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General News News (1412)

3DMark has Two New Benchmarks Announced

Category: General News
Posted: September 20, 2018 06:55AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Since 2013, Futuremark, now owned by UL Benchmarks, has added several new tests to the current version of 3DMark. These new tests include ones for DirectX 12, test 4K performance, and the ability to stress test systems. Now the company has announced the next two tests coming to the benchmark suite, and their targets are systems with DX12 capable integrated graphics and ray tracing.

The Night Raid benchmark is being designed to measure the performance of laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices, including Always Connected PC that use Windows 10 on ARM. We can expect Night Raid to release in early October.

The ray tracing benchmark does not have a special title yet, but is being designed to work with any system capable of DirectX Ray Tracing, DXR. It will combine real-time ray tracing with existing techniques and is being developed with input from AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA, as part of the company's Benchmark Development Program. UL Benchmarks is also working closely with Microsoft to ensure the implementation of DXR is the best it can be. For anyone wondering, NVIDIA's RTX technologies are compliant with and applied above DXR, and so RTX is not needed to support DXR; it should provide acceleration, at the least. The ray tracing benchmark should be released in Q4 2018, so by the end of the year.



Source: UL Benchmarks

Newegg Apparently Hit by Magecart Attack from August 14 to September 18

Category: General News
Posted: September 19, 2018 09:25AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

If you made a purchase at Newegg from August 14 to September 18, you may want to get in contact with your bank or whatever payment service you used as it appears the site was attacked by Magecart during that time period. You may have heard of Magecart before as this attack vector was used against British Airways to skim information on potentially 380,000 victims.

The attack was carried out by placing malicious JavaScript into Newegg's checkout page, so by this time users would have already filled out the form asking for payment information and that information would then be submitted. The code, some 8 or 15 lines of script depending on if you beautify it, would send the payment information to neweggstats.com for the attackers to collect. This domain was registered on August 13 and an SSL certificate for it was created the same day, but it appears the skimming code was not active until August 14 or perhaps August 16. However, it was not until September 18 that RiskIQ and Volexity, the two cybersecurity companies that together found the attack, note the malicious code was removed.

Something both RiskIQ and Volexity note about Magecart is how it is demonstrating that even self-hosted scripts are not immune from attackers. Likely these attacks will continue to evolve as well with more JavaScript-based Data Theft Frameworks being developed and deployed.

Source: RiskIQ and Volexity

Linux Drivers Getting Initial Support for Future AMD APUs

Category: General News
Posted: September 12, 2018 05:18PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Once again the open-source Linux driver's AMD has been working on are revealing some information on future products, though not necessarily a great deal at the moment. In the latest patches for Linux kernel driver, AMD has added initially support for Picasso and Raven2 APUs. In the notes for these patches, Raven2 is described as 'a new Raven APU' while Picasso is said to be 'a new API similar to raven.'

Picasso is expected to be the successor to the Raven Ridge chips and, as Phoronix notes, may be launching the end of this year as a 2019 platform. Exactly how a Raven2 APU would fit into this is hard to say though. It may also be interesting to note that the Raven2 APUs share the same PCI ID for their GPU component as the current Raven Ridge parts, while Picasso has a different PCI ID. Raven2 does have a different revision ID, golden register settings, and more so it would appear to be a more refined design, but Picasso may feature something a bit different. Time will tell, and speaking of timing, these patches being sent out now means Picasso may achieve initial enablement in time for the next kernel cycle.

Source: Phoronix

Vulkan Transform Feedback Being Worked On for DXVK/VKD3D

Category: General News
Posted: September 7, 2018 11:07AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

A couple weeks ago Valve revealed it has been working on a way to support Windows games running on Linux, in part by using DXVK and VKD3D. Both DXVK and VKD3D work by translating DirectX API calls to Vulkan API calls, as Vulkan works on Linux, and other operating systems. Now a comment has been spotted on GitHub concerning work on a transform feedback extension that may prove quite interesting for the future of both translation layers. According to the comment from NVIDIA's Piers Daniell, some members of the Vulkan working group are trying to produce a multi-vendor EXT extension to serve DXVK, VKD3D, and Google's ANGLE translation layer. However, this work is not to become a core function of Vulkan, as it is believed there are better ways to process and capture vertex data with a GPU. This new extension should be available 'soon.'

