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General News News (1414)

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

TSMC Announces Wafer-on-Wafer for Connecting Chips

Category: General News
Posted: May 3, 2018 07:34AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Last year AMD demonstrated the potential of combining components within dies and between dies to make powerful CPUs. With its Infinity Fabric, the distinct Zeppelin dies in the Threadripper and Epyc processors are able to work together, making 16 core/32 thread consumer products and 32 core/64 thread server products possible, and within the Zeppelin dies two Zen CCX modules are connected with the interconnect as well. These different components are all on the same plane though, so there is some distance between them, adding latency and increasing power requirements, but with a new capability of TSMC, we might see future products that combine dies and chips vertically.

Wafer on Wafer (WoW) is the new technology and it allows chips to be stacked on top of each other, and with through-silicon vias (TSVs) these chips can be directly connected. This means communications between the stacked chips will have much lower latency, and potentially very great bandwidth.

Stacking chips is not exactly a new idea as HBM, high bandwidth memory, is already an example of a stacked 2.5D design, but this WoW technology might enable more kinds of chips to be combined for dramatic impact. It will be interesting to see what comes of this, but sadly it is not possible to guess when we might see products launch using this technology.

Source: PCGamesN

USB HID Standard Created for Eye Trackers

Category: General News
Posted: May 2, 2018 10:47AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Since the release of the Tobii Tracker 4C, a device capable of both eye and head tracking, numerous titles have released with support for it. Kingdom Come: Deliverance, F1 2017, Agents of Mayhem, Assassin's Creed Origins, and Far Cry 5 represent a sample of the over 100 games that support the device, and in the future, eye-tracking support may become easier to implement by developers and use for consumers. This is thanks to Tobii, Microsoft, Intel, and EyeTech DS working together to create a USB Human Interface Device (HID) standard for eye trackers.

Keyboards and mice are two examples of devices that already have HID standards, with these standards making it possible for operating systems to have a generic driver communicate with the device, instead of requiring vendor-specific drivers. When connected the OS can ask the device what its capabilities are and these are then mapped to OS functions or advertised to applications. With this standard in place, developers can work from this information instead of needing to develop directly for the specific drivers of different device.

Source: Tobii

Samsung, Hynix, and Micron Facing Class Action Suit for Alleged DRAM Price Fixing

Category: General News
Posted: May 1, 2018 07:07AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

If you have tried to build or upgrade a computer in recent months, you undoubtedly noticed the high price of some components, such as the graphics card. While many attribute the inflated costs of graphics cards to cryptocurrency mining, another factor has been the cost of DRAM chips, which impacts graphics cards, system RAM, and mobile devices. All of these components and devices need DRAM, so as demand for one class of device goes up, the supply of chips for the others falls. At least that is what would naturally occur in the economy, but DRAM manufacturers Samsung, Hynix, and Micron are facing a class action lawsuit from the firm Hagens Berman for price fixing.

According to the suit, these three companies engaged in behaviors that would knowingly limit restrict DRAM supply growth, driving prices up even though the manufacturing cost did not increase. Allegedly, public statements from the companies affirmed their commitment to the plan to restrict DRAM supply growth to 15-20% in 2017, even though the demand increased from 20-25%. The companies also refrained from trying to seize market share from each other.

Depending on how long your memory is, the name Hagens Berman might sound familiar to you, because this law firm successfully sued Samsung and Hynix previously for price fixing. That lawsuit resulted in a $300 million judgement in 2006. You can sign up for the case at the Hagens Berman source link below.

Source: Hot Hardware and Hagens Berman

Man Hacked Jail Computer System to Help Friend Escape

Category: General News
Posted: April 30, 2018 11:40PM
Author: Grilka8050

A man from Michigan was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison for hacking into the jail’s computer system and modifying prisoner records to get an inmate released early. The hacker will also serve three years of supervised release and pay a fine of $235,488 to cover the costs of investigating the hack. He pleads guilty, saying he lured County Jail employees by sending them emails and trying to convince them to go to "ewashtenavv.org"  instead of the county's official website "ewashtenaw.org." A pretty easy thing that could be overlooked, but not in this case. Just shows that crime never pays, no matter how you try it, even if it's to try and get a buddy out of jail.

Source: Slashdot

Intel Hires Chris Hook for Discrete GPU Marketing

Category: General News
Posted: April 30, 2018 07:54AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Just weeks ago it was announced Chris Hook would be leaving AMD, where he had been working for 17 years, eventually becoming the Senior Direct of Global Product Marketing. At the time he stated he would be starting his new role at the end of the month, and now we know this role is at Intel. As [H]ardOCP notes from his LinkedIn page, his new position is "Discrete Graphics and Visual Technologies Marketing at Intel Corporation."

