Welcome to the June 17, 2022, edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Stanford University professor Mark Horowitz was named to receive the ACM/IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award. Stanford Professor to Receive ACM-IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award
June 16, 2022

ACM has named ACM Fellow Mark Horowitz to receive the ACM-IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award for his work with microprocessor memory systems. Today the Yahoo! Founders Professor in the school of engineering and professor of computer science at Stanford University, Horowitz was the first to identify the processor to dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) interface as a bottleneck requiring architecture and circuit optimization. Horowitz pioneered high-bandwidth DRAM interfaces, and made key contributions to the DASH and FLASH projects investigating scalable cache coherency deployment methods via directories. He also spearheaded research in Smart Memories, a concept upon which many modern domain-specific architectures were built.

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A Tesla Model 3 on Autopilot slammed into an overturned truck on the highway. Tesla Autopilot, Other Driver-Assist Systems Linked to Hundreds of Crashes
The New York Times
Neal E. Boudette; Cade Metz; Jack Ewing
June 15, 2022

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that from July 1, 2021, to May 15, 2022, there were 392 crashes involving cars using advanced driver-assistance technologies, resulting in six reported deaths and five people being seriously injured. Nearly 70% of the crashes involved Teslas operating with Autopilot, accounting for five of the six fatalities. Said NHTSA's Steve Cliff, "These technologies hold great promise to improve safety, but we need to understand how these vehicles are performing in real-world situations." NHTSA found autonomous vehicles were involved in another 130 incidents, resulting in one serious injury and 15 minor or moderate injuries.

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UCLA engineers helped develop a design strategy and 3D-printing technique to build small robots in a single step. Engineers Create Single-Step 3D Printing Method to Make Robotic Materials
UCLA Samueli School of Engineering
June 16, 2022

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) engineers and colleagues designed a one-step three-dimensional (3D) printing process for manufacturing robots. Critical to the all-in-one approach is the design and printing of piezoelectric metamaterials, which can change shape and move in response to an electric field, or generate electricity in response to physical forces. The researchers developed the metamaterials to bend, flex, twist, rotate, expand, or contract rapidly. They constitute an internal network of sensory, moving, and structural components that can move in response to programmed commands. UCLA’s Huachen Cui said the two-way piezoelectric effect permits the robots to “detect obstacles via echoes and ultrasound emissions, as well as respond to external stimuli through a feedback control loop that determines how the robots move, how fast they move, and toward which target they move.”

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Intel, AMD Hertzbleed CPU Vulnerability Uses Boost Speed to Steal Crypto Keys
Tom's Hardware
Paul Alcorn
June 14, 2022

Researchers from Intel, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Washington have identified the "Hertzbleed" bug, which affects Intel and AMD central processing units (CPUs), among others. The flaw facilitates side-channel attacks that can compromise AES cryptographic keys by measuring the CPU's boost frequency/power. Attackers monitor the power signature of any given cryptographic workload, which varies due to the CPU's dynamic boost clock frequency adjustments, and can render that information as power data in order to steal the keys. Although Hertzbleed has only been demonstrated in Intel and AMD silicon, it could theoretically affect virtually all modern CPUs because it works by observing the power algorithms underlying the Dynamic Voltage Frequency Scaling method common to today's processors. Intel's remedy includes patches for any code that is vulnerable to enabling a power side-channel attack, but some countermeasures can impact performance.

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The researchers’ functional nanowires, consisting of a glassy material, reached two different states. Ultra-Fast Photonic Computing Processor Uses Polarization
University of Oxford (U.K.)
June 16, 2022

A photonic computing processor developed by researchers at the U.K.'s universities of Oxford and Exeter is the first to use the polarization of light to achieve faster information processing and maximize storage density. The researchers developed a hybridized-active-dielectric nanowire that allows information to be processed using multiple polarizations in different directions. The nanowires are modulated by nanosecond optical pulses, boosting computing speeds. The new processor is expected to be over 300 times faster and denser than current electronic chips. Said Oxford's June Sang Lee, "We all know that the advantage of photonics over electronics is that light is faster and more functional over large bandwidths. So, our aim was to fully harness such advantages of photonics combining with tunable material to realize faster and denser information processing."

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Harnessing ML to Analyze Quantum Material
Cornell University Chronicle
Kate Blackwood
June 14, 2022

Researchers at Cornell University developed an unsupervised machine learning algorithm to analyze the quantum metal Cd2Re2O7. The XRD Temperature Clustering (X-TEC) algorithm took only minutes to analyze eight terabytes of X-ray data spanning 15,000 Brillouin zones (uniquely defined cells), providing the researchers a better understanding of electron behavior in the pyrochlore oxide metal. Said Cornell's Eun-Ah Kim, "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first instance of the detection of a Goldstone mode using [X-ray powder diffraction (XRD)]. This atomic-scale insight into fluctuations in a complex quantum material will be only the first example of answering key scientific questions accompanying any discovery of new phases of matter...using information-rich voluminous diffraction data."

