Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Microsoft: China's Volt Typhoon targets US critical infrastructure

Microsoft uncovered stealthy and targeted malicious activity aimed at critical infrastructure in the United States and carried out by Volt Typhoon, a state-sponsored actor based in China.

Microsoft alledges that this Volt Typhoon campaign is pursuing development of capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.

The attack gains initial access to targeted organizations through Internet-facing Fortinet FortiGuard devices. From there, the attacker extracts credentials to an Active Directory account used by the device, and then attempts to authenticate to other devices on the network with those credentials. Volt Typhoon proxies all its network traffic to its targets through compromised SOHO network edge devices (including routers). Microsoft has confirmed that many of the devices, which include those manufactured by ASUS, Cisco, D-Link, NETGEAR, and Zyxel, allow the owner to expose HTTP or SSH management interfaces to the internet.

The National Security Agency (NSA) has also published a Cybersecurity Advisory [PDF] which contains a hunting guide for the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of this attack.

Ayar Labs raises additional funding for optical I/O chiplets

Ayar Labs, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California, raised an additional $25 million in Series C1 funding, for its work in silicon photonics for chip-to-chip connectivity.

Ayar Labs uses industry-standard silicon processing techniques to deliver fast, high-density, low power optical I/O chiplets and multi-wavelength light sources. 

The new funding brings the company's total Series C raise to $155 million. The oversubscribed up round was led by new investor Capital TEN. VentureTech Alliance also entered the Series C expansion that included participation by previous investors Boardman Bay Capital Management, IAG Capital Partners, NVIDIA, and Tyche Partners. Existing strategic and financial investors include Applied Ventures, GlobalFoundries, Hewlett Packard Pathfinder, Intel Capital and Lockheed Martin Ventures.

“We’re extremely pleased with the ongoing interest and financing we’ve received from leaders in the semiconductor industry,” said Charles Wuischpard, CEO of Ayar Labs. “This C1 adds sophisticated investor partners that will allow us to accelerate our strategic roadmap, and is further validation of our technology and plan to bring silicon photonics-based interconnect solutions to market at scale.”

NVIDIA, which participated in Ayar Labs’ earlier Series C raise in April 2022, increased its investment in the company.

“NVIDIA is reimagining the data center with integrated hardware, software and networking for accelerated computing,” said Craig Thompson, Vice President of Business Development, Networking Business Unit at NVIDIA. “Generative AI models with trillions of parameters are accelerating demand for this platform, which is why we are increasing our investment in Ayar Labs.”

Tech Update video: Ayar Labs' Optical I/O Chiplets

How will optical I/O revolutionize data communications?

Charlie Wuischpard, CEO from Ayar Labs explains:

  • The benefits of optical communication brought closer to the source, replacing copper traces on motherboards with fiber optic communication
  • Ayar Labs' chiplet using silicon photonics technology and micro ring resonators for efficient data transmission
  • Applications in AI training, scale-out architectures, and data centers for improved performance and efficiency

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NVIDIA sees trillion dollar upgrade cycle for data center infrastructure

NVIDIA reported revenue for the first quarter ended April 30, 2023, of $7.19 billion, down 13% from a year ago and up 19% from the previous quarter.

GAAP earnings per diluted share for the quarter were $0.82, up 28% from a year ago and up 44% from the previous quarter. Non-GAAP earnings per diluted share were $1.09, down 20% from a year ago and up 24% from the previous quarter.

“The computer industry is going through two simultaneous transitions — accelerated computing and generative AI,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA.

“A trillion dollars of installed global data center infrastructure will transition from general purpose to accelerated computing as companies race to apply generative AI into every product, service and business process. Our entire data center family of products — H100, Grace CPU, Grace Hopper Superchip, NVLink, Quantum 400 InfiniBand and BlueField-3 DPU — is in production. We are significantly increasing our supply to meet surging demand for them,” he said.

Dell'Oro: Open RAN and vRAN growth slowed in 1Q 2023

Revenue growth moderated in 1Q 2023 for both Open RAN and Virtualized RAN (vRAN), according to a recent report from Dell'Oro Group. 

“Since both Open RAN and vRAN are still driven by a few large service providers, the slower growth in the first quarter was for the most part in line with expectations, reflecting more so the state of the 5G rollouts with some of the advanced operators than a shift in the overall Open RAN/vRAN market sentiment,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President with the Dell’Oro Group. “There are also signs that activity is improving beyond the early adopters but it will of course take some time for the sum of these smaller early majority type deployments to move the broader market,” continued Pongratz.

Additional Open RAN and vRAN highlights from the 1Q 2023 RAN report:

  • After more than doubling in 2022, Open RAN revenue growth was in the 10 to 20 percent range in the first quarter while the vRAN market advanced 20 to 30 percent.
  • Positive developments in the Asia Pacific region were dragged down by more challenging comparisons in the North America region.
  • Short-term projections remain unchanged – Open RAN is still projected to account for 6 to 10 percent of the 2023 RAN market.
  • Top 5 Open RAN suppliers by revenue for the 2Q 2022 to 1Q 2023 period include Samsung, NEC, Fujitsu, Rakuten Symphony, and Mavenir.

Dell'Oro: MEC market fails to materialize

The Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) market has failed to materialize as expected. Dell'Oro Group is is lowering expectations by more than 20 percent for 2023.

In addition, the China Mobile Core Network (MCN) market hit a steep decline in 1Q 2023 weighing down the total market.

“The MEC market is not reaching the potential market as expected initially. Except for China, the big promise for MEC was addressing the needs of Enterprises. Several factors are contributing to the slower uptake,” stated Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group. “Some examples are: standalone private networks have garnered more attention and emphasis than MEC, which we define as extensions to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) networks; lack of applications with well-defined return-on-investment (ROI); competition from Hyperscale Cloud Provider (HCP), and upcoming Wi-Fi 7. We believe Enterprises are evaluating all of these choices before moving forward with more aggressive MEC deployments. As a result, we are lowering the MEC forecast for 2023 by more than 20 percent from our previous forecast.

“The China market’s growth rate had a steep decline in 1Q 2023 as its build-out of 5G Standalone networks reached maturity and is projected to end 2023 with a negative growth rate, a first since we started tracking the China market revenues in 2018. However, the Worldwide market, excluding China, in 1Q 2023, got the year off to a good start with the highest growth rate since 4Q 2019. We expect positive growth rates throughout the year with continuing buildouts of 5G Standalone networks,” continued Bolan.

Additional highlights from the 1Q 2023 Mobile Core Network and Multi-Access Edge Computing Report include:

  • The top MCN vendors worldwide for 1Q 2023 were Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, and ZTE.
  • The top MCN vendors worldwide, excluding China, for 1Q 2023 were Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia.
  • The top 5G MCN vendors worldwide for 1Q 2023 were Huawei, Ericsson, ZTE, and Nokia.
  • The report counts 43 Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) that have launched commercial 5G SA eMBB networks as of 1Q 2023.