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Test Your Apps for Free on Intel-based Android Devices at AppThwack

Our friends over at AppThwack run a pretty neat service. You can upload your Android or web app to their virtual device lab, and they'll install it on actual devices, run some tests, and send you the results. You can also script your own tests if you want.

Normally, you pay for this service by the minute, based on how long your tests take, and how many devices you want to test on. But we've set up an arrangement with them to make testing on Intel-based Android devices completely free, courtesy of the Intel Developer Zone. You can test on any of these Android tablets and phones with Intel Atom processors:

  • Asus MeMO Pad FHD 10
  • Dell Venue 7
  • Dell Venue 8
  • Lenovo IdeaPhone K900
  • Motorola Droid RAZR i
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10

More and more Android devices have Intel processors. If you're a developer, and want to see how your apps perform on Intel-based Android tablets and phones, now you have a free and easy way to test them. And if you need help with your app, don't forget to check out the rest of our Android development tools and resources at software.intel.com/android.

Happy testing!

Intel, Latest Technology

Using the Intel® Power Gadget 3.0 API on Windows*

Authors:  Seung-Woo Kim, Joseph Jin-Sung Lee, Vardhan Dugar, Jun De Vega

1.Introduction

1.1 About Intel® Power Gadget for Windows

Intel® Power Gadget for Windows is an application which presents real-time data about a 2nd generation or later Intel® Core processor regarding current estimated processor power, package power limit, current processor frequency, base frequency, GT frequency, current temperature, maximum temperature, proc hot (when package temperature exceeds max temperature) timestamps and elapsed time. The data is obtained from the Model Specific Registers (MSRs) and energy counters that are available only in 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ or later processors.  The PROCHOT feature is available only in 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processors or later.

The supported MSRs are correlated with three MSR functions as described in Table 1. This data can be viewed on a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and/or logged for a required duration of time.

MSR Function

Data

Returns

0

Frequency

Frequency of sample (in MHz)

1

Power

Average Power (in Watts),
Cumulative Energy (in Joules),
Cumulative Energy (in milliWatt-Hours)

2

Temperature

Temperature (in Deg. Celsius)
Proc Hot (‘0’ if false and ‘1’ if true)

3

Package Power Limit

Package Power Limit (in Watts)

 Table 1: MSR functions 

Developers may use this data to create their own application by exploiting the Dynamic-Link Library (DLL) used by the Intel® Power Gadget. The DLL serves as a C++ Application Programming Interface (API). For more details on the API, please refer to subsequent sections.

1.2 Setup

  1. Download the appropriate Intel® Power Gadget installation package on your system.
  2. Run setup.exe as an administrator. Accept the UAC, if one appears.
  3. Follow the installer prompt instructions to complete installation. Microsoft .Net Framework 4 will automatically be downloaded from the Microsoft website if not yet installed in your system. Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 SP1 Redistributable Package will also automatically get installed if not yet installed.

For more information on system requirements and installation, please visit Intel® Power Gadget page

2.Developers’ Tools

The installer sets two environment variables on installation:

  • IPG_Ver: Contains version of Intel® Power Gadget being installed.
  • IPG_Dir: Contains directory in which the DLLs (EnergyLib64.dll used for 64-bit applications and EnergyLib32.dll used for 32-bit applications) were installed. 

Developers may utilize the DLL for their 32-bit or 64-bit applications. Sample code called “PowerLog3.0-source.zip” to use Intel®     Power Gadget’s DLL is available for download at the bottom of this page 

3.API of Intel® Power Gadget

3.1 Concept of Sampling

For a good understanding of the API, it is essential to be familiar with the concept of sampling. Data is acquired from specific MSRs at a fixed sampling frequency. Higher the frequency, greater will be the accuracy of the data but poorer will be the performance of the system. Although the Intel® Power Gadget API can be used with a sampling frequency ranging from 1 to 1000 milliseconds, the optimal sampling frequency of 100 milliseconds is the default selection on the GUI and is recommended for application developers.

3.2 Overview

As the primary API, developers may use Intel® Power Gadget’s EnergyLib32.dll for 32-bit applications or EnergyLib64.dll for 64-bit applications. This library must be initialized at the start of the program by calling IntelEnergyLibInitialize(). Here, the loading of the driver takes place.

The ReadSample()function is used to read samples. ReadSample() obtains the number of sampled MSRs from GetNumMsrs(). MSRs are given an ID from 0 to n-1, where n is the number returned by GetNumMsrs(). The MSR ID is used to acquire data for a specific MSR using GetMsrName(),GetMsrFunc() and GetPowerData() functions. GetPowerData() is called for each sampled MSR and provides the relevant data from that MSR. An MSR’s function, which the API obtains from GetMsrFunc(), determines the amount and meaning of data returned from GetPowerData() as described in Table 1.  Since GT frequency is not obtained from MSRs, another function called GetGTFrequency() will provide this data. One can check if Intel® graphics is available with the help of IsGTAvailable() function before attempting to obtain GT related data.

ReadSample() also reads the system time via GetSysTime()at the time the sample was read. The time interval (in seconds) between samples is available via GetTimeInterval().

