Categories
Game

Valve further delays Steam Deck dock due to supply shortages

You’ll have to be patient if you want an official way to turn your Steam Deck into a makeshift desktop. As The Verge notes, Valve has indefinitely delayed its Steam Deck Docking Station due to a combination of supply shortages and pandemic-related manufacturing shutdowns. The company said it was “improving the situation” and would share more info when available.

The setback won’t affect production and reservation windows for the Steam Deck itself, Valve said. In the interim, the company vowed to upgrade support for third-party USB-C hubs and external monitors.

The Docking Station cradles the Steam Deck while providing display, Ethernet and USB connections. It was announced alongside the handheld system, but wasn’t available when the Steam Deck first reached customers. Valve still lists the release as “late spring.” The delay won’t preclude you from using the Steam Deck as a PC or attaching it to a TV, but generic hubs clearly won’t be as elegant as a dock built with the console in mind.

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Categories
Security

Not even your PC’s power supply is safe from hackers

Hackers have managed to find a way to successfully gain access to uninterruptable power supply (UPS) computer systems, according to a report from The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

As reported by Bleeping Computer and Tom’s Hardware, both the Department of Energy and CISA issued a warning to organizations based in the U.S. that malicious threat actors have started to focus on infiltrating UPS devices, which are used by data centers, server rooms, and hospitals.

UPS devices allow companies to rely on emergency power when the central source of power is cut off for any given reason. If the attacks concentrated on these systems come to fruition, the consequences could prove to be catastrophic. In fact, it could cause PCs or their power supplies to burn up, potentially leading to fires breaking out at data centers and even homes.

Both federal agencies confirmed that hackers have found entry points to several internet-connected UPS devices predominantly via unchanged default usernames and passwords.

“Organizations can mitigate attacks against their UPS devices, which provide emergency power in a variety of applications when normal power sources are lost, by removing management interfaces from the internet,” the report stated.

Other mitigation responses the agencies recommended putting in place include safeguarding devices and systems by protecting them through a virtual private network, applying multi-factor authentication, and making use of effective passwords or passphrases that can’t be easily deciphered.

To this end, it stresses that organizations change UPS’s usernames and passwords that have remained on the factory default settings. CISA also mentioned that login timeout and lockout features should be applied as well for further protection.

Severe consequences

The report highlights how UPS vendors have increasingly incorporated a connection between these devices and the internet for power monitoring and routine maintenance purposes. This practice has made these systems vulnerable to potential attacks.

A prime example of hackers targeting UPS systems is the recently discovered APC UPS zero-day bugs exploit. Known as TLStorm, three critical zero-day vulnerabilities opened the door for hackers to obtain admin access to devices belonging to APC, a subsidiary of an electrical company.

If successful, these attacks could severely impact governmental agencies, as well as health care and IT organizations, by burning out the devices and disabling the power source remotely.

The number of cyberattacks against crucial services has been trending upwards in recent years as cybercriminals progressively identify exploits. For example, cyberattacks against health care facilities almost doubled in 2020 compared to 2019.

It’s not just large organizations that are being targeted — online criminals stole nearly $7 billion from individuals in 2021 alone.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
AI

Nvidia debuts ReOpt to optimize supply chain routing with AI

During a keynote address at its fall 2021 GPU Technology Conference (GTC), Nvidia debuted ReOpt, a software package that combines local search heuristics algorithms and “metaheuristics” to optimize vehicle route planning and distribution. According to the company, ReOpt can improve route planning, warehouse picking, fleet management, and more in logistics to control delivery costs from factories to stores and homes.

Companies are increasingly facing supply chain challenges caused — or exacerbated — by the pandemic. A U.S. Census Bureau survey f0und that 38.8% of U.S. small businesses were experiencing domestic supplier delays by the middle of July 2021. Late deliveries can seriously impact customer loyalty, with one survey finding that 80% of shoppers would cut ties with brands if they experienced stock shortages.

“At a time when the global supply chain faces massive disruption, ReOpt provides the AI software required for everything from vehicle routing for last-mile delivery to efficiently picking and packing of warehoused goods bound for homes and offices,” Nvidia software engineering manager Alex Fender said in a blog post. “ReOpt delivers new tools for dynamic logistics and supply chain management to a wide range of industries, including transportation, warehousing, manufacturing, retail, and quick-service restaurants.”

