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Computing

Steve Jobs’ legacy lives on with highest U.S. civilian honor

Steve Jobs will soon receive the highest civilian honor awarded in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The announcement was made today by President Biden and the award will be presented posthumously to the co-founder of Apple, Inc. on July 7, 2022, along with 16 other individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the United States.

The Medal of Freedom has no specific criteria and each U.S. President can award this honor to anyone that is deemed worthy. President Biden explained his picks as Americans that demonstrate the power of possibilities, a common theme in his speeches about the potential of the nation.

Kurita KAKU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Steve Jobs brought us the iPhone, the revolutionary device that changed the meaning of a phone and introduced a new way to work and communicate. Apple is a major contributor to the U.S. economy, generating over 2.7 million jobs and investing hundreds of billions of dollars domestically. Funding will be spent on iPhone, iPad, and Mac research and development and network infrastructure, green energy, Apple TV+ productions, and other capital expenditures.

Along with Steve Jobs, President Biden selected several other well-known and inspirational Americans to receive the Medal of Freedom, including Simone Biles, winner of 43 Olympic and World Championship medals; former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords; former Senator John McCain (posthumous); former Senator Alan Simpson; Olympic gold medalist and Women’s World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe; and the biggest celebrity on the list, Denzel Washington, acclaimed actor and director that has received two Academy Awards, a Tony, and two Golden Globes.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is represented by a star-shaped insignia that can be worn as a badge, as a lapel pin, or around the neck. It comes with no special privileges or awards and is simply meant to recognize and honor individual contributions to the security and national interests of the United States, as well as efforts that benefit cultural development and world peace.

While Steve Jobs didn’t push Apple to such great success single-handedly, Apple might never have reached this level of excellence without his guidance and drive. The Medal of Freedom seems like an appropriate honor for a visionary business leader.

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AI

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang to get semiconductor industry’s highest honor

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Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang will receive the chip industry’s highest honor, the Robert N. Noyce Award.

Huang will receive the honor from his peers at the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) annual awards dinner on November 18. The award is named after Intel cofounder Robert Noyce, who is credited with numerous pioneering achievements at the dawn of the chip industry. He was nicknamed the “mayor of Silicon Valley” and known for aphorisms like, “Don’t be encumbered by the past. Go out and do something wonderful.” Noyce passed away in 1990.

The award recognizes a leader who has made outstanding contributions to the semiconductor industry in technology or public policy.

SIA president and CEO John Neuffer said in a statement that Huang’s extraordinary vision and tireless execution have greatly strengthened the chip industry, revolutionized computing, and advanced artificial intelligence. He said Huang’s accomplishments have fueled countless innovations — from gaming to scientific computing to self-driving cars — and he continues to advance technologies that will transform the industry and the world.

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CEO Jensen Huang shows off GeForce RTX 3000 series graphics cards.

Above: CEO Jensen Huang shows off GeForce RTX 3000 series graphics cards.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Huang founded Nvidia in 1993 and has served as CEO since its inception. Starting out in 3D graphics, Huang showed me a demo of the company’s graphics chip and its “Windows accelerator” application. That was when I was at the San Jose Mercury News in 1995, and it was Huang’s first interview with the press.

Nvidia went on to help build the 3D gaming market into the world’s largest entertainment industry. More recently, Nvidia tapped the parallel processing it used for its graphics processing units (GPUs) to do non-graphics compute tasks. That turned into a huge application in AI, where Nvidia’s chips are becoming the brains of computers, robots, and self-driving cars.

In the over 25 years since the company’s first chip, scene complexity in computer graphics has increased around 500 million times, Huang said. Moore’s Law, which predicts chip performance will double every couple of years, would have increased only 100,000 times in the same period if unaided by better chip design.

That relentless innovation has paid off. Nvidia is now worth $490 billion on the stock market and employs 20,000 people.

On to the metaverse

Jensen Huang is CEO of Nvidia. He gave a virtual keynote at the recent GTC event.

Above: Jensen Huang is CEO of Nvidia. He gave a virtual keynote at the recent GTC event.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Huang is also a fan of the intersection between science fiction and technology and has recently been talking more about the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.