Further, the API supports reading from common individual MSRs without having to specify the MSR address or read an entire sample via GetIAFrequency(), GetMaxTemperature(), GetTemperature() and GetTDP().It is recommended that Package Power Limit is used instead of TDP whenever possible, as it is a more accurate upper bound to the package power than TDP.

The sample data from ReadSample() can be logged to a file. Logging can be started at any time by calling StartLog(), and subsequently ended by calling StopLog().

For more information on the API, refer to the Function Reference section.

4.Function Reference

Function

Description

1

bool IntelEnergyLibInitialize();

Initializes the library and connects to the driver.

2

bool ReadSample();

Reads sample data from the driver for all the supported MSRs.

3

bool GetNumNodes(int *nNodes);

Returns the number of CPU packages on the system.

4

bool GetNumMsrs(int *nMsrs);

Returns the number of supported MSRs for bulk reading and logging.

5

bool GetMsrName(int iMsr, wchar_t *szName);

Returns in szName the name of the MSR specified by iMsr.

6

bool GetMsrFunc(int iMsr, int *pFuncID);

Returns in pFuncID the function of the MSR specified by MSR ID in iMsr. Refer Table 1: MSR Functions.

7

bool GetPowerData(int iNode, int iMSR, double *pResult, int *nResult);

Returns the data collected by the most recent call to ReadSample(). The returned data is for the data on the package specified by iNode, from the MSR specified by iMSR. The data is returned in pResult, and the number of double results returned in pResult is returned in nResult. Refer Table 1: MSR Functions.

8

bool IsGTAvailable();

Returns true if Intel® graphics is available and false if Intel® graphics is unavailable (i.e if it’s not present or disabled).

9

bool GetGTFrequency(int *freq);

Returns the current GT frequency in MHz. The data is returned in freq.

10

bool GetSysTime(void *pSysTime);

Returns the system time as of the last call to ReadSample(). The data returned in pSysTime is structured as follows: pSysTime[63:32] = time in seconds ; pSysTime[31:0] = time in nanoseconds

11

bool GetTimeInterval(double *pOffset);

Returns in pOffset the time (in seconds) that has elapsed between the two most recent calls to ReadSample().

12

bool GetIAFrequency(int iNode, int *freqInMHz);

Reads the processor frequency MSR on the package specified by iNode, and returns the frequency (in MHz) in freqInMHz.

13

bool GetTDP(int iNode, double *TDP);

Reads the package power info MSR on the package specified by iNode, and returns the TDP (in Watts) in TDP. It is recommended that Package Power Limit is used instead of TDP whenever possible, as it is a more accurate upper bound to the package power than TDP.

14

bool GetMaxTemperature(int iNode, int *degreeC);

Reads the temperature target MSR on the package specified by iNode, and returns the maximum temperature (in degrees Celsius) in degreeC.

15

bool GetTemperature(int iNode, int *degreeC);

Reads the temperature MSR on the package specified by iNode, and returns the current temperature (in degrees) Celsius in degreeC.

16

bool GetBaseFrequency(int iNode, double *pBaseFrequency);

Returns in pBaseFrequency the advertised processor frequency for the package specified by iNode.

17

bool StartLog(wchar_t *szFileName);

Starts saving the data collected by ReadSample() until StopLog() is called. Data will be written to the file specified by szFileName.

18

bool StopLog();

Stops saving data and writes all saved data to the file specified by the call to StartLog().

Table 2: Function Lookup
 

4.1 Notes of Caution

  1. The functions described in Table 2 return either true on success or false on failure.
  2. It is recommended to first verify if Intel® graphics is available via IsGTAvailable() before attempting to obtain GT frequency data via GetGTFrequency().
  3. The “PROCHOT” feature is available only in 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processors or later.
  4. It is recommended that Package Power Limit is used instead of TDP whenever possible, as it is a more accurate upper bound to the package power than TDP.The ReadSample() function must be called twice before calling GetTimeInterval() and before getting power data (as opposed to frequency or temperature data) from GetPowerData(), as they are computed using the difference between two samples.
  5. When logging data, the data isn’t written into the log until StopLog() function is called. StartLog() will cause an initial call to ReadSample() and StopLog() causes the final call.
  6. The GetRDTSC() function has been deprecated from previous versions of the DLL.
Intel, Latest Technology

Getting Involved with Student Hackathons

Thinking about helping out but don’t know where to start?  Have questions or concerns? This list of information/F.A.Q. is for you.

What do I get out of this?

You'll gain experience teaching, public speaking, and managing multiple teams and projects. You'll hone your skills with the technologies being used.  Also, the events are fun!  You'll impact students’ lives in a positive way and if your hackathon is part of the Code for Good initiative, you'll be helping society at large.

What would I be doing?

As a facilitator, your role is to jumpstart the attendees' knowledge of the technology they'll be using, and to keep them from getting stuck throughout the event. No one expects you to have all the answers, but you will be the "extra team member" for every team participating. You'll assist with design, research, implementation, and debugging.

I’m not qualified, don’t know the technology

Generally, neither do the students. We'll help you train up ahead of time and then you'll learn on-site with the attendees. Also, your professional experience as a programmer will be invaluable for overcoming the everyday programming hurdles the less-experienced attendees will encounter, regardless of the technology. One of the most valuable lessons for them is to learn how to learn, aided greatly by exposing them to the process of how you would learn.

