Apple ditches Intel for ARM processors in Mac computers with Big Sur | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

Apple has announced the biggest change heading to its Mac computers in 14 years: the dumping of Intel Inside.
The company is ditching Intel’s traditional so-called x86 desktop chips for Apple’s own processors based on ARM designs – those used in smartphones and mobile tablets, including the iPhone and iPad.
At the firm’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), held virtually for the first time due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the US, Apple said the first silicon-based Mac would ship by the end of 2020, with the full transition taking two years, giving developers forewarning of the modifications they will have to make to their apps.
The shift to Apple’s own ARM-based chips gives the firm even greater control over the its hardware and software, in the same way it has with the iPhone and iPad. But for users it promises very powerful machines that are drastically more efficient, meaning longer battery life, with the same instant-on features as a phone and potential for built-in mobile broadband.
Apple said switching to its own chips not only opened up performance but also new, innovative technologies such as the AI neural engine, high-performance graphics and best-in-class security.

MacOS 10.16 Big Sur is the next version of Apple’s Mac operating system. Photograph: Apple/EPA
The new macOS Big Sur also revamps almost all of the user interface of the Mac with new translucent effects, depth and colour. New is a unified space for both notifications and widgets, which now resemble those of the new iOS 14. Apple has also brought Control Centre from the iPhone to the Mac for quick settings changes, such as brightness, Bluetooth and wifi.
The dock, too, now floats at the bottom of the screen, similar to that seen on the iPad in iPadOS 13, while the Messages app now operates like an iPhone with pinned messages and mentions. The Maps app has also been revamped using the iPad app as the base.
Safari has also been sped up, now up to 50% faster than Google’s Chrome browser, but also has new privacy-protecting features, such as the ability to see how a site is tracking you from a button on the address bar. Apple has also added built-in translation, better tab management and a redesigned start page.
Shifting architectures

Apple’s silicon technologies coming to the Mac in new chips. Photograph: Apple
Apple is not the first to attempt the switch to the vastly more power-efficient ARM chips. Microsoft has dabbled several times with ARM chips in its Surface Windows PCs, most recently with the Surface Pro X, which has a custom-designed chip made by Microsoft with mobile chip-maker Qualcomm.
Despite making both hardware and software, Microsoft has struggled to bring key third-party software such as photo-editing suites to its ARM-based PCs. Here is where Apple may have the edge, with both greater control over third-party developers and previous experience in making such a dramatic switch.
Apple said it had already ported all its apps to the new ARM-based chips, including its heavy, professional apps such as the video-editing suite Final Cut Pro. The company also said that both Microsoft and Adobe were working on getting their apps ready for the switch, demonstrating Photoshop among others.
Apple is pushing a new Universal 2 format that allows developers to produce one app that runs on both existing Intel Macs and new ARM Macs.
But the firm said it also has new emulation technology called Rosetta 2 to make sure that existing apps that haven’t been updated will run on the new Apple ARM-chips from the beginning. The new Macs will also be able to run iPhone and iPad apps natively, downloaded straight from the Mac App Store.
Previous experience
In 2006, Apple switched its Mac computers and software from PowerPC chips to Intel’s x86 platform. It announced the change at WWDC in June 2005 before rolling out the first Intel Mac in January 2006. Apple completed the switch in its full Mac line-up by the end of 2006, but continued to support both PowerPC and Intel machines for several years with emulation layers helping PowerPC software run on faster Intel chips.
The move will not be welcomed by Intel, which has enjoyed a near monopoly on the PC processor market. The firm tried and failed to break into the smartphone market with lower-power chips, but could not effectively compete with ARM-based designs.
“Apple has made enormous investments in Arm chip design and it’s logical that it extends that capability beyond the iPhone and iPad,” said Geoff Blaber of analysts CCS Insight. “Its motivations for doing so include reducing its dependence on Intel, maximising its silicon investment, boosting performance, and giving itself more flexibility and agility when it comes to future products.”
Now that Microsoft and Apple are switching to their own chips, and with Google also rumoured to be working on similar own-brand ARM chips, Intel is in danger of seeing significant erosion of its dominant position.

