Neuromorphic Computing: A pure case of nerves


Memrestive components show an electrical behavior as synapses (blue dasgestellt), the neurons in the brain connected with each other.
Image: University of Massachusetts, Yao lab

The computer chips of the future are to work according to the nature of the human brain, only faster. In many small steps, researchers come closer to this goal. To do this, use the special components, so-called Memristoren.

Ob chess, Poker or the Board game of Go, losing, in the meantime, people in almost all strategy games, against self-learning computer systems. Nevertheless, the human thinking apparatus is brains continue to the Computer in a number of things to consider. While KI is specialized in the rule, you can do the brain is an incredibly wide range of tasks. And it is extremely efficient. A normal brain only uses as much energy as a 20 Watt light bulb. Around the globe, researchers are looking for Ways, which form the Hardware of the “biological computer” is technically track. You are working on so-called neuromorphic processors that work not only more efficient than traditional computer chips, but also similar to the brain – independently, and can forget to learn. Previous AI concepts to mimic the self-learning mechanisms in neural networks, not with the Hardware, but only by means of sophisticated Software.

Scientists from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst have developed a three-dimensional neuromorphic processor, the complexity of the natural model comes a step closer. How Qiangfei Xia and his colleagues in the journal “Nature Electronics” report, uses the Chip instead of the Transistors and other classic components, a so-called Memristoren. These switching elements have special electrical properties and have been in force since 2008, when researchers from Hewlett Packard (HP) presented for the first time, as a hot candidate for the construction of neuromorphic circuits.

3D Chip processes signals according to the model of the brain

The name Memristor is a portmanteau of “memory” (memory), and a “resistor” (resistance) – goes back to the American engineer, Leon Chua, who designed in 1971 the theoretical concept for this component. Unlike the conventional switching elements, the electrical resistance and thus the conductivity in dependence of the applied voltage changes in the case of a Memristor. After switching Off the voltage, the Memristor retains its last resistance value. The component can therefore process information at the same time and save. This behavior is based on structural changes of the Memristors – for example, by the voltage pulse between the two electrodes charged atoms – ing and fro-ing and accumulate, which lowers the resistance, or lifting.

In their electrical behavior Memristoren are in a way similar to biological synapses. Because learning and memory skills of the brain are essential due to the fact that the Connections between nerve cells strengthen, so to speak. Synapses pass signals to different degrees, if you are quickly excited in a row. In addition, the activity provides a long-term anatomical Change, which affects the strength of the Transmission even for life. Brain researchers speak of the synaptic plasticity. While a traditional semiconductor element is a rigid construct, are Memristoren – similar to how synapses – capable of change. And, if you will, even capable of “learning”. The Memristor, the Qiangfei Xia and his colleagues use, consists of a thin layer of hafnium oxide which is sandwiched between a titanium, and a tantalum electrode. The component changes quickly – within nanoseconds – its electrical properties when it creates a corresponding voltage pulse.

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Xerox withdraws billion dollar offer for HP

HP headquarters

The hostile takeover of the computer manufacturer was canceled.

(Photo: AFP)

San Francisco The US printer manufacturer Xerox In the middle of the corona virus pandemic, the planned hostile takeover of the computer company HP stops. Xerox described Tuesday night’s move as disappointing, but necessary to focus on addressing the current crisis.

Xerox had $ 35 billion for the much larger one HP offered, which makes about six times as much annual turnover. The group should have largely financed the acquisition through new debt.

Not only the financial uncertainty caused by Corona seems to have made the deal impossible, but also the impact of the pandemic on the business of both companies: Xerox mainly sells large printers that are used in offices and are currently hardly used and least of all are bought. HP, on the other hand, benefits more from the trend towards home office.

The Silicon Valley pioneer makes two thirds of its sales with home computers, and its printers are also aimed at private individuals. In the crisis, Xerox’s business is under more pressure than HP’s.