Huang is a recipient of the IEEE Founder’s Medal; the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award; and honorary doctorate degrees from Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University, National Taiwan University, and Oregon State University. In 2019, Harvard Business Review ranked him No. 1 on its list of the world’s 100 best-performing CEOs over the lifetime of their tenure. In 2017, he was named Fortune‘s Businessperson of the Year.

Prior to founding Nvidia, Huang worked at LSI Logic and Advanced Micro Devices. He holds a BSEE degree from Oregon State University and an MSEE degree from Stanford University.

Last year, the Noyce award went to Lisa Su, CEO of rival Advanced Micro Devices. She mentioned to me once that Huang is actually a distant relative of hers.

Jensen Huang in his early years as an engineer.

Above: Jensen Huang in his early years as an engineer.

Image Credit: Nvidia/CIE

“I am honored to receive the 2021 Noyce Award and do so on behalf of my colleagues at Nvidia, whose body of work this award recognizes,” Huang said. “It has been the greatest joy and privilege to have grown up with the semiconductor and computer industries, two that so profoundly impact the world. As we enter the era of AI, robotics, digital biology, and the metaverse, we will see super-exponential technology advances. There’s never been a more exciting or important time to be in the semiconductor and computer industries.”

He recently received a distinguished lifetime achievement award by the Asian American Engineer of the Year from the Chinese Institute of Engineers (CIE) group. Huang pointed out he was “destined to be an engineer,” as his father was an engineer in Taiwan. His brothers were engineers, and his wife, Lori, whom he met as a sophomore at Oregon State University, is also an engineer.

In his acceptance speech for the CIE award, Huang made a rare comment beyond Nvidia’s business matters, noting the scourge of recent anti-Asian violence: “Racism is one flywheel we must stop.”

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Game

Tencent limits how long kids can play its flagship game, ‘Honor of Kings’

China’s regulatory war against its tech giants isn’t limited to data. After opening a front in gaming back in 2018, the government is now adding to the restraints the biggest publishers face. Tencent is first on the chopping block. The publisher has been forced to further slash playing time on Honor of Kings for those aged under 18 to one hour during regular days and two hours on weekends. The rules, designed to appease the country’s all-powerful censors, come into effect today, according to state media outlet the South China Morning Post

Previously, play time in China was capped at 90 minutes per day during the week and three hours per day at weekends and holidays as part of broader rules introduced in 2019. Additional restrictions banned younger gamers from playing between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and curbed how much they could spend on downloadable content.

Honor of Kings is a hugely popular multiplayer online battle arena game developed by Tencent subsidiary TiMi Studio Group, also known for Call of Duty: Mobile and Pokémon Unite. As of November, the mobile title boasted 100 million players. But, its success has also brought with it increased scrutiny. In June, Tencent found itself at the center of a lawsuit that accused it of including “inappropriate” content in Honor of Kings, including characters with low-cut clothes and historical inaccuracies.

The latest crackdown comes amid growing fears in China over the addictive nature of video games. On Tuesday, a state-affiliated media outlet described the products produced by the gaming industry as “spiritual opium.” The article continued: “No industry or sport should develop at the price of destroying a generation.”

Therein lies the broader issue. China is currently grappling with a generational divide that has seen younger citizens reject the competitive lifestyle pressures heaped upon them. This stance is encapsulated by the “tang ping,” or “lying flat,” philosophy embraced by a growing number of Gen Z Chinese. In a nutshell, it signifies those who choose not to work hard, not to buy property and not to marry and have children. 

Instead of addressing the societal complaints, China is choosing to deflect the blame onto the gaming industry.

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Tech News

Honor 50 series launches with Google good news

Honor has revealed its Honor 50 smartphones and, more importantly, that Google’s apps and services will be supported on the new handsets. The announcement today – which confirmed availability and pricing for the Honor 50 and Honor 50 Pro in China – came with the news that the former Huawei subsidiary has achieved its big goal in spinning out.

Honor began as Huawei’s focused brand on younger users, borrowing technology from its corporate parent but packaging it into a more affordable line-up. However when Huawei was placed on the US government’s entity list, blocking it from doing business with American firms, it left Honor also out of the loop for accessing Google apps and services.