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Intel to add anti-malware tech to processors – Security – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Intel Tiger Lake. Source: Intel.

Chip giant Intel intends to add hardware protection against common malware attacks into its processors, work that is four years in gestation.
Known as control-flow enforcement technology or CET, the protection measures target three types of attacks used by malware writers and can be enabled by software developers.
These include jump and call oriented programming (JOP and COP) that allow attackers to misuse existing code to jump to arbitrary memory addresses used by running programs, to change those programs’ behaviour.
CET restricts JOP/COP attacks in software, with indirect branch tracking (IBT) that prevents such arbitrary address jumping.
Another popular malware technique is return-oriented programming (ROP), in which attackers pervert the intended flow of code in a legitimate program and turn it to malicious actions.
ROP attacks are hard to detect, and target operating systems, web browsers and document and image reader apps.
Using CET, developers can program operating systems to create a Shadow Stack area that stores return memory addresses held in processors.
Since it is protected against application code memory access, Shadow Stacks can’t be modified. 
CET will detect if there’s a mismatch between what’s stored in the Shadow Stack, and what’s in the program’s data stack and will throw an exception to the operating system to prevent attacks.
The new security features will appear in Intel’s upcoming Tiger Lake mobile processor range, and Microsoft has added support for CET in Windows 10 Insider previews, calling it Hardware-enforced Stack Protect.
How effective CET will be remains to be seen.
Sounding a cautionary note when announcing the CET-enabled CPUs, Intel said that “no product or component can be absolutely secure”.
CET is in its third revision [pdf] since 2016.

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‘Crosstalk’ info leak flaw bridges Intel processor cores – Security – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Security researchers have expanded on existing unfixed Intel processor design flaws and discovered a novel way to leak sensitive information across cores.
Researchers at security vendor VUsec inspected the behaviour of complex x86 instructions and found an undocumented staging buffer or memory area in Intel processors that is shared between all cores, and which contained sensitive data.
By using microarchitectural “Fallout” data sampling attacks, the researchers were able to glean data from applications runniing in Intel’s Software Guard Extension secure enclaves such as private digital signature keys.
This is the first time cross-core speculative execution attacks have been made possible, and they do not rely on symmetrical multithreading (SMT), also known as HyperThreading, being enabled.
Apart from high-end servers and the very latest CPUs, most other processors from Intel are likely to be vulnerable to the CrossTalk vulnerability.
Intel refers to the vulnerability as Special Register Buffer Data Sampling (SRBDS) and has released a microcode update to software vendors that mitigates against it.
This is done by locking the memory buffer before updating the staging buffer, and only releasing after the content of the memory has been cleared, VUsec said.
Locking the system memory bus like this carries considerable performance overhead, however.
Due to this, Intel decided to only apply the mitigation to specific, security-criticial instructions, leaving others that issue off-core requests vulnerable to leaking.
VUsec has worked on the vulnerability for almost two years.
It was first reported to Intel as a same-core leak flaw in September 2018, but as VUsec developed the attack further, the security vendor told Intel that it was possible to do the same across all processor cores in July 2019.
The root cause of the flaw is Intel not properly fixing the existing microarchitecture data sampling vulnerability in its processor design, and instead playing “whack-a-mole” with its symptoms, VUsec said.

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Intel CPUs Vulnerable to New ‘SGAxe’ and ‘CrossTalk’ Side-Channel Attacks – Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Cybersecurity researchers have discovered two distinct attacks that could be exploited against modern Intel processors to leak sensitive information from the CPU’s trusted execution environments (TEE).
Called SGAxe, the first of the flaws is an evolution of the previously uncovered CacheOut attack (CVE-2020-0549) earlier this year that allows an attacker to retrieve the contents from the CPU’s L1 Cache.
“By using the extended attack against the Intel-provided and signed architectural SGX enclaves, we retrieve the secret attestation key used for cryptographically proving the genuinity of enclaves over the network, allowing us to pass fake enclaves as genuine,” a group of academics from the University of Michigan said.
The second line of attack, dubbed CrossTalk by researchers from the VU University Amsterdam, enables attacker-controlled code executing on one CPU core to target SGX enclaves running on a completely different core, and determine the enclave’s private keys.

