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General News News (1412)

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

Microsoft Finally Patches Notepad to Support Unix EOL Characters

Category: General News
Posted: May 9, 2018 08:04AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

After years of incorrectly reading text files, Notepad has finally been patched to correctly read the End of Line (EOL) characters of other operating systems. This fix is in the current Windows 10 Insider build and means that when you load a file created on a Unix or Linux based OS or from a Mac, the lines will be correctly broken, and if you edit the file, it Notepad will maintain the correct EOL character.

In order to communicate to a text editor it is the end of a line, a special character is used that will not be shown to the user. On Windows the characters are CR (Carriage Return) and LF (Line Feed), which can be made visible in some other editors. On Unix and Linux just LF is used and on Mac it is CR, and for years Notepad would not treat these as EOL characters and just continue writing on the same line.

Source: Microsoft

Eight New Spectre-Like Vulnerabilities Discovered on Intel CPUs

Category: General News
Posted: May 7, 2018 09:19AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

After the discovery of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities went public early this year, it is not surprising security researchers have continued to explore the speculative computing algorithms these vulnerabilities were present in for more issues. Thus far, apparently eight new vulnerabilities have been found that Intel CPUs are susceptible to, though AMD and ARM-based processors might be vulnerable as well but that research has not been done yet. They are similar enough to Spectre that they are being referred to as Spectre Next Generation, but each are distinct enough to technically deserve their own names.

Intel is aware of these new vulnerabilities and have them in its system for tracking, with four of them marked as 'high risk' with the other four at medium. At least one of these vulnerabilities is decidedly more critical than the original Spectre vulnerabilities because of its ease of use. The two original Spectre variants could be used to attack Intel, AMD, and ARM-based processors, but were difficult to exploit, somewhat lessening the risk of them. This new vulnerability though is easy to use and would give an attacked access from one virtual machine to others on the same host, and access to the host system itself. There are still other kinds of attacks that would be easier to use though, so these Spectre-NG vulnerabilities might not materialize into actual threats, but aside from them being fixed, this is not good news.

Source: Heise.de

Intel May Reveal Discrete GPU at CES 2019

Category: General News
Posted: May 7, 2018 08:31AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For months now, Intel has been making moves demonstrating a serious interest in entering the discrete GPU market, from hiring Raja Koduri from AMD's Radeon Technologies Group last year to its first day-0 driver for its integrated GPUs released last week. Now, according to TweakTown's sources, Intel has completed the first steps in making its dGPU a reality and can start preparing for a launch. Potentially the announcement could come later this year, but there is a lot of attention on CES 2019 for when the full unveil could be.

While there is a lot of information and rumor about the upcoming Intel dGPU, something we do not know yet is what its target might be. While many are certainly interested in seeing an Intel graphics card to compete with NVIDIA and AMD, the gaming market is not the only potential destination for the hardware. Intel's interests might be more concerned with creating AI accelerators to still compete with NVIDIA and AMD, but in a different sector. Of course entering one market does not preclude entering the other, so we could see it come to one and then make its way to the other. Regardless, this will be an interesting turn in the industry as will upset the GPU duopoly that has existed for years, with the new entry being a company with vast resources to invest into the technology.

Source: TweakTown

NVIDIA Ending GeForce Partner Program

Category: General News
Posted: May 4, 2018 11:24AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

According to a post on NVIDIA's blog, the company has ended its GeForce Partner Program (GPP). This is the program Kyle Bennett of [H]ardOCP published an article on back in March where he states his sources, who required anonymity to speak with him, and the documents he saw painted a very different picture of GPP than what NVIDIA stated publicly. According to the GPU company, GPP was to provide full transparency about the graphics cards people purchase, and according to the new blog post, "GPP had a simple goal – ensuring that gamers know what they are buying and can make a clear choice." The information Kyle Bennett shared, however, described a program that required companies cease marketing non-GeForce aligned hardware under their developed gaming brands (ASUS Republic of Gamers and Gigabyte Aorus, for example) and if a company did not join GPP, it could see lose marketing funds, engineering assets, launch partner status, and more.

Since that article, I cannot recall seeing any official response from NVIDIA to clarify or contradict the claims made by Bennett, but AMD responded. In the middle of April the GPU competitor posted a blog post of its own with its commitment to promoting freedom of choice for gamers, and published a video on YouTube doing the same. On that same day, ASUS announced its AREZ brand of AMD Radeon GPUs, presumably so there could be a gamer-targeting brand for AMD graphics cards, without it being labelled as the company's gaming brand, Republic of Gamers, and thus a way around the alleged terms of GPP. Then a week after that, Scott Herkelman, Corporate VP and General Manager of AMD Radeon gaming, invited resellers to share more stories with him of competition using "funding and allocation to restrict or block your ability to market and sell Radeon based products." Also at that time Bennett claimed NVIDIA had started a disinformation campaign against him.

Now, after all of that has happened, NVIDIA has decided to end the program, stating that "rather than battling misinformation, we have decided to cancel the program." NVIDIA never publicly battled this 'misinformation' it is referring to. While this might have ended the "distraction" GPP caused the company, I personally suspect the story is not over yet for a few reasons. Among them is Kyle Bennett stating, "there is still a bit more of the story to tell, and that will likely come out soon," at [H]ardOCP. Other reasons include the impact this has had on various brands and the AMD's hinting other AIB partners might have also been working on new brands, like ASUS AREZ.

