AWS expands cloud empire with 30 new local zones

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced a significant expansion to its global cloud network as it looks to maintain supremacy in the technology arms race.

At its AWS re:Invent 2021 conference in Las Vegas, the company revealed it would be launching 30 new AWS Local Zones in major cities around the world – the first such launch outside the US.

Announced by Amazon.com CTO Dr. Werner Vogels during his keynote, the news will mean companies around the world will benefit from a greater choice of AWS services and solutions.

AWS Local Zones

An AWS Local Zone provides customers better regional access to the company’s services, meaning they should encounter faster and more reliable connectivity. This includes tools such as compute, storage and other cloud offerings at lower latency and more effective uptime.

The company revealed that the new AWS Local Zones are launching in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Kenya, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal and South Africa.

They will be available “starting in 2022”, joining 16 Local Zones that have already been launched in the US in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia and Portland.

AWS’ parent company Amazon recently revealed it is now the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world, with 18 new projects bringing its capacity to more than 12 GW and 33,700 gigawatt hours (GWh) – enough to power more than three million US homes for a year.

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Amazon is now the world’s largest buyer of renewable energy

Amazon has revealed a significant investment in renewable energy projects around the world as it looks to make AWS the greenest cloud option for customers.

At its AWS re:Invent 2021 conference in Las Vegas, the company announced 18 new utility-scale wind and solar energy projects across the US, Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

The news, which makes Amazon the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world, means AWS’s renewable energy capacity will now total more than 12 GW and 33,700 gigawatt hours (GWh) when the current projects are fully realized – enough to power more than three million US homes for a year.

Going green

The announcement also means Amazon now operates 274 renewable energy projects globally, and is well on track to its goal of being able to power 100% of its business operations with renewable energy by 2025 – which itself is five years earlier than its original aim of 2030.

“We are moving quickly and deliberately to reduce our carbon emissions and address the climate crisis,” said Kara Hurst, vice president of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. “Significant investments in renewable energy globally are an important step in delivering on The Climate Pledge, our commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Renewable energy projects also bring new investment, green jobs, and advance the decarbonization of the electricity systems in communities around the world.”

The new projects, which includes a third solar project in Italy, alongside a new wind project in Northern Ireland and four new solar projects in Spain, means Amazon has added 5.6 gigawatts (GW) of procured capacity to date in 2021.

In its home country of the US, Amazon has added eight new projects, including its first solar projects in Arizona and Georgia, and additional projects in Ohio, Texas, and Virginia.

The company’s 274 global projects now include 105 utility-scale wind and solar projects and 169 solar rooftops on facilities and stores.

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Mozilla patches critical security flaw that impacts several popular software offerings

Google cybersecurity researchers have helped patch a critical memory corruption vulnerability affecting Mozilla’s cross-platform Network Security Services (NSS) set of cryptography libraries.

“I’ve discovered a critical vulnerability in Network Security Services (NSS). NSS is the Mozilla project’s cross-platform cryptography library. In 2021, all good bugs need a catchy name, so I’m calling this one “BigSig”,” writes Google Project Zero’s Tavis Ormandy

According to Ormandy, the vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2021-43527, and rated as critical, could have led to a heap-based buffer overflow while verifying DER-encoded DSA or RSA-PSS signatures in several email clients and PDF viewers that use the buggy NSS versions.

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Rated critical

Reporting on the development BleepingComputer explains that NSS is used in the development of several security-enabled client and server apps and supports SSL v3, TLS, PKCS #5, PKCS #7, PKCS #11, PKCS #12, S/MIME, X.509 v3 certificates, and various other security standards.

In his explanation, Ormandy adds that the bug probably affects all versions of NSS since 3.14, which was released almost a decade ago in October 2012. If exploited, the bug could cause the application to crash, or even enable attackers to execute arbitrary code.

Mozilla has fixed the bug in NSS 3.68.1 and NSS 3.73, and in its advisory has clarified that it doesn’t affect Firefox, Mozilla’s popular web browser. Instead it believes that open source apps that use NSS for verifying signatures such as Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Evolution email client, and Evince PDF reader could all be vulnerable.

If you are concerned about online security, use these best password managers to securely lock your accounts, and perhaps even use one of these best security keys to add another layer of protection

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Apple M3 chips might use TSMC’s 3nm node – and may already be in the testing phase

TSMC is prepping its 3nm node for volume production by this time next year 2022, and the Apple M3 chip is expected to be one of the first chips off the fab line.

The report on TSMC comes from Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes, which indicates that TSMC is already running test production off its 3nm process, known as its N3 line, with an eye towards the last few months of 2022 to start ramping up production for shipments to Apple and Intel in early 2023.