A TEE, like Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX), refers to a secure enclave, an area within a processor that ensures confidentiality and integrity of code and data. It offers safeguards against the modification of sensitive software and data by malicious actors that may have broken into the target (virtual) machine.

SGAxe Attack: Extracting Sensitive Data From SGX Enclaves

SGAxe builds on the CacheOut speculative execution attack to steal SGX data. According to the researchers, while Intel took steps to address side-channel attacks against SGX via several microcode updates and new architectures, the mitigations have proven ineffective.
That exploit, as a result, results in a transient execution attack that can recover SGX cryptographic keys from a fully updated Intel machine, which is trusted by Intel’s attestation server.
Attestation is a mechanism offered as part of SGX that lets enclaves prove to third parties that they have been correctly initialized on a genuine Intel processor. The idea is to ensure that the software running inside the CPU hasn’t tampered with and to have increased confidence that the software is running inside the enclave.
“In a nutshell, we use CacheOut to recover the sealing keys from within the address space of Intel’s production quoting enclave,” the researchers stated. “Finally, we use the recovered sealing keys in order to decrypt the long term storage of the quoting enclave, obtaining the machines EPID attestation keys.”

By breaking this trust, SGAxe makes it easy for an attacker to create a rogue enclave that passes Intel’s attestation mechanism, resulting in loss of security guarantees.
“With the machine’s production attestation keys compromised, any secrets provided by [the] server are immediately readable by the client’s untrusted host application, while all outputs allegedly produced by enclaves running on the client cannot be trusted for correctness,” the researchers said. “This effectively renders SGX-based DRM applications useless, as any provisioned secret can be trivially recovered.”
Although Intel issued fixes for CacheOut back in January via a microcode update to OEM vendors and subsequently via BIOS updates to end-users, mitigations for SGAxe will require patching the root cause behind CacheOut (aka L1D Eviction Sampling).

“It is important to note that SGAxe relies on CVE-2020-0549 which has been mitigated in microcode (confirmed by the researchers in their updated CacheOut paper) and distributed out to the ecosystem,” Intel said in a security advisory.
The chipmaker will also perform a Trusted Compute Base (TCB) recovery to invalidate all previously signed attestation keys.
“This process will ensure that your system is in a secure state such that your system is able to use remote attestation again,” the researchers stated.

CrossTalk Attack: Leaking Information Across CPU cores

CrossTalk (CVE-2020-0543), the second SGX exploit, is what the VU University calls an MDS (Microarchitectural Data Sampling) attack. It takes advantage of a “staging” buffer that’s readable across all CPU cores to mount transient execution attacks across the cores and extract the entire ECDSA private key of a secure enclave running on a separate CPU core.
“The staging buffer retains the results of previously executed offcore-instructions across all CPU cores,” the researchers observed. “For instance, it contains the random numbers returned by the offcore hardware DRNG, bootguard status hashes, and other sensitive data.”

Put differently, CrossTalk works by reading the staging buffer during transient execution in order to leak sensitive data accessed by previously executed victim instructions.
The fact that the buffer retains output from RDRAND and RDSEED instructions makes it possible for an unauthorized party to track the random numbers generated, and therefore compromise the cryptographic operations that underpin the SGX enclave, including the aforementioned remote attestation process.

With Intel CPUs released from 2015 to 2019, counting Xeon E3 and E CPUs, susceptible to the attacks, VU University researchers said it shared with Intel a proof-of-concept demonstrating the leakage of staging buffer content in September 2018, followed by a PoC implementing cross-core RDRAND/RDSEED leakage in July 2019.
“Mitigations against existing transient execution attacks are largely ineffective,” the team summarized. “The majority of current mitigations rely on spatial isolation on boundaries which are no longer applicable due to the cross-core nature of these attacks. New microcode updates which lock the entire memory bus for these instructions can mitigate these attacks—but only if there are no similar problems which have yet to be found.”
In response to the findings, Intel addressed the flaw in a microcode update distributed to software vendors yesterday after a prolonged 21-month disclosure period due to the difficulty in implementing a fix.
The company has recommended users of affected processors update to the latest version of the firmware provided by system manufacturers to address the issue.