That’s proved to be disastrous for Huawei, with its smartphone sales slumping dramatically. Honor, meanwhile, was spun out into its own, standalone business late last year. That allowed it to begin inking the deals with companies that Huawei simply wasn’t allowed to.

The fruits of that freedom will be the Honor 50 series, the company confirmed today. “Honor devices will undergo Google’s Play Protect certified security review and compatibility testing process to ensure they are ready to run apps from Google and the Google Play Store,” the company told SlashGear in a statement. “Honor devices will therefore have the option to have Google Mobile Services (“GMS”) preinstalled on compatible devices, in accordance with Google’s licensing and governance models. Consumers will be able to experience HONOR smartphones and tablets equipped with GMS.”

It’ll include both smartphones and tablets from Honor, beyond just the new Honor 50. “Going forward all the phones that we will launch in global markets will have GMS,” a spokesperson told us.

It’s a big deal for Honor, and its ambitions to be a player in global markets. Without the Google deal it’s been unable to include apps like Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube on its phones. Equally important, it hasn’t been able to load the Google Play Store either, meaning buyers of Honor devices have been cut off from Google’s official app download store.

For the Honor 50 series specifically, the company plans to put the phones up for preorder in China on June 16. Broader availability – including the UK, France, Mexico, Malaysia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia – will follow later in the year, though no further details have been shared at this stage.

The Honor 50 Pro is, unsurprisingly, the more interesting of the two. It has a 6.72-inch 120Hz display, and is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G chipset. On the back are two circular camera clusters, with a 100-megapixel main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide, a 2-megapixel depth camera, and a 2-megapixel depth camera. On the front there’s a pair of cameras for selfies: a 32-megapixel regular sensor, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide.

For the Honor 50, the chipset is the same, as are the rear cameras. However the screen is a 6.57-inch 120Hz panel, and the selfie camera loses out on the dedicated ultra-wide. The Honor 50 Pro has a 4,000 mAh battery with up to 100W fast-charging, while the Honor 50 has a slightly larger 4,300 mAh battery but only 66W fast charging.

The Honor 50 will be priced at RMB 2699 ($422), and the Honor 50 Pro at RMB 3699 ($578).

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Tech News

Honor 50 Google apps support is still uncertain

When Huawei got slapped with severe US sanctions, it took down its many subsidiaries and business with it. That included Honor, which was expected to be a rising star before that fate befell its parent company. Late last year, Honor officially and legally cut its ties with Huawei, which freed it to make partnerships that the larger company couldn’t. That seems to be true with Qualcomm, whose Snapdragon chip will power the upcoming Honor 50 series. Whether that phone will also see the return of Google Play apps and services, however, is still up in the air.

When Huawei was added to the US’ Entity List, it didn’t only lose access to hardware components and manufacturing materials but also to software products as well. In the context of smartphones, that meant it couldn’t officially and legally install Google’s proprietary apps and services even if it still had access to the open source Android operating system. Of course, those restrictions also applied to its sub-brand Honor who suffered the exact same fate as Huawei.

When Huawei sold off Honor, the latter’s doors were opened to partnerships with US companies. Just last week, it announced that its upcoming Honor 50 Series would be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset. Previous Honor phones, especially the notable ones, ran on Huawei’s Kirin silicon.

Naturally, that raised questions on whether the phones will also have access to Google Play Store now that Honor is free from Huawei’s fate. At first, it gave hope when the company’s Germany Twitter account replied in the positive. Unfortunately, that response was later removed even though the Internet never really forgets.

This removal could either be because Honor Germany spoke too soon or that it was mistaken in raising hopes. Either way, fans of Huawei and Honor phones will probably be keeping a closer eye on the Honor 50 because of this, even though there is no concrete date yet on when it will launch.

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Tech News

HONOR View40 launched with waterfall display, 5G, super-fast charging

This week the folks at HONOR revealed the HONOR View40 at a live streamed event in China. This device is the first major release of the year for HONOR, and one of the most extravagant devices released by the brand thus far. The HONOR View40 works with a waterfall cured 7.72-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2676 x 1236 pixels.