Source: NVIDIA

Intel Releases First Day-0 GPU Driver

Category: General News
Posted: May 4, 2018 10:02AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For the release of the Windows 10 April feature update, Intel released its first Day-0 GPU driver. While those of us running AMD and NVIDIA GPUs are familiar with getting new drivers the day of some important release, whether it is a game or operating system update, Intel has a reputation for waiting potentially months after a release to update drivers for its integrated GPUs. The company is trying to change that though, and it makes sense it would because the company wants to get into the discrete GPU business, where it will be competing with AMD and NVIDIA. The driver experience can be a significant factor in hardware purchasing decisions, so Intel needs to be at the top of its game if it wants to take much market share from these two more experienced companies.

Source: WCCFtech

Backblaze Releases Q1 2018 Hard Drive Stats

Category: General News
Posted: May 4, 2018 09:51AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

While many of us celebrate and enjoy the speed SSDs give us, the fact remains that for storage capacity, the traditional HDD is the more economical option. That is until a hard drive fails on us, and then we want to swear to only use more reliable SSDs (if only we could afford the multi-terabyte versions). Cloud storage company Backblaze uses over one hundred thousand drives, and since April 2013 has been keeping track of daily hard drive statistics, which can all be downloaded from its website. The latest set of statistics is for Q1 2018 and consists of 98,046 drives, so if you are wondering how reliable some drives are, this is probably a good place to look.

Before looking at the data, why were only 98,046 HDD used in the data, instead of the full 100,110 Backblaze has? Only 98,188 of the drives are used for storage, with the others being boot drives, and then another 142 were removed from the data because Backblaze has fewer than 45 of these specific drive models.

Looking at the table Backblaze put together, the total Annualized Failure Rate (AFR) over Q1 2018 was 1.20%, which is below the 1.65% seen in Q4 2017. Of the 98,046 drives and 8,742,170 Drive Days, there were only 288 drive failures. The number of Drive Days is clearly important, as this is the measurement of how much use the drives endured, so the higher this number was, the more failures were also recorded. Interestingly though, of those drives with over one million drive days, it was the lowest capacity, a 4 TB Seagate model, that suffered the most failures with an AFR of 2.30% (2,822,282 Drive Days with 178 failures) while 8 TB and 12 TB Seagate models had AFRs of only 0.79% and 0.90% (1,293,557 Drive Days with 28 failures and 1,296,465 Drive Days with 32 failures, respectively). A 4 TB HGST model also saw over one million drive days (1,363,173) but had an AFR of 0.43% (16 drive failures).

It should be noted that quarterly failure rates might be volatile, especially when the data is for fewer drives or a small number of Drive Days. There are also data for the lifetime of the drives, going back to April 2013 and from that we see an AFR of 1.84% from the 77,166,235 Drive Days and 3891 failures.

You can check out the tables at the source link and can download the data to look at yourself, if you wish, but be warned, it is several gigabytes.

Source: Backblaze

Steam Hardware Survey Over Counting Issue Fixed

Category: General News
Posted: May 4, 2018 09:21AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

While it only represents a sample of all computers, the Steam Hardware Survey can be a source of information on what hardware and operating systems are used by gamers around the world. Unfortunately, since August 2017 the data has been inaccurate due to an over counting issue with cyber-cafes, but now fixes have been put in place.

If you look at the data in the hardware survey, it shows significant swings at around August on several of its graphs, including those for CPU, GPU, and operating system. This is actually something Valve noticed and prompted investigation. The Steam Hardware Survey collects data using a client-side method and is intended to count a system only once a year, but the way some cyber-cafes manage their computers apparently broke this, resulting in the same machine, and therefore the same hardware being counted multiple times.

Having implemented fixes, Valve is confident the April 2018 data is accurate though, and it shows some sizeable changes to the data. Simplified Chinese for language saw a drop of 21.89%, to give you an idea of how significant an impact Chinese cyber-cafes have had on the survey results. Intel and NVIDIA have also seen their shares decrease, with AMD picking up about 4% from its CPU and GPU competition. The share for Windows 7 also dropped by 20.90%, while Windows 10 picked up 17.41%.

Source: Steam

Twitter Passwords Potentially Compromised

Category: General News
Posted: May 4, 2018 09:04AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

While this is certainly not the kind of news any company wants to give, it also appears to not be as bad as it could be. Twitter recently discovered a bug in its system for storing passwords that produced an internal log of all passwords, unmasked. While there is no evidence the passwords left Twitter's systems or were misused, the company still recommends people change their passwords.

Normally when storing passwords, companies like Twitter run them through a hashing function, in this case bcrypt, which will replace the password with seemingly random numbers and letters. This hashed version can then be used to validate account credentials without actually revealing the password. The issue Twitter discovered was that an internal log was being written with passwords prior to this hashing process. The passwords have been removed from the log and solutions to this bug are being implemented.

Source: Twitter

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