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New Noise-Resilient Attack On Intel and AMD CPUs Makes Flush-based Attacks Effective – Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Modern Intel and AMD processors are susceptible to a new form of side-channel attack that makes flush-based cache attacks resilient to system noise, newly published research shared with The Hacker News has revealed.
The findings are from a paper “DABANGG: Time for Fearless Flush based Cache Attacks” published by a pair of researchers, Biswabandan Panda and Anish Saxena, from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur earlier this week.
Dubbed “Dabangg” (meaning fearless), the approach builds upon the Flush+Reload and Flush+Flush attacks, which have been exploited previously by other researchers to leak data from Intel CPUs.
However, the new variant aims to improve the accuracy of these attacks even in a noisy multi-core system. It also works seamlessly against non-Linux Operating Systems, like macOS.
“Like any other cache attacks, flush based cache attacks rely on the calibration of cache latency,” Biswabandan Panda, assistant professor at IIT Kanpur, told The Hacker News. “State-of-the-art cache timing attacks are not effective in the real world as most of them work in a highly controlled environment.”
“With DABANGG, we make a case for cache attacks that can succeed in the real world that’s resilient to system noise and work perfectly even in a highly noisy environment,” he added.

Flush+Reload and Flush+Flush attacks work by flushing out the memory line (using the “clflush” instruction), then waiting for the victim process to access the memory line, and subsequently reloading (or flushing) the memory line, measuring the time needed to load it.
DABANGG is a lot like Flush+Reload and Flush+Flush attacks in that it’s a flush-based attack, which depends on the execution timing difference between cached and non-cached memory accesses. But unlike the latter two, DABANGG makes the thresholds used to differentiate a cache hit from a miss dynamic.
Power management techniques like dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) in modern processors allow for frequency changes based on overall CPU utilization, with cores running compute-intensive processes operating at a higher frequency than those that do not.

This core-wise frequency difference results in a variable execution latency for instructions, and renders the thresholds chosen to distinguish a cache hit from a miss useless, the researchers stated.
“We make these thresholds dynamic as a function of processor frequency (that gets throttled up and down based on the DVFS controllers) which in turn make the flush based attacks resilient to system noise,” Prof. Panda said.
DABANGG refines the shortcomings by capturing the processor’s frequency distribution in the pre-attack stage and using a compute-heavy code to stabilize the frequency, before proceeding with a Flush+Reload or Flush+Flush attack to calculate latency and check for a cache hit.

The consequence of these side-channel attacks is a reliable way to eavesdrop on user input, extract AES private key, exfiltrate data via a covert channel between a malicious process and its victim, and carry out Spectre-like speculative execution to access cached information.
Given that DABANGG is also a flush-based attack, it can be mitigated using the same techniques corresponding to Flush+Reload and Flush+Flush, namely, modifying the clflush instruction and monitoring cache misses as well as making hardware changes to prevent such attacks.
“Flush-based attacks must be aware of processor frequency for better accuracy,” Prof. Panda said. “Generally speaking, if an attack cannot effectively target a victim’s access unless all the conditions are controlled, that attack doesn’t pose a real-world risk. We believe this is just the beginning in terms of pushing the cache attacks into the real world, and it will trigger better and more robust cache attacks in the future.”
Researchers will release the source code for proof-of-concept on Github after 15th June 2020.

