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      BBC BASIC remains a remarkable learning tool, and now it’s available everywhere / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 November - 18:42 · 1 minute

    BBC Micro system, at medium distance, with full keyboard and case showing.

    Enlarge / A vintage 1981 BBC Micro computer. Fun fact: it was rather tricky to determine which version of BBC Basic a Micro was actually running. (credit: Getty Images)

    BBC Basic did a lot of things, and often quite well. During the early 1980s, it extended the BASIC languages with easier loop structures, like IF/THEN/ELSE, and ran faster than Microsoft's version. It taught an entire generation of Brits how to code, both in BASIC and, through an inline interpreter, assembly language. And it's still around to teach newcomers and anybody else—except it's now on far, far more platforms than a mail-order computer from the telly.

    BBCSDL , or BBC Basic for SDL 2.0 , uses Simple DirectMedia Layer's OS abstraction to make itself available on Windows, x86 Linux, macOS, Raspberry Pi's OS, Android, iOS, and inside browsers through WebAssembly. Version 1.38a arrived in mid-November with quite a few fixes and niceties (as first noticed by Hackaday and its readers). On the project's website, you can see BBCSDL running on all these devices, along with a note that on iOS and in browsers, an assembler and a few other functions are not available, due to arbitrary code-execution restrictions.

    BBCSDL, or BBC Basic for SDL 2.0, running on iOS devices, in graphical mode.

    BBCSDL, or BBC Basic for SDL 2.0, running on iOS devices, in graphical mode. (credit: Richard Russell / R.T. Russell )

    Richard Russell has been working on ports, interpreters, and other variations of BBC BASIC since 1983 , starting with interpreters for Z80 and Intel processors. By 2001, BBC BASIC for Windows was available with a graphical interface and was still compatible with the BBC Micro and Acorn computers from whence it came. BBCSDL has been in development since 2015, providing wider platform offerings while still retaining decent compatibility with BBC BASIC for Windows.

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      Arm announces the Cortex X4 for 2024, plus a 14-core M2-fighter / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 30 May, 2023 - 20:29 · 1 minute

    Over the weekend, Arm showed off its vision for the next generation of flagship CPUs. As usual, these designs include CPUs in various sizes for different workloads. The 'big' chip this year is the Arm Cortex X4 , the 'medium' chip is the Cortex A720 , and the 'small' chip is the Cortex A520. The new chips should arrive in Android phones and Windows laptops in 2024.

    Arm claims the big Cortex X3 chip will have 15 percent higher performance than this year's X3 chip, and "40 percent better power efficiency." The company also promises a 20 percent efficiency boost for the A700 series and a 22 percent efficiency boost for the A500.

    The new chips are all built on the new 'Armv9.2' architecture, which adds a "new QARMA3 algorithm" for Arm's Pointer Authentication memory security feature. Pointer authentication assigns a cryptographic signature to memory pointers and is meant to shut down memory corruption vulnerabilities like buffer overflows by making it harder for unauthenticated programs to create valid memory pointers. This feature has been around for a while, but Arm's new algorithm reduces the CPU overhead of all this extra memory work to just 1 percent of the chip's power, which hopefully will get more manufacturers to enable it.

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      EU set to launch formal probe into Nvidia’s $54 billion takeover of Arm

      Financial Times · / ArsTechnica · Friday, 27 August, 2021 - 14:47

    EU set to launch formal probe into Nvidia’s $54 billion takeover of Arm

    Enlarge (credit: Arm)

    Brussels is set to launch a formal competition probe early next month into Nvidia’s planned $54 billion takeover of British chip designer Arm, after months of informal discussions between regulators and the US chip company.

    The investigation is likely to begin after Nvidia officially notifies the European Commission of its plan to acquire Arm, with the US chipmaker planning to make its submission in the week starting September 6, according to two people with direct knowledge of the process. They added that the date might yet change, however.

    Brussels’ investigation would come after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said its initial assessment of the deal suggested there were “serious competition concerns” and that a set of remedies suggested by Nvidia would not be sufficient to address them.

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      Nvidia wants to buy CPU designer Arm—Qualcomm is not happy about it

      Jim Salter · / ArsTechnica · Friday, 12 February, 2021 - 22:26 · 1 minute

    Some current Arm licensees view the proposed acquisition as highly toxic.

    Enlarge / Some current Arm licensees view the proposed acquisition as highly toxic. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Nvidia)

    In September 2020, Nvidia announced its intention to buy Arm, the license holder for the CPU technology that powers the vast majority of mobile and high-powered embedded systems around the world.

    Nvidia's proposed deal would acquire Arm from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank for $40 billion—a number which is difficult to put into perspective. Forty billion dollars would represent one of the largest tech acquisitions of all time, but 40 Instagrams or so doesn't seem like that much to pay for control of the architecture supporting every well-known smartphone in the world, plus a staggering array of embedded controllers, network routers, automobiles, and other devices.