Source: Phoronix

Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock Announced

Category: General News
Posted: September 6, 2018 10:18AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For many laptops there is a desire to go ever smaller, which also tends to reduce the number of ports available. Fortunately we now have some ports and protocols that offer so much bandwidth to support a variety of uses. Thunderbolt 3 is an example of this and the newly announced Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock from Elgato is meant to take advantage of the 40 Gb/s throughput offered. With this dock you get an HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A, and Gigabit Ethernet port from the Thunderbolt 3 port on your device. Those two video ports can both be used simultaneously to drive two displays at 4K, 60 FPS. The USB port can be used to power other peripherals and the Gigabit Ethernet port means you can use fast wired networks instead of relying on wireless. All of this is in a 4.1 x 2.2 x 1 in package.

The Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock is available now from authorized retailers and is backed by a two-year warranty.

Source: Corsair

Blue Announces Yeti Nano USB Microphone

Category: General News
Posted: August 29, 2018 08:37AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Thanks to the power and features of modern computer hardware, along with the ease of sharing content online, many people are now recording and streaming themselves. For many, a critical component to their setup is the microphone, and for that many have turned to Blue and its Yeti line of products. Now the company has announced its newest addition to its lineup, the Yeti Nano. It features the 'future/retro' design of the other Yeti products while having a smaller footprint. It offers two pickup patterns, omnidirectional and cardioid, which is down from the four of the Classic Yeti (stereo and bidirectional are the other two), but personally I suspect these two are the most desired. The Yeti Nano does offer 24 bit recording though, unlike the Classic Yeti, when using the Blue Sherpa companion program.

The Yeti Nano is priced at $99. At the end of July, Blue was purchased by Logitech, and this is the first USB microphone it has announced since then.

Source: Blue Microphones

AMD Stocks Close Over $25

Category: General News
Posted: August 27, 2018 05:07PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Three years ago AMD's stock was trading for under $2 a share, but today the market closed with it at $25.26 a share, and after hours trading is continuing to be positive, at the time I am writing this. For the year it is up about 150%, and just for August it has gained 30%. There are a number of reasons for this positive run, but it is definitely interesting to watch as analysts take a more bullish view of the company that was struggling for so long.

A large contributor to this more positive outlook has been the Zen-based CPUS, especially the EPYC server processors as companies move to using them over Intel's offerings. For a long time Intel held almost total market share for server CPUs, and though still only a few percent, the fact that AMD has been securing clients there is significant. The expectation of 7 nm products launching this year and next year also helps as Intel continues to struggle with its 10 nm process, and that many of the recent speculative execution attacks do not impact AMD also strengthen it. Now, does anyone here have any AMD stock from a few years ago?

Source: Bloomberg and WCCFtech

AMD Makes Open Source Wrapper to Ease Vulkan API Use

Category: General News
Posted: August 24, 2018 01:31PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Since it was first announced even, many have been looking forward to the use of the Vulkan graphics API. It is a low-level, multi-platform API that can be used to significantly lower the overhead involved other APIs, so it can be leveraged to significantly improve performance on some hardware, especially when there are special GPU features it can take advantage of. Unfortunately it is not very easy to work with because it requires the developer do much more of the work involved, whereas higher-level APIs like OpenGL and DirectX 11 would take care of things like memory management for you. To help developers work with Vulkan, AMD developed V-EZ and has now made the tool open source. When it launched in March it was closed source.

V-EZ is a middleware layer that takes on a lot of the development overhead, so instead of the developer needing to manage all of the intricacies of Vulkan, V-EZ will do a lot of it for you. It does this while also using the same semantics and API of Vulkan, enabling developers getting started on V-EZ to eventually transition to using Vulkan directly. This also means documentation of Vulkan can be applied to V-EZ in many cases as well.

Hopefully this will help developers adopt the new API, leading to better performing games, and games that can run on multiple platforms easily.

Source: Github (GPUOpen) and GPUOpen

AT&T Being Sued $224m for Negligence

Category: General News
Posted: August 17, 2018 10:35PM
Author: Grilka8050

A complaint was filed with the US District Court in Los Angeles by Michael Terpin against AT&T. Apparently their lax security allowed a thief to commit SIM fraud and they gained access to his personal information. This led to $24 million worth of cryptocurrency. 

According to Turpin, the hackers were able to update his SIM number to a card that the hackers controlled, giving them ample opportunity to access Turpin’s information and exploit it. Because this has happened two times to one person, it speaks to a pattern of negligent security on the part of AT&T. Personally I would have switched providers after that happened even once. These hackers were able to break through two-factor authentication processes on Turpin’s accounts. 