The value of Xerox stock has halved in the past five weeks, while HP’s share certificates have fallen by around a quarter, about the same as the overall market.
Both papers suffered from the end of the takeover fantasy: Xerox shares fell by more than two percent in morning trading in New York, and HP shares fell by more than nine percent.

Icahn is already moving on

The streak puller behind the deal was the activist investor Carl Icahn, who at least temporarily held larger shares in both companies. Icahn already seems to have shifted his focus: In an interview with CNBC, the billionaire said recently that the shares of some corporations are now being “given away”. He had long considered the stock market overvalued, but now there are stocks of some solid companies to buy cheap.

The withdrawal is considered a victory for HP boss Enrique Lores, who had rejected the takeover offer published for the first time in November as too low. In February, Xerox increased its offer again, whereupon Lores showed unwillingness to talk.

Now the Spaniard, who has only been leading HP since November, is confident that HP can survive the crisis on his own: “We have a healthy cash position and a balance sheet that enables us to tackle unexpected challenges like a pandemic while at the same time being strategic To keep options open for the future. ”

HP has invested heavily in the development of industrial 3D printers in recent years. These were used in the times of Corona in the production of face or respiratory masks.

More: Follow the current developments in the corona crisis in our news blog.

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HP continues to resist Xerox acquisition

HP headquarters in Palo Alto

Management recently said it wanted to talk to Xerox to explore a possible combination in the interests of shareholders.

(Photo: AFP)

Palo Alto The PC and printer manufacturer HP Inc continues to resist the takeover efforts of the much smaller printer and copier manufacturer Xerox. Xerox’s offer reflects the value of HP not sufficiently reflected, announced on Thursday in Palo Alto, California. In addition, given the resulting debt, the acquisition would result in significant financial risks for HP shareholders.

Xerox has been trying to get HP since the fall, but it was down. In February the group increased its offer and since then has offered $ 24 per share in cash and Xerox paper. In total, Xerox would pay almost $ 35 billion for HP. The driving force behind a possible deal is the controversial US investor Carl Icahn, who holds large shares in both groups.

Most recently, HP management had said it wanted to hold talks with Xerox to explore a possible combination in the interests of shareholders, but at the same time had increased its share buyback program to $ 15 billion to help investors in the event of a hostile takeover attempt.

More: HP boss Enrique Lores is under pressure

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How the Corona Virus Paralyzes Silicon Valley

San Francisco Hardly any other region in the world is as intimately connected to China as Silicon Valley. American companies like Apple or HP have it manufactured in Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Chinese companies like Lenovo, Huawei, Xiaomi or Alibaba maintain large branches in Northern California. And the port of Oakland, right next to San Francisco, is the largest transshipment point on the west coast for the exchange of goods with Asia.

But the fear of the corona virus brings the exchange with China to a standstill. The planes hardly come anymore, nor the goods, tourists, managers, buyers and trade fair visitors fail to appear. After Apple just did Microsoft issued a sales warning for the hardware business: replenishment is not coming as planned.

The provider’s conference on cyber security is also feeling the pressure RSA, which officially started on Tuesday and runs until Friday. For fear of the Covid 19 virus, eight American and six Chinese exhibitors had previously canceled, including industry giants such as IBM. AT & T or Verizon, 40,000 visitors are expected, but nobody wants to make a forecast anymore.

The uncertainty is palpable. Small dispensers with hand disinfectants are set up everywhere in the Moscone Center. You should use them, wash your hands well and adhere to the usual rules of good conduct when coughing or sneezing. The lecture halls are well attended, but it is striking that, whenever possible, there are more seats available to the neighbors than usual. Nobody wears breathing masks or gloves.

Only hands are no longer shaken. The “fistbump” is announced in addition to the simple short bow to greet you. Is it useful? Who knows. It’s about the gesture.

Trade shows like the RSA conference are important for the California technology industry. It’s not just about showing and selling products, but also training IT staff. So manufacturers like RSA, Salesforce. Oracle, Microsoft or AWS ensures that there are enough specialists for their products in the company. All of this is now just as much in question as the supply chains.

