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General News News (30)

Valve Allegedly Working on New VR Headset

Category: General News
Posted: November 12, 2018 11:46AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

There is an interesting rumor out there that Valve may be preparing a new VR headset of its own, bringing it to market with its Knuckles controllers and potentially a VR game set in the Half-Life universe. Images of the alleged prototype for this VR head mounted display leaked online and Upload VR claims its sources have confirmed the images are real and that this new HMD would sport a 135º field of view with comparable resolution to the Vive Pro from HTC. Something interesting about that combination is it would result in an angular resolution around that of the original HTC Vive Valve had partnered with HTC to make.

Before letting you get your hopes up very far, the supposed Half-Life VR game would not be the long awaited Half-Life 3, but rather a prequel. Still, it could be an interesting experience, especially in combination with the Knuckles controllers that can track the positions and grips of your fingers. The images appear to be from July, so the hardware could be much closer to being a consumer product.

Source: Upload VR



AMD Share Details of Upcoming Zen 2 Chips

Category: General News
Posted: November 6, 2018 10:52AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Today AMD is holding its Next Horizon event, where it has revealed details of some of the upcoming parts the company will be producing for the datacenter, including the Zen 2-based Rome CPU. We can expect Zen 2 to come to consumer parts as well, after the EPYC processors, so some of the information shared here may still be relevant. Some of the information we already know, such as the move to TSMC's 7 nm FinFET process enabling greater density, performance, and efficiency. One aspect of the Zen2 design has only been rumored though, but now it has been confirmed: Zen 2-based Epyc processors will use a separate I/O die.

One of the strengths across all of the Zen and Zen+ processors from AMD has been their use of Infinity Fabric, allowing a single die to be connected with others for different products. While the Ryzen 3/5/7 products use a single die, Threadripper and EPYC CPUs can use two or four, but because these are the same dies used throughout the product stack, these final products are less expensive to make than larger, monolithic design. A disadvantage has been the occasionally higher latency, if one die needs to reach through another to access RAM, and this is especially present on the Threadripper 2970WX and 2990WX where two dies have no direct memory access as well. To address this Zen 2 will use CPU chiplets that house the actual computational cores, and these then connect to a single I/O die, which would handle the connection to the RAM and other devices.

In the slide revealing this design, we also see that while the chiplets will be made on a 7 nm process, the I/O die will actually be on a 14 nm process. Believe it or not, this can actually be another advantage of this design, as some components, like memory controllers, do not necessarily scale down well. Also the 14 nm process may be cheaper to produce, helping to keep costs in check without compromising performance.

Of course it is entirely possible this design characteristic will not come to the Ryzen 3/5/7 products, but it might be employed on Threadripper, which is currently a step between the normal consumer products and server-targeting EPYC chips.

Also shown off at the event was Radeon Instinct MI60, the first 7 nm GPU based on the Vega20 architecture. This will use 32 GB of HBM2 memory and offer 1 TB/s memory bandwidth. With PCIe 4.0 capability it is capable of a 64 GB/s bidirectional connection to the CPU and with Infinity Fabric Links it has 100 GB/s per-link bandwidth between GPUs. It can reach up to 7.4 TFLOPS at FP64, 14.7 at FP32, and 118 TOPS for INT4. The Radeon Instinct MI60 accelerator should be shipping to datacenter customers by the end of the year, and AMD's ROCm open software platform for compute will be available by the end of the year as well.

 

 

Source: AMD [1] (Next Horizon) and [2] (Radeon Instinct MI60)




PortSmash Timing Side-Channel Vulnerability Discovered

Category: General News
Posted: November 2, 2018 11:46AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

The year is almost over, but we are not done yet with new vulnerabilities being discovered that exploit some design feature of CPUs. Today PortSmash has been revealed and this side-channel attack works by exploiting simultaneous multithreading (SMT) to leak information that could then be used to reconstruct encrypted data. While this was tested only with Intel CPUs (Skylake and Kaby Lake specifically), the researchers state all CPUs using a form of SMT may be vulnerable, which would many more Intel CPUs (Hyperthreading is Intel's name for its SMT solution) and many AMD Ryzen CPUs as the Zen architecture supports SMT.