For the first hack, the thief used the stolen SIM to take over Turpin’s Skype account, and the hacker convinced a client to divert a crypto-payment into the hacker’s account. The second security breach happened when the thief visited an AT&T store in Connecticut and updated the SIM yet again, without providing the scannable ID AND passcode that Turpin added to his account after the first hack. 

In an official statement, AT&T said, “We dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court.” They must have something good up their sleeves, because these accusations are pretty serious if proven true. Either way, it makes me grateful I don’t use AT&T.

Source: The Inquirer

StarVR One Virtual Reality Headset Will Have Integrated Eye Tracking

Category: General News
Posted: August 15, 2018 09:01AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

A goal for many computer technologies, especially for gaming, is to achieve a greater sense of immersion. Tobii is a company that specializes in eye tracking technologies and we now know the StarVR One virtual reality headset will apply Tobii technologies to provide a more advanced experience. With the eye tracking technologies built in, it will be possible for the device to measure the user's interpupillary distance, the distance between your pupils, and then apply that measurement to avoid distortion and artifacts in the image. With eye-tracking it will also be possible to apply dynamic foveated rendering, so the location your eyes are looking is also where the most detail will be. This can allow the rendering hardware to do less work, improving performance.

Besides having a license for Tobii's system design, IP, and software, StarVR One will use the Tobii EyeChip, an ASIC for processing eye tracking data more efficiently than if the work were offloaded to a CPU. This will probably prove useful as StarVR One offers a 210º horizontal FOV and 130º vertical FOV with its two 4.77 in AMOLED panels and 16 million sub-pixels.

Source: Tobii and StarVR

Blender Benchmark Released for Testing Hardware

Category: General News
Posted: August 13, 2018 08:55AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

There are many ways to test the performance of our computers and components, and now another has joined that list; the Blender Benchmark. As you can safely guess, the benchmark runs Blender to test performance, and just as Blender is open source under the GNU General Public License, so is this tool. Like other benchmarks, the data collected can be uploaded, with its destination being opendata.blender.org. There are not many results there yet, but what is there you can actually take and use as you wish. What data users allow to be public is available for others to take and use as it is license-free. Its formatting was also designed to be machine processable, to make it easy to put to your own uses, but you can also just use the website to analyze the results. If you visit the link you will be greeted by some graphs already, including the fastest CPU of those tested thus far.

Blender Benchmark is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux if you want to try it out. You can find the executable at the Blender Open Data link. (For Windows at least, what you download is a ZIP, not an installer.)

Source: Blender and Blender Open Data

Steam Beta Suggests 64-Bit Version is Coming

Category: General News
Posted: August 9, 2018 06:11AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

This is going to be a pretty short item here, since the source itself is just a few sentences, but I think some of you might find this a little interesting. After many years of being a 32-bit application, it looks like Valve is making moves to create a 64-bit version of the Steam client. The newest Steam Client Beta (August 8, 2018 specifically) states it is to add support for sending out different 64-bit and 32-bit binaries through the Steam self-updater. "This support is being added in preparation for future updates," so it is coming, but we do not know when.

While it might not seem like Steam is an application that needs some of the more popular features 64-bit processing allows, such as addressing more than 4 GB of memory, there can be other benefits as well. Some processes within Steam might end up running faster but it also might have an easier time working with some 64-bit applications, as not all like having 32-bit applications hook into them. Still, Steam will need to maintain a collection of 32-bit libraries in order to support 32-bit games. The client might migrate but there will be parts that will not.

Source: Valve (Steam Community)

Exactis Breach Potentially Exposed 340 Million People’s Data

Category: General News
Posted: July 2, 2018 11:51PM
Author: Grilka8050

Vunny Troia, a data broker in Palm Coast, was the researcher behind this discovery. He found the breach in Exactis’s 2TB database, which contains the details of 230 million consumers and 110 million business contacts. It’s not clear how long it was exposed. If anyone did exploit the breach though, they would have access to all kinds of information, including people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, number of kids, education, income, credit score, and personal interests. 

"I looked up a bunch of my friends and the data was all pretty accurate. This is more information that other people can use to create scams or do fraudulent activities," said Troia. 