AI-powered logistics

Delivering goods directly to a customer’s door, called last-mile delivery, was costly even before the pandemic disrupted the global supply chain network. Over half of all air, express, rail, maritime, and truck transport shipping costs result from last-mile deliveries, impacting profitability, according to ABI Research. Onfleet estimates that companies typically eat about 25% of that cost themselves — a number that continues to increase as bottlenecks worsen.

ReOpt, which is now available in early access, taps algorithms to provide customers with road condition, traffic, and route metrics to reduce miles, fuel cost, carbon emissions, and idle time. The service models the movements of vehicles that have finite capacities and different costs, factoring in items like fresh produce that must be carried by refrigerated trucks. ReOpt also allows customers to create automated routines that dynamically route robots for truck loading as new orders arrive. And it can take into account the number of pilots, drivers, and workers available to operate vehicles on a given day, folding in maintenance costs.

“GPUs offer the computational power needed to fuel the most ambitious heuristics while supporting the most challenging constraints. ReOpt takes advantage of Nvidia’s massively parallel architecture to generate thousands of solution candidates and refine them to select only the best one at the end,” Fender continued. “As a result, ReOpt can scale to the largest problems in seconds with world-class accuracy.”

A growing number of companies are developing AI services to optimize components of the supply chain. DispatchTrack provides AI-powered route optimization, reservations, billing and settlement, and omnichannel order tracking tools. Locus is also developing a platform for logistics and “enterprise-scale” supply chain automation. Others in the global logistics market — which is expected to be grow to $12.68 billion in value by 2023, according to Research and Markets — are Convoy, Optimal Dynamics, KeepTruckin, and Next Trucking, which have collectively raised hundreds of millions in venture capital.

Tech giants have entered the fray, too — most recently Microsoft with its Supply Chain Insights product. Uber’s eponymous Uber Freight connects carriers and drivers with companies that need to move cargo. As for Google’s Supply Chain Twin, which became generally available in September, it organizes data in Google Cloud to expose a more complete view of suppliers, inventories, and events like weather.

While only 12% of manufacturing and transportation organizations are currently using AI in their supply chain operations, 60% expect to be doing so within the next four years, according to MHI. This dovetails with a recent PwC report, which found that 48% of companies are ramping up investments for simulation modeling and supply chain resilience.

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Categories
AI

Microsoft launches cloud-powered marketing, supply chain, and retail solutions

Beyond updates across Azure, this week at its Ignite 2021 conference, Microsoft has announced additions to its Dynamics 365 business app and industry portfolio, including Microsoft Customer Experience Platform, a marketing solution that is aimed at helping customers personalize, automate, and orchestrate customer journeys. Another — Microsoft Connected Spaces — is designed to let organizations leverage observational data to produce predictive insights, while Supply Chain Insights aims to proactively mitigate supply chain issues.

“[W]e are announcing innovation across the Microsoft Cloud that will allow every organization to build a hyperconnected business, providing the agility and flexibility for organizations and employees to thrive now and into the future,” Microsoft’s corporate VP of industry, apps, and data marketing Alysa Taylor said in a blog post. “In order to be successful given these trends, every organization must move beyond ‘business as usual’ and toward a new model of hyperconnected business.”

Microsoft Customer Experience

Microsoft pitches its Customer Experience Platform as a service to “deliver personalized and connected experiences from awareness to purchase.” Leveraging assets from the existing Microsoft Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Marketing products, the goal is to understand and predict intent to deliver the right content on the right channel and at the right moment, the company says.

To the company’s point, Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences — marketing or otherwise. Moreover, according to a Smart Insights survey, 63% of consumers will stop buying from brands that use poor personalization tactics.

Customer Experience Platform’s Consent-enabled Consumer Data Platform (CDP) feature, currently in preview, enables chief data officers to use consent data to build customer profiles, manage known and pseudonymous aliases, ensure consumer data practices are compliant and protect the data with privacy and security controls. The complementary business-to-business CDP combines customer data from all sources — including customer relationship management software, email, websites, point-of-sales, partner systems, and social networks — and performs identity resolution at the contract and account level to generate profiles for people and companies. The AI-suggested content creation and delivery tool automatically generates a set of “content snippers” to serve as inspiration for customer emails.

Taylor says that customers including Home Depot, Chipotle, and agency partners like VMLY&R and Kin+Carta are already using Customer Experience Platform in their organizations. “Many [businesses] struggle to manage, organize, and gain insight from the vast quantity of data available to them, and for marketers that challenge is even more acute,” she added. “[C]ustomer data is the key to personalized, relevant, timely customer experiences.”