Will this detrimentally impact my daily work?

No, but it will require extra time. In most cases, the hackathon is held over a weekend, so if there is no travel required it will be completely outside of work hours.  The experiences here may even help you in the rest of your job.

I don’t like to travel

These events are everywhere - including near you.  If we don’t have one in your area, let us know!

What if I DO like to travel?

Then this is a good development experience for you.  If TNE is an issue, you might be able to get the travel covered depending on the Intel groups sponsoring the event.

Do I have to stay up all night?

You can, but it’s not a requirement.  Some events are scheduled to be within working hours, with participants returning home at night.

I have other questions

Feel free to contact us:

Brad Hill (richard.b.hill@intel.com)

Paul Steinberg (paul.f.steinberg@intel.com)

Intel, Latest Technology

Five ways to level up your Android game

Android developers who want to have their apps discovered more effectively in Google Play will be glad to know that the curation team behind the popular app store have basically the same goals in mind. A recent video from Koh Kim and Dan Galpin, both who work as developer advocates for Google, talked about several ways that developers can make their apps more accessible and engaging to users, thereby increasing installs, revenue, and authority.

Core app quality guidelines

While there are basic questions that every developer has on their mind, i.e., “how do I get discovered”, “how do I get rid of bad ratings”, “how do I get users to play my games”, etc. these questions tend to miss the fundamental point, which is that at the center of every app, there is a user. Happy, content, engaged users tend to equal more happy, content, engaged users.

There are core app quality guidelines found at developer.android.com that Google Play staffers encourage developers to perfect in their apps. Their testing has found that these simple guidelines are not necessarily always followed by app developers, which can lead in turn to bad reviews from users. A few of the most notorious offenses:

  • Notifications: Everyone hates to be spammed. A notification should not be an ad for something else, and it should be wholly controllable by the user. Google Play advises that developers give users precise control as to timing and sounds.
  • Privacy settings: Apps in general do not need to know how to change their users’ Wi-Fi settings, receive boot completed notifications, read system logs, directly call phone numbers, read or write their contacts and calendars, or display system level alerts. If your app needs one of these things, you’ll have to be able to justify it to the Google Play review team.
  • Audio: Sounds should not play when the user is not engaged within the app. Review teams will catch this and send the app back to the developer.
  • Testing in more than one version: Google Play encourages developers to test their apps in the latest version of Android, as well as in Strict Mode.
  • Quality graphics: Developers should provide high quality graphics across a wide variety of form factors. Every device that people are using to access Google Play will be tested. In fact, great graphics are one of the highest determining factors that can make or break the decision on whether the Google Play store decides to feature an app. Icons that accurately and engagingly represent what your app is all about are extremely important because of this.

In addition to guidelines like the ones above, Google makes available a “test suite” that developers can use to check their quality assurance compliance. These are actual steps that the QA team at Google will take to review any apps that are submitted, so it’s good practice to know what’s going to be looked at ahead of time. It also increases the probability that Google will feature and review your app if it passes muster the first time.

Distribution

The Google Play store is curated by actual people, and nothing gets through automatically. Getting featured on the store is definitely a huge boost for any app; for example, one game gave numbers from their feature week of going from a baseline of 500k installs to over three million – in just one week. The game was already highly rated due to an engaging user experience and high quality overall, so this just managed to tip them over the edge into stardom.  Featuring can be critical for launches and updates of an app; often increasing downloads ten to twenty times. In fact, sales of Super Hexagon multiplied by four during their Google Play promotion.

However, getting featured is really only the beginning. Once you get featured it can open doors to a lot of other promotions, sort of a snowball effect. The trick is getting to that point, initially. One of the best ways to do that is via Google Play Game Services, which gives developers a jumping-off point to integrate various Google services into their apps.  Achievements, leaderboards, cloud saving, real-time multiplayer, and anti-piracy are all here. This is also part of Google+, so it comes with simple secure authentication (this improves registration and sign-in conversions with a fast and secure authentication option for users), interactive posts (helps your users prompt friends to take specific actions in your app from a Google+ post), and app activities (helps you re-engage users when it’s relevant in the future).

Interactive posts can be a huge boost for engagement from within apps, since the user can sign into games with their G+ ID, and developers can create interactive jumping off points from within the actual gameplay – for example, say someone is playing chess and wants to challenge a friend to the game they’re in progress with. Targeted sharing with notifications can be fantastic for user engagement. If the game or app isn’t installed, the user will be brought to the store or the game to install it, and these notifications do show up on every Google property, so it is very pervasive.

YouTube

A recent survey from Blitz titled “Pulling the Trigger to Purchase” (2011) stated that 95% of 1000 respondents chose videos as the deciding factor that got them to install an app, followed by trailers (94%), visiting the developers’ site (61%), reading expert reviews (68%), and reading premium content (83%).  Videos are an incredibly important part of app listings. Google Play encourages app developers to take advantage of the free YouTube API in order to enable users to share actual gameplay videos, as well as market listings:

In addition, there’s no need to put an enormous video in the beginning of a game, when users are going to only watch it once – and they tend to uninstall large bulky apps that take up too much memory, which that definitely would do. Instead, the developer can host the intro video on YouTube via an API.