This breach is enormous! I hope my information isn’t in there. I’m also concerned about the ethics of these companies’ existence. Consumer research is one thing, but some random company selling my credit score isn’t exactly my vision of privacy. Hopefully this breach will lead to the end of these kinds of companies, though I’m not getting my hopes up. 

Source: The Inquirer

Certification for WP3 Introduced by Wi-Fi Alliance

Category: General News
Posted: June 29, 2018 03:39AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Some people have probably been looking forward to this news for a while, and now certification for WPA3 has begun. The world has been using WPA2 for more than a decade to secure its wireless networks and WPA3 has been developed to build on its successes with better authentication and improved cryptographic strength for sensitive data markets. The average user that will be working with WPA3-Personal can expect more resilient password-based authentication that uses Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) to protect against password guessing attempts. For businesses, WPA3-Enterprise offers the equivalent of 192-bit encryption strength to protect the transmission of sensitive data.

For the time being, WPA2 is still going to be mandatory for Wi-Fi Certified devices but even as WPA3 adoption increases, WPA2 devices will be able to work with the newer standard through a transitional operation mode.

Alongside WPA3, Wi-Fi alliance has also introduced Wi-Fi Easy Connect for connecting devices with limited or no display, such as Internet of Things devices. With Wi-Fi Easy Connect one can use a different device, such as a smartphone, to add a device by scanning a QR code. Additionally, Wi-Fi Enhanced Open allows for better data protections on open networks, where user authentication and the distribution of credentials is impractical.

Source: Wi-Fi Alliance

Corsair Purchasing Elgato Gaming

Category: General News
Posted: June 27, 2018 05:36PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

I am not entirely sure how surprising this news might be to some of you, but it was announced today that Corsair would be acquiring Elgato Gaming. With this purchase, Corsair will not only be entering the video capture and streaming market but will be offering some of the most popular products currently available. The connected home side of Elgato, Elgato Eve, will as a separate and independent entity under the name Eve Systems.

Source: Corsair


Category: General News
Posted: June 26, 2018 07:12PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

This is an interesting piece of news that has first come from German website Heise.de, but is also being covered by other sites such as VideoCardz and HardOCP, which has confirmed it with other sites. According to Heise, on June 20 it received a new non-disclosure agreement (NDA) from NVIDIA, which it needed to sign within two days, and it left the site's legal department with their hands clapped over their heads. For one thing, this NDA does not pertain to any specific product, like an as-yet unreleased GPU, but instead to all information NVIDIA describes as confidential. Something that makes this unusual though is the requirement to not share any of this information for five years, unless it is considered a trade secret, in which case it can never be shared.

One term that specifically bothered Heise is that the 'recipient shall use Confidential Information solely for the benefit of NVIDIA.' Over at Gamers Nexus though, they contacted lawyers about this language, and the one who agreed to answer questions while being recorded for sharing online explained that while this word choice is odd, the concept itself is not unusual or problematic. It does not mean the information can only be used to better NVIDIA but that the information can only be used on behalf of NVIDIA. The lawyer also points out information 'independently developed by employees of Recipient' is not considered confidential, so performance data measured during the course of a review is not subject to the NDA (though there would likely still be an embargo in place concerning when the information could go public).

At the end of its article, Heise.de states it chose to not sign the NDA as it feels its journalistic principles could not be respected if it did so. As such, the site does not expect to receive any information or pre-release products from NVIDIA in the future.

Source: VideoCardz, Heise.de [German], Gamers Nexus, and HardOCP

Samsung Says HBM2 Demand More Than Doubles Its Production

Category: General News
Posted: June 26, 2018 06:28PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

There are not that many products currently available that use second generation high bandwidth memory (HBM2) but apparently the demand for it is so high, Samsung is not even close to matching it. Apparently the company stated at ISC 2018 that it could double its production of HBM2 and still not satisfy demand. This high demand is certainly contributing to its higher price compared to the GDDR5 used in most graphics cards, but its need to be directly connected to the GPU, like on an interposer as AMD uses with its Vega-based products, also makes it more expensive than the more traditional memory that can be installed on the PCB. Still, there is great interest in this memory and for good reason. As its name suggests, it offers great bandwidth compared to GDDR5 and does so while consuming less power. This is because HBM2 itself uses a lower voltage than GDDR5 but also because placing HBM2 nearer the GPU reduces the power needed to transmit data between the processor and memory.