    Today’s Arm doesn’t sell hardware

    Arm's business model is fairly unusual in the hardware space, particularly from a consumer or small business perspective. Arm's customers—including hardware giants such as Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung—aren't buying CPUs the way you'd buy an Intel Xeon or AMD Ryzen. Instead, they're purchasing the license to design and/or manufacture CPUs based on Arm's intellectual property. This typically means selecting one or more reference core designs, putting several of them in one system on chip (SoC), and tying them all together with the necessary cache and other peripherals.

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      White House scrambles to address global chip shortage

      Eric Bangeman · / ArsTechnica · Friday, 12 February, 2021 - 15:12

    Ford has cut production at its Chicago facility from three shifts to one as a global chip shortage takes a toll on the car industry.

    Enlarge / Ford has cut production at its Chicago facility from three shifts to one as a global chip shortage takes a toll on the car industry. (credit: Scott Olson | Getty Images)

    The Biden administration has pledged to take immediate action to address a global shortage of semiconductors that has forced the closure of several US car plants.

    Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said the administration was "identifying potential chokepoints in the supply chain" after coming under pressure from lawmakers, semiconductor companies and car manufacturers over the shortages.

    A surge in demand for consumer electronics during the pandemic has led to the shortage of chips, which has been exacerbated in the US by sanctions on SMIC, the Chinese chipmaker.

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      Microsoft pourrait créer ses propres processeurs ARM, pour les serveurs et les Surface

      Julien Cadot · / Numerama · Monday, 21 December, 2020 - 10:16

    Comme Apple, Microsoft pourrait s'émanciper de ses partenaires technologiques pour créer ses processeurs. [Lire la suite]

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    L'article Microsoft pourrait créer ses propres processeurs ARM, pour les serveurs et les Surface est apparu en premier sur Numerama .

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      How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world

      Ars Contributors · / ArsTechnica · Sunday, 20 December, 2020 - 14:00 · 1 minute

    How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world

    Enlarge (credit: Jason Torchinsky)

    Let's be honest: 2020 sucks. So much of this year has been a relentless slog of bad news and miserable events that it's been hard to keep up. Yet most of us have kept up, and the way most of us do so is with the small handheld computers we carry with us at all times. At least in America, we still call these by the hilariously reductive name "phones."

    We can all use a feel-good underdog story right now, and luckily our doomscrolling 2020 selves don't have to look very far. That's because those same phones, and so much of our digital existence, run on the same thing: the ARM family of CPUs . And with Apple's release of a whole new line of Macs based on their new M1 CPU —an ARM-based processor—and with those machines getting fantastic reviews , it's a good time to remind everyone of the strange and unlikely source these world-controlling chips came from.

    If you were writing reality as a screenplay, and, for some baffling reason, you had to specify what the most common central processing unit used in most phones, game consoles, ATMs, and other innumerable devices was, you'd likely pick one from one of the major manufacturers, like Intel. That state of affairs would make sense and fit in with the world as people understand it; the market dominance of some industry stalwart would raise no eyebrows or any other bits of hair on anyone.

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      Microsoft may be developing its own, in-house ARM CPU designs

      Jim Salter · / ArsTechnica · Friday, 18 December, 2020 - 23:55

    Microsoft has so far neither confirmed nor denied Bloomberg

    Enlarge / Microsoft has so far neither confirmed nor denied Bloomberg's claims regarding in-house CPU designs. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Grid Engine )

    This afternoon, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft is in the process of developing its own ARM CPU designs, following in the footsteps of Apple's M1 mobile CPU and Amazon's Graviton datacenter CPU.

    Bloomberg cites off-record conversations with Microsoft employees who didn't want to be named. These sources said that Microsoft is currently developing an ARM processor for datacenter use and exploring the possibility of another for its Surface line of mobile PCs.

    Bloomberg's sources paint the datacenter part as "more likely" and a Surface part as "possible." This seems plausible, given that Microsoft's chip design unit reports to the Azure cloud VP, with no direct reporting ties to the Surface division. Microsoft declined to comment on any specific plans, saying only that it "[continues] to invest in our own capabilities in areas like design, manufacturing and tools, while also fostering and strengthening partnerships with a wide range of chip providers."

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      Linus Torvalds doubts Linux will get ported to Apple M1 hardware

      Jim Salter · / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 28 November, 2020 - 14:15

    It would be great to see Linux running and fully operational on Apple M1 hardware like this Mac Mini—but it seems unlikely to happen.

    Enlarge / It would be great to see Linux running and fully operational on Apple M1 hardware like this Mac Mini—but it seems unlikely to happen. (credit: Produnis / Jim Salter )

    In a recent post on the Real World Technologies forum—one of the few public internet venues Linux founder Linus Torvalds is known to regularly visit—a user named Paul asked Torvalds, "What do you think of the new Apple laptop?"

    "I'd absolutely love to have one, if it just ran Linux," Torvalds replied. "I've been waiting for an ARM laptop that can run Linux for a long time. The new [Macbook] Air would be almost perfect, except for the OS."

    Torvalds, of course, can already have an ARM based Linux laptop if he wants one—for example, the Pinebook Pro . The unspoken part here is that he'd like a high-performance ARM based laptop, rather than a budget-friendly but extremely performance constrained design such as one finds in the Pinebook Pro, the Raspberry Pi, or a legion of other inexpensive gadgets.

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