More specifically, PortSmash works by using port contention to learn some characteristics of information being run on the same physical core, but different logical core. Processors with SMT support are able to execute more than one instruction at the same time thanks to the many functions the execution engine within a physical core is capable of. This allows the scheduling portion of the processor to send two different set of instructions to the same execution engine, having both run in parallel. Port contention is when those two instructions would actually require the same work be done, so one has to wait for the other to complete (or at least get partway down the pipeline). This delay caused by the contention is measured by PortSmash, making it a timing side-channel attack and the researchers were able to use it to extract an OpenSSL (<= 1.1.0h) P-384 private key from a server, but the researchers state other information could also be extracted. It does require the malicious code run on the same physical core of a processor to work, but has no other requirements such as root access, so the vulnerability is present in user space. Proof-of-concept code has been shared on GitHub of the attack as well

A fix for this vulnerability is to disable the SMT implementation in a system's BIOS, and apparently at least one of the researchers hopes this discovery will lead to the eventual end of SMT in processors. Another fix, at least for protecting OpenSSL is to update it to version 1.1.1 or 1.1.0i.

Source: ZDNet and GitHub



Chinese Company Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company Banned from Receiving US Exports

Category: General News
Posted: October 30, 2018 07:24AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Yesterday it was announced the Chinese company Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company would be banned from receiving any exports from the United States, with the Department of Commerce citing national security concerns. The company should soon be completing a DRAM factory that could be the largest such factory in the world. According to the announcement, there is a significant risk of the company becoming involved in activities that are contrary to US national security interests.

ZDNet also notes Micron Technology, a US company, is currently in a legal battle with Fujian Jinhua and its Taiwanese partner United Microelectronics Corp, claiming they stole its chip designs.

Source: ZDNet and US Department of Commerce



IBM Purchasing Red Hat, to Become Leading Hybrid Cloud Provider

Category: General News
Posted: October 29, 2018 06:09AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

In what will be one of the largest technology industry acquisitions, IBM will be purchasing Red Hat for approximately $34 billion. The open source software company will join IBM's Hybrid Cloud team as a distinct unit, allowing it to maintain its independence and neutrality and Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst will continue to lead it by joining IBM senior management. This acquisition will make IBM the world's top hybrid cloud provider.

The two companies have been working together for some 20 years, with IBM being a supporter of Linux and Red Hat developing and growing enterprise-grade Linux. Going forward the hope is the combined skills and expertise of the companies will help companies move more operations to the cloud. By their estimation, most companies are only 20% toward using the cloud with the remaining 80% being held back due to the proprietary design of the current cloud market. Now IBM with Red Hat will be able to deliver cloud-native applications faster that provide data portability without compromising security across public and private clouds.

Source: IBM



Ryan Shrout Joining Intel as Chief Performance Strategist

Category: General News
Posted: October 24, 2018 09:51AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

After 19 years, Ryan Shoutr is leaving PC Perspective to join Intel. Announced today by Ryan, he will be joining the company in mid to late November as Chief Performance Strategist, but before then he will be removed from all content and finances of the review website he started. He also explains in the editorial that his role has been decreasing of late, so this transition to the others at the site will hopefully be smooth. Shrout Research, another endeavor of Ryan's, has also finalized all contracts and projects and will be closing.

While Ryan has been and is very proud of PCPer, the new challenges presented by this opportunity, and the ability to potentially influence as large a player in the industry as Intel, has led him to accept the offer. It will also allow him more time with his daughter.

Source: PC Perspective



AMD Responds to Intel Commissioned i9-9900K Benchmark Results

Category: General News
Posted: October 22, 2018 11:52AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

A couple weeks ago, a commissioned report on the performance of Intel's i9-9900K was put out more than a week before independent reviews, like our own, and this led to some interesting analysis of the numbers and practices used for the testing. According to the original version of the report, the 9900K could best the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X by 30% to 50% in some games, but some reviewers noticed the numbers shared for the 2700X were inconsistent with what they observed in their own tests. Going through the report, that included information on how the test systems were prepared, a number of issues or potential issues were identified, including the use of Game Mode on the 2700X, cutting its core and thread count in half, and using a different cooler on the 2700X than every other CPU tested. While a second version of the report was prepared, significant damage was done to Intel's reputation and that of Principled Technologies, which did the tests, and some would argue there were still issues with this second report.

