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Intel debuts CPUs for thin and light laptops

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by Peter Krass on 02/23/2022
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Intel today introduced two new members of its 12th gen Intel Core processor family: the P-series for high-performance thin and light laptops, and the U-series for what Intel calls “modern” thin and light laptops.

These join the 12th gen Intel Core H-series processors announced by Intel in January, which are designed for enthusiast laptops.

One way to understand the difference is in the power requirements. The H-series is rated at 45 watts, the P-series at 28W, and the U-series at 15W and 9W. This range, Intel says, provides a scalable architecture for all laptop segments.

Intel says the first devices using the new P-series and U-series processors will ship next month. By year’s end, the company adds, more than 250 devices will be available with the new processors, and they’ll be offered by leading hardware makers including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and others.

P-series at a glance

The 12th gen Intel Core P-series processors offer up to 14 cores, a mix of up to 6 P-cores (for performance) and 8 E-cores (for efficiency). This is Intel’s new Core architecture, introduced with the earlier H-series.

The new P-series processors run up to 70% faster than the previous generation, Intel says. And up to 30% faster for productivity applications such as web browsing and photo editing.

12th gen Intel Core P-series CPU

The latest connectivity tech is built-in, including Intel Wi-Fi 6E and Thunderbolt 4. Also built-in is Intel Xe graphics and imaging with Intel image processing, image quality and enhanced videoconferencing.

The new P-series processors are available in a total of 6 SKUs.

U-series at a glance

The U-series offers a choice of two form factors, each with a different power requirement. There’s the larger 50x25x1.3 mm package, rated at 15W base power. And the smaller 28.5x19x1.1 package rated at just 9W base power.

These CPUs also include Intel Wi-Fi 6E, Thunderbolt 4, Intel Xe graphics and Intel image processing.

The U-series is available in 14 SKUs.

Evo 3rd edition

Today Intel also introduced the third edition of its Evo laptop specification.

One big change will be a higher bar for videoconferencing. The new spec also raise requirements for general responsiveness, instant wake, and battery life and charging times.

Currently, more than 100 laptop designs from over 150 partners adhere to the Intel Evo spec. More devices are expected to join Evo this year, including laptops with 5G connectivity, visual sensing and multi-device capabilities.


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Big Memory: A new solution for data-intensive workloads

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by Peter Krass on 02/23/2022
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There’s a new Intel Select Solution designed for researchers, especially those in health and life sciences. It combines Intel Optane persistent memory with software from MemVerge Inc.

MemVerge is a Milpitas, Calif.-based supplier of what it calls Big Memory software. It virtualizes memory hardware for fine-grained provisioning of capacity, performance, availability and mobility.

MemVerge logo

The company’s Memory Machine, when combined with Intel Optane PMem, enables large data sets to be accessed, tiered, scaled and protected in memory.

The solution is designed for workloads using very large data sets, many of them literally too large to load with today’s maximum DRAM capacity in a typical server. Potential customers include biotech firms, life-science companies, universities, research hospitals and research tech providers.

The MemVerge difference

One big advantage of MemVerge’s software is that it makes DRAM and Intel Optane memory look to most applications like a unified pool of memory pool. What’s more, applications that operate in a MemVerge environment can take advantage of Intel Optane memory’s persistence. This, in turn, also means an application can be used in a Linux environment without the need to rewrite others.

There’s another difference, too. Most other approaches cache Intel Optane PMem data in DRAM, which lowers useable capacity. By contrast, Memory Machine software utilizes 100% of the DRAM and Intel Optane PMem capacity.

In this approach, hot data is intelligently moved to the DRAM fast tier. And warm data is placed in the Intel Optane PMem persistent tier.

Need for speed

The big advantage is speed. MemVerge says its approach can accelerate time-to-discovery by up to 70%. With the data held in memory, rather than on disk, only the delta needs to be processed.

MemVerge says that for one customer, that sped the execution time of a research process, reducing the time needed from 6.25 hours to 2.5 hours, a 60% improvement.