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Technology crucial in combating COVID-19: Nivruti Rai, Intel India head- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Technology companies have a key role to play in developing solutions for testing, treatment and containment of COVID-19, Intel India Country Head Nivruti Rai said.
Intel India is working with India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) to deploy Intel client and server solutions to help achieve faster and less expensive COVID-19 testing and coronavirus genome sequencing to understand epidemiology and AI-based risk stratification for patients with comorbidities.
“I believe technology is crucial in combating COVID-19 and our ability to help save and enrich lives through Intel technology has never been more vital,” Rai, who is also Vice President, Data Platforms Group, Intel Corporation, said in a statement.
“The need of the hour is to collaborate with the government, academia, research community and the larger ecosystem and work together to develop solutions for testing, treatment and containment of COVID-19,” she said.
Intel’s initiatives include working with the government, industry and academia on technology solutions to combat COVID-19, commitment of Rs 5 crores towards key central and state government relief funds and research initiatives, and supporting affected communities through non-governmental organisations and employee volunteering efforts.
“I am also very proud of Intel India employees who have whole-heartedly pledged contributions from their salaries towards government funds for COVID-19 relief. Employees are also volunteering in their local communities distributing food kits, face masks and conducting online classes,” she added.
Intel is also collaborating with IT industry body Nasscom to build an application ecosystem and multi-cloud backend infrastructure to enable population-scale COVID-19 diagnostics, to predict outbreaks and to improve medical care management and administration.
An end-to-end COVID-19 platform developed by Nasscom’s taskforce was delivered to the Telangana government recently.
“During these challenging times, Intel’s top priority is protecting the health and well-being of employees while keeping the business running for our customers and supporting the communities we operate in,” Rai said.

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Intel buys Moovit transit app for $1.4bn – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Intel has bought Israeli public transit app maker Moovit for about US$900 million (A$1.4 billion) to help it develop self-driving “robotaxis” that could take to the streets in early 2022.
Moovit will remain independent while its technology and the data it collects from more than 800 million users in 102 countries will be integrated into Intel’s Israel-based autonomous car unit Mobileye.
The price paid was nearly twice the US$500 million (A$778 million) valuation when Moovit last raised money in 2018.
“Moovit is an acquisition that fills some very critical gaps that we have going forward,” Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua told Reuters.
The initial goal, he said, was to have a small fleet of driverless taxis in countries like Israel, France and South Korea.
Moovit is popular for helping commuters or tourists find the best way to a destination by showing them bus and train routes, bike paths and car-pooling options.
Once integrated with Mobileye, the app will be a platform to order the robotaxis and the real-time data will ensure the vehicles are deployed in high-demand areas, Shashua said.
Intel forecasts robotaxis will be a US$160 billion (A$249 billion) market by 2030.
The decision to buy now, when much of the world economy is at a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak, stems from Mobileye’s ability to more accurately predict when its technology will be ready, Shashua said. And the target is 2022.
“For a company like Intel, which has a very orderly plan of how the future should unfold, the coronavirus should not be a setback. On the contrary, you should look at the crisis then find opportunities,” Shashua said.
Moovit has raised US$133 million from investors including Intel, BMW iVentures and Sequoia Capital. In 2018 it raised US$50 million in an investment round led by Intel Capital.
Intel has made significant investments already in Israel, including its US$15.3 billion acquisition of Mobileye in 2017.
In December it bought Israeli artificial intelligence firm Habana Labs for US$2 billion.

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Intel in discussions to buy Israel’s Transit app Moovit for $1 billion: Report- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Chipmaker Intel is in advanced talks to acquire Israeli public transit app developer Moovit for $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,500 crores), financial news website Calcalist reported on Sunday. Moovit has raised $133 million (roughly Rs. 1,007 crores) from investors including Intel, BMW iVentures and Sequoia Capital. Officials at Intel Israel and Moovit declined to comment on the report.
Calcalist reported that people with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the deal is very close to being signed.
Moovit’s free mobile navigation app provides transit information to more than 75 crore users in 100 countries.
Last month it launched an emergency mobilisation service, which was created for transit agencies and enterprises during the COVID-19 pandemic. The technology transforms vehicle fleets into an on-demand service to get essential employees safely to work and has been implemented in a number of cities by large corporations.
Intel has made significant investments already in Israel, having acquired autonomous vehicle technology provider Mobileye for $15.3 billion (roughly Rs. 1.15 lakh crores) in 2017. In December it bought Israeli artificial intelligence firm Habana Labs for $2 billion (roughly Rs. 15,100 crores).

