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Samsung is preparing to launch a sports smartwatch and AirPods-like earbuds – TechCrunch

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Samsung’s newest product launch happens next week, but already the Korean tech giant has revealed its entire upcoming range of wearable devices that will seemingly be unveiled alongside the Galaxy S10.

That’s because the company’s Galaxy Wearable’s app was uploaded today with support for a range of unreleased products, which include wireless earbuds, a sports-focused smartwatch and a new fitness band.

First reported by The Verge — and originally noticed by @SamCentralTech on Twitter — the new wearables include a Galaxy Sport smartwatch, fitness bands Galaxy Fit and Galaxy Fit e and Galaxy Buds, Samsung’s take on Apple’s AirPods. The devices have all been teased in various leaks in recent weeks, but this confirmation from the Samsung app, deliberate or inadvertent, appears to all but confirm their impending arrival.

That said, we really can’t tell too much about the respective devices based on the app, which just shows basic renders of each device.

Still, that might just be enough of a tease to general a little more interest in what promises to be Samsung’s biggest consumer launch event of the year.

The Samsung unveiling comes days before Mobile World Congress, the mobile industry’s biggest event of the year — so expect to see new product launches coming thick and fast over the coming weeks.

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Salesforce acquires Slack for $27.7 billion

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Enlarge / Slack is evaporating into the Salesforce cloud, you could say.

Salesforce, a cloud-services company that targets businesses, has announced that it will acquire workplace communication service Slack for $27.7 billion. The announcement follows a week of rumors and a steep bump in Slack’s value on the stock market in anticipation of the deal being made official.

Neither company has yet to announce in any detail what this will mean for users and customers. Salesforce is sure to include Slack in some of its broader bundles and, to more tightly integrate Slack with its other software services, “Slack will be deeply integrated into every Salesforce Cloud” and will become “the new interface for Salesforce Customer 360,” the press release says.

But anything else beyond that is speculation at this point. New features and development priorities or adjusted pricing models are possibilities, but we also don’t yet know when any user-relevant changes related to this acquisition will actually take place, either.

The mutual benefits for Slack and Salesforce as businesses are clear, even if it’s wait-and-see in terms of any benefits or downsides for users and customers. Salesforce is in a fierce competition with Microsoft to win over businesses that are in the market for cloud-based services and products. Microsoft runs arguably the most significant Slack competitor, Microsoft Teams, but Salesforce had not matched either Slack or Teams with an equivalent offering.

The Slack acquisition bolsters Salesforce’s portfolio of services as it tries to sign businesses on to deals that would make Salesforce more or less a one-stop shop for those businesses.

Slack, on the other hand, has struggled somewhat since its initial public offering (IPO) last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating a remote-work revolution that one would expect to benefit a remote communications tool for businesses. The company has struggled on its profitability path, and its valuation has fluctuated since the IPO but has rarely grown significantly beyond its initial price.

Slack’s valuation on the market leaped dramatically since the rumors of the acquisition broke; in early November, the company’s shares were valued as low as $24.10. After market close today, shares were up to $43.84.

As is usually the case with announcements like this, executives from both companies released statements. Here’s the word from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff:

[Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield] and his team have built one of the most beloved platforms in enterprise software history, with an incredible ecosystem around it… This is a match made in heaven. Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world. I’m thrilled to welcome Slack to the Salesforce Ohana once the transaction closes.

And from Slack’s Butterfield (who previously founded photo-sharing website Flickr and the failed gaming platform Glitch):

Salesforce started the cloud revolution, and two decades later, we are still tapping into all the possibilities it offers to transform the way we work. The opportunity we see together is massive… As software plays a more and more critical role in the performance of every organization, we share a vision of reduced complexity, increased power and flexibility, and ultimately a greater degree of alignment and organizational agility. Personally, I believe this is the most strategic combination in the history of software, and I can’t wait to get going.