Connected Spaces

Another new service joining Dynamics 365, Connected Spaces, lets organizations “gain a new perspective” in the way people move and interact in nearly any space, Microsoft claims. With it, companies can monitor safety in high-risk areas and observe queue management, ranging in environments from retail stores to factory floors.

“With Connected Spaces … organization[s] can harness observational data with ease, [using] AI-powered models to unlock insights about [their] environment and respond in real-time to trends and patterns,” Taylor added.

At a high level, Connected Spaces provides analytics and trend information about people, places, and more. For example, in a store, Connected Spaces can monitor foot traffic patterns, cashier queue lengths, dwell times, and product display engagement. Microsoft says that Mattress Firm has piloted the technology to measure the effectiveness of its in-store promotions.

While the purported goal of products like Connected Spaces includes health, safety, and analytics, the technology could be co-opted for other, less humanitarian intents. Many privacy experts worry that they’ll normalize greater levels of surveillance, capturing data about workers’ movements and allowing managers to chastise employees in the name of productivity.

Microsoft did not detail the steps it’s taken to prevent the potential misuse of Connected Spaces. Once the service comes to preview, further details regarding this are likely to be disclosed.

Supply Chain Insights

The launch of the aforementioned Supply Chain Insights (in preview) comes as companies face historic supply challenges. According to one source, only 6% report full visibility on their supply chain. And 38.8% of U.S.-based small businesses experienced supply chain delays due to the pandemic.

“Customers like Daimler Trucks North America can gain new visibility into their supply chains across multiple tiers of suppliers. They can get data in near real-time, allowing them to assess risks and mitigate problems before a massive disruption occurs,” Taylor continued. “Supply Chain Insights also enables customers to enrich their own supply chain data with external signals like global weather data to predict its impact on shipments, putting increased intelligence and predictive power at their fingertips.”

With Supply Chain Insights, companies can reconcile data from third-party data providers, logistics partners, customers, and multi-tier suppliers and create a “digital twin” simulation of the supply chain — generating insights powered by AI. Digital twin approaches to simulation have gained currency in many domains, for instance helping SenSat clients in construction, mining, energy, and other industries create models of locations for projects they’re working on.

Supply Chain Insights also enriches signals with external constraints like environmental disasters or geopolitical events that could affect the supply chain. Beyond this, the service can automate and execute actions through existing enterprise resource planning and supply chain execution systems, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft Cloud

Manufacturing

Building on the release of Supply Chain Insights, Microsoft is introducing Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, the newest entry in the company’s Industry Cloud lineup. Announced in February and now available in preview, Cloud for Manufacturing brings together new and existing capabilities across the Microsoft Cloud portfolio in addition to partner solutions to connect people, assets, workflows, and business processes.

According to a 2020 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, companies in manufacturing expect efficiency gains over the next five years attributable to digital transformations. McKinsey’s research with the World Economic Forum puts the value creation potential of manufacturers implementing “Industry 4.0” — the automation of traditional industrial practices — at $3.7 trillion in 2025.

“Cloud for Manufacturing … connects experiences across the end-to-end product and service lifecycle and lighting up the entire Microsoft Cloud with capabilities specifically tailored to manufacturing,” Taylor said. “Customers including Johnson & Johnson are working with Microsoft on their digital manufacturing transformation with tools like Azure, AI, and Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing capabilities.”

Nonprofit, Sustainability, Financial Services, and Healthcare

Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, a collection of tools, apps, cloud services, and infrastructure geared toward nonprofit scenarios, is now generally available following a preview earlier this year. Built for fundraisers, volunteer managers, and program managers, and other roles unique to the nonprofit segment, it’s designed to help address challenges ranging from constituent and supporter engagement to program design and delivery.

The closely related Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, previously in private preview and now in public preview, aims to bring greater transparency and data sharing, agreement on common taxonomy and methods of measurement, and standard practices for tracking and reporting data on carbon emissions. The solution uses a common format to connect data from various sources and get a company’s carbon footprint as well as provide insights to understand data, measure progress, meet regulatory and reporting requirements, and identify actions needed to reduce the footprint.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services — its collection of solutions for the financial industry — is generally available, with new capabilities across Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform to help enable retail banks to “enhance customer and employee experiences.” Alongside this, Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare — which launched last year — has received several updates, including:

  • An enhanced patient view that allows providers to associate one patient record with other patient records (in preview)
  • A new waiting room for Microsoft Teams (in preview).
  • Integration of Microsoft Forms with Microsoft Bookings (in preview)
  • A scheduled queue for virtual visits in Microsoft Bookings (in preview)
  • Virtual Visits Manager, a standalone Teams app to facilitate reporting about virtual consults (in preview)

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Categories
AI

ReversingLabs raises $56M to combat software supply chain attacks

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


ReversingLabs, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based cybersecurity company developing threat detection and analysis solutions, has raised $56 million in series B funding led by Crosspoint Capital Partners with participation from ForgePoint Capital and Prelude. Cofounder and CEO Mario Vuksan says the proceeds, which bring its total raised to $81 million, will be put toward scaling ReversingLabs’ sales and marketing efforts as ReversingLabs looks to expand its global reach.

Over the past year, there’s been several high-profile incidents where attackers have attempted to compromise enterprises through the software supply chain. According to a recent Anchore survey, 64% of companies were affected by.a supply chain attack in 2021 and 60% have made securing the software supply chain a top 2022 priority. The attacks highlight the need for controls that can help validate the integrity of software and its components through the development, deployment, and adoption lifecycle.

ReversingLabs, which was founded in 2009 by Mario Vuksan and Tomislav Pericin, aims to combat the growing threat with static analysis and file reputation services that provide visibility into malware and its location. The platform analyzes file and binary-based threats emerging from the web, mobile, email, cloud, and app development across industry verticals like software, financial services, defense, retail, and insurance.

“The level of sophistication and complexity in today’s cybersecurity attacks means that enterprises can no longer assume that software products from their providers are safe,” CrossPoint managing partner Dr. Hugh Thompson said in a press release. “ReversingLabs provides a proactive and transparent approach to understanding the threats that exist within software even in cases where you don’t have access to source code.”

AI engine

At the core of the ReversingLabs platform is the “Titanium” engine, an AI system that harvests thousands of file types and continuously monitors an index of over 10 billion files for future threats. The system unpacks files in the underlying object structure — down to embedded executables, libraries, documents, resources, and icons — and maps “human-readable” indicators to classifications. Security analysts get threat intelligence that they can us to prioritize threats, while threat intelligence and hunting teams get a workbench for deep file analysis, ostensibly enabling them to accelerate investigations.

“Every organization, whether an integrated software vendor developing software or an enterprise procuring or using software, needs controls to manage the software supply chain attack surface,” Crosspoint managing partner Greg Clark said in a statement. “This attack surface is nuanced, and traditional approaches like source code scanning are insufficient. Every part of the code, compile, build and deploy cycle needs to be checked. ReversingLabs is a great ally in the fight against these threats. Their solution is unique, very hard to replicate and immensely valuable.”

ReversingLabs competes in a cybersecurity market anticipated to be worth $170.4 billion in 2022, according to Gartner. But the company claims to have made inroads, nabbing customers including four of the top six software companies and two of the top five defense and aerospace firms. It also counts SolarWinds, the IT monitoring and management firm at the center of the widespread U.S. federal government hack earlier this year, as a partner.

“As an element of our Secure By Design initiatives, we’ve applied maximum attention to protecting the integrity of our software development and deployment pipeline from even the most determined and sophisticated attackers,” SolarWinds president and CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna said in a statement. “We are working to help establish new standards for secure software development in the industry and ReversingLabs has since become an important part of our overall efforts.”

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Categories
AI

Kohl’s CTO on empowering people and optimizing supply chain with AI

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Say you have a product at a store you want customers to be able to grab off the shelf and buy. How do you balance that with selling the same inventory to people ordering online? How do you decide how much of your inventory you sell online? When someone makes an order online, how do you decide whether to fulfill the order with inventory from stores or your company’s warehouses?

These are just some of the many questions that retail giant Kohl’s wrestled with. The answer the retailer came to, according to Paul Gaffney, Kohl’s chief technology and supply chain officer, was to let AI take a shot at the decision-making.

“When you start allowing machine learning algorithms to make decisions, they sometimes make decisions that aren’t intuitive. They aren’t what the people would make,” Gaffney said.

AI makes a decision

Usually, the deciding factor when trying to pick where to ship from would be shipping costs, Gaffney said at VentureBeat’s Transform 2021 virtual summit. However, it also became clear to the company that when an item was left in inventory at a location where it takes longer to sell, it will eventually wind up being marked down, and that would hurt the bottom line.