On Friday, along with the embargo lifting on independent 9900K reviews, AMD decided to release a couple slides covering not only some of the identified issues but also its benchmarking best practices. The list is actually a pretty good one, going over ways to sanitize (in this case, make reproducible and reliable) the configuration of the operating system, the platform for both stock and overclocked situations, and sanitizing the data. The last two points made are for the reviewer to "remember the user!" It reminds us again that the testing was done with a 64 GB (4x 16 GB) memory kit that is far more expensive than the Ryzen 7 2700X CPU tested, and urges reviewers to always consider if the configuration, tests, and results make sense for a consumer.

Source: Legit Reviews



Intel Quickly Denies Report of 10 nm Process Being Cancelled

Category: General News
Posted: October 22, 2018 11:32AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Earlier today SemiAccurate put out an article claiming Intel had decided to cancel its work on its long-delayed 10 nm process, and even praised the company for doing so. Not too long after though, Intel came out on Twitter to not only deny the claims but to state it is making good progress on the technology with yields improving consistent with what was predicted on its timeline from the most recent earnings report. While it might still be possible the decision to cancel the process could come in the future, this very strongly indicates that is not the case.

Source: Twitter (@IntelNews) and SemiAccurate



Open Source vRt Project to Offer Unified Ray Tracing and Cross Platform Library from Vulkan 1.1

Category: General News
Posted: October 11, 2018 10:37AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

There has been a lot of focus on NVIDIA's work with its RTX technology for accelerated ray tracing on its newest Turing-based GPUs, but ray tracing does not need to be limited to specific hardware or software. Over on Github there is a vRt project that dates back to the end of May and it has the goal of creating a unified ray tracing, cross platform library using Vulkan 1.1. It has been confirmed to work on the AMD RX Vega 64 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 and can reach 100 Mrays per second Vega 64-class hardware. It was able to reach this when tested with an RX Vega 64 under fully dynamic mode in the sponza scene.

The roadmap for the project in includes bringing HLSL support, working on interoperability for OpenGL, OpenCL, and CUDA, and next month trying to implement support for RTX graphics cards with support for RTX acceleration. Reaching the alpha stage is one of December's goals along with adding advanced ray tracing capability, eventually adapting vRt to game engines and other applications.

Source: Phoronix and Github



Bloomberg Reports on Additional Evidence of Malicious Chips in Super Micro Motherboards

Category: General News
Posted: October 9, 2018 11:59AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

I hope no one thought this story was going to die away soon. Last week Bloomberg published a story claiming that server motherboards from Super Micro Computer (Supermicro) had malicious chips added to them when manufactured in China. These chips would alter the operating system being run on the server built on the motherboard, creating a point of access for other attacks. Impacted servers were allegedly found at Amazon, Apple, and as many as 30 other companies. Since then companies have denied the reporting, but now Bloomberg is sharing more information based on documents, analysis, and other evidence from Yossi Appleboum, a security expert who previously worked in the technology unit of the Israeli Army Intelligence Corps. Currently Appleboum is a co-chief executive officer for Sepio Systems that specializes in hardware security and encountered manipulated Supermicro servers when scanning the large data centers of a telecommunications company.

According to Appleboum, the malicious component was found in a server's Ethernet connector after unusual communications were discovered, leading to a physical inspection. This is not the only time he has seen such manipulations though, and he has seen them for more than just Supermicro products too. Supermicro is as much a victim as the companies receiving the modified motherboards. Appleboum says this server he inspected was modified at the factory it was manufactured at; a Supermicro subcontractor factory in Guangshou, a port city in China. While the chip itself differs from those Bloomberg covered last week, its effective purpose is similar.

In addition to covering this new information, Bloomberg also shared that it was in contact with the Norwegian National Security Authority that stated it was 'aware of an issue' with Supermicro products since June, but gave no additional details. Appleboum too has spoken with intelligence agencies outside the United States, which have also been follow manipulation of hardware from Supermicro and other companies.

Source: Bloomberg



Night Raid 3DMark Benchmark Released

Category: General News
Posted: October 9, 2018 08:06AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

As was announced a last month, a new test has come to 3DMark for benchmarking integrated graphics on various mobile devices; Night Raid. With its target being mobile devices, including Always Connected PCs, the test has native ARM support. The company tries to calibrate its tests around a reference score of 5000, it explains, and it found a notebook capable of that score was able to play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at 70 FPS, Dota 2 at 70 FPS, and League of Legends at 80 FPs when using low to medium settings at 1080p. Night Raid has two graphics tests, a CPU test, and a demo. The graphics tests contain dynamic reflections, ambient occlusion, tessellation, complex particle systems, and post-processing effects while the CPU test has physics simulation, occlusion culling, and procedural generation.