“Under the terms of the agreement, Slack shareholders will receive $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock for each Slack share, representing an enterprise value of approximately $27.7 billion based on the closing price of Salesforce’s common stock on November 30, 2020,” the press release says.

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OpenZFS 2.0 release unifies Linux, BSD and adds tons of new features

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Enlarge / OpenZFS 2.0.0 brings a ton of new features and performance improvements to both Linux and BSD platforms.

Aurich Lawson

This Monday, ZFS on Linux lead developer Brian Behlendorf published the OpenZFS 2.0.0 release to GitHub. Along with quite a lot of new features, the announcement brings an end to the former distinction between “ZFS on Linux” and ZFS elsewhere (for example, on FreeBSD). This move has been a long time coming—the FreeBSD community laid out its side of the roadmap two years ago—but this is the release that makes it official.

Availability

The new OpenZFS 2.0.0 release is already available on FreeBSD, where it can be installed from ports (overriding the base system ZFS) on FreeBSD 12 systems and will be the base FreeBSD version in the upcoming FreeBSD 13. On Linux, the situation is a bit more uncertain and depends largely on the Linux distro in play.

Users of Linux distributions that use DKMS-built OpenZFS kernel modules will tend to get the new release rather quickly. Users of the better-supported but slower-moving Ubuntu probably won’t see OpenZFS 2.0.0 until Ubuntu 21.10, nearly a year from now. For Ubuntu users who are willing to live on the edge, the popular but third-party and individually maintained jonathonf PPA might make it available considerably sooner.

OpenZFS 2.0.0 modules can be built from source for Linux kernels from 3.10-5.9—but most users should stick to getting prebuilt modules from distributions or well-established developers. “Far beyond the beaten trail” is not a phrase one should generally apply to the file system that holds one’s precious data!

New features

  • Sequential resilver—rebuilding degraded arrays in ZFS has historically been very different from conventional RAID. On nearly empty arrays, the ZFS rebuild—known as “resilvering”—was much faster because ZFS only needs to touch the used portion of the disk rather than cloning each sector across the entire drive. But this process involved an abundance of random I/O—so on more nearly full arrays, conventional RAID’s more pedestrian block-by-block whole-disk rebuild went much faster. With sequential resilvering, ZFS gets the best of both worlds: largely sequential access while still skipping unused portions of the disk(s) involved.
  • Persistent L2ARC—one of ZFS’ most compelling features is its advanced read cache, known as the ARC. Systems with very large, very hot working sets can also implement an SSD-based read cache called L2ARC, which populates itself from blocks in the ARC nearing eviction. Historically, one of the biggest issues with L2ARC is that although the underlying SSD is persistent, the L2ARC itself is not—it becomes empty on each reboot (or export and import of the pool). This new feature allows data in the L2ARC to remain available and viable between pool import/export cycles (including system reboots), greatly increasing the potential value of the L2ARC device.
  • Zstd compression algorithm—OpenZFS offers transparent inline compression, controllable at per-data-set granularity. Traditionally, the algorithm most commonly used has been lz4, a streaming algorithm offering relatively poor compress ratio but very light CPU loading. OpenZFS 2.0.0 brings support for zstd—an algorithm designed by Yann Collet (the author of lz4) which aims to provide compression similar to gzip, with CPU load similar to lz4.

    These graphs are a bit difficult to follow—but essentially, they show zstd achieving its goals. During compression (disk writes), zstd-2 is more efficient than even gzip-9 while maintaining high throughput.

    Compared to lz4, zstd-2 achieves 50 percent higher compression in return for a 30 percent throughput penalty. On the decompression (disk read) side, the throughput penalty is slightly higher, at around 36 percent.

    Keep in mind, the throughput “penalties” described assume negligible bottlenecking on the storage medium itself. In practice, most CPUs can run rings around most storage media (even relatively slow CPUs and fast SSDs). ZFS users are broadly accustomed to seeing lz4 compression accelerate workloads in the real world, not slow them down!