Money

Everyone wants to get paid. Google Play aims to make this process as streamlined as possible, and they have simplified quite a few activities that used to be difficult to implement; for example, local item pricing can now tell users how much they’re going to be charged before taking them to the store for in-app purchases.

In addition, subscription purchases can add up to a big difference when done correctly. Instead of a one-time purchase, the user may decide they are up for a longer term relationship. Every developer has to decide whether or not it makes sense for their particular app, but it’s a viable way to continue and maintain that customer relationship, plus, it’s a good way to close the gap between free games and in-app purchases, while providing a way for developers to create extra value.

When a customer decides to put their trust in you as a developer and Google Play as an app store, it’s more than just money at that point – it’s authority and reputation. So it’s important to do it right the first time.

Global empires

The global Android market is big and getting bigger, with apps available in more than 130 countries and growing exponentially, especially in Asia. Google Play is growing faster than activated devices with 48 billion installs, and a lot of those are games.  In order for games to be successful in global markets, apps need to be available in local languages; it just makes sense and it also provides developers with a larger fan base that will respond. For example, it is now possible to upload localized assets (like screenshots, videos, and icons) and change them by region. If users can understand more about the game, it greatly improves the chance that they will download it. The video provided a couple of different examples to illustrate this:

  • Eternity Warriors 2 vs. Blood and Glory Legend: Launched at the same time from the same studio; Eternity was localized at launch, while the other was only available in English. This made a gigantic difference in Korea, where the localized game racked up three times as many installs.
  • Gameloft: After setting up shop in Asia, they saw a 190% YOY growth. Once they started localizing in Korea, that growth increased by 520%, and are now one of their fastest growing markets.

The Google Play staffers were quick to point out that localization doesn’t necessarily just mean translation; developers have to figure out what makes sense with a global audience, and be sensitive to local customs and cultures that might not work with all apps and games.

What makes a good app?

There are so many factors that go into creating a “good” app: great graphics, good navigation, engaging gameplay, social capabilities, non-intrusive notifications, intuitive billing and/or in-app purchases, etc. It can be a bit overwhelming to think about. However, good apps that are downloaded by a strong user base invariably follow the same path. 

Intel, Latest Technology

3 Predictions: Cloud Computing’s Impact On Your Car

When it comes to buying a car, the days of kicking the tires or looking under the hood are gone. The in-vehicle experience is center stage, it’s time to look forward, and inside, to see how cloud computing will change the way you drive. Intel is partnering with the automotive industry and applying its technology and expertise to help speed development of innovative, unique experiences from the car to the cloud. In fact, this week at CES 2014 in Las Vegas we are welcoming Infiniti and BMW into our booth to demonstrate Intel-based IVI devices – Infiniti InTouch and BMW ConnectedDrive. Get behind the wheel in Booth 7252 in the Central Hall to see for yourself.

As we kick off 2014, here are three bold predictions that I expect to become reality in our near future:

1. Real-time feedback will help automakers deliver a more compelling driving experience – Purchased a new vehicle recently? If so, you’ve probably received several follow-up emails and electronic surveys asking you to spend time providing feedback on vehicle performance and satisfaction. Unless you’re the rare person who enjoys taking surveys, this is a time consuming process that provides little meaningful or immediate benefit.

By looking at the vehicle as a device, allowing it to connect, communicate and share data with the cloud, we can provide automakers with critical real-time data on how we drive and use our vehicles. This will give them a better understanding of how their vehicles operate, if they are operating safely and what entertainment features drivers are taking advantage of.

Looking forward, in-vehicle software platforms will feature apps that allow us to install and upgrade safety, driving and entertainment features that are more important and customized to our driving expectations. In the long term, automakers will be able to gather driver preference data from millions of drivers to quickly and effectively make in-vehicle connectivity and performance changes to new vehicles much faster than the current five-year design cycle.

2. Connected vehicles will provide greater transparency, saving us time and money – Where to start? I think we could all agree that there’s real opportunity and benefit to putting real-time traffic, parking, and navigation data to good use. As we get more crowd-sourced technologies integrated into our cars, it will allow them to receive information and communicate it back to us.

A perfect example is the current traffic congestion or road closure information we get on our navigation devices. Much of this information is delayed and we don’t really know if the situation has changed. Do I take another route and spend more time and fuel to get where I need to go, or has the accident cleared? Getting this up-to-date information will save time and money on fuel consumption.

For companies that operate a vehicle fleet there is great opportunity for different kinds of savings, whether it’s tracking management, mileage, service, even driver behavior. Are they stopping at the right intervals, maintaining safety, driving too long or buying gas from authorized retailers?

For us average drivers, one of the biggest benefits will be the insight into how our vehicles are operating and the issues we may be experiencing. Instead of just a warning light, our vehicle will be able to tell us what the problem is through equipped sensors that monitor all aspects of our vehicle. Automakers can then notify us through system warnings when it is time to take our car in for an overdue oil change or to correct a potentially more serious brake malfunction.

3. On-demand entertainment options no longer confined to cable – We’ve come a long way since the eight-track. For those who don’t know what that is, let’s go with the tape deck. We can sync the music on our phone to play in the car or access satellite radio for even more options. Pretty cool, huh? Well, get ready for more.