The “persistent” part of Intel Optane PMem means that the event of a system failure or reboot, the data remains in memory. Once the system comes back up, there’s no need to read it all in again.

That saves time. It can also improve performance, application reliability and the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Genomics use case

One organization using the MemVerge and Intel Optane PMem combination is the Translational Genome Research Institute (TGen).

An affiliate of City of Hope, a nonprofit organization based in Phoenix, Ariz., TGen analyzes the genetic components of neurological disorders, infectious diseases and rare childhood illnesses.

TGen’s data sets are huge. It’s analyzing the expression of some 30,000 genes in approximately 114,000 individual cells. To handle all that, TGen worked with a tech team of MemVerge, Intel and IT services firm phoenixNAP.

The three companies assembled a solution using MemVerge’s Memory Machine software, Intel’s Optane PMem, and phoenixNAP’s API-driven Bare Metal Cloud. Put it all together, and TGen now has a memory virtualization platform, a software-defined memory service, memory tiering, low-latency memory replication and quick database recovery.

MemVerge user

The results? TGen has seen a 36% increase in single-cell RNA-sequencing performance. TGen has also sped SplAdder analysis dramatically, reducing the time needed to analyze 2,000 RNA samples from 2 months to just 13 days.

These improvements give TGen results faster. They also lower each project’s total cost.

Channel opportunity

MemVerge works exclusively through the channel. And the company is open to signing up and enabling new partners now.

As you might expect, the MemVerge + Intel Optane PMem sale is far from a shrink-wrap situation. As few customers are yet familiar with the Big Memory concept fact, most sales require a fair amount of consulting services, creating a great service focused revenue stream for some channel partners.

Interested in becoming a MemVerge reseller? Write Eric Doyle, the company’s director of channel and strategic partnerships, for more details:

Learn more:

> Check out MemVerge

> Explore Intel Optane Persistent Memory

> Take the Intel Partner University course: MemVerge Intel Select Solution for Big Memory and Bio-informatics

> Check out the Intel Select Solution: MemVerge Large Memory Pipeline Analytics

> Read the case study: TGen Accelerates Genomics Data Processing


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Check out Intel NUC Essentials for everyday computing

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by Peter Krass on 02/22/2022
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Essential means necessary, indispensable or unavoidable. Just what PCs have become.

Essential is also the name of key members of Intel’s NUC family of mini PCs, kits and boards.

The Intel NUC 11 Essential, just announced, offers your customers an everyday solution for kiosks, digital signage, small and midsize business (SMB) applications and embedded compute.

Intel NUC Essential

Intel NUC 11 Essential for teleconferencing 

Another member of the Essential family is the Intel NUC 7 Essential. Introduced in 2021, it offers your value-oriented customers basic PC functionality at an affordable price.

Intel NUC 11 Essential

Intel NUC 11 Essential Mini PCs, kits and boards are cost-efficient solutions for kiosks and digital signage, web-based applications for SMBs, and embedded iCafe workloads.

This Mini PC can also be embedded inside furniture, a sales rack or security enclosure. The Intel NUC 11 Essential comes with the 9-pin front panel header for these use cases, and it’s available in all SKUs.

Under the hood, you’ll find the latest Intel Pentium Silver or Celeron processor. Plus, up to 32GB of dual-channel memory and the option to add 64GB of eMMC memory. Intel UHD graphics support up to two 4K displays for flexibility in digital signage and other deployments.

When it comes to the OS, you can run these Mini PCs on your choice of Windows 11, Windows 10 or Linux.

The Intel NUC 11 Essential Mini PC is slim and small. The box measures just 5.3 x 4.5 x 1.4 inches (135 x 115 x 36 mm).

And it’s designed to be easy and flexible to deploy. That means a simplified design, multiple built-in mounting options, both HDMI and DP++ video ports, and no fewer than 6 USB connections.

Plus, it’s all backed by Intel’s 3-year warranty. Nice.