Intel is not currently in the discrete graphics industry, but it seems the company wants to enter it, based on previous rumors and the hiring of Raja Koduri, another former AMD employee who led the Radeon Technologies Group. Even if Intel is unable to wrest discrete gaming graphics market share from AMD or NVIDIA, GPUs are seeing great use as accelerators in other markets, which is likely a significant factor for why Intel wants to start making their own.

Source: [H]ardOCP

Intel Not Shipping 10 nm Parts in Large Volume Until 2019

Category: General News
Posted: April 27, 2018 10:42AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

At this time of year, companies are reporting their Q1 financial results, and also giving some information on their outlook. Intel is no exception to this and reported a strong result with $16.1 billion in revenue, which is up 13% year-over-year. Of that, 49% came from the company's data-centric businesses. Something else noted in the results though is that the long awaited 10 nm process node from Intel will not reach volume production until 2019. There are 10 nm products already shipping, but these are at low-volume.

This is actually fairly significant news as trends have been suggesting Intel could lose its long-held process lead, and this strengthens that possibility. The current expectations from TSMC and GlobalFoundries are for them to reach volume production of their 7 nm processes next year as well, with AMD employing them to produce Zen2-based CPUs, and likely a new series of GPU. In fact AMD will be launching a 7 nm product this year, the Vega-based Radeon Instinct accelerator targeting machine learning applications, but its production volume will undoubtedly be limited.

Source: Intel

Jim Keller Leaving Tesla to Reportedly Join Intel

Category: General News
Posted: April 26, 2018 07:20AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Jim Keller is a name some of you may have heard before, in no small part because of his work at AMD on the Zen CPU architecture. The man and his talents are held in high regard in the industry, and in 2016 he left AMD to join Tesla and its Autopilot program. Now he is leaving the electric vehicle manufacturer to reportedly re-enter the microprocessor world with Intel. Part of his role at Tesla was developing the chips for running the Autopilot AI, and it is possible he will continue such work at Intel, as it purchased MobileEye, an autonomous driving company. It is also possible this move to Intel could eventually produce a new architecture to challenge AMD's future Zen products.

Source: Electrek

AMD Might Be Making Combat Crates With MSI

Category: General News
Posted: April 23, 2018 10:12AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

This is a somewhat interesting piece of news, and could also prove helpful for some, though there is an odd point to it. According to VideoCardz, AMD is working with MSI to offer "Combat Crates," which include a Ryzen CPU, a compatible motherboard, and MSI RX 580 Armor graphics card. Only two of these crates are known of by VideoCardz, with one offering a Ryzen 5 1600 and the other a Ryzen 7 1700, while both come with a B350-based motherboard. You may have noticed that odd point now, as these are 1st generation Ryzen parts, and not from the freshly released 2nd generation Ryzen platform. While these parts are hardly poor-performers from last year, it still seems a little odd, but depending on the pricing, this could be exactly what some people are looking for. By bundling the graphics card with the CPU and motherboard, it might be a way to sell these parts to people looking to build gaming PCs without breaking their budget on mining-inflated GPU prices.

We will just have to wait and see if these are officially announced, and then if this partnership will extend to more Combat Crates from MSI, or even to other AIB partners.

Source: VideoCardz

AMD Invites Resellers to Share Stories of Competition Trying to Restrict Sales of Radeon Products

Category: General News
Posted: April 23, 2018 09:45AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Last week AMD finally provided an official response to the NVIDIA GeForce Partner Program, though GPP was not specifically named, where it promised a commitment to freedom of choice and working with AIB partners to create new brands to sell Radeon products under. That was not all AMD did last week as Scott Herkelman, Corporate VP and General Manager of AMD Radeon gaming, and a former NVIDIA executive, went to Twitter to reach out to resellers. This was during an AMD sales event held in London and in his Tweets, Herkelman states some of those attending shared stories of the competition using "funding and allocation to restrict or block your ability to market and sell Radeon based products in the manner you and your customers desire." Herkelmen than invited any others who have such stories to reach out and share them with him, so they can work together to ensure gamers have freedom of choice.

Since the story of GPP being potentially anti-competitive and anti-consumer even, NVIDIA has been rather quiet, as Forbes notes. However, the author of the original piece, Kyle Bennett of [H]ardOCP, claims NVIDIA has started a disinformation campaign against him, including claiming he was paid by AMD for it. Bennett denies any payment, but did state in the original piece AMD approached him and other news outlets about the story. He is the one who decided to do additional digging into GPP, as "there was no story to be told" from just the information AMD had presented, and uncover what he shared.