On-demand cloud-driven entertainment is on the way. As if we can’t already get enough, we’ll soon be able to access the same movies, music and social platforms we get on our televisions, right in the comfort of our own vehicle. Passengers inside the vehicle will be able to sync their mobile devices with each other, sharing content and entertainment options. Really, this technology is in its early stages and there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation. It will be exciting to see where it takes us.

What are your thoughts? Give me your bold predictions on how cloud computing will impact your next car. And if you’re at CES this week, stop by the Intel booth 7252 in Central Hall and see the cars for yourself.

Intel, Latest Technology

A sneak peek at chips of the future

What IS IEDM? IEDM stands for the International Electron Devices Meeting, and it is THE international forum for nanoscale device technology. Papers at this forum represent the “best-of-the-best” in device accomplishments for the calendar year. 1400 people attended the conference, with an acceptance rate for papers of ~35% (and that includes the invited papers!) The forum oscillates in location between San Francisco and Washington DC, and this year it was in Washington DC.

One of the first impressions one gets in attending IEDM is how much Intel is held up as the “target to beat”. This was particularly apparent in session 9 (Circuit and Device Interaction – Advanced CMOS Technology Platforms) where the major players in the industry not only benchmarked their data against ours, but even used similar graphics and format as our presentations. (The quote “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” springs to mind in this forum!) A great example was TSMC’s 16nm FinFET paper, which was benchmarked (virtually graph for graph) against our 22nm technology (VLSI 2012, Chris Auth, et al. and IEDM 2012, Chia-Hong Jan, et al.).

Another fascinating thing about session 9 was the increasing emphasis on parts of the system beyond the device itself. Intel, for example, presented a very well-received paper (Eric Wang, et al.) on a capacitor-over-bitline eDRAM implemented on 22nm Trigate (see Fig. 1). Eric, the primary author, did a nice job in moving beyond the device to focus on device-circuit interactions, showing that implementation of noise reduction circuit techniques and extensive device and design co-optimization could provide over 100μs retention time at 95°C in a Gbit eDRAM. (This paper also demonstrated one of the characteristics of Intel papers at IEDM, which is for the room to dramatically fill up with people before an Intel paper, and then empty again after the paper is completed.)

capacitor

Fig. 1. The Capacitor-over-bitline (COB) eDRAM architecture discussed in Eric Wang’s session 9 Intel paper.

Device-circuit interactions were also the theme of the Intel invited paper (Greg Taylor) which led off session 17 (Circuit and Device Interaction – Analog and Mixed Signal Circuit/Device Interactions). Greg discussed the challenges of implementing analog and mixed signal circuits on process technologies that have been optimized for logic performance (always a hot button in this community!). One of the points he made was the importance of moving as much circuitry as possible to the logic device and focusing device development energy only on those devices/circuits which cannot be made using logic. Greg also pointed out the possibilities for leveraging challenges as benefits (something I instantly named “Aikido Analog”) and gave an example of an analog to digital converter that benefits from increased device variation.

Intel had a very strong presence this year in the novel devices community, with two well-received papers on tunnel FETs (TFETs) and a fascinating paper on some fundamental science in GaN devices.

TFETs are electron devices which operate by tunneling through the source-drain energy barrier (rather than by hopping over the barrier as in a conventional MOS device.) As a consequence of using tunneling, they have better sub-threshold slope than MOS, and thus a potential for better performance at low energy/power operating points. Intel had two TFET papers this year, one in session 4 (Nano Device Technology – Steep Slope Devices) and one in session 33 (Circuit and Device Interaction – Circuit/Device Variability and Reliability). In the Session 4 paper (Uygar Avci and Ian Young), Uygar introduced an innovative new device (called a resonant tunnel FET) which creates a narrow triangular potential well at the source side of the heterojunction possessing discrete resonant energy levels. If these resonant levels can be designed to align with the source valence band when the device is on, then a significantly steeper subthreshold stope can be obtained (see Fig. 2). In the session 33 paper (Uygar Avci, et al.), Uygar discussed the impact of variations on TFET devices when compared to conventional MOS devices, and predicted a 64% average energy savings against Si CMOS at Lg=13nm.

tfet

Fig. 2. Improvement of the resonant tunnel TFET over a conventional TFET and MOS device as shown in Uygar Avci’s session 4 Intel paper.

It is rare in our business to be able to show entirely new physics to the transistor community. However, this year, we were successful with a paper in session 28 (Power and Compound Semiconductor Devices – Next generation logic and power). In this paper (H. Then, et al.) Han discussed the observation of a “negative capacitance” effect in an AlInN/AlN/GaN MOS-HEMT. He pointed out that negative capacitance effects (interesting to us because they result in improved subthreshold performance, similar to a TFET) have been predicted theoretically, but not in the GaN system and not with this particular type of physics. You can imagine that the question period for this paper was quite vigorous, with various physics experts torn between disagreeing with our interpretation but being impressed and intrigued by our data!