Intel NUC 7 Essential

The Intel NUC 7 Essential is designed for home consumers and small businesses looking for low-cost, everyday functionality on a Mini PC.

It’s small, and it’s affordable. The chassis measures just 4 inches square. And retail prices start below $200.

The Intel NUC 7 Essential Mini PC is powered by a dual-core Intel Celeron processor. The Mini PC also carries dual 4K ports with Intel HD Graphics, so your customers attach a pair of 4K displays for crisp images and text.

The Intel NUC 7 Essential Mini PC also comes with 4GB of DDR4 memory, 32GB of flash storage, and Windows 10 pre-installed. Right out of the box, it’s ready to run.

The fully customizable kits — there are 2 — are built with a quad-core Intel Pentium Silver processor. The Intel NUC 7 Essential kits also offer Intel HD Graphics 600 and your choice of OS, memory and storage.

Like the Intel NUC 11 Essential, the Intel NUC 7 Essential line is backed by Intel’s 3-year warranty. You could say that’s essential.

Learn more about the Intel NUC Essentials, and download valuable sales & marketing assets, including videos, product briefs, images and more:

Intel NUC 11 Essential:

> Product specifications

> Intel Partner Marketing Studio assets

> Sales tools and marketing assets

Intel NUC 7 Essential:

> Product specifications

> Intel Partner Marketing Studio assets

> Sales tools and marketing assets


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3 reasons why you should get into the ‘as-a-service’ business

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by Peter Krass on 02/18/2022
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Providing cloud-based as-a-Service subscriptions isn’t only for the big guys like and Intuit. Small and midsize tech providers can — and should — get into this fast-growing business too.

That was the main message conveyed in a new Intel Partner University webinar featuring Eric Townsend, the company’s director of North American SMB and MSP marketing (pictured below).

Eric Townsend

“This is no longer a product economy or service economy,” Townsend told webinar attendees. “Now it’s a subscription economy.”

As examples, Townsend pointed beyond the tech industry to subscription-based offerings for movies, furniture, artwork, camping gear and even puppies.

Returning to tech, he pointed out that the Device as a Service (DaaS) market is forecast to grow at a compound rate of nearly 40% a year. By 2027, that could deliver global revenue of $311 billion.

3 driving forces

What’s behind the shift to tech subscriptions. According to Townsend, 3 main forces:

> The business model has matured. So you can give customer more value, and make more money yourself. It’s not just hardware anymore. Project services go along with it, too, before, during and after. That can include assessment, planning, transition, onboarding, installing and training.

> Conversations are already happening across the channel. Big distros, finance groups have as-a-Service initiatives already. For example, you can finance your services agreement. Also, industry initiatives help small businesses use tech more. “If you don’t have this conversation with your customers,” Townsend said, “someone else will.”

> The financial support structure is in place. Customers are looking at the economics. With the cloud, there’s an opportunity to move Capex spending to Opex, and that also helps level out cash flow. There can be favorable tax advantages, too.

Watch this Intel Partner University webinar on demand: Top 3 Scale Areas for Partners to Grow ‘As-a-Service’ Business in 2022.

Intel Partner Alliance members will receive 5 training credits for watching the webinar on demand. Not yet a member? Discover the benefits of Intel Partner Alliance and register to join today.



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5 top takeaways from Intel’s investor meeting

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by Peter Krass on 02/17/2022
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Unprecedented demand for semiconductors, driven by the digitization of everything. That’s the reason why Intel says it’s poised for double-digit growth by 2025 and 2026.

So said the company’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, speaking at Intel’s 2022 investor meeting, held today in San Francisco as well as partially online.

“We are the stewards of Moore’s Law,” said CEO Gelsinger, pictured below wearing a black T-shirt with the word “Torrid” in white letters across his chest. “And we’ve got the right strategy.”

Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel

Together with other Intel business leaders, he used the meeting to outline key elements of Intel’s strategy and path for long-term growth.