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Intel in talks to buy Israel’s Moovit public transit app for US$1bn – Security- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Chipmaker Intel Corp is in advanced talks to acquire Israeli public transit app developer Moovit for US$1 billion, financial news website Calcalist reported on Sunday.
Moovit has raised US$133 million from investors including Intel, BMW iVentures and Sequoia Capital.
Officials at Intel Israel and Moovit declined to comment on the report.
Calcalist reported that people with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the deal is very close to being signed.
Moovit’s free mobile navigation app provides transit information to more than 750 million users in 100 countries.
Last month it launched an emergency mobilization service, which was created for transit agencies and enterprises during the COVID-19 pandemic. The technology transforms vehicle fleets into an on-demand service to get essential employees safely to work and has been implemented in a number of cities by large corporations.
Intel has made significant investments already in Israel, having acquired autonomous vehicle technology provider Mobileye for US$15.3 billion in 2017. In December it bought Israeli artificial intelligence firm Habana Labs for US$2 billion.

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Coronavirus clouds Intel outlook, despite short-term PC buying bump – Hardware – Finance- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Intel on Thursday forecast second-quarter earnings below Wall Street views as it cited the cost of readying a new PC chip and said it could not make a forecast for the full year because of economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Intel’s shares fell 6 percent in extended trading, as executives tried to brace investors for the possibility that a short-term bump in demand for its processor chips from cloud computing centres and locked-at-home consumers buying PCs could become a slump if the economy enters recession.
“It’s really hard to think about the second half in terms of how demand is going to look compared to what we ultimately thought when we first gave guidance,” chief financial officer George Davis told investors on a conference call.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped through the semiconductor industry, disrupting operations as lockdown orders hit countries in the chip supply chain such as Malaysia, where chip operations were eventually allowed to resume but suffered disruptions.
Intel CEO Bob Swan said the company had to “temporarily pause” some projects due to local government restrictions at some sites, but said Intel’s factories largely have been able to meet demand.
In an interview with Reuters, Davis said stay-at-home orders around the world drove higher demand for Intel’s chips during the first quarter. Demand for PCs also rose, Davis said.
There was increased demand for data center chips “as people tried to make sure their infrastructure could match the requirements of having so many of their employees working remotely. And obviously with the cloud, there’s much more activity on the cloud.”
But Davis said Intel expects lower gross margins in the second quarter because of the costs of readying its “Tiger Lake” 10-nanonmeter processors for the PC market. Intel plans to sell those chips starting in the third quarter. The costs drove Intel’s profit forecast for the quarter below Wall Street expectations, he said.
The costs would not effect the margin for the full year, Davis said, because Intel would be able to sell the chips at high margins in the third quarter as the costs of readying them would already have been accounted for in the second quarter.
“Given the timing of when the product is releasing, it just has a very big impact in one quarter. That explains more than the difference with consensus on EPS,” Davis said.
But Intel’s ability to recoup the money it is investing in the Tiger Lake chips in the second quarter depends on its ability to sell them in the third-quarter and beyond. Intel executives said the chip is likely to be included in 50 different laptops that will go on sale during the 2020 holiday shopping season but they declined to forecast sales that far ahead.
Intel’s tepid forecast also weighed on shares of other chipmakers. Nvidia, Micron Technology, Applied Materials, and Advanced Micro Devices fell between 1 percent and 2 percent after the bell.
Intel expects second-quarter adjusted profit of US$1.10 per share, compared to analysts’ average estimate of US$1.19 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Revenue in Intel’s client computing business, which caters to PC makers and is the biggest contributor to sales, rose 14 percent to US$9.8 billion during the first quarter, beating FactSet estimates of US$9.34 billion.
Intel’s higher-margin data center business reported revenue that surged 43 percent to US$7 billion, while analysts on average had expected revenue of US$6.32 billion, according to FactSet.

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