“We had this nagging suspicion we were incurring more markdowns than we needed to. Could we be smarter and say, ‘Hey, how about if we sell the merchandise that we might have placed months ago in a spot where we now know it’s probably not going to sell in that store … so let’s pick it from that store and avoid the future markdown,’” Gaffney said.

Kohl’s turned to partners to develop solutions for their supply chain optimization. Then came the leap of faith.

“What opened a bunch of doors for us was the willingness to say, ‘OK, we’re willing to risk a certain amount of money in the belief in the algorithm, and even if it doesn’t work, that investment in learning was good enough,’” Gaffney said. “And it turned out that it paid off.”

With successes in hand, Kohl’s is reflecting on its usage of AI, developing their in-house capability to exercise more control over their AI tools, and also considering further ways to optimize their stores beyond backend inventory management. For example, the data showed that each store has a different make up of customers, so the AI decides what kind of things to display to account for the different group of customers. Allowing the algorithm to suggest making changes to the products on sale at different stores based on customer data, resulted in “enormous positive upside,” said Gaffney.

Human experience

People should “educate themselves” on what machine learning can do, but also to understand how these advanced technologies can disrupt people’s work patterns. Enterprises need to think about ways to “purposefully re-engage” people in activities that aren’t conducive to machine learning.

“It’s tempting to treat the adoption of machine learning AI and big data as a technical problem,” Gaffney said. “But it is much more so a human change management problem as well.”

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Categories
AI

Supply chain threats demand industrywide approach to AI

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


As the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, organizations have to consider the growing threats to their supply chain. Goldman Sachs principal engineer Michael Mattioli and AMD CTO Mark Papermaster spoke about this issue at VentureBeat’s virtual Transform 2021 conference last week. They stressed that this is not a problem any single company can solve alone — changing the ecosystem will require industrywide collaboration.

The supply chain is “remarkably complex,” Mattioli said, as it goes all the way back to the design of the chip or board, which is then sent to the foundry to be manufactured. Depending on the type of component, it may pass through a series of manufacturers before it reaches an OEM like Dell, HP, or Lenovo; a reseller like CDW; or a retailer like Best Buy. After all this, it’s finally shipped to the end user. Along each step of the way, the piece is handled by different companies and modes of transport (ship, truck, etc). That leaves a lot of different points where a malicious actor could sneak in a change or tamper with a step.

“People are motivated in a variety of different ways to do something malicious. It could be counterfeiting so that they could make money. It could be espionage so that they could steal data,” Mattioli said.

The idea that there may be a counterfeit or tampered-with component is a worrying one. Organizations don’t want to have a product that is performing less efficiently or is less capable than it should be, which can have an impact on how long the product lasts before breaking or how long it takes to complete jobs. Even worse, such a device can no longer be trusted and may be stealing data or performing actions the user is not aware of.

Different companies have built tools to tackle their part of the supply chain, like AMD, which has some technologies in place to detect whether chips have been tampered with or a counterfeit component is being used. But at this time, there’s really nothing that can detect or deter supply chain threats end-to-end, Papermaster said. Even Apple and Amazon, despite their clout, do not have full control over their supply chains.

Papermaster said the big question is “Are we doing enough as an industry? [Regarding] that web of the supply chain, how do we collaborate more?”

Working together

The only way companies are going to get a better grasp of the supply chain is through industrywide and ecosystem-wide participation and cooperation, Papermaster and Mattioli reiterated. Goldman Sachs and AMD recently joined the Trusted Computing Group and the Global Semiconductor Alliance to encourage industry collaboration. The relationship is a technical one to develop open standards, create interoperable technology, and share build processes in order to ensure nothing has been tampered with. It is also a business relationship, as these companies have to figure out how best to work together on a shared goal.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help tackle one of the technical challenges using a technique called fingerprinting, Mattioli said. This method uses the specific information about a piece of hardware — such as voltage, temperature, and frequency, which can be found with hardware performance counters — to create a unique profile of a product that can be tracked throughout its entire lifecycle. “If you did that with all the components on the board, not only can you get a fingerprint of just that one component, but you can get a fingerprint of every other component and then the whole board itself and then the whole system itself,” Mattioli explained. If companies can agree on how to share the data that creates that fingerprint, authenticity can be confirmed at every step of the supply chain using AI.

Fingerprinting would also be useful for detecting counterfeit products since the technique doesn’t require visual inspection. Counterfeit products are sophisticated enough that they are becoming increasingly difficult to visually identify as fake. In some cases, an X-ray would be needed to identify the component, but that is a time-consuming process and not always available. Being able to use fingerprinting to check for counterfeiting “saves a lot of headache and frustration,” Mattioli said.