The Intel execs described product road maps and key execution milestones in 5 main areas. Here are selected highlights:

1. Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics

Intel’s accelerated computing systems and graphics group (AXG) is on track to deliver more than $1 billion in revenue this year. That’s expected to include shipments of more than 4 million discrete GPUs.

Intel sees AXG as a growth engine. The group’s 3 segments — visual compute, super compute, custom compute — are expected to collectively deliver revenue of nearly $10 billion by 2026.

2. Intel Foundry Services

Intel Foundry Services, formed last year, today announced that it’s establishing a dedicated automotive foundry group.

This new group will deliver a complete solution to automakers by following 3 priorities: develop an open compute architecture, enable an automotive-grade foundry platform, and help the industry make the transition to new, advanced technologies.

The IFS Accelerator program, announced last year, now has 16 partners — chipmakers that supply the auto industry.

3. Software and Advanced Technology

For a company known for its hardware, Intel develops a lot of software, and it sees software as providing a powerful competitive advantage.

“I have more software developers working for me now,” Gelsinger said, “than I did when I was running a software company.

The company is committed to open ecosystems. You can see that in part with its Intel oneAPI toolkits.

Intel sees another big software opportunity in AI. For example, the 3rd gen Intel Xeon scalable processors use Intel software Guard Extensions to protect data and AI models so data can be aggregated.

Intel also sees new opportunities as AI converges with high performance computing (HPC) for mainstream workloads.

4. Network and Edge

Last year Intel created the Network and Edge Group (NEX), and now the group is introducing programmable hardware and open software for the intelligent edge.

This will include intelligent fabric, mobile network transformation, and accelerators for the intelligent edge. Relevant open-source tools and standards here include FlexRAN, SmartEdge, and OpenVINO.

5. Technology Development

Intel 4, the company’s implementation of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, will be manufacturing-ready in the second half of this year. Intel 4 should deliver an approximate 20% increase in transistor performance per watt.

Intel 3, with additional features, will deliver a further 18% performance per watt. It should be manufacturing-ready in the second half of 2023.

Foveros Omni and Foveros Direct, Intel’s advanced packaging technologies, will be manufacturing-ready in 2023, the company says.

Moore’s Law is far from dead. Intel is aiming to deliver approximately 1 trillion transistors in a single device by the end of this decade.

Watch video replays of the Intel 2022 Investor Meeting keynote and executive breakout sessions.


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Looking for 5 growing hardware markets? Look here

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by Peter Krass on 02/16/2022
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For tech providers, selling or reselling hardware into a market that’s growing is like swimming with, rather than against, the tide. It’s just easier.

To help, here are 5 hardware markets that ABI Research predicts will grow fast over the next few years. The forecasts all come the market watcher’s report, released today, entitled “38 Technology Stats You Need to Know for 2022.”

ABI Research

Always-on 5G Devices

Phones aren’t the only devices that will benefit from the rise of 5G wireless networks. Tablets and notebooks will, too. ABI researcher David McQueen predicts that this year, only 3% of all tablets and notebooks shipped will offer 5G connectivity. But by 2026, he adds, that should rise to 16%.

In sheer numbers, that means worldwide shipments of 5G-enabled tablets and notebooks should rise from 12.1 million units this year to 46.5 million units by 2026, McQueen predicts.

He also believes this will lead to the creation of new 5G-enabled applications for both consumers and businesses.


The wearables market mostly means smartwatches. And they’re selling like hotcakes. ABI researcher Filomena Iovino predicts unit shipments of smartwatches growing from 96.3 million units last year to 236.5 million units by 2026. If she’s right, that would mark a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 20%.

You might expect many of these wearable devices to be 5G-enabled, but Iovino doesn’t think so. Instead, she predicts the smartwatch 5G attach rate to be less than 1% by 2026. That means most of these devices will still need to be tethered to a smartphone or hub.

Surveillance Cameras

Fear sells: In the next 5 years, there will be over 1 billion CCTV cameras operating in the world’s cities, ABI predicts.

Many of these cameras will use advanced technologies including AI, machine learning, computer vision and 5G. They’ll use these technologies to flag suspicious behavior, monitor ticket dodging and more.

