May 7, 2019

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

It's never a good sign when I am both on the West Coast and out the door before Login is sent, but such is the case today.

That said, I'm headed down to Mountain View for Google I/O. We'll have live coverage on starting around 10am PT.

1 big thing: U.S. takes on China with new supercomputer

Photo: AMD

Chipmaker AMD, long in Intel's shadow, will be at the heart of one of the world's most powerful new supercomputers, a new Cray machine being built for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Why it matters: Though such large-scale computers represent a tiny fraction of the market, they still power advanced basic research — and confer bragging rights on those institutions, companies and, increasingly, nations whose devices top the annual rankings.


  • The contract between the DOE and Cray is valued at $600 million.
  • The system, known as Frontier, is planned to debut in 2021 and is expected to be the world’s most powerful computer, with a performance of greater than 1.5 exaflops. (An exaflop is a quintillion, or a billion billion, calculations per second.)
  • Frontier will be housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern Tennessee. It will use more than 90 miles of cable and occupy 7,300 square feet.

What they're saying:

"The biggest battle used to be between vendors, but the new high-performance computing bragging rights are between countries, specifically China versus the U.S."
"China came out of nowhere to get to the top of the high-performance rankings, but the U.S. has reacted swiftly with its exascale commitments."
— Patrick Moorhead, analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy

Frontier is also a big deal for both AMD and Oak Ridge.

  • AMD has been seeking to boost its presence in the data center.
  • "This significantly improves AMD’s standing," Moorhead says. "This specific supercomputer won’t be operational until 2021, so this choice wasn’t based on what is in market today, but in 2021."
  • This, he adds, shows that AMD should be competitive in high-end computing for the next couple of years.
  • Meanwhile, Oak Ridge has worked hard to be home to the world's most powerful supercomputers, having done so three times previously since 2005 (with its Jaguar, Titan and Summit machines).

The big picture: The other wrinkle in the supercomputer battle is the challenge that the big, pricey computers themselves face as Amazon's AWS, Microsoft's Azure and Google's Cloud offer much of the same performance.

  • In some cases, they even offer some of the security benefits without the upfront cost of building your own supercomputer.
  • "Traditional supercomputers are still very important for reduced latency, but AWS and Azure are starting to offer these capabilities," Moorhead says.
  • Meanwhile, both Amazon and Microsoft have shown a willingness to build government-only data centers if there's enough significant business.

Go deeper:

2. Democrats propose severe fines for credit bureau breaches

Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Democrats in the Senate and House are proposing legislation Tuesday that would impose substantial, mandatory fines for breaches at credit bureaus, Axios' Joe Uchill reports.

Driving the news: The bill — proposed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Mark Warner and Reps. Elijah Cummings and Raja Krishnamoorthi — is a response to the massive 2017 Equifax breach. If it had been in effect at the time of the breach, the proposed legislation would have fined Equifax at least $1.5 billion, by the lawmakers' tally.

Details: The Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act would fine credit bureaus $100 for each person with at least one piece of private information stolen in a breach, and $50 for each additional piece.

  • The definition of breach appears to be expansive, including any exposure of information to an unauthorized party.
  • The bill would additionally open a cybersecurity office in the Federal Trade Commission and require prompt notification of the government of any breach.
  • The bill would only apply to companies with revenues of $7 million a year or more, and fines would be limited to 50% of revenue.

Why it matters: Little has been done to impose cost on credit bureaus for cybersecurity negligence since the Equifax breach.

  • Credit bureaus are unique: While it's ordinary citizens whose data gets compiled by the companies, it's financial services firms — not the citizens — who are the bureaus' customers.
  • Critics believe this means there's little financial incentive outside regulatory oversight for the bureaus to protect data.

The other side: Having credit bureaus may put data at risk, but not having credit bureaus may potentially be worse. Without credit bureaus, there's no quick objective test to determine who should get a mortgage or credit card. In the past, that's made it difficult for poor people and minorities to get those services.

3. Long Island City's Amazon effect

The Citi building in Long Island City. Photo: Erica Pandey/Axios

When Amazon announced its retreat from Queens amid a backlash from local activists, Long Island City seemed to have lost 25,000 new jobs and billions of dollars in investment.

Instead, two months later, the neighborhood is experiencing a boom, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

What's happening: Other companies have grabbed much of the 1.5-million-square-foot, all-glass building that was to be the beachhead of Amazon's Queens expansion, and interest has surged in nearby commercial real estate.

  • "It’s an Amazon effect," says Jonathan Wasserstrum, CEO of SquareFoot, a commercial real estate company. “A lot of people now get to piggyback on the work that they did.”

Read more

4. How tech is changing sex ed

Panelists from the trans and tech session at YTH Live in San Francisco. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

The mobile revolution is changing how all kinds of information is delivered, including messages about sexual health.

Details: At a conference in San Francisco this week, youth leaders and health policy experts from as far away as Rwanda gathered to share techniques and stories as part of YTH Live.

Why it matters: As Trevor Project's Danielle Ehsanipour notes, organizations have to reach youth where they are at, and increasingly that is through social media.

  • Trevor, which operates the nation's largest suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth, has been building a tech platform that will allow it to communicate online with youth on a range of social networks, as well as through Trevor's own platform.

Also at the event:

  • Amaze showed off its online videos, including the Amaze Jr. series that offer age-appropriate sex ed messages for kids 4–9 and their parents and its main series for older youth.
  • Julia Heilrayne delivered a powerful spoken word performance on the impacts of gun violence.
  • Trans Connect previewed its upcoming curriculum to train health care providers to be more gender inclusive and competent on transgender issues.

The bottom line: The conference drew a lot of notice from leading tech companies and nonprofits, including representatives from,, Okta and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • Google I/O takes place today through Thursday in Mountain View, California. Among other things, Google is expected to show off new technology for the Chrome browser to give consumers more control over the use of tracking cookies, per WSJ.
  • Lyft and Electronic Arts report earnings.

Trading Places

  • Former Skype and Microsoft executive Tony Bates was named CEO of Genesys, which specializes in customer support technology.


  • At its Build conference, Microsoft announced two new elections tools Monday, including an open source election auditing system allowing voters to be sure their votes were accurately counted. (Axios)
  • Meanwhile, a planned mixed reality recreation of the moon landing using Hololens 2 didn't go as planned and the mission had to be aborted. (Variety)
  • More than 100 employees at Riot Games walked out in protest of mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment complaints. (Vice)
6. After you Login

Who needs a T-shirt cannon when you have WNBA player Kelsey Plum in the house?

Ina Fried