Category Archives: Infrastructure

Intel buys Smart Edge platform from Canada-based Pivot Technology Solutions for $27M

In the latest move to expand its edge computing business, Intel Corp. has agreed to purchase Smart Edge computing platform, an indirect subsidiary of Pivot, for US$27 million on Oct. 15.

Smart Edge is a virtualized mobile smart edge (MEC) computing platform that provides services to enterprises and businesses at the edge. The technology enables services including personalized ads, digital signage, VR and AR, and product information. It can be linked with various IoT devices to provide data analytics.

The platform can also create caching points to quickly deliver information with lower latency. Decentralizing data delivery across many nodes across the network is faster than delivering data from large, centralized data centres.

By scooping up Pivot’s Smart Edge, Intel is looking to further expand into the 5G market, where IoT and edge computing is expected to boom. In its press release, the company said that it’s expecting the 5G silicon addressable market to reach $65 billion by 2023.

Intel exited the 5G smartphone modem business in April this year and transitioned its focus towards network infrastructure and data centres.

Reuters reported that Smart Edge did not generate much revenue in the first half of 2019.

The acquisition is expected to complete in the fourth quarter of 2019. Intel said around 25 Smart Edge employees will join Intel when the transaction closes.

Finger Food investment in Calgary a ‘call to action’ for tech companies globally, says CSO

With $3.5 million in support from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF), Finger Food Advanced Technology Group is opening up an advanced technology centre in Calgary, which will lead to the creation of 200 full time jobs in the city by 2023, according to the B.C.-based enterprise solution provider.

Canadian SMBs incur a potential productivity loss of CA$2 billion using older technology 

A recent study commissioned by Microsoft and Intel reported that the cost of using a PC older than four years is more than buying a new one.  As per StatsCanada, the country is home to around 1.2 million small and medium businesses. These businesses comprise 98.8 per cent of the total employee businesses in the…

What is the Microsoft SQ1 chip? Surface Pro X’s secret explained

Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, unveiled in New York at its Surface launch event last week and landing in stores on Nov. 5th, is powered by the Microsoft SQ1 system-on-chip (SoC). Its release marked the first time in seven years that an ARM processor has appeared in a Surface device. The SQ1 is the birthchild of…

Microsoft Surface Pro X uses a custom Qualcomm-made SQ1 processor

The last time Microsoft put an ARM processor in a Surface was in 2012 when the series first launched. Powered by an Nvidia Tegra chip, the Surface RT (Run Time) was ill-received due to the lack of native apps and the ultra-restrictive Windows 8 RT operating system. But ARM has resurfaced in the Surface Pro…

On Chinese "Spy Trains"

The trade war with China has reached a new industry: subway cars. Congress is considering legislation that would prevent the world's largest train maker, the Chinese-owned CRRC Corporation, from competing on new contracts in the United States.

Part of the reasoning behind this legislation is economic, and stems from worries about Chinese industries undercutting the competition and dominating key global industries. But another part involves fears about national security. News articles talk about "spy trains," and the possibility that the train cars might surreptitiously monitor their passengers' faces, movements, conversations or phone calls.

This is a complicated topic. There is definitely a national security risk in buying computer infrastructure from a country you don't trust. That's why there is so much worry about Chinese-made equipment for the new 5G wireless networks.

It's also why the United States has blocked the cybersecurity company Kaspersky from selling its Russian-made antivirus products to US government agencies. Meanwhile, the chairman of China's technology giant Huawei has pointed to NSA spying disclosed by Edward Snowden as a reason to mistrust US technology companies.

The reason these threats are so real is that it's not difficult to hide surveillance or control infrastructure in computer components, and if they're not turned on, they're very difficult to find.

Like every other piece of modern machinery, modern train cars are filled with computers, and while it's certainly possible to produce a subway car with enough surveillance apparatus to turn it into a "spy train," in practice it doesn't make much sense. The risk of discovery is too great, and the payoff would be too low. Like the United States, China is more likely to try to get data from the US communications infrastructure, or from the large Internet companies that already collect data on our every move as part of their business model.

While it's unlikely that China would bother spying on commuters using subway cars, it would be much less surprising if a tech company offered free Internet on subways in exchange for surveillance and data collection. Or if the NSA used those corporate systems for their own surveillance purposes (just as the agency has spied on in-flight cell phone calls, according to an investigation by the Intercept and Le Monde, citing documents provided by Edward Snowden). That's an easier, and more fruitful, attack path.

We have credible reports that the Chinese hacked Gmail around 2010, and there are ongoing concerns about both censorship and surveillance by the Chinese social-networking company TikTok. (TikTok's parent company has told the Washington Post that the app doesn't send American users' info back to Beijing, and that the Chinese government does not influence the app's use in the United States.)

Even so, these examples illustrate an important point: there's no escaping the technology of inevitable surveillance. You have little choice but to rely on the companies that build your computers and write your software, whether in your smartphones, your 5G wireless infrastructure, or your subway cars. And those systems are so complicated that they can be secretly programmed to operate against your interests.

Last year, Le Monde reported that the Chinese government bugged the computer network of the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa. China had built and outfitted the organization's new headquarters as a foreign aid gift, reportedly secretly configuring the network to send copies of confidential data to Shanghai every night between 2012 and 2017. China denied having done so, of course.

If there's any lesson from all of this, it's that everybody spies using the Internet. The United States does it. Our allies do it. Our enemies do it. Many countries do it to each other, with their success largely dependent on how sophisticated their tech industries are.

China dominates the subway car manufacturing industry because of its low prices­ -- the same reason it dominates the 5G hardware industry. Whether these low prices are because the companies are more efficient than their competitors or because they're being unfairly subsidized by the Chinese government is a matter to be determined at trade negotiations.

Finally, Americans must understand that higher prices are an inevitable result of banning cheaper tech products from China.

We might willingly pay the higher prices because we want domestic control of our telecommunications infrastructure. We might willingly pay more because of some protectionist belief that global trade is somehow bad. But we need to make these decisions to protect ourselves deliberately and rationally, recognizing both the risks and the costs. And while I'm worried about our 5G infrastructure built using Chinese hardware, I'm not worried about our subway cars.

This essay originally appeared on CNN.com.

EDITED TO ADD: I had a lot of trouble with CNN's legal department with this essay. They were very reluctant to call out the US and its allies for similar behavior, and spent a lot more time adding caveats to statements that I didn't think needed them. They wouldn't let me link to this Intercept article talking about US, French, and German infiltration of supply chains, or even the NSA document from the Snowden archives that proved the statements.