ABI researcher Lindsey Vest predicts global shipments of surveillance cameras will rise from about 500 million units last year to 900 million units in 2026 — and then to 1.4 billion units by 2030. That represents a CAGR of nearly 12%.

Autonomous Mobile Robots

Last-mile deliveries are a pain, and they’re also costly, ringing up as much as 50% of all shipping costs. Using autonomous robots to make these deliveries could be the solution.

Some last-mile robots are fully autonomous, while others are remotely controlled. And it seems government regulations are being relaxed to allow these devices on the roads.

Robotic deliveries may sound like sci-fi. But already several major brands — including Domino’s, 7-Eleven and Kroger — are conducting trials of these last-mile delivery robots. It’s real.

ABI analyst Susan Beardslee expects worldwide shipments of autonomous mobile robots for last-mile delivery will rise from just 7,000 units last year to 309,000 units by 2030. That represents a CAGR for those years of 52%.

Virtual & Augmented Reality Headsets

The metaverse is coming, and standalone VR and AR headsets should be a booming market. ABI researcher Eric Abbruzzese predicts shipments will rise from 12 million units in 2021 to 69.7 million units by 2026, for a CAGR of 42%.

Most of those shipments will be VR, not AR. Abbruzzese sees VR headset shipments representing 88% of all shipments in 2026, with AR headsets accounting for only the remaining 12%.

Still, because the numbers of AR headsets currently shipping are so low, that end of the market is poised for faster growth. Looking at the same six years, Abbruzzese predicts the VR-only headset market will have a CAGR of about 39%. Over those same years, he adds, the AR market should have a CAGR of 122%.


The full ABI report provides forecasts for many other technologies, including wireless headsets, phones with foldable screen, edge AI and industrial blockchain. Download a copy of the full ABI Research report (registration required).


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Join Intel Partner Alliance webinars to build your ‘as a service’ business, strengthen SMB security

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by Peter Krass on 02/14/2022
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Looking to build your “as a Service” business? Eager to learn more about cybersecurity for small and midsize businesses? Then mark your calendar for the next two Thursdays, and plan to attend the North America webinars sponsored by Intel Partner Alliance.

These webinars offer a high-quality interactive learning experience. Join the conversation, and get your questions addressed in real time by Intel experts.

Intel Partner Alliance

These webinars are open to all. And if you’re an Intel Partner Alliance member, you’ll also receive 7 training credits for viewing each webinar live, and 5 credits for viewing on demand. Attend live, and you’ll also be entered in a random drawing to win an Intel wireless speaker.

Here’s what’s coming this month:


Top 3 Scale Areas for Partners to Grow Their "As a Service" Business In 2022

This year, the deployment of "as a Service" solutions in the small and midsize business (SMB) community by channel partners is poised to grow by double digits. Given the ramp of this new technology consumption model, what are you doing to scale your IT services business?

Come to this interactive Intel Partner Alliance webinar to hear about Intel technologies that are helping partners grow their IT services business.

All live attendees will be entered into a random drawing for an Intel-branded Urban Kanteen Wireless Speaker.

SPEAKER: Eric Townsend, director of SMB and MSP marketing, Intel

WHEN: Thurs., Feb. 17; 10 a.m. -11 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET

Register to attend.


3 Key Stats About SMB Security You Need to Know

SMB security breaches are growing by the hour. Which security services offerings will keep your SMB customers compliant? And which can also help them to manage their hybrid workers efficiently and effectively?

Attend this Intel Partner Alliance webinar to understand both current Intel security technologies and key statistics that are changing the market.

All live attendees will be entered into a random drawing for an Intel-branded Urban Kanteen Wireless Speaker.

SPEAKER: Eric Townsend, director of SMB and MSP marketing, Intel

WHEN: Thurs., Feb. 24; 10 a.m. -11 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET

Register to attend.

Not yet a member of Intel Partner Alliance? Learn more and register now.