The node is expected to produce Apple’s 3rd generation silicon, the M3, for use in its MacBook and iMac products. The next-gen M2, expected to be released sometime next year with the launch of a new MacBook Air, is expected to use TSMC’s 4nm, or N4, process node.

In addition to M3’s for new MacBooks and iMacs, the 3nm node is also expected to produce A17 chips for the iPhone 15.


Analysis: what might a next-next-gen Apple chip look like?

The notoriously tight-lipped Apple hasn’t said anything about its roadmap for Apple silicon, and we don’t really even know anything about the M2, much less the M3.

But as Mac Rumors points out, there is already a lot of speculation around what 2023’s Apple chips could bring.

One industry analyst says that the M3 chip could be on as many as four dies, with as many as 40 cores in its CPU. For perspective, the M1 has eight cores, while the M1 Pro and M1 Max have up to 10 cores.

What all those additional cores would mean for the chip’s power efficiency isn’t clear, especially since we don’t know what the breakdown between performance and efficiency cores will be.

A 40-core CPU would also be physically huge, but it’s not like the AMD Threadripper is tiny either, and it gets on alright. Given the level of control Apple has over its hardware design, they could make the chip as big or as small as they like. Who, ultimately, is going to tell them no? 

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Windows 11 is getting minor (but much-needed) Start and taskbar upgrades

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As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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Apple has a crafty plan to crack the business market

Apple wants businesses to upgrade their Mac devices with a new business offer it hopes many companies won’t be able to refuse. 

The company is preparing a business-only offer through which organizations will be able to get a 13-inch MacBook Air for as little as $30 a month.

There are a range of other devices on offer, including a 13-inch MacBook Pro for $39, 14-inch MacBook Pro for $60, and 16-inch MacBook Pro for $75.

Apple M1 Refresh

The program was created in partnership with CIT Group, a bank for business customers, which says interested parties simply need to sign the documents after approval, with CIT issuing a purchase order to Apple in its  stead. 

The service is entitled “Apple M1 Refresh”, signaling that the company is interested in pushing the new devices into the business realm, replacing the older, more energy-consuming Intel-based laptops.

There are many questions that still need to be answered, though, such as if there is a minimal number of computers that need to be ordered, how a business can end up owning the devices (instead of leasing them indefinitely), or if there are other accessories offered. There’s also the question of frequency, or how often a business can upgrade to a newer device. At the end of the day, it equates to a new MacBook roughly every three years. 

TechRadar Pro has contacted Apple for comment on these queries.

This is the second offer Apple’s made to businesses this month, after Small Business Essentials, which enables small businesses to obtain Apple hardware without breaking the bank. 

You might also want to check out our list of the best mobile workstations right now

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Square follows in Facebook’s footsteps with name change to Block

Payments giant Square has announced that will change its name to Block in much the same way as Facebook recently rebranded as Meta.

As the Square brand has become synonymous with the company’s Seller business which includes mobile payments, POS systems, small business software and more, Block will be the name for the company as a corporate entity. At the same time, the change to Block acknowledges the company’s growth so far while creating room for further growth.

Since its launch in 2009, Square has added Cash App, TIDAL and TBD54566975 to its business but going forward, Block will serve as an “overarching ecosystem of many businesses” that are all united by their shared purpose of economic development.

In a press release, former Twitter CEO and cofounder and CEO of Block, Jack Dorsey explained that despite Square’s new name, its purpose remains the same, saying:

“We built the Square brand for our Seller business, which is where it belongs. Block is a new name, but our purpose of economic empowerment remains the same. No matter how we grow or change, we will continue to build tools to help increase access to the economy.”

First a square now a block

The name change from Square to Block distinguishes the corporate entity from its businesses or building blocks and there will be no organizational changes. The new name also has many associated meanings for the company in addition to building blocks including neighborhood blocks and their local businesses, obstacles to overcome, a section of code, a blockchain and even communities coming together at block parties.

Under Block, Square, Cash App, Tidal and TBD54566975 will continue to maintain their respective brands while a foundational workforce made up of teams such as Counsel, People and Finance will continue to help guide the company’s ecosystem at the corporate level. It’s also worth noting that Square Crypto which is a separate initiative of the company dedicated to advancing Bitcoin will change its name to Spiral as a result of Square’s name change to Block.

Square is expected to change its legal name “Square, Inc.” to “Block, Inc.” on or around December 10 after satisfying all legal requirements. However, its NYSE ticker symbol “SQ” will not change at this time.

While Facebook recently restructured in a similar way with its Meta rebrand, Google actually started the trend in 2015 when it abruptly renamed itself to Alphabet in 2015.

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