At a small reception on Monday, the mood is a bit frosty at first, but free beer, food and the tricks of a tireless magician, around whom a crowd of spectators quickly forms, break the ice. Soon there will be life at the exhibition stands, business cards will be exchanged, products will be presented and pens will be given away. Visitors from Asia are practically absent.

Empty cable cars

Tuesday starts sunny and friendly with 21 degrees Celsius. This is San Francisco at its best. Nevertheless, the world-famous “Cable Car” tourist attraction is empty. Where there are at least a hundred people all day to get a seat in one of the historic cars, there is not even a queue. Nobody wants to stand shoulder to shoulder in a stuffy car pressed against strangers who could cough at any time. The city misses ticket revenue in the five-digit range every day.

Politics only makes a limited contribution to reducing uncertainty. On Monday, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, spokeswoman for the House of Representatives, goes demonstratively and without a mouth guard through San Francisco’s Chinatown and eats Dim Sum. Otherwise a tourist magnet, restaurants and shops record a drop in sales of 50 percent and more. There is a risk of bankruptcy if that continues.

In a greeting, Mayor London Breed addressed the RSA conference participants, stressing once again that there has not been a single infected person in the city so far. But on Wednesday, it imposed the local emergency on the city. As a precaution, it is emphasized.

The trade fair organizers show defiant optimism. The game developer conference GDC definitely wants to start in March in San Francisco, Google demonstratively sends out invitations to the Google Next cloud conference in April, Facebook canceled an internal marketing conference in February, but continues to hold the F8 developer conference. It is an important economic factor: the average trade fair visitor spends almost $ 600 a day.

How long this can be maintained is questionable. Educational institutions and companies are tightening their travel guidelines and the major conferences are also broadcast live on the Internet – if they still take place.

Corona virus could jeopardize schedule for new iPhone

Great stocks thanks Trump

Donald Trump of all people, according to the analysts from Wells Fargo, has since helped to ease the precarious situation on the procurement markets. Before the Chinese New Year holidays, companies increased their stocks in the United States disproportionately because the US president had constantly threatened to impose new punitive tariffs.

This is now a welcome buffer to temporarily compensate for the consequences of the Chinese economy coming to a standstill. Some goods also come from Vietnam. According to analysts, the IT and electronics industry in particular is still dependent on China.

Hotel prices are falling in San Francisco, tables can be found in restaurants even during major conferences without a reservation. And if you want to drive the cable car, you can do it without waiting half a day. Getting just a handshake is becoming increasingly difficult.

More: Suppliers are increasingly claiming force majeure to avert their customers’ claims. But lawyers warn that it is not that simple.

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These hotels in the mountains are guaranteed to have snow

“Albergo”: In the Hochzillertal directly on the slopes

“Albergo” is the name of the newest accommodation in the Hochzillertal ski area in Tyrol, which is not exactly poor in luxury huts. “Albergo”, in German “hostel” – is a real understatement, because the restaurant in the highest mountain station of the ski area at 2400 meters is a noble Italian-style restaurant combined with four elegant suites between 40 and 75 square meters and a small spa area.

Particularly pleasant: after the slopes close, it is completely relaxed in the “Albergo”. In the morning it means: get out of the house, put on your skis and go up to the slopes. Everything without a queue at the lift and long ascent. Cable cars take you from the valley station directly to the “Albergo”. For a surcharge, also with a luxury gondola.

Overnight stay with half board for two people from 430 euros, albergo.at

“Pacheiner”: design hotel with summit spa in Carinthia

The Gerlitzen is one of the most popular ski areas in Carinthia with a view of Wörthersee and Ossiacher See. Right at the summit and the cable car mountain station at 1900 meters, an old inn has been transformed into a spacious design hotel.

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The “Pacheiner” has six rooms plus suites, apartments and holiday apartments with elegant furnishings. The summit spa includes a sauna world, massages and fitness room and, as a highlight, an infinity pool.

