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Commentary: ARM has been growing for some time, but it may have just hit an inflection point.

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My computing life has come full circle. In 2000, I went to work for an embedded Linux company, Lineo, and though my desktop (remember those?) ran x86, everything Lineo sold dealt with MIPS, RISC-based chips like Intel’s i960, and…ARM. For decades, many of us forgot about ARM thanks to the seemingly insurmountable rise of x86, though ARM remained highly relevant in mobile devices and elsewhere. But most recently, it’s x86 that is looking vulnerable.

Apple may have done the most to make ARM relatively relevant in popular culture with its new ARM-based M1 processor, but relatively few people will ever own an ARM-based Mac. Virtually everyone, by contrast, will use an ARM-based mobile device or interact with web services powered by applications running ARM-based compute instances on AWS or Microsoft Azure (announced) or Google Cloud (Google has been reportedly been working on ARM-based designs for years). 

So is it an ARM world now? The obvious answer is “yes.” 

SEE: Hardware inventory policy (TechRepublic Premium)

It’s ARM all the way down

Whether you’re running apps on your phone or the world’s fastest supercomputer, you’re most likely running ARM. Given recent events, that trend toward “more” just might kick into overdrive. ARM Limited, which for years has licensed its architecture for others to build chips, has always had plenty of friends. But with Nvidia’s $40 billion deal to acquire ARM Limited, ARM just got an aggressive, expansive buyer in Nvidia.

Nvidia has spent years expanding the market for its GPUs (graphics processing units) into general purpose apps that have found ready buyers in ML/AI, high performance computing (HPC), and more. Now it’s acquiring ARM Limited right at the time that “the near future is all about vertically integrated [system-on-chip] ARM designs like the m1,” as PhoneGap cofounder Dave Johnson has highlighted.

It’s perfect timing but, according to Apache Software Foundation member Justin Erenkrantz, ARM’s rise has “been inevitable for close to a decade now.” 

How so? Well, as the world becomes more mobile, it makes sense that chips designed from the start for stellar mobile performance would be winners. While x86 still wins on raw power, that’s not necessarily what buyers (particularly in phones, laptops, etc.) are looking for. ARM-based silicon delivers better battery life, runs cooler, and is starting to reach x86 speeds (or exceed them, as the AWS launch of Graviton2 EC2 instances suggests). They’re also cheaper to manufacture.

All of which promises to make life unpleasant for the x86 incumbents. Except for…developers.

My PC, my cloud?

While there is clearly demand for ARM running in the cloud, Linux creator Linus Torvalds recently knocked back the idea that ARM would take over simply because it’s cheaper/faster/whatever. The key to ARM dominating in the cloud (and elsewhere) may come down to how prevalent it becomes on the machines developers use to build their apps.

SEE: Apple Silicon M1 Mac buying guide: 2020 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac mini (TechRepublic)

As Torvalds told Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols in an email interview, “my argument wasn’t that ‘ARM cannot make it in the server space’ like some people seem to have read it. My argument was that ‘in order for ARM to make it in the server space, I think they need to have development machines.'”

This makes sense, and though comparatively few developers will be running Apple’s M1 processor anytime soon, most applications don’t run on laptops anymore–they run on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets), nearly all of which already run on ARM. Even those applications optimized for laptops (and beyond) benefit more from ARM’s focus on customizability. For example, Apple can tweak ARM for ML-centric applications in a way that it simply can’t with Intel’s x86. This turns out to be a trump card.

Nothing changes overnight. Will we see x86 deployed for the foreseeable future? Of course we will. But this “little mobile chip architecture” will play an increasingly central role in computing over the next decade. Fast forward to 2030, and it’s very, very likely that the entire computing landscape will look completely different.

Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the views expressed herein are my own.

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How to Browse Vi Recharge Packs by Pack Type

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Wondering how to browse Vi (Vodafone Idea) recharge packs by pack type? Vi offers a host of recharge options for both prepaid and postpaid users. It offers easy ways for its customers to get their recharge done from its official website as well as its Android and iOS mobile apps. Vi is one of the largest telecom operators in the country and has been offering better voice call quality compared to the competition, according to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

To get a Vi number reacharge, customers can head to the official MyVi website or download the Vi app that is available for free on Google Play and App Store. You can go through the various plans that Vi offers. And to help you do so, we have put together a step-by-step guide to browse the website and app to recharge your Vi number.

Vi prepaid plans on MyVi website

  1. On the homepage, you should see a space where you can enter you mobile number to quickly get a recharge.

  2. To browse the Vi recharge plans, you can enter your number here and select whether your connection type is prepaid or postpaid.