Papermaster noted that although AI and ML can be helpful tools, the success of technological security ultimately hinges on the cooperation between companies. “[It’s] an incredibly exciting area, and lots more innovation [is coming] in this space, with the industry collaborating together and leveraging these AI techniques,” Papermaster said.

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Computing

Best PC Power Supply for 2021

Your PC’s power supply is an important component in terms of safety and performance. The right PC power supply should be reliable, have a long lifespan, and protect your machine from issues like overclocking and surges. It’s not one of the first things you think about when putting together a custom build, but it’s an important element nonetheless.

If you need a new PC power supply, our top picks will give you a better idea of which components are a good match for your needs. You might not be familiar with the specs you should look for, but our guide to the best PC power supplies for 2020 is a good place to start your research!

Not sure what you need? Check out our guide on how to measure your PC’s power draw.

The best PC power supply at a glance:

Corsair RMx Series RM750x

Corsair makes some fantastic power supplies. But many come with very similar naming conventions, so picking our favorite of even that lineup — let alone all PSUs — wasn’t easy. With all things considered, this year’s updated RM750x was ultimately our top pick. Its 750-watt design is fully modular and uses a 135mm magnetic levitation fan to help cut down on wear while also reducing the noise of this already-quiet line. The fan’s automated settings mean that it will only switch on at certain power levels, another way to save energy and increase longevity.

The Corsair RM750x also comes with fully modular cabling, high-quality capacitors, and modern standby support, which helps this unit get up to speed from standby in under five seconds. Corsair claims that the new design offers up to 90% peak efficiency in the right conditions, making it an excellent option for gamers working on their setup. It’s also compatible with 12-pin GPU power cables if you happen to be shopping for a new graphics card at the same time.

Corsair CX550

The Corsair CX550 PSU.

The PSU we recommend in all of our budget gaming system builds is the Corsair CX550. It isn’t a trendsetter or showstopper, but it is a stable and safe power supply. At this kind of price, that’s exactly what you need. It’s available in various capacities, and for just $5 more, you can get semi-modular cabling, but this entry-level version is the most affordable and most suited to our favorite budget PSU.

Despite the relatively low cost, you still get a quiet fan, a five-year warranty, and 80+ Bronze certification for reasonable efficiency. Compatible with all modern CPUs and motherboards, the Corsair CX550 has enough juice to power entry-level gaming PCs, all the way up to relatively high-end systems with powerful graphics cards. Double-check it has enough headroom for your particular GPU on a site like RealHardTech first, but if this falls within your limits, then the CX550 is a fantastic budget power supply to choose.

FSP Dagger 550w

The FSP Dagger 550w.

Packing high-powered components into a miniature PC case is all the rage. But along with using compact cooling solutions and motherboards, many MicroATX and mini-ITX cases also need to use a small form PSU. This SFX unit from FSP is a fantastic option with an attractive shell, excellent modular cabling, and a decent capacity of 500w. If you need more, though, there’s always the 650w version for about $20 more.

The FSP Dagger 550w enjoys 80+ Gold efficiency, a quiet fan that operates at near-silent when the unit is under 50% load, and full Japanese capacitors for excellent stability and a long life. If you run into any problems (which you shouldn’t), there is a three-year warranty you can take advantage of, too.

Seasonic Prime Ultra 1300w

The Seasonic Prime 1300w PSU.

There’s not much point in building a multi-GPU system these days outside of benchmarking and a very few select games. But if you do, you’ll want a monstrous power supply to make sure your powerful graphics cards have all the power they need. The Seasonic Prime Ultra is our favorite for that task, with a mammoth 1,300 watts of power and all the features you’d expect from a high-end PSU.

It’s fully modular, enjoys an 80+ Platinum efficiency rating, has a 12-year warranty, and operates entirely silently until 40% load is reached. It also has gold-plated connectors for additional durability and a touch of class, all while supporting multiple graphics cards.

The Seasonic Prime Ultra 1300w is pricey, but for super-powered PCs that want the utmost stability and plenty of protection for your highly expensive components, you can’t go wrong.

Thermaltake Toughpower Grand RGB 650w

The Thermaltake Toughpower RGB.

