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Hands On & Initial Benchmarks With An Ampere eMAG 32-Core ARM Server

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Graphics/Benchmarks

Especially with Qualcomm's Centriq efforts going quiet in recent months, one of the most interesting ARM server efforts at the moment is Ampere Computing -- the company founded by former Intel president Renee James and with several other ex-Intel employees on staff. They started off with the acquired assets from what was AppliedMicro and their X-Gene ARMv8 IP and for the past year have been improving it into their recently announced eMAG processors.

The eMAG processors announced back in September by Ampere are up to 32-core with a 3.3GHz turbo while having a launch price of $850 USD. Their second processor is a 16-core model with 3.3GHz turbo for $550. Both processors support eight DDR4-2667MHz memory channels, SATA 3.0 storage connectivity, 42 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, and these 16nm FinFET processors have a 125 Watt TDP. Lenovo and other ODMs will be manufacturing servers with eMAG processors although the expected pricing information isn't yet announced.

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Security: WireGuard, Birds and Updates

  • WireGuard Restored In Android's Google Play Store After Brief But Controversial Removal

    After Google dropped the open-source WireGuard app from their Play Store since it contained a donation link, the app has now been restored within Google's software store for Android users but without the donation option. The WireGuard app for Android makes it easy to setup the secure VPN tunnel software on mobile devices, similar to its port to iOS and other platforms. The WireGuard apps are free but have included a donation link to the WireGuard website should anyone wish to optionally make a donation to support the development of this very promising network tech.

  • Letting Birds scooters fly free

    At that point I had everything I need to write a simple app to unlock the scooters, and it worked! For about 2 minutes, at which point the network would notice that the scooter was unlocked when it should be locked and sent a lock command to force disable the scooter again. Ah well. So, what else could I do? The next thing I tried was just modifying some STM firmware and flashing it onto a board. It still booted, indicating that there was no sort of verified boot process. Remember what I mentioned about the throttle being hooked through the STM32's analogue to digital converters[3]? A bit of hacking later and I had a board that would appear to work normally, but about a minute after starting the ride would cut the throttle. Alternative options are left as an exercise for the reader. Finally, there was the component I hadn't really looked at yet. The Quectel modem actually contains its own application processor that runs Linux, making it significantly more powerful than any of the chips actually running the scooter application[4]. The STM communicates with the modem over serial, sending it an AT command asking it to make an SSL connection to a remote endpoint. It then uses further AT commands to send data over this SSL connection, allowing it to talk to the internet without having any sort of IP stack. Figuring out just what was going over this connection was made slightly difficult by virtue of all the debug functionality having been ripped out of the STM's firmware, so in the end I took a more brute force approach - I identified the address of the function that sends data to the modem, hooked up OpenOCD to the SWD pins on the STM, ran OpenOCD's gdb stub, attached gdb, set a breakpoint for that function and then dumped the arguments being passed to that function. A couple of minutes later and I had a full transaction between the scooter and the remote. The scooter authenticates against the remote endpoint by sending its serial number and IMEI. You need to send both, but the IMEI didn't seem to need to be associated with the serial number at all. New connections seemed to take precedence over existing connections, so it would be simple to just pretend to be every scooter and hijack all the connections, resulting in scooter unlock commands being sent to you rather than to the scooter or allowing someone to send fake GPS data and make it impossible for users to find scooters.

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