If you want more views, south-facing rooms with a view towards Italy and Slovenia are recommended. You can get there by cable car or, depending on snow conditions, by car. An observatory also belongs to the house.

Overnight stay with half board for two people from 244 euros, pacheiner.at

“Adler Lounge”: View of the Großglockner

The Großglockner plays the main role here, even if it is a few kilometers away. The ski area is named after him and in the suite with the best view (“sunrise”) you can see him from the bed.

Panorama has more than enough to offer in the “Adler Lounge” in East Tyrol above Matrei. At an altitude of 2421 meters, a good 60 three-thousand meter peaks are in sight. The opulent glazing of the house also matches this.

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The cuisine is of a high standard, from Asian to fondue. You can sleep in the double room and in the suite. The best way to get to the “Adler Lounge” is by cable car from Kals.

Overnight stay with half board for two people from 280 euros, adlerlounge.at

“Pralongià”: an insider tip in the Dolomites

The Alta Badia ski area (in Val Badia in South Tyrol) is known for its gourmet cuisine and posh hotels. It all happens in the valley. But there are also nice places up there. For example the “Berggasthof Pralongià” on a summit at 2157 meters.

The “Berggasthof Pralongià” is located at 2157 meters

Source: Pralongia

The 360-degree view of Marmolada, Sella and Co. is fantastic. The ambience of the house is classically rustic, but the rooms on the upper floor have been renovated and shine with modern, natural design. And also with great views.

Otherwise you live here classic with good South Tyrolean cuisine, is a maximum of 50 meters from the slopes – and at bourgeois tariffs. You can also stay in the dormitory. The chairlift takes you up from the Campolongo Pass.

Overnight stay with half board for two people from 144 euros, pralongia.it

“Col Raiser”: Hotel on the sunny side of Val Gardena

While most people are on the northern slopes of Val Gardena, the southern slopes of Col Raiser have their own special charm. And the better view. This is especially true for the “Hotel Col Raiser” at the mountain station of the cable car at 2106 meters.

The view from the terrace of Sassolungo and Sella is simply spectacular. The slopes are on the doorstep. The rustic hotel has been recently renovated, offers a spa and pool and magnificent sunrises and sunsets. You can get there with the cable car from St. Christina and land directly in front of the entrance.

Overnight stay with half board for two people from 304 euros, colraiser.com

“Gornergrat”: View of the Matterhorn included

The house at the mountain station of the Gornergratbahn is a real hotel classic. After the ride up on the cogwheel train from Zermatt, you land here at an altitude of 3100 meters and only have the sky above you, wonderful slopes with guaranteed snow and the best view of the Matterhorn.

The “Gornergrat” hotel offers a magnificent view of the Matterhorn

Source: Switzerland Tourism

The railway has been around for over 120 years, and the observatory that can be visited has been around for around 60 years. The rooms and suites were completely renovated a few years ago and are paneled with Swiss stone pine. The rooms on the west side have the famous Matterhorn view.

And you are right in the middle of a huge ski area with 360 kilometers of slopes. The trip up from Zermatt with the Gornergratbahn takes about 40 minutes.

Overnight stay with half board for two people from 380 euros, gornergrat-kulm.ch

“Diavolezza”: In the high alpine ski area in the Engadine

The Teufelin is the name of the small high-alpine ski area on the Diavolezza in German, the hotel up there has the same name. It has to do with an old legend.

The Berghaus “Diavolezza” in the Engadine shines on a full moon night

Source: swiss-image.ch

The area somewhat away from St. Moritz can be reached with the Rhaetian Railway, then takes the cable car from the valley station to an altitude of 2093 meters, almost 1000 meters higher to the mountain station and the hotel.

The house is relatively simply furnished, offers multi-bed rooms and double rooms in a classic and plus version. The jacuzzi on the terrace with a view of the Bernina group is an attraction. A specialty of the area are the full moon descents and the fixed ski tour route.

