021.
  • But Intel said in June 2021 that it plans to push initial production back to the first quarter of 2022, with its ramp-up expected in the second quarter of this year.
  • This does not happen.
  • Then Intel executives said earlier this year that the company had run into problems, which meant it was planning to ramp up production later in the year than originally planned.
  • CEO Pat Gelsinger blamed Sapphire Rapids’ delays on previous administrations and told an investor conference earlier this year that the project began five years ago, according to a Sentieo transcript.
  • A November report in TrendForce claimed that high-volume production of Sapphire Rapids chips had been delayed again.
  • And now Intel is announcing that it will launch the rest of the Sapphire Rapids chips in January.

The cascading delays cost Intel dearly. The company essentially missed a full data center sales cycle and continued to cede more revenue and market share to Arm-based rivals and AMD.

  • About five years ago, Intel owned nearly 100% of server CPU and GPU sales, according to research by Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis.
  • When looking at new CPU instances launched by major cloud providers – which offer useful, if imprecise – data – Intel’s share fell to 76.1% from 90.3% in September 2019 , according to data from Jefferies.
  • AMD gained ground, jumping from 6.5% to 16.7% share, according to the data.
  • Intel’s many delays paved the way for other non-x86 entrants to the market, such as AWS’s Arm-based Graviton processors and Ampere’s line of Arm server processors.

— Max A. Cherney (E-mail | Twitter)


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No phishing

Okta has developed a new capability for its passwordless authentication system aimed at countering the illegitimate use of biometric login data, a measure intended to avoid a potential avenue for malicious actors who are becoming increasingly sneaky in their phishing attempts.

“Threat actors are getting better and more sophisticated, and it’s sort of a quest to make sure we stay ahead of them,” said Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon. , in an exclusive interview with Protocol.

The new feature in Okta’s passwordless authentication product, FastPass, is now available in preview and is expected to be generally available in early 2023.

Biometric data is considered an inherently more secure method of authentication given the unique nature of each person’s fingerprint or face scan. But a series of high-profile cases of thwarted multi-factor authentication, including the interception of one-time passwords, shows that biometrics-related login data could very well become a bigger target for phishing in the future. future too, according to Okta.

The company’s response to the looming threat, McKinnon said, is “to make even biometric authenticators more anti-phishing” by default.

The method Okta implements is to tie biometric login credentials to a user’s device so that only that device can use that credentials for authentication.

“That means if someone sets up a fake phishing site and tricks you into inserting your fingerprint into the fake page, it’s no use to them,” McKinnon said. “They can’t use it to log in as you afterwards.”

Specifically, the new feature prevents the reuse of login keys generated in response to a user’s biometric data rather than protecting the biometric data itself, according to Okta. Actual biometric data is already protected because it does not leave the user’s device as part of the FastPass system, the company said.

The new ability, Advanced Phishing Resistance for FastPass, comes amid research showing that identity-based attacks are now by far the biggest source of breaches. The capability was announced among several Okta product updates on Wednesday as part of the company’s Oktane conference.

—Kyle Alspach (E-mail | Twitter)

InfoSec Juggernaut hearts

If you’re a big participant in “InfoSec Twitter,” where cybersecurity professionals go to share information and sympathize, you might have noticed something different this week. One of the community’s most prolific tweeters wasn’t there.

Researcher Kevin Beaumont went to Mastodon, or more specifically the platform’s instance. On Saturday, the last day Beaumont tweeted, he told his more than 150,000 Twitter followers that he would uninstall Twitter and only use Mastodon for the week. “I’m not considering migrating yet,” he said. tweeted at the time. “But my life jacket is in place.” On Mastodon, Beaumont kept to his usual regular rhythm of tweeting (sorry, “tooting”), which included disclosing the name and several details about a zero-day Windows vulnerability, “ZippyReads.”

While not all of the well-known InfoSec Twitter personalities have done much, if anything, on Mastodon, a good number have. Overall, — which had only 180 active users until a few days ago, administrator Jerry Bell told Wired — now has 13,500 active users. And they have also been very active: the instance now has up to 170,000 posts in total. Discussions undeniably became more substantive after the InfoSec Twitter mob arrived, Bell told Wired. A handful of other security-focused instances have also sprung up.

Will it last, or will everyone be back on Twitter next week? Will the obvious constraints of the Mastodon platform, and the many differences with Twitter, discourage too many people? And above all, who really wants to say “toot”? Other than on the last question, where the answer is “no one”, who knows. It’s also unclear how many Twitter communities would easily translate this to Mastodon.

But when it comes to suddenly buzzing social media apps, Mastodon seems to be off to a good start, at least for an already vibrant online community like InfoSec.

—Kyle Alspach (E-mail | Twitter)


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Thanks for reading – see you tomorrow!

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