In case you are wondering why Samsung does not just increase its manufacturing of HBM2, it is worth noting that it is manufactured at the same facilities the produce other memory technologies. Increasing HBM2 would mean reducing GDDR5, DDR4, and even Flash memory production, and all of these technologies are in great demand. We can also expect GDDR6 in products in the near future, and it too will take up some of that manufacturing capacity, so we need to wait and see how things will stabilize and where these different technologies will find themselves.

Source: Overclock3D

Valve Updates Knuckles VR Controller to EV2

Category: General News
Posted: June 22, 2018 06:13PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

It is hard to say how much VR may have caught on for PC gaming, but that is not stopping people from developing for it, both software and hardware. Valve recently revealed updates to its Knuckles VR controller, which allows for finger-tracking in games. The improvements for this EV2 version include a more ergonomic design, better strap, new sensors, new buttons, and better battery life a alongside USB-C charging port.

The new buttons in this case include the addition of a thumbstick and a track button. This track button is like a small trackpad with a groove your thumb can easily fit in. Being a trackpad, the Y position of your thumb can be detected, and so can the X position. It technically is not a button though, despite the name, as it uses a force sensor, allowing for analog input like an analog trigger on traditional controllers. This is not the only location for a new force sensor as the grip section that can track the positions of your fingers also has a force sensor beneath. Developers can use this for full analog input, as a digital or binary button based on a set force threshold (with haptic feedback to mimic a mechanical button), combine these two approaches with a multistep configuration, or disable the force sensor. Combined with capacitive sensors, games that can use these inputs can more accurately recreate your actions.

The addition of a thumbstick follows from a lot of feedback calling for this traditional form of input. One reason behind this is the return-to-center force feedback such a stick offers that other input methods might not. The strap for the controller has been changed to better accommodate hands of different sizes and is made from an easy-to-clean anti-microbial material.

Along with the new controllers, Valve has also released the Moondust Demo that shows different possibilities with Knuckles EV2. It is also possible they will work out of the box with current VR games, but some may require tweaking and an update to SteamVR Input.



Source: Valve

Intel CEO Resigns, CFO Stepping Up in Interim

Category: General News
Posted: June 21, 2018 09:59AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

In a surprise announcement, Brian Krzanich has resigned as CEO and member of the board of directors of Intel. Chief Financial Officer Robert Swan will be the acting CEO, effective immediately. The reason behind the resignation is Mr. Krzanich had violated the company's non-fraternization policy by having a consensual relationship with another employee in the past. Both internal and external counsel confirmed it represented a violation and as all employees are expected to follow the company's code and respect its values, the resignation was accepted.

Robert Swan has been Intel's CFO since October 2016, leading the global finance, IT, and corporate strategy organizations. Prior to his position at Intel he was the CFO of eBay for nine years and before that he was CFO for Electronic Data Systems Corp. and TRW Inc. The company still expects to deliver a record second quarters with revenues reaching to $16.9 billion.

Source: TweakTown and Intel

Banking Group Warns Bitcoin Could Literally Break the Internet

Category: General News
Posted: June 18, 2018 11:25AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have received a great deal of attention of late, especially when Bitcoin reached a value of $19,000. Besides their monetary value, some are looking to them as a means to perform all transactions, which prompted the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to examine it for its potential. According to the BIS report, trying to put all transactions onto Bitcoin would cripple the Internet.

The reason for this claim is based on how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies track transactions, which is that all transactions are added to a ledger. The more transactions that are made, the larger the ledger grows, potentially leading to it being too large for servers to store it and requiring the power of supercomputers to add to the ledger. That much data being transmitted over the Internet would squeeze out other data trying to use the available bandwidth. Additionally, mining Bitcoin takes a significant amount of power, increasing its cost, and there is a fee for every transaction as well, which spiked to $57 six months ago.

While the BIS report is hardly supportive of using cryptocurrencies to replace normal money, it does acknowledge potential for other applications within the economy. Only time will tell how cryptocurrencies will be integrated into the economy.



Source: CNN

AT&T Buys Time Warner

Category: General News
Posted: June 13, 2018 06:44AM
Author: Grilka8050

On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a federal judge approved a merger between AT&T and Time Warner, a deal worth $85.4 billion! This deal has been on hold since October of 2016, because the government has put it on hold for an investigation to assess how it would affect the economy. This merger is creating a communications/entertainment company like never before, so it will probably reshape what the media and technology industries look like.  This decision is expected to launch several more corporate takeovers.