  3. On the next page, scroll down to see the list of plans that Vi offers.

  4. Alternatively, on the homepage, you can hover over the Recharge tab on the top of the page and select Prepaid Plans.

  5. First thing to do here is make sure that your circle or area is selected on the right as packs can vary for different regions.

  6. You will then see Vi prepaid plans for your circle categorised as unlimited, combo, and others.

Unlimited plans, as the name suggests, include a list of plans with unlimited calling. Combo plans offer a mix of talktime and data. There are others packs that offer just data or just talktime, as well as SMS, vouchers, or entertainment pack offers.

Vi postpaid plans on MyVi website:  

  1. Hover over the Pay Bill tab right next to the Recharge tab on the top of the page  
  2. Select Postpaid Plans  
  3. There are no categories for postpaid plans so all four should be presented 

Vi prepaid and postpaid plans on app:  

  1. First, if you don’t already have the app, download the Vi app from App Store or Google Play.  
  2. Enter your Vi mobile number to register.  
  3. On the homepage, you will see a Recharge option at the bottom, tap on it.  
  4. On this page, you will see all the Vi recharge plans categories into recommended, unlimited, combo, talktime, data, plan voucher, SMS, caller tunes, and roaming.

What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

 

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Linux 101: Renaming files and folders

In your quest to migrate to the Linux operating system, you’ve found the command line interface a must-know skill. Fortunately, Jack Wallen is here to help you with the basics.

I’m going to help you learn a bit more about Linux. If you’re new to the operating system, there are quite a few fundamental tasks you’re going to need to know how to do. One such task is renaming files and folders. 

You might think there’s a handy rename command built into the system. There is, but it’s not what you assume. Instead of renaming a file or folder, you move it from one name to another, with the mv command. This task couldn’t be any easier. 

SEE: Linux: The 7 best distributions for new users (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For instance, if you have a file named script.sh and you want to rename it backup.sh. For that you’d issue the command: 

mv script.sh backup.sh

The first file name is the original and the second is the new name–simple. For folders, it’s the same thing. If you have a folder named “project” and you want to rename it “python_projects.” For that, you’d issue the command: 

mv projects python_projects

One nice thing about the mv command (besides its simplicity) is that it does retain the original directory attributes, so you don’t have to worry about reassigning things like permissions and ownership. Even if you issue the command with sudo privileges, it won’t shift the directory ownership to root. 

Another handy feature is that you don’t have to leave the file in the same directory. If you have script.sh in your home directory and you want to rename it to “backup.sh” and move it to /usr/local/bin/ at the same time. Once again, that’s as simple as:

 sudo mv script.sh /usr/local/bin/backup.sh

The reason why you have to use sudo is because the /usr/local/bin directory is owned by root, so your standard user won’t have permission to move the file into the directory. 

And that’s all there is to renaming files and folders from the Linux command line. Enjoy that new skill.

Subscribe to TechRepublic’s How To Make Tech Work on YouTube for all the latest tech advice for business pros from Jack Wallen.

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Image: Jack Wallen

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Improving Makeup Face Verification by Exploring Part-Based Representations

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Facial recognition has been more and more widely used recently; however, there are some issues in this field. One of them is facial makeup because it can change the facial appearance and compromise a biometric system. A recent study suggests a technique to improve facial recognition with makeup.

Improving Makeup Face Verification by Exploring Part Based Representations

Image credit: kaboompics via Pixabay, free licence

It explores part-based representations. Different parts of a face are affected by cosmetics differently; therefore, this approach can increase the accuracy of face recognition. Two strategies of cropping the face are analyzed.

Firstly, splitting into four components: left periocular, including the eye and eyebrow, right periocular, nose, and mouth. Secondly, dividing the face into three facial thirds. After cropping, features are extracted using convolutional neural networks (CNN) and fused with the holistic score. The results show that this approach let to achieve improvements even without fine-tuning or retraining CNN models.

Recently, we have seen an increase in the global facial recognition market size. Despite significant advances in face recognition technology with the adoption of convolutional neural networks, there are still open challenges, as when there is makeup in the face. To address this challenge, we propose and evaluate the adoption of facial parts to fuse with current holistic representations. We propose two strategies of facial parts: one with four regions (left periocular, right periocular, nose and mouth) and another with three facial thirds (upper, middle and lower). Experimental results obtained in four public makeup face datasets and in a challenging cross-dataset protocol show that the fusion of deep features extracted of facial parts with holistic representation increases the accuracy of face verification systems and decreases the error rates, even without any retraining of the CNN models. Our proposed pipeline achieved state-of-the-art performance for the YMU dataset and competitive results for other three datasets (EMFD, FAM and M501).

Research paper: de Assis Angeloni, M. and Pedrini, H., “Improving Makeup Face Verification by Exploring Part-Based Representations”, arXiv:2101.07338. Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.07338




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