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Letters on a computer screen representing the four types of bases found in a DNA molecule. Genetic Screening Algorithm Identifies People with Kidney Disease Risk
Columbia University Irving Medical Center
June 16, 2022

A multi-institutional team of scientists led by Columbia University developed a genetic screening algorithm that can estimate a person's risk of developing chronic kidney disease. The algorithm analyzes variants of the APOL1 gene, a common cause of kidney disease in individuals of African descent, and thousands of other variants carried by people of all ancestral backgrounds. The researchers tested the algorithm on 15 groups of people, including those of European, African, Asian, and LatinX ancestry. Across all ancestries, those scoring highest were three times more likely to develop kidney disease as the general population. Said Columbia's Krzysztof Kiryluk, "With this polygenic method, we can identify individuals at risk decades before the onset of kidney disease, and those with high risk might adopt protective lifestyle changes to reduce that risk."

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An open book with a small globe resting on its pages. Shedding Light on Linguistic Diversity and Its Evolution
Max Planck Gesellschaft (Germany)
June 16, 2022

Researchers from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MHAAM) and New Zealand's University of Auckland have established a global archive of linguistic data to provide new insights into the evolution of the words and sounds of spoken languages. The Lexibank repository contains standardized wordlists for 2,000-plus languages. MHAAM's Johann-Mattis List said the researchers designed new computer-assisted workflows “that enable existing language datasets to be made comparable. With these workflows, we have dramatically increased the efficiency of data standardization and data curation." The researchers also created new computational methods to answer questions about the development of linguistic diversity.

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The mouth of Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport, Alabama. 3D Scans Reveal Ancient Art in Alabama Cave
Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi
June 15, 2022

A team of researchers at the University of Tennessee used three-dimensional (3D) photo mapping to find previously hidden ancient etchings in an Alabama cave. The 3D photogrammetry process is designed to capture photos that overlap by 60% to 80%, and to blend them using a computer program that lets users adjust the distance to add dimension. The researchers recorded 16,000 images in the 19th Unnamed Cave, manipulating distance to lower the cave floor to expose a wider view of the ceiling, revealing etchings invisible in person. The team suggested the technique "can revolutionize the study of rock art."

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Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay announcing a new, low-power AI chip. AI Chip Hits Ultralow Power Lows
IEEE Spectrum
Michelle Hampson
June 15, 2022

Researchers at India's Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay) have announced an ultralow-energy artificial intelligence (AI) chip that facilitates spiking neural networks (SNNs) that emulate the brain's neural signal processing. The researchers developed an SNN that charges capacitors using a band-to-band-tunneling current. Explained IIT Bombay's Udayan Ganguly, "In comparison to state-of-art [artificial] neurons implemented in hardware spiking neural networks, we achieved 5,000 times lower energy per spike at a similar area and 10 times lower standby power at a similar area and energy per spike." When the researchers applied the SNN to a speech recognition model inspired by the brain's auditory cortex, the model recognized spoken words.

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A padlock surrounded by lightning and numbers. Stronger Security for Smart Devices
MIT News
Adam Zewe
June 14, 2022

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers demonstrated two security techniques that block power and electromagnetic side-channel attacks targeting analog-to-digital (ADC) converters in smart devices. The countermeasures involve adding randomization to ADC conversion, which in one case uses a random number generator to decide when each capacitor switches, complicating the correlation of power supplies with output data. That method also keeps the comparator in constant operation, preventing hackers from ascertaining when each conversion stage begins and ends. The second technique employs two comparators and an algorithm to randomly establish two thresholds rather than one, creating millions of ways an ADC could reach a digital output.

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A robot cat chases a robot mouse. Watch a Robot Cat Chase a Robot Mouse
New Scientist
Jeremy Hsu
June 15, 2022

A laboratory demonstration of a robotic cat-and-mouse game hints at the potential for robots conducting search-and-rescue missions or wildlife surveys with little human guidance. The Tianjicat robot created by researchers at China's Tsinghua University uses the TianjicX neuromorphic chip, which can run multiple artificial intelligence (AI) processes concurrently. The researchers tasked Tianjicat to chase a mouse robot programmed to move randomly in an obstacle-laden room. Tianjicat tracked the mouse robot using visual recognition and sound detection, and determined the optimal chase trajectory while avoiding collisions with obstacles. The researchers said the TianjicX chip reduced the amount of power required for Tianjicat's decision-making during the pursuit by about half.

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A strain of the HIV-1 capsid, with different colors corresponding to compressive and expansive strain. Supercomputing Helps Reveal Weaknesses in HIV-1 'Armor'
Texas Advanced Computing Center
Jorge Salazar
June 15, 2022

An international team of researchers used the Frontera supercomputer at the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center to simulate the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 and find its vulnerabilities. The researchers used experimental cryo-electron tomography data from viruses to construct an all-atom molecular dynamics model of the HIV-1 capsid, encompassing nearly 100 million atoms. The images exposed striations on the capsid that signal stress-strain, indicating imperfect distribution. Said the University of Chicago's Gregory Voth, "That's very critical because we were able to correlate those patterns of how the lattice is strained with how the capsids actually break apart." Additional cryo-electron tomography experiments allowed the researchers to conclude the stress-strain patterns closely correlate with the capsid's breakage.

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Heterogeneous Computing - Hardware and Software Perspectives
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