If you want your PC to display vibrant and well-lit imagery, you will have to pay extra attention to your PSU when choosing RGB-equipped components. Do not be fooled by a pleasing appearance because the exterior design doesn’t always mean adequate power. Your power supply needs to have the proper components to ensure the best functionality. That’s where the Thermaltake Toughpower Grand RGB comes in.

Modular cabling and programmable RGB lighting come with this model, plus it enjoys an efficiency rating of 80+ Gold. Its fan is virtually silent, although it will kick up a notch if necessary. The RGB lighting can sync with your PC’s other lighting to eliminate annoying differences and achieve a coherent effect.

The Thermaltake Toughpower Grand RGB 650w includes a decade-long warranty, making it simple to get a replacement if your lighting tanks.

XPG Core Reactor 650Watt

The XPG Core Reactor 650Watt.

Like many of our other favorite picks, this durable XPG model is 80+ Gold certified for high efficiency and low noise, making it another great pick for your battle station. This particular model is made to be as long-lasting as possible, with industrial-grade Japanese capacitors and a 10-year warranty in case something goes wrong. It promises peak efficiency higher than 70% with a 2% load. Two EPS 2.92 connectors are included on this model.

The XPG Core Reactor unit is also compatible with features like alternative sleep mode, and the 120mm fluid dynamic bearing fan will help keep things cool when demand increases. This power supply is a great pick if you need high performance or have environmental conditions that make durability particularly important.

Enermax Revolution DF 750W

The Enermax Revolution DF 750W.

Enermax’s 80+ Gold certification is only the start of we recommend this 750W PSU. The fully modular design makes it ideal for full customization and quick changes, and the flat cables are an excellent choice for cable management that doesn’t get in the way of other components. It’s also made with an airflow design to minimize noise during operation, and Ernemax guarantees that the model is nearly silent at 70% operation.

Of course, over time, problems can build up — namely dust, which can cause noise and efficiency issues if it begins to build up. That’s why this model also comes with a DF Switch that you can use to temporarily reverse fan rotation and help clear out any of the dust that may have built up recently, a great feature for those who prefer to be more hands-on.

Corsair HX1200 1200W

The Corsair HX1200 1200W.

For the most serious power needs, you can’t do better than this 1200W Corsair model. The fully modular PSU scored an 80+ Platinum rating for high-tier efficiency to manage high-power situations and uses Japanese capacitors rated for around 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, the +12V rail switch allows you to choose single or multiple rails as necessary, enabling more complex setups that often come with higher power needs.

The durable Corsair HX1200 1200W uses a 135mm fan that includes a Zero RPM mode that makes sure the fan only turns on when heat levels rise above a certain limit, sparing wear and tear. Automatic protection for over-voltage, under-voltage, short circuits, emergency high temperatures, and more are all included, too. If you need top-tier performance at high wattage levels, you can’t do much better!

Editors’ Choice




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AI

How AI can simplify, streamline, and enhance supply chain operations

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Global economic activity is picking up now that pandemic-related restrictions are easing. But this return to normal has not been without hiccups, notably including supply chains emerging from virtual shutdowns.

However, few organizations are eager to revert to the manual-driven operational frameworks of the previous decade. The shift to advanced automation and artificial intelligence in the management layer was already underway before the pandemic hit, and there are signs this change is accelerating the drive to simplify, streamline, and enhance operations in order to meet the needs of an increasingly digital economy.

Ready for action

More than three-quarters of business leaders reported deploying AI in pilot programs, in key business areas, or at full scale across the enterprise, in a recent survey of more than 1,000 executives from NTT DATA and Oxford Economics. Cybersecurity remains the top challenge these deployments are intended to address, with supply chain management a close second. The most significant barrier to greater adoption, however, is the sheer complexity of the technology, which must be deployed across a range of processes and throughout disparate infrastructures in order to produce the greatest benefit.

Nevertheless, most organizations view AI as the next step in supply chain management, not simply to recover from the pandemic but to maintain a competitive advantage going forward. Machine learning (ML) and other forms of AI are even finding homes in industries considered technical laggards, like trucking and transportation, Paul Beavers, CTO of AI-driven transportation management platform provider PCS Software, wrote recently for Supply & Demand Chain Executive. With its ability to find hidden patterns in data, AI can lower costs and improve productivity by reducing the number of empty miles incurred during return trips; identifying the optimal mode of transport for selected cargo; and streamlining loading, fueling, and other tasks.

But applying AI to the supply chain is not a simple matter of throwing it at various processes to see what sticks. A more strategic approach that focuses on the value of data as the key driver of productivity is needed, Noodle.ai developer Mike Hulbert wrote on SupplyChainBrain.