The HONOR View40 smartphone’s display is 10-bit (8+2-bit) with OLED tech, delivering over 1 billion colors directly into your face. This device’s display works with a 120Hz image refresh rate with up to 300Hz touch response. This panel covers the entirety of the DCI-P3 color space and works with HDR10 support.

Under the hood, this device has a 4000mAh battery with the ability to charge at a great speed, thanks to 66W SuperCharge tech. The battery in this device can charge up to 60 percent capacity in approximately 35 minutes – that’s swift! That’s wired charging – wireless charging is here too, at up to 50W (allowing up to 50 percent total charge in approximately 30 minutes).

The processor inside this machine is a MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ (SoC) with GPU Turbo X and Hunter Boost optimizations – we’ll see what that’s all about when we review the device in the near future. For now, HONOR suggests they’ll bring power to the gaming environment in this machine.

The HONOR View40’s cameras include a 50-megapixel RYYB sensor with 1/1.56-inch sensor with f/1.9 aperture to deliver top-notch main sensor action. This camera array also includes an 8MP ultra-wide camera with f/2.4 aperture and 2MP macro lens with f/2.4 aperture.

This device also has NSA/SA 5G connectivity with a dual-SIM tray for switching. This device also works with an infrared port (for controlling your television) and always-on display. You’ll have NFC, multi-window multi-tasking, and a variety of sensors. Sensors include proximity, ambient light, gravity, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and fingerprint sensor (under-display, optical).

The HONOR View40 will have a release date of January 22 (today!) That’s when it’ll be released in China – no word yet when it’ll be released (or if it’ll be released) elsewhere. This device will have two iterations (at least) with 8GB RAM and either 128GB or 256GB internal storage. Pricing will be RMB 3599 and RMB 3999 for the smaller and larger internal storage size iterations.

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Tech News

Honor marks independence by inking the supplier deals Huawei couldn’t

Honor is going it alone, cutting ties with Huawei as it spins out as an independent business, and inking the deals that the US government blocked its former parent company from making. The Chinese phone-maker launched its first device as a standalone company today, the Honor View40, a 5G smartphone with aggressive pricing.

Honor was founded eight years ago, as Huawei’s push to grab market share in the more affordable end of the device market. Resolutely targeting younger users, the sub-brand tapped celebrity endorsements like Brooklyn Beckham to help emerge from its parent’s shadow, though also benefited considerably from Huawei’s R&D investments into camera tech and screen design.

That stopped being such an advantage when Huawei found itself added to the US trade embargo list under the Trump Administration. Under the terms of the entity list, Huawei was blocked from inking deals with companies like Google, Qualcomm, and others, and as a subsidiary it left Honor out in the cold, too. In mid-November 2020, Huawei sold Honor to Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co., Ltd.

As a “fully independent company,” Honor says, it has its own ambitions for 2021 and beyond. As well as the Honor View40 smartphone, and upgrades to the MagicBook Series of Windows notebooks, the company also confirmed it had reached supplier agreements with a number of firms that, as part of Huawei, it had been blocked from doing business with.

“Based on global consumer needs, Honor has the flexibility and independence to choose the best solutions for its global supply chain,” the company said in a statement today. “Honor has already confirmed partnerships with leading suppliers such as AMD, Intel, MediaTek, Micron Technology, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, SK hynix, and Sony.”

It’s a comprehensive list if you’re a company trying to make cutting-edge smartphones. Sony, for example, provides the camera sensors for many in the smartphone industry right now; Samsung is a key supplier of memory and displays. A deal with Qualcomm gives Honor the option of using Snapdragon chipsets and, arguably as important, the company’s 5G modems.

The Honor View40 uses MediaTek’s 1000+ chipset with 5G, but lacks support for the mmWave networks that US networks have been rolling out for the fastest possible speeds in typically urban areas. It’s unclear when – or if – Honor might have ambitions for the fiercely competitive US market, but supporting mmWave 5G would be effectively a must-have if that’s on the roadmap. Right now, that means Qualcomm modems, since MediaTek’s 5G products don’t support that specific network tech.

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