Last, but certainly not least, were the panel sessions. Intel’s Kevin Zhang chaired the session on “Will Voltage Scaling in CMOS Technology Continue Beyond the 14nm Generation?” and I was one of the panelists. I can certainly say that Kevin’s session was an exciting one, beginning with the dramatic proposal by IBM’s Tak Ning for a return to bipolar and ending with my (probably less dramatic, but likely more practical) observation that design-process collaboration seems to be the key for CMOS scaling past 14nm IBM’s Jeff Welser chaired the session on “Is there life beyond conventional CMOS” and Ian Young was one of the panelists. In this session, panelists both proposed the steep slope (Tunneling FET, Ferro-electric FET, Metal Insulator FET) devices and the spintronics devices (All-Spin Logic) as the likely front runner devices beyond conventional CMOS. Several panelists stated these devices must provide power-performance benefit at the functional block and system level, where Beyond CMOS devices will not replace CMOS but will augment it (i.e. “Beyond CMOS” will “Be-On-CMOS”). Ian made the point that a new device may only come about if it enables new applications – not just be about replacing CMOS. One strong option for this is heterogeneous integration of CMOS and Beyond CMOS devices to more optimally implement the functions in the SOC.

Overall, the conference “trend” was upbeat – with lots of energy showcasing technologies of value to the mobile and SOC communities. Still no end in sight for Moore’s Law!

Intel, Latest Technology

Internet of Things: Transforming Consumer Culture and Business

Intelligent devices and systems are woven into the fabric of our daily lives in the worlds of retail, healthcare, automotive, and more. This year, the Internet of Things (IoT) will become increasingly apparent to people worldwide, as well as provide opportunities for businesses in many industries, and Intel is excited to highlight a number of incredible innovations at this year’s CES Show in Las Vegas. If you’ll be at the show, I invite you to attend our presentations and visit us in Booth 7252 in the Central Hall to see for yourself.

Infiniti InTouch

Infiniti InTouch™ with Intel Inside®


At Intel, we embed intelligence into everyday devices to connect to the cloud and enable businesses to extract value from data.  From wearables to smart cars, vending machines to factory machines, and more, we want to solve problems, help make technology more accessible, improve quality of life, and open up new worlds of opportunity. Here’s a preview of what we’ll be talking about at CES:
  • Fireside Chats: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich will discuss how IoT is driving human and business transformation as well as highlight areas of growth including wearables, retail and manufacturing on January 7th at 1:00 p.m. From intelligent baby onesies to a coffee shop experience from a vending machine, you’re not going to want to miss it. On January 8th at 12:00 p.m. we’ll be talking about the challenge for the electronics industry in making conflict-free products. Also, be sure to check out Automotive Solutions Division Vice President and General Manager Elliot Garbus in the Intel Booth on January 9th at 10 a.m. discussing the investments and partnerships that are helping keep drivers and passengers safer, better informed and entertained on the road.
  • Cars in the IoT: Intel is partnering with the automotive industry to speed development of innovative, unique experiences from the car to the cloud. When your car is intelligent enough to give you the right information at the right time, driving can be safer and less stressful. I’m excited to have both Infiniti and BMW joining us in our booth this year. See how Infiniti InTouch™ and BMW ConnectedDrive are bringing the IoT into the car and onto the streets with Intel Inside®.

As processors become smaller and require less power, it becomes possible to deliver compute performance to places we’ve never been before.  It’s really exciting to play a key role in the Internet of Things that is enabling new services, enhancing productivity and efficiency, and improving development of innovative consumer experiences.  IoT is changing the way we interact with the world as well as enabling the world to interact with us.  We’re working on a number of new IoT solutions in 2104.  Keep in touch with us and let’s explore the possibilities together.

Learn more on Intel’s vision for the Internet of Things.

Intel, Latest Technology

Diversity in Your Career

Note from the editor: Every time I scan our internal blogs, I feel a sense of pride. I’m proud to be affiliated with so many intelligent and inspiring colleagues, like Viji. Viji has been with Intel for over 8 years and is an engineering manager in the IT department with Intel India. She recently shared this blog post through our internal blogging platform, chronicling her career and experience thus far. 

VijiSteve Jobs once said “The greatest artists like Dylan, Picasso and Newton risked failure. And if we want to be great, we’ve got to risk it too”

Not sure when he said this or when I heard it; nor do I think I compare to the greats but I have a feeling my career is definitely inspired by the quote. In an era when more and more people are talking about diversity in the corporate world, I am grateful for the diversity of roles in my career – Intel has given me a variety over the past 8+ years and each and every one of them has been highly interesting.

Armed with a B.Tech in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT-M and a M.S. in Engineering Science from a US university, I was inundated with offers to start my career as an IT consultant, thanks to the C++ course that was prominently featured in my Master’s grade sheet. Running high on self-esteem and a deep interest and fascination for the semiconductor industry, I was too proud to let go of my background. The heart managed to withstand the constant pressure of the penniless purse for almost 4 months after graduation until I finally landed my dream job as a Fab Litho process engineer at a chip manufacturing company (not Intel).  And thus began my journey in the corporate world. I lived that dream for 7 beautiful years. I felt like an astronaut floating in space in a bunny suit that I wore diligently every day for those years. The sub-micron images that were cast on the wafer made me feel like Picasso. Troubleshooting yield problems was giving me the high that shots of tequila couldn’t—I know that sounds corny but that’s really how much I loved my job. I didn’t know how easily I could work 60 hour weeks without even realizing it. It seemed like I just batted an eyelid and here I was 7 years, a husband and 2 children later.