  • Redacted replication—this one’s a bit of a brain-breaker. Let’s say there are portions of your data that you don’t want to back up using ZFS replication. First, you clone the data set. Next, you delete the sensitive data from the clone. Then, you create a bookmark on the parent data set, which marks the blocks which changed from the parent to the clone. Finally, you can send the parent data set to its backup target, including the --redact redaction_bookmark argument—and this replicates the nonsensitive blocks only to the backup target.

Additional improvements and changes

In addition to the major features outlined above, OpenZFS 2.0.0 brings fallocate support; improved and reorganized man pages; higher performance for zfs destroy, zfs send, and zfs receive;more efficient memory management; and optimized encryption performance. Meanwhile, some infrequently used features—deduplicated send streams, dedupditto blocks, and the zfs_vdev_scheduler module option—have all been deprecated.

For a full list of changes, please see the original release announcement on GitHub at https://github.com/openzfs/zfs/releases/tag/zfs-2.0.0.

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Amazon Web Services adds macOS on bare metal to EC2

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Aurich Lawson

David Brown, Amazon’s Vice President of EC2, runs through a skit with Filmic CEO Kevin Buonagurio sketching the company’s evolution from running Mac Minis on wire shelves in a closet to macOS instances in Amazon EC2.

Amazon Web Services and Apple have partnered to bring modern cloud-provisioning capabilities to the macOS platform, with Tuesday morning’s launch of the new mac1.metal ECS instance type. In something of a departure from Amazon’s usual cloud fare, the new instance types aren’t virtual machines at all—they’re Mac Mini systems, bolted in pairs to 1U rack-mount sleds.

No, these aren’t Apple Silicon systems—the Minis in question are the Intel-based model, each with a Core i7-8700B 6c/12t CPU, 32GiB RAM, and 10Gbps network interface. The mac1.metal instances don’t offer local storage, instead relying on Elastic Block Storage (EBS) accessed at 8Gbps via high-speed Thunderbolt 3. Customer provisioning, billing, and out-of-band management are handled via Amazon’s Nitro offboard system, in peripherals mounted on the sleds and connected via the Minis’ external interfaces.

Although there’s no virtualization in play here, the mac1.metal instances can be spun up and down nearly as rapidly, thanks to the AWS Nitro hardware management—which is invisible, from the customer’s perspective. To someone who spins up a mac1.metal instance, the instance is for all intents and purposes a perfectly vanilla, brand-new Intel Mac Mini.

Like other Amazon instance types, they’re automatically provisioned with an SSH keypair, and most customers will shell into the Minis just as they might to a Linux VM. But the default image does include all of the normal, more desktop-oriented macOS components as well—if devs need or want to, they can enable VNC and remote control their mac1.metal instance just as they might any other desktop Mac. Customers can also build and deploy their own custom macOS images using AMI.

What are they good for?

The most obvious application for the new instance types is in proper, modern Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) build farms at scale. CI/CD on MacOS isn’t anything new, of course—but being able to deploy CI/CD build farms on EC2 means being able to get rid of on-premise closets packed full of hardware in small firms. For larger firms, it means being able to deploy wider farms with more instances, since they can be spun up and down on demand as needed.

Intuit—makers of accounting software including TurboTax, QuickBooks, and Mint—has already migrated 80 percent of its production builds from on-premise or traditional leased hardware to mac.metal instances on EC2. Vice President of Product Development Pratik Wadher says the company now experiences “up to 30 percent better performance over our data center infrastructure,” owing to elastic capacity expansion and multiple-zone high availability made possible in EC2.

Filmic—makers of apps used to shoot professional video from iPhones, with whom you might be familiar from the iPhone 12 launch videos—has also migrated its own CI/CD pipeline to the new macOS EC2 instances. According to Seth Faxon, Filmic’s iOS Development Manager, the increased build farm scale EC2 makes possible leads to “better velocity and more time working on the fun stuff.”

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