Night Raid is available now for all 3DMark editions, with the Advanced and Professional editions also having a Night Raid Stress Test that runs the test in a loop for testing stability and cooling. If you do not have a copy of the Advanced Edition, it is on sale for $7.49 (75% off) until October 15.

 

 

Source: UL Benchmarks



Google Discovered Privacy Flaw in Google+ API, Will End Service

Category: General News
Posted: October 8, 2018 01:49PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

At the beginning of the year Google started its Project Strobe effort to audit what access developers have to data on Google accounts and Android devices, and in March it found a significant bug in a Google+ People API. This bug would have allowed developers to access the profile information of users' friends, even if the data were not marked to be public. It was only static information though, such as name, email address, and occupation, but not posts and messages. However, while this was discovered and fixed in March 2018, it may have first been present in 2015 and because Google does not keep API log data longer than two weeks for Google+, the company does not have a means of identifying all of the users who may have been impacted. Looking at just the two weeks Google had at the time though, up to 500,000 profiles were potentially affected. No evidence was found that developers were even aware of this bug, or exploited it, and there was no evidence any data was misused.

If you are wondering why this bug that was found months ago is only now being discussed publicly, it is because Google chose to not go public with the information, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing a memo reviewed by the paper that was prepared by Google's legal and policy staff, the senior executives were warned about disclosure leading to 'immediate regulatory interest' and that it would invite comparisons to Facebook's leak of information concerning Cambridge Analytica. This memo apparently also noted that while there is no evidence outside developers exploited the bug, it has no ways of knowing for sure either. This inability to prove the information, if collected was misused, is apparently the reason users were not notified.

Still, Google has decided to shutter Google+ for consumers as it is difficult to maintain and 90% of user sessions are less than five seconds long, making the investment not worth it, for that segment of use. However, a review of the service indicates enterprise customers enjoy what it offers and so new features purpose-built for businesses will be launched in the future, with details coming in the days ahead.

In addition to discussing the Google+ API bug, Google has also shared it will launch more granular Google Account permission control, with each permission request being a single dialog box so you can decline one but not another. New limits are going to be in place on apps accessing Gmail as well, and on Android, Google Play will limit what apps can get permission to access SMS data and the phone data, such as call logs.

Source: Wall Street Journal and Google



Bug Prevents Facebook Users from Deleting Accounts

Category: General News
Posted: October 4, 2018 01:22PM
Author: Grilka8050


Don’t worry it was fixed on Monday. But two weeks ago, Venturebeat received a complaint in their tips line that from a guy that couldn't delete his Facebook account. The user had tried 4 different browsers, 2 different devices, Facebook Support, and was considering contacting a lawyer because he couldn’t delete his profile. None of these methods were successful. This user allowed Venturebeat to log into his account and try to get it to delete, but there was indeed a bug preventing it. Venturebeat contacted a Facebook spokesperson (since they are more inclined to listen to press than private users), and that got the ball rolling. The Facebook engineer got the bug fixed and patched in a couple days ago. Bottom line? If you need help getting a bug fixed on Facebook and tech support doesn’t work, reach out to the press.

Source: Venturebeat



Investigation Finds Malicious Chips on Supermicro Motherboards

Category: General News
Posted: October 4, 2018 08:27AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

If you thought software hacking was all one needed to worry about, then you may have some new concerns on your mind. Bloomberg is reporting that as many as 30 companies had servers with motherboards compromised by a malicious chip. The timeline described starts in 2015, when Amazon was looking into Elemental Technologies as a potential acquisition, so it sent sample severs to a third-party for evaluation. What these testers discovered was a small chip, about the size of a grain of rice, on the motherboards that were not supposed to be there. This was reported and it turns out these chips have the purpose of allowing access to the networks with these servers installed. The motherboards were made by Supermicro, one of the world's largest server motherboard suppliers.

According to Bloomberg, this hardware attack was perpetrated by China, and it developed the chip so it could seed them into devices manufactured by its factories. While it would take a significant amount of time to put such an attack together, and then some luck for the compromised motherboards to end up in use where there will be impact, it appears that is exactly what happened. Elemental Technologies creates servers for processing video files and has seen its technology used for streaming the Olympics, communicating with the International Space Station, CIA drone footage, and more. Supermicro motherboards are used by more than Elemental though, and according to one official, Bloomberg says almost 30 companies were affected by this, including a major bank, government contractors, and Apple. Apple discovered some of its servers had the chips in them around May 2015 as it noticed unusual network activity and firmware issues.