“If there ever were an antitrust case where the parties had a dramatically different assessment of the current state of the relevant market and a fundamentally different vision of its future development, this is the one,” Judge Leon said in his Memorandum Opinion.

Source: NY Times

GitHub Purchased by Microsoft of $7.5 Billion

Category: General News
Posted: June 4, 2018 03:13PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Today it was announced that Microsoft reached an agreement to acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. It is expected this deal will close by the end of the calendar year. GitHub is a software development platform where over 28 million developers are sharing their code, collaborating with others, and learning from others, making it the largest such development platform in the world.

GitHub will operated independently, providing an open platform for all developers and industries. The current CEO of GitHub, who announced his intention to leave the company after finding a replacement in August 2017, will become a Microsoft technical fellow and be replaced by Nat Friedman. Friedman is a Microsoft Corporate Vice President who had founded Xamarin.

Source: Microsoft

Acer Reveals Computex 2018 Plans

Category: General News
Posted: May 31, 2018 12:59PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Computex 2018 is happening next week and many companies will be showing off new, upcoming hardware and today Acer announced what it will bring to the show. Among the systems being displayed will be the Predator Helios 500 (PH517-61), which is the version of the gaming laptop with up to an AMD Ryzen 7 2700 CPU and Radeon RX Vega 56 that was discovered earlier this week. In addition to the AMD hardware inside, the laptop also has five hotkeys that can have customized macros assigned to them through the PredatorSense application. For audio the laptop has two speakers, a subwoofer, Acer TrueHarmony and Waves MaxxAudio to deliver high quality sound while Waves Nx head tracking offers makes the 3D audio experience even more realistic.

There will also be two desktops at the show, with one being the Predator Orion 5000 (P0O5-100) that offers up to an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X CPU on the B450 chipset and up to an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 for the GPU. The case of the Orion 5000 has a transparent side panel to proudly display its components, and its panels are easy to open so you can easily change out components and cables. It also features IceTunnel 2.0 airflow management that creates thermal zones within it so each sector has its own path for heat to be expelled.

The Acer Nitro 50 (N50-100) desktop is designed to be more for casual gameplay at an affordable price with up to a Radeon RX 580 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 for the GPU. You can still get up to the Ryzen 7 2700X though, which is a CPU that is a bit better than what you need casual gaming.

Though the specifications, availability, and pricing can vary between regions, we do have this information for these products. The Predator Helios 500 (PH517-61) will be available in North America in August at a starting price of $2199 while the EMEA region will see it released in July starting at €1,999. China will get it in August starting at ¥25,999. Both the Predator Orion 5000 (PO5-100) and Acer Nitro (N50-100) will be in North America in September starting at $1499.99 and $899.99 respectively. We can expect more products than these to be at Acer's Computex 2018 booth. If you are in Taipei during the show, Acer will have locations in the city where the public can go to try out Acer gaming PCs and gear, and even compete against celebrity gamers the company will have that the show.

Source: Acer

HP Announces New OMEN Gaming Products Including Laptops and Active Cooling Headset

Category: General News
Posted: May 30, 2018 07:00AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Today HP announced a number of new additions to its OMEN lineup targeting gamers, including a more powerful OMEN 15 laptop, improved OMEN Command Center, and a gaming headset with active earcup cooling. According to the company, gaming is a billion-dollar business for it and gaming is among the fastest growing PC categories in the world.

First up, the newest version of the OMEN 15 laptop will feature 8th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, offering up to six cores, and can be paired with up to 32 GB of DDR4 2666 RAM. For the GPU an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with MAX-Q Design is used and for storage you have a number of options: SSD; HDD; SSD + HDD; and HDD + Intel Optane. If that is not enough, the laptop has single-panel access to storage and memory, so with a Philips-head screwdriver you can get in there and upgrade components yourself. Larger fans are used for better cooling, and these fans feature a 3-phase motor and fluid-dynamic bearings for more consistent speeds. The 15.6 in display can be a 1080p 144 Hz, 4K 60 Hz, or 1080p 60 Hz with NVIDIA G-Sync for some configurations.

The OMAN Command Center improvements will allow you to stream your gameplay from an OMEN PC to other Windows 10 devices.