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5 ways the internet could change by 2035

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by Peter Krass on 02/08/2022
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What will the internet look like 13 years from now?

That’s the question Pew Research Center recently put before hundreds of technology experts.

Pew Research Center

The answers from these experts have been compiled in a new Pew report, “Visions of the Internet in 2035.” Here are 5 of the many trends these experts predict.

1. Positive megatrends: Jim Spohrer, a board member of the International Society of Service Innovation Professionals and a recently retired director of IBM Cognitive Open Tech, expects digital life in 2035 will be shaped by several key megatrends. These trends, he expects, will include universal basic income; universal upskilling; and personal, privacy-protecting digital workers.

“All responsible entities — people, businesses, universities and governments — will be working to transform themselves into better future versions of themselves,” Spohrer says.

2. Digital spaces integrate with “reality”: Barry Chudakov, founder of Sertain Research, predicts that the most noticeably different aspect of digital life in 2035 will be the seamless integration of digital tools and “reality.”

“By importing the dynamics of simulation and virtual representation from the gaming world, we will swallow the internet,” Chudakov says. “Digital spaces will move inside us.”

3. Faster problem-spotting: Miguel Moreno, director of the philosophy department at University of Grenada (Spain), believes warning systems will be consolidated and made open to citizen participation. For example, a new warning system might incorporate alerts for crime, harm to the environment, and traffic jams.

4. New behavioral norms: Zizi Papacharissi, a professor of political science and communication at the University of Illinois Chicago, envisions a whole new class of professionals to help people develop and improve their social behavior. New job titles could include information curator, democracy conduit and literacy advisor.

“These professionals,” Papacharissi says, “will make good money — with salaries comparable to those of designers and coders. They’ll help curate, advise and help humans use these technologies in positive ways.”

5. The end of biometric profiling: Joseph Turow, a professor of media systems and industries at University of Pennsylvania, expects new laws will ban advertisers from using biometric voice profiling. He hopes new laws will also limit the use of tracking data to differentiate individuals for advertising and marketing.

“The best kind of paid internet messaging in 2035,” Turow says, “would be a sophisticated version of contextual advertising.”

That, he explains, would involve using machine learning and deep neural network programs to examine what a person is reading, hearing or viewing on a site or app. Then an ad could be served for a product or service that — based on that content — seems to complement, supplement or otherwise relate to the person’s interests.

Read the full Pew Research Center report: Visions of the Internet in 2035


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Get precision timing with Intel’s latest network adapter

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by Peter Krass on 02/03/2022
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The newest member of the Intel Ethernet Network Adapter 800 Series devices should be just the ticket for 5G providers, telcos and high-frequency financial traders.

Known as the Intel Ethernet Network Adapter E810-XXVDA4T, it’s shipping now. This device offers improvements in both synchronization support and hardware features for more flexible deployments.

Intel Ethernet Network Adapter

The new Ethernet adapter supports your choice of 25, 10 or 1 GbE per port; the PCIe 4.0 bus; and Linux for advanced timing features. Intel supports the adapter with both a limited lifetime hardware warranty and, in the U.S. and Canada, a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Sync support features include:

Synchronous Ethernet: This feature, better known as SyncE, delivers frequency synchronization over the Ethernet among enabled devices.

IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP): Lets you sync systems on a network with hardware time-stamping in PTP packets.

Onboard High-Precision Oscillator: Maintains high levels of holdover accuracy when external timing fails. Provides up to 4 hours of less than 1.5 microsec. phase error.

Hardware for deployment flexibility includes:

GNSS mezzanine: This optional feature enables integrated support for frequency, phase and time-of-day synchronization with Global Navigation Satellite Systems such as GPS.

Dual external coaxial connectors: These SubMiniature version A (SMA) connectors let you link external 1 pulse/sec. (PPS) timing sources. This lets the adapter act as a timing source for other equipment.

U.FL connector: This is a radio frequency connector that allows 1PPS connectivity between the adapter and either the motherboard or another adapter.