Three years after the discovery, the investigation is ongoing, and apparently includes looking into Supermicro and other companies in case spies were planted to facilitate the attack. This attack shows the global supply chain for technology can in fact be compromised.

Source: Bloomberg



VideoLAN with FFmpeg Create Dav1d AV1 Decoder

Category: General News
Posted: October 2, 2018 08:09AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For years the dominant video codec on the Internet has been h.264 not just because of its efficiency, but because of the ease of licensing it. Though its successor, h.265 can compress video more efficiently, its licensing situation is tangled, so the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) was formed to create a new, open source codec to succeed h.265. It was in March when this codec, AV1, had its specification released, which means compliant encoders and decoders could finally be produced. Now the developers at VideoLAN, the organization behind VLC and host for popular encoder x264, and FFmpeg have built the dav1d decoder (Dav1d is an AV1 Decoder).

Currently dav1d has been written using C, works on multiple architectures and with Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS operating systems. Compared to libaom, it has a tenth the lines of code, is one third the weight of the libaom binary, and uses a quarter the memory. The goals for the decoder are for it to be small, fast, cross-platform, correctly threaded, and open source, so it appears to be succeeding them currently, and we can expect it to improve as more developers get to work on it and write tuned Assembly code for it. Of course we still need to have high performance encoders, especially hardware-based solutions as its complexity will make it slower than something like x264, when it is a CPU doing the work. Hopefully it will not be long before those start appearing.

Source: JB Kempf (VideoLAN President)



Barclays Downgrades Intel Shares

Category: General News
Posted: October 2, 2018 07:51AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Intel has hit some hard times recently, as it has been running into supply challenges and AMD's Zen-based CPUs have proven to be very competitive. Now Barclays has downgraded its shares to underweight from equal weight, which indicates it believes next year's earnings will be disappointing. The Barclays analyst feels that Intel is stuck in a no-win scenario currently, as it either needs to cut its prices to be competitive or lose market share to AMD.

Source: CNBC



AMD May Reach 30% Market Share in Q4

Category: General News
Posted: September 27, 2018 04:47PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

While it is beyond doubt AMD's Zen CPU architecture has proven to be a success for the company, there are now expectations it could reach 30% desktop market share in Q4 2018. This is partly thanks to Intel's production shortage, leading OEMs and motherboard AIB partners to increase production of AMD-based devices. It also helps the company that Intel's planned transition to its 10 nm manufacturing process has been delayed and going forward AMD will be working with TSMC for 7 nm products, including Zen2-based processors.

It is not only in the desktop market AMD is seeing gains as it is expected the company could reach 5% of the server market by the end of the year. Prior to the introduction of the Zen-based EPYC processors, Intel commanded 99% of this market. The next generation of EPYC processors, based on Zen2, should be sampling by the end of this year with volume production in 2019.

Source: Digitimes



Qualcomm Alleges Apple Gave Source Code to Intel

Category: General News
Posted: September 25, 2018 12:00PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

A lot of parts go into making modern smartphones, so the companies making them need to work with many other companies, and apparently this can get rather complicated and tangled. Some years ago Apple and Qualcomm started working together to supply chips for the iPhone, and the two companies have also been fighting legal battles for some time as well. One of the suits brought by Qualcomm is that under the companies' agreement, Apple must allow the other company to audit it for the purpose of ensuring the source code and tools from Qualcomm are being properly protected, as they are trade secrets. That suit claims Apple has not been allowing such an audit, but now Qualcomm is claiming Apple has actually been turning over some of the source code to Intel, so it can improve its products.

Qualcomm claims to have unearthed this from the documents and other evidence shared as part of discovery for the lawsuit. Now the company wants to add this much more serious charge to the lawsuit. This case is to have its court date in April, if it remains on track.

Source: CNBC



3DMark has Two New Benchmarks Announced

Category: General News
Posted: September 20, 2018 05:55AM
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 08:25AM
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 04:18PM
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 10:07AM
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 09:18AM
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 07:37AM
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 04:07PM
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 12:31PM
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 09:35PM
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 08:01AM
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 07:55AM
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 05:11AM
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)



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