The OMEN Mindframe headset is the world's first to offer active earcup cooling technology. It uses a thermoelectric device within the earcup to convert heat within the acoustic chamber to electricity and then pull it away. This is controlled with OMEN Command Center software. The OMEN Mindframe also offers 3D spatial awareness through DTS Headphone:X and 7.1 virtual surround sound. The microphone is noise-cancelling and unidirectional that disables when flipped up and can be adjusted with a volume knob on the earcup.

Other OMEN devices announced were the new Sequencer Keyboard, Reactor Mouse, Transceptor Backpack, Mouse 400, and Mouse Pad 200, which will also be available in a hard version. The Sequencer features optical-mechanical Blue switch technology for a 0.2 ms response time, which is about ten times faster than traditional mechanical switches. The Reactor mouse also uses optical-mechanical switch technology to bring its response time down to 0.2 ms for the left and right buttons. The Mouse 400 features OMRON mechanical switches and a sniper mode can be activated to lower DPI on the front button. The Transceptor backpack is made from weather resistant materials, has a hard shell bottom, an RFID-blocking pocket, and for travelers, its 17 in compartment is TSA compliant and there is a trollely handle pass-through.

The OMEN 15 Laptop should be available July 29 with a starting price of $979.99. The Mindframe Headset is expected to be available sometime in the second half of the year. Everything else is marked for availability in July at their respective prices: Sequencer Keyboard for $179.99; Reactor mouse for $79.99; Mouse 400 for $39.99; Transceptor backpack for $249.99; Mouse Pad 200 for $19.99; and Hard Mouse Pad 200 for $29.99.

Source: HP

Apple Apparently Rejected Steam Link iOS App

Category: General News
Posted: May 25, 2018 07:57AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Earlier this month, Valve announced it was working on two apps for Android and iOS, with one being a Steam Link app to stream games from a computer to your Android or iOS device, and the other a Steam Video app, for watching Steam's library of videos. While the Android version is available as a beta currently, it appears Apple has rejected the iOS version.

According to a Valve press statement shared by the Steam Database Twitter, Apple initially approved the Steam Link app on May 7, but following the public announcement of the app on May 9 this approval was revoked. The reason given was 'business conflicts with app guidelines' and the original review team failed to notice this. Valve appealed but was unsuccessful, despite pointing out the app acts as a remote desktop similar to many other apps available in the App Store. For now, unless Apple reconsiders, it looks like only Android devices will get to enjoy a Steam Link app.

Source: Steam Database (Twitter)

Variant 4 of the Spectre/Meltdown Vulnerabilities Discovered

Category: General News
Posted: May 22, 2018 06:36AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

When the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities were first discovered, some likely guessed it was only the beginning as more researchers would start investigating out-of-order/speculative execution methods to find more still vulnerabilities. Now we know one more has been found, the Speculative Store Buffer Bypass CVE, and it could be used to gain access to information stored on a processor's local cache.

Out-of-order or speculative execution is a performance improving optimization modern processors use where they try to guess what the next operation to execute will be and then perform it before being requested to. In this Variant 4 vulnerability, it is the speculative storage of information, which involves assuming data stored in the local cache will not change before the speculated operation is actually called, that is attacked, allowing something like sandboxed code to access data it should not be able to. The concept of privilege levels has existed for a long time and they can be used to prevent one application from accessing the information of another, but today there are applications that can run a sandboxed environment within its own process. This new vulnerability would allow malicious code within the sandbox to access information the process has proper access to, but is outside of the sandbox. For example, malicious code running in a sandboxed browser tab could access information pertaining to another tab.

While this vulnerability is a threat and impacts Intel, AMD, and ARM processors, there is some good news here. The mitigations already developed for the other three variants (Spectre variants 1 and 2 and Meltdown, which is variant 3) will provide some protection against this. There are still some gaps, but the companies are aware of the vulnerability and have been working on new protections. It will take some time, but eventually we will see speculative execution be hardened in the hardware, so we can keep the performance improvements it offers and our data private.



Source: The Register and Red Hat

Spectre Variant 1 Applied to Compromise System Firmware

Category: General News
Posted: May 21, 2018 08:09AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

We are approaching the half-year mark after the public reveal of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities on almost all modern CPUs, Intel, AMD, and ARM, and yet researchers are still finding new ways to use them. In this latest example, researchers were able to compromise the security of a portion of your memory that is supposed to be reserved for the system to use. Neither the user nor the operating system is supposed to have access to this memory, but the researchers were able to read it on an Intel Core i3-3220 CPU, with all available patches installed.