Managing risks

One way to do this is to use AI to assess risk. Today’s management stacks tend to flood workers with alerts without assigning any priority. AI has the ability to quantify risk so organizations gain broad visibility into the most crucial detriments to efficient operations. Even if the problem requires time and expertise, that money is well spent, and solutions highlight the ways AI and human intelligence can work together to produce the most desirable outcomes.

Most of the thinking around AI in the supply chain tends to center on how it will enhance today’s processes. But as markets evolve into the new century, AI will also help create and manage entirely new forms of multi-layered, dynamic chains serving highly virtualized and cloud-based business models. Even today’s emerging omnichannel environments require precise coordination between customer-facing infrastructure, warehousing, transportation, fulfillment, and a range of other disparate functions, Global Trading Magazine’s Rumzz Bajwa noted recently. Much of this will have to be automated to accommodate the speed of business, something that can only be done through advanced intelligent systems that talk to each other with perhaps intermittent human oversight.

It should be noted that AI is not like past technology developments that began working their magic as soon as they were deployed. AI must be trained, refined, seasoned — just like any other employee. It’s a fast learner, to be sure, but it makes its share of mistakes. When it comes to the challenges of restarting crucial supply lines in the post-pandemic transition, AI will not provide an instant solution.

But its true benefit to business operations will become clear in the long term.

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AI

Roambee adds AI analytics to supply chain tracking with Arnekt deal

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


There’s no such thing as having too much data when it comes to logistics and supply chain tracking. That’s why supply chain visibility company Roambee has been adding ways to give enterprises greater visibility into how shipments move around the world.

Earlier this month, Roambee announced the acquisition of cloud analytics firm Arnekt. The deal would supplement Roambee’s location-aware, package-tracking Honeycomb platform with Arnekt’s natural language processing (NLP), data science, and AI capabilities.

“This addition will enable us to keep improving our customers’ bottom line when it comes to their deliveries,” Roambee CEO Sanjay Sharma told VentureBeat. “For example, a lot of retail companies run on tiny margins, and those can be negatively impacted with bad supply chain performance.”

“They can only collect money if they invoice on time, but they need proof of delivery to do that. And proof of delivery is a broken process right now. The good news is that the friction in delivery systems can be eliminated via data collected by sensors, which can determine when boxes are delivered and in what condition, triggering an invoicing process automatically and improving cash cycles for companies,” Sharma said.

Roambee did not disclose financial details of the acquisition.

Arnekt adds machine learning to Honeycomb

Roambee uses firsthand sensor data generated from a portfolio of purpose-built sensors, like its BeeSense and BeeTrac devices, combining that information with data from other available third-party data streams and devices to paint a comprehensive picture of where customer assets are, the condition they’re in, how secure they are, and more. Via Honeycomb, the company provides customers with visibility into their shipments, inventory, assets in the field, and returnable items.

With Arnekt, Roambee gains AI- and machine learning-infused frameworks that are used by such high-profile customers as Honda, Epson, and HPE.

“This acquisition enables us to scale and grow our offerings, such as the Swarm AI network analytics platform, to help customers optimize their supply chain operations,” Sharma said.

“So think of really big companies that ship huge amounts of goods around the world. Arnekt brings the capability of hyper-scaling process efficiencies based on the structured and unstructured data going into our platform.”

Sharma added that people are hugely important to the process.

“Another segment we serve is people in the field — warehouse managers, manufacturing managers, and so on. Arnekt’s natural language processing is important to help us translate the data intelligence we gather into language the field force can understand and then use to issue marching orders to their teams.”

Supply chain tracking — hot and cold

Roambee’s focus is on helping reduce shipping losses and improving time to invoice. The company said its tracking capabilities extend far beyond the needs of individual enterprise customers, as it’s also playing a role in the global COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort.

The logistical intelligence Roambee gathers doesn’t just provide the location of assets across various transport modes — Honeycomb-based services include spoilage monitoring for food shipments, damage monitoring, trailer and container security monitoring, and pharmaceutical cold chain monitoring.

Roambee provides pharmaceutical cold chain monitoring to “one of the largest U.S.-headquartered, global COVID-19 vaccine makers,” the company said.

Vaccine shipments using dry ice need to be completed within two days. That puts pressure on the supply chain, Roambee marketing VP Scott Hurley told BioPharm International recently. “Without effective real-time monitoring, that is all but impossible,” he said.

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