The best thing about working in a fab is of course, the intellectual satisfaction. It comes with a price though. The job is the most direct impact to the business of a chip manufacturer and hence, you are in the direct line of potential fire always. You have no life because you are on call 24X7X365. How does that work when you have a family needing to be nurtured? I am sure there are superwomen out there but that was my hard limit. It was a difficult compromise to switch jobs and leave manufacturing R&D but I considered myself very fortunate to be able to find a job that was a perfect balance: working in a fab, yet no giving your life to it. This was when Intel had come into my life and I became a technical negotiator in the capital equipment procurement space. I got to use my fab knowledge while learning a new skill. I understood the advantage “perspective” can have when you move to a new role – I got to leverage my knowledge of fab while understanding the intricacies of procurement process. My first attempt to seek diversity in my career helped me hone the ability to connect the dots – and I am eternally grateful for that. Life was good. I had nothing to complain about for a few years.

I had worked in the US for 10-11 years when the critical family decision of moving back to India happened. While this was an exciting idea, job prospects for my background were bleak. But Intel is a place of miracles. Intel found a fit where no one else could. I was moved into a role of strategic sourcing manager in the IT services space. What a company to work for! My fab experience went down the drain but it made me realize something—I could seamlessly transition into anything I had limited knowledge on and do a fairly decent job of it. I had spent a couple of years in the team picking up new skills and almost 6 years in procurement/strategic sourcing by then. But the problem was having to work late nights because the organization was US centric (and rightly so) and to me, the growth opportunities in a lean site was limited.

At a time when I felt that learning in this role was plateauing out, as serendipity would have it, I got hired into the IT organization as the business operations manager. I was picked to manage a team in IT within a year with absolutely no IT background. The real big challenge was to be leading a team that has a vast experience and far more domain and functional knowledge. But I think what works for me is the fact that I have seen such diverse roles that I am able to bring a different perspective to the role. In essence, I am in my third career, probably 7th or 8th role and going strong – I find that by seeking diversity in my roles, I have gained more confidence in taking up newer roles, provide leadership and direction to teams to see the big picture, a better understanding of organization I work for, made some great friends along the way and most of all avoided any boredom of monotony.

My 2 cents worth: Try new things and don’t be afraid to fail. Because to live a creative life, we must lose our fear of failing.

I am indebted to several people who have helped me through my difficult times. They will reside in my grateful heart forever.

Intel, Latest Technology

Snapchat’s Unhappy New Year

Once More Into the Breach…

Less than a month after the Target credit card breach another significant data theft is in the news.  This week’s victim is Snapchat, the popular photo sharing social network.   Gibson Security announced the weakness, with some solid technical analysis of the API’s problems.  The New York Times has some good mainstream coverage, as do other news outlets.

The irony of this situation is that Snapchat’s brand promise was all about security and privacy.  Ephemeral photos could capture a moment without permanently tarnishing one’s reputation.  Regardless of how well they delivered on that core feature, poor custodianship of other customer data will leave many users wondering how well the app will deliver on privacy where it matters.  One indiscretion may well permanently tarnish Snapchat’s reputation.

Why Does This Keep Happening?

One key quote from the New York Times article illustrates a problem common in API implementation:

In an email, one researcher said the data was not being encrypted or “hashed” to make it difficult for hackers to piece together. “They hadn’t even implemented rate limiting,” the research said.

Why is this common?  I think there are two reasons.  First, things like rate limiting aren’t perceived as adding value.  They’re not something that gives your company an edge.  So they’re not the first thing you’re going to implement, even if they do add value (security) to your application or service.  Second, high traffic volume is a good problem to have.  And with a solid DevOps team, there may be valid reasons to avoid throttling the overall service – for example you want to scale elastically to allow for the unfettered growth and popularity of your fledgling service, allowing you and your team to realize a billion dollar payout.  That payout may be at risk, however, if you don’t secure your service, and ultimately that’s why you need rate limiting — to protect against dictionary attacks, DDoS, or other malicious use of your service.

The same goes for encrypting or hashing.  Implementing these things takes time, and adds complexity to the logic tier.  It can also make an app harder to debug, as developers can no longer talk directly to the DB tier of the application to make sense of what’s happening — additional tools are needed.  And finally, depending on when the hashing or encryption is implemented, it could also break other pieces of the application — for example if the developers had decided that it was worth their time to do formatting checks on phone numbers to ensure that valid data was being persisted.

How to Prevent This?

This sort of thing is going to keep happening if the risk/cost of addressing it is perceived as being less than the cost to fix it.  Fortunately there are steps that can be taken to help mitigate the risk without adding significant development cost.  One such solution is to utilize a service gateway to handle API security.  Rather than reinventing the wheel with DDoS protection, Content Attack Prevention policies, and other security features, a development organization can implement standard, proven tools to deliver the same functionality.  As new threats need to be addressed, they can be added and managed centrally, avoiding the need to commit changes to multiple back-end services.