Meltdown, Spectre variant 1, and Spectre variant 2 all work by exploiting the out-of-order capabilities of modern CPUs, though only Intel CPUs were vulnerable to Meltdown. Today's chips do not just do the work we ask them to do when we ask them to, but they try to predict what we want to do and then start working on those predictions to be ready when we do ask. What was discovered before was that this prediction could be exploited to access information the user normally should not have access to, like the memory for a different virtual machine. Patches protecting against Spectre 1 have been created and released, but these all protect software, not the hardware and this is what the researchers have gone after now.

When your system boots, the BIOS or UEFI firmware will be loaded and part of what it will do is reserve a section of your memory for itself. This section is for system management and is protected at a hardware level, preventing the user or operating system from access it. On Intel CPUs a range register is used as a hardware-level protection for this section of memory, but these processors can also enter System Management Mode (SMM), which is a highly privileged mode. What the researchers did was modify the publicly available proof-of-concept code for Spectre variant 1 and used it to exploit SMM interfaces to then get information out of the system management memory, going around the System Management Range Registers meant to protect it.

While it was Spectre variant 1 code that was used here, the researchers believe Spectre variant 2 could also be modified to attack a system's firmware. For mitigation, Intel, which the researchers have been working with since March, recommends using the same guidance to protect software be applied to SMM as well, which would require updating firmware to apply. There is no mention if AMD CPUs might also be vulnerable.

Source: Eclypsium

Gannett Purchases WordStream for $130 Million Cash

Category: General News
Posted: May 19, 2018 05:57AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

On Thursday it was announced that the publisher Gannett was purchasing WordStream, a developer of online marketing software that also manages paid-search advertising services. The deal had Gannett paying $130 million in cash with up to another $20 million being paid if certain revenue targets are made. This purchase looks to strength the data-driven digital marketing and advertising services Gannett has already developed and acquired, including those from ReachLocal and SweetIQ it had previously purchased. Gannett is working to transition itself to a digital publisher with search and analytics services supporting it.

Source: MediaPost

Patches Published for Vega 20 Linux Kernel Support

Category: General News
Posted: May 15, 2018 12:28PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

A nice consequence of Linux being open source is that additions to its code can be public before specific information about upcoming hardware components. AMD has recently added some 13,000 lines of code to the Linux kernel to add support for the Vega 20 GPU, which many interpret to be the 7 nm Vega destined for machine learning applications. Much of the code is for allowing it to run emulator code and many of the code paths are the same as those for the Vega 10 driver. Interestingly though, the patches enable version 7.2 of UVD, Unified Video Decoder, the video decoding ASIC within AMD GPUs. There are six PCI IDs associated with Vega 20, but manufacturers typically over-reserve these, and so they are not indicative of the number of SKUs.

The timing of these patches does not tell us anything about when Vega 20-based products might launch, though experimental hardware support should be able to make it into the Linux 4.18 kernel cycle. Hopefully patches for user-space driver components will be appearing soon, as they are typically not far behind kernel code patches.

Source: Phoronix

Vulnerabilities Discovered in OpenPGP and S/MIME Email Encryption Systems

Category: General News
Posted: May 14, 2018 09:45AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

If you use your email for sending sensitive information and want to protect it, the OpenPGP and S/MIME standards used for end-to-end encryption have been broken. Security researchers have discovered two means of getting the decrypted information out of the message, and all they require is a copy of the encrypted message. The first method will directly send the decrypted information to the attacker by exploiting how images are embedded into emails. By adding an HTML image tag at the beginning of the message, but failing to close the src attribute until after the message, the edited message can be sent to the original person to decrypt it. That person's email will do the decryption for the attacker and then send a request for the image, but the path contains the message in it, defeating both PGP and S/MIME standards. The other attack is more difficult but still works for compromising the security of the emails.

While this is definitely an issue, the researchers do list some mitigation strategies, including disabling HTML rendering for incoming messages. There are other methods that could be used to attack the information, but these backchannels are more difficult to exploit. Email client vendors can also publish patches to fix these and in the long term both OpenPGP and S/MIME standards could be updatd to prevent this from happening, though making such changes will take time. Another mitigation strategy is to not use the email client for decryption, but remove the private keys from it to then use a second application to decrypt the cipher text. This naturally prevents the email client from opening any of the channels to expose the decrypted information.

Source: EFAIL

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