The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Tuesday, March 31

Silk Road investigators charged with stealing bitcoin

Virtual evidence is no less tempting to a corrupt agent than cash or drugs found in a raid: Two former US federal agents face charges related to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin in the course of investigating the Silk Road marketplace. A former DEA special agent, who worked undercover to cultivate a relationship with recently convicted Ross Ulbricht, allegedly used online personas to engage in complex bitcoin transactions to steal both from the government and the targets of the investigation. And a former Secret Service agent who served as a computer forensics expert allegedly took more than $800,000 in digital currency that he gained control of during the Silk Road investigation—and put it in his account at now-defunct bitcoin exchange Mt Gox.

Intel wants to quadruple SSD storage capacity

Everyone wants more storage capacity on their mobile devices without making them any larger, and Intel is working on it: one effort underway is to stuff more bits in a single cell, which could quadruple solid-state drive capacity. The technique that Intel calls QLC (quad-level cell) could put 10TB of storage on standard 2.5-inch drives. Intel said QLC is still at the research stage, and didn’t provide a timeline for the release of flash chips based on the technology.

Smartwatch segment to grow 500% in 2015, says IDC

The buzz around the Apple Watch will help fuel 500 percent growth in smartwatch shipments this year, says IDC. The market researcher expects Apple to take 62 percent of the market, even as it lowered its forecast from 22 million to 15.9 million units shipped thanks to a later on-sale date than was expected. IDC sees 25.7 million smart wearables shipping this year, quite a bit less than the 40 million rival researcher Gartner is forecasting.

Samsung, LG call a truce

Silicon Valley executives may believe in unicorns but they probably don’t believe there’s a land where two bitter rivals decide to end legal action against each other because the petty dispute is wasting everyone’s time and money. But there is such a place, and it’s called South Korea: Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have made up over an incident where an executive from LG was charged with deliberately damaging Samsung’s new washing machines ahead of a trade show. The companies said in a joint statement they had decided to bury their differences and focus on improving their services and products. And for good measure, the two companies have also ended a dispute over the alleged theft of OLED technology.

IBM putting $3 billion into new IoT unit

IBM wants to claim a bigger piece of the emerging Internet of things market, and to do that it will invest US$3 billion over four years to establish a new business unit. Chris O’Connor will run the group, which is going after customers in travel, logistics, insurance, public utilities, transportation and retail.

Bitcoin in China still chugging along, a year after clampdown

A year ago, the Chinese government tightened regulations around bitcoin and dampened enthusiasm for the cryptocurrency, but the largest exchange in the country claims that Chinese are still buying in. While bitcoin isn’t gaining use as a currency, there’s a market for it in speculative trades, according to the CEO of exchange BTC China.

Intel could strengthen its server product stack with Altera

Why would Intel buy Altera, which it’s rumored to be courting? Chip experts say making that acquisition could help Intel provide a wider variety of custom chips designed to speed up specific applications, using Altera’s field-programmable gate arrays. That could help Intel retain dominance in the data center server market, where more tasks are being offloaded to co-processors like graphics processors and FPGAs.

US trade body looking into Apple’s use of Ericsson patents

After two complaints from Ericsson that Apple infringed its patents, the U.S. International Trade Commission has launched a probe into the iPhone maker. The two companies have been fighting in court after failing to renew a license agreement that covered Apple’s use of LTE high-speed wireless technology. But Ericsson also called on the ITC, which generally acts faster than the courts and has the power to ban products from being imported to the U.S. if it finds an intellectual property violation.

Watch now

Need a change in perspective? NASA is now live-streaming views of earth from the International Space Station.

One last thing

Matter looks at the booming business of on-demand apps—and the shut-in lifestyle they enable.

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