Source: Forbes

Malware Contained in Minecraft Skins Infected Nearly 50,000 Accounts

Category: General News
Posted: April 19, 2018 01:14PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

If you enjoy playing Minecraft, you may want to be cautious of the skins you use. Apparently Avast Threat Labs discovered there were user-created Minecraft skins with malware embedded in the PNG files. Some 50,000 user accounts might have been infected by the malware that tries to reformat hard drives, delete backups, and delete system files.

Fortunately the issue has been resolved, with non-image date being removed from PNGs when uploaded to Minecraft.net, but even then the code would not be run by Minecraft: Java Edition.

The PNG format allows for more information to be stored in the files than just image data, and that metadata is no being stripped from the files when they are uploaded. If a user did activate the code, there is a good chance antivirus software would have caught it and alerted you to it. If you are concerned you might have been infected, a full system scan is recommended to find and remove the malware.

Source: WCCFtech and Minecraft.net

AMD Provides Spectre V2 Mitigation Update

Category: General News
Posted: April 11, 2018 02:11PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

After multiple months from the public disclosure, news about the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities continues to come out, but at least much of this has been good news concerning the release of mitigations. Intel's efforts have been discussed before and now AMD has released an update on its work to block the Spectre Variant 2 vulnerability. Spectre Variant 1 can and has been dealt with through operating system updates while the Meltdown vulnerability only impacted Intel CPUs. There are mitigations for Variant 2 that can be deployed to operating systems, and Microsoft actually just pushed out patches to do this, but these also need microcode updates to support them. AMD has now released these updates to its customers and partners to deliver them to users of processors going as far back as the original Bulldozer processors released in 2011. You will want to watch manufacturer websites for BIOS updates that contain the microcode changes.

Source: AMD

Steam Profile Privacy Settings Get New Options

Category: General News
Posted: April 11, 2018 01:27PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

If you have ever looked at your Steam profile and wished you could hide the library you have built over the years, you now have that option. Valve has changed profile privacy settings to make it possible to hide your 'game details,' including the games you own and have on your wishlist, as well as the related metadata like achievements and playtime. This information can be set to be public, viewable by friends only, or hidden from everyone. Your total playtime though can be hidden separately from this command, so you can keep that secret while still showing off your collection. The 'game details' setting also impacts whether you are identified as being in-game by others, and if the title of the game is shown.

These are not the only privacy changes coming, such as the addition of an Invisible mode alongside Online, Away, and Offline. With Invisible selected, you will appear to others as though you are Offline, but still have access to your friends list and the ability to send and receive messages. I can definitely see this as being useful for some and will be a welcome change when it arrives.

Source: Steam Blog

Chris Hook Leaving AMD

Category: General News
Posted: April 11, 2018 01:15PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For the past 17 years Chris Hook has been working at ATI and then AMD, ultimately becoming the company's Senior Director of Global Product Marketing, and he has now announced he is leaving the company. Many things have changed since he started, like what counted as high resolution and the unit for measuring transistor size. Exactly what he will be doing next is not publicly known, but in his announcement he says this new role outside of AMD will being at the end of the month. It will be interesting to see where he goes but also who replaces him, and the kind of changes the replacement brings with them.

Source: WCCFtech

Intel May Enter Discrete Gaming GPU Market in 2020

Category: General News
Posted: April 9, 2018 11:34AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Following the announcement Raja Koduri was leaving AMD's Radeon Technologies Group to join Intel, this rumor might not be very surprising, but it is still rather interesting. Presently there are two main duo-opolies in the tech industry, with Intel-AMD being the pair for x86 CPUs and AMD/NVIDIA being the pair for GPUs. Intel has wanted to disrupt the GPU market before, with little to no success, but as the highly parallel design of GPUs becomes more desirable for more applications, it wants to try again. This new attempt at an Intel discrete GPU currently has the code name Arctic Sound and though it had been targeting data centers and edge applications, the rumor is there will be two variants. While one will keep to the originally expected targets, the other will be for gaming, potentially launching in 2020. Arctic Sound will also take advantage of Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) which is currently being used in the hybrid Intel+Vega packages that combine an Intel CPU with a Vega GPU and HBM 2 onto a single package. Using EMIB to enable a multi-chip design may help Intel and its fabs compete with the current GPU leaders AMD and NVIDIA that have had many years to develop and refine techniques and technologies.

This currently exists as just a rumor, but it is not unreasonable and is interesting nonetheless. It also says the successor to Arctic Sound would be Jupiter Sound, but it would likely only exist on paper at this point.

Source: WCCFtech

Complaint to FTC Alleges YouTube Violates