800 series features, too

Like other members of the Intel Ethernet Network Adapter 800 series devices, the new Intel Ethernet Network Adapter E810-XXVDA4T supports these valuable features:

> ADQ: Application Device Queues act as dedicated express lanes for high-priority applications. ADQ filters application traffic to a dedicated set of queues for predictable high performance.

> DDP: Dynamic Device Personalization enhances communications workloads by making packet processing more efficient and reducing CPU overhead.

> RDMA: Remote Direct Memory Access empowers servers to share data without involving their operating systems’ data buffers for high-throughput, low-latency networking. Intel implements RDMA supporting both the iWARP and RoCE 2 protocols.

> Zero Trust: This increasingly popular approach to cybersecurity requires that every application request be verified before access is granted. This includes requests from both inside and outside the network.

Get in sync:

> Check out the Intel E810 Ethernet network adapters

> Explore Intel Ethernet technologies

> Watch an Intel video: Precision Time Synchronization for Networks


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Research Roundup: ransomware, phishing, malware via Excel

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by Peter Krass on 02/01/2022
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Financial-services companies are the top targets of ransomware. Fake invoices and other business documents are the top methods crooks use for phishing. And Excel is now being used to spread malware.

That’s from some of the latest research on cybersecurity. Here’s your tech provider’s roundup.

Ransomware’s Top Targets

Financial-services companies are the No. 1 target of ransomware attacks, according to Trellix. As bank robber Willie Sutton once quipped, “That’s where the money is.”

Trellix, a provider of extended detection and response systems, just released its January report on threat research, which actually examines trends from the third quarter of last year.

Here’s some of what the Trellix researchers noticed:

> Financial services received more than 1 in 5 of all ransomware attacks (22%). The same industry also received roughly a third (37%) of all advanced persistent threat (APT) detections.

> Ransomware group DarkSide has re-emerged with a new name, BlackMatter. DarkSide is the group responsible for the Colonial Pipeline attack, so this is a big deal.

> Cobalt Strike, an adversary simulation tool, is being used by nation-states to gain access to the networks of others.

Most Popular Forms of Phishing

You know ransomware mostly comes in via email phishing, but do you know which types of email messages are most likely to contain phishing tests?

Security firm KnowBe4 does. Here’s its recent list of the top-clicked phishing tests:

> Business (24%): Fake invoices, purchase orders, shared files, more

> Online services (19%): Shopping, entertainment, applications, etc.

> Human Relations (16%): Applications, surveys, etc. — typicaly has the word “HR” in the mailbox name

> IT (11%): Antivirus, email account inquiries, security notifications

> Banking & Finance (8%): Transactions, confirmations

> Other (22%): Including Covid-19 messages, mail notifications, holiday coupons, social networking

And here are some typical phishing email subject lines you might encounter, according to KnowBe4:

> “Password check required immediately”

> “Dress code changes”

> “Vacation policy update”

Malware via Excel? 

You have a new reason to hate Excel. Hackers are using Microsoft’s popular spreadsheet application to spread malware.

That’s according to a new threat insights report from HP Wolf Security.

HP found a huge quarter-to-quarter increase (+588%) in attackers using malicious Excel add-in (.xll) files to infect systems.

This technique is particularly dangerous. Because running the malware requires just one click.

The HP team also found ads for .xll dropper and malware builder kits on underground markets. These kits make it easier for inexperienced attackers to launch campaigns. 

HP also identified a recent QakBot spam campaign that involved using Excel files to trick targets. The campaign sent compromised email accounts to hijack email threads and reply with an attached malicious Excel (.xlsb) file. After being delivered to systems, QakBot injects itself into legitimate Windows processes to evade detection.

HP has also seen malicious Excel (.xls) files being used to spread the Ursnif banking Trojan to Italian-speaking businesses and public-sector organizations through a malicious spam campaign. In a creepy move, the attackers posed as employees of an Italian courier service, BRT.

New campaigns spreading Emotet malware are now using Excel instead of JavaScript or Word files, too.



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