As for the encryption piece I mentioned earlier, Format-Preserving Encryption is a relatively new tool that protects data while allowing it to pass format consistency checks.  This allows data at rest to be encrypted which limits the impact should an attacker make it through the first lines of defense, but it avoids the need to recode the logic tier to accommodate new data formats.

Further Information

Securosis recently released a nice whitepaper that summarizes how API gateways can add security while enabling innovation.  I also did a webinar with the authors in October where we discussed this topic.  Stay tuned to this blog as well – we’ll continue to cover these events and best practices in API security as the year unfolds.

Intel, Latest Technology

ATOS API: A zero cash payment processing environment without boundaries

When ATOS, a big corporate conglomerate (EUR 8.8 billion and 77,100 employees in 52 countries), decided that they wanted to become the dominant Digital Service Provider (DSP) for payments, they had a clear mandate on what they wanted to do. They wanted to build a payment enterprise without boundaries. [Wordline is an ATOS subsidiary setup to handle the DSP program exclusively]. One of the magic bullets out of that mandate was:

“The growing trust of consumers to make payments for books, games and magazines over mobiles and tablets evolving into a total acceptance of cashless payments in traditional stores and retail outlets bringing the Zero Cash Society ever closer.”

This required them to rethink the way they processed payments. They are one of the largest payments processors in the world, but they were primarily focused on only big enterprises and name brand shops using their services. Onboarding every customer took a long time, and the integration costs were high. After watching the smaller companies such as Dwolla, Square and others trying to revolutionize the world they decided it is time for the giant to wake up.

The first decision was to embrace the smaller vendors. In order to do that, they can’t be a high touch, very time consuming, takes forever to integrate and very high cost per customer on-boarding environment. They wanted to build a platform that is low touch, completely API driven, fully self-serviced, and continuously integrating yet provides secure payment processing transactions. In addition, they were also faced with moving from the swipe retail payment systems to support ePayment and mobile payments. Essentially, they wanted to build a payment platform that catered not only to today’s needs but flexible enough to expand and scale for the future needs and demands. They wanted to offer this as a service to their customers.

Besides, they also wanted to add value with services to the payment platform such as hotel booking services, loyalty systems, review and ratings sites integration, and the most dreaded – social network integration. Obviously, all of these new features required them to integrate with best of the breed providers to offer a complete platform so that the customers don’t have to integrate themselves with multiple vendors. This would become a dream payment platform offered as a business service as opposed to just a technology service.

This posed an interesting problem. They just can’t discard their existing solution set in trying to revamp everything new. It would be prohibitively expensive and could take forever before they come out to the market and lag the market behind their competitors. That means they have to integrate with existing backend systems, integrate with third party provider APIs yet provide a flexible API set which can be exposed as both internal and external APIs. In the current model, integrating every time for every new customer means higher start-up costs for on-boarding, therefore only high paying customers would consider it. Instead, they wanted to provide a repeatable, self-discovering, smaller and faster infrastructure, faster enablement and customer on-boarding, but most importantly the workflows and processes should be repeatable without a need for major customization for every customer on-boarding.

By doing this, they wanted to create a payment platform that would be secure and continue to serve today’s customers without a glitch yet open the platform up for the newer set of customers: the one’s that demand, API based, self-service enabled, creative front end platforms that use them as a pay as you go service model.

This would open up their payment APIs to a much bigger market. This helps them to move away from their current engagement model of trying to find customers to integrate with their platform in a costly and time consuming manner. Instead they allow their customers to find them, use them, and revolutionize them. In other words, they figured out a way to disrupt the payment processing market. They moved from being a traditional vendor to a nimble, quick to the market and creative vendor by letting the customers build the innovation pieces themselves using ATOS flexible interfaces (APIs). (Though this is a vision and not a current capability, this solution capability is expected to be available very soon.)

To do this, they needed a partner who could take the journey with them not only to help them enable this process, but someone who can help build a hybrid enterprise model. You can listen to the video by Matthew Headford, Worldline CTO, here, where he talks about the needs and the comparison of Intel’s solution with the leading competitors in this space. The need includes API gateway, API portal (segmented internal and external users), and API security/protection combined with the current legacy integration, API orchestration layer, integration with existing security model, and integration with third party API providers but most importantly why those Intel.

When it comes to API enabling your business, there is no need to disrupt the existing eco-system and build everything from the ground up. You need someone who can help you with surfacing APIs from existing systems, get your value proposition quicker to market, build the components that are missing, secure them to be equal to your industry standards or higher, but, most importantly, fit everything with your current eco-system.

Feel free to check out more details at cloudsecurity.intel.com.

- Andy Thurai (@AndyThurai)

Andy Thurai is Chief Architect and Group CTO of Application Security and Identity Products with Intel, where he is responsible for architecting SOA, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Governance, Security, and Identity solutions for their major corporate customers. In his role, he is responsible for helping Intel/McAfee field sales, technical teams and customer executives. Prior to this role, he has held technology architecture leadership and executive positions with L-1 Identity Solutions, IBM (Datapower), BMC, CSC, and Nortel. His interests and expertise include Cloud, SOA, identity management, security, governance, and SaaS. He holds a degree in Electrical and Electronics engineering and has over 25+ years of IT experience. He blogs regularly at www.thurai.net/securityblog. You can also find him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/andythurai or on Twitter @AndyThurai