Overnight stay with half board for two people from 255 euros, diavolezza.ch

“Kreuzalm”: Very close to the Zugspitze

It is not easy to stay at the top in the Bavarian ski areas. One of the few options is the “Kreuzalm” in the Garmisch ski area. The “Kreuzalm” is a recently renovated mountain inn below the Alpspitze in the middle of the ski area at 1,600 meters above sea level.

The four rustic double rooms are quite spacious and cozy. You don’t live here at the highest point, but you are quite high up in the ski area with kilometers of slopes.

The “Kreuzalm” can be reached via the Kreuzeckbahn cable car from Garmisch. The Kandahar descent, one of the most demanding racetracks in the Alpine Ski World Cup, ends at the valley station.

Bed and breakfast and cake in the afternoon for two people from 160 euros, kreuzalm-garmisch.de

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The author with son in the mud room of the “Nature Family Resort Feuerstein” family hotel in South Tyrol

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HP boss Enrique Lores is under pressure

San Francisco, Dusseldorf Enrique Lores has only been CEO of HP since November – and possibly the last in the company’s history, which is considered the forefather of all garage start-ups. In front of the garage at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, where Bill Hewlett and David Packard developed the first electronic measuring devices, there has been a bronze sign since 1989: “Birthplace of Silicon Valley”.

1989 was also the year in which Enrique Lores began his career HP started. The electrical engineer started as an intern, never changed employers and instead worked his way up over three decades. He experienced and shaped two splits: 1999 the spin-off of the medical technology and measuring instrument business, which went public as Agilent.

And in 2015 the separation from the business customer division HPE. The business with computers, printers, scanners and software for private customers remained. At this point in time, the company no longer looked like the pioneer, but rather like the old Uropa of Silicon Valley.

When the group was split up, Lores headed the “Separation Management Office”, then he took over the business area for printers and printing solutions, where he was responsible for taking over Samsung’s printing business in 2017. When Dion Weisler left the HP chief position for personal reasons in November 2019, Lores moved to the top of the group.

It was not an easy start: Lores has to implement a billion-dollar savings program in which up to 9,000 out of 55,000 jobs worldwide are to be cut.

There was hardly any improvement in the quarterly figures that the company published on Monday after the US stock market closed: In the three months to the end of January, profit fell 16 percent year-on-year to USD 678 million. Revenue decreased nearly 1 percent to $ 14.6 billion.

struggle with Xerox and Icahn

Now Lores also has to fight for HP’s independence. Shortly after taking office, the significantly smaller printer manufacturer Xerox made a takeover offer for HP, supported by activist investor Carl Icahn, who holds shares in both companies and publicly emphasized the great savings potential of a merger. HP management at Lores has repeatedly rejected the Xerox offer as too low.

However, Xerox was not satisfied with this, the copier manufacturer secured a line of credit of $ 24 billion from several banks and increased the offer to $ 35 billion. HP is open to talking about a merger, Lores said when he first presented quarterly figures – at least if the deal created value for shareholders and contributed “to HP’s strategic and financial plan”. The manager doubts that.

The product ranges of the two companies complement each other. Xerox manufactures large printers and copiers for offices, HP products for private users. However, business has been shrinking for years: In times of digitization, less and less printing is taking place.

Lores must now convince the shareholders that his company is doing better on its own. HP has announced an extensive share buyback program: Instead of five, he plans to invest $ 15 billion to increase the price, financed with new debt.

It doesn’t sound like a great strategic idea. More like the fear of the end.

More: HP had previously resisted being taken over by rival Xerox. Now HP is open to discussions.

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HP talks to Xerox about merger after slump in profit

Palo Alto The PC and printer manufacturer HP earned significantly less in the most recent business quarter. In the three months to the end of January, earnings fell 16 percent year-over-year to $ 678 million (€ 625 million), the company said on Monday after the US market closed in Palo Alto, California. Revenue decreased nearly 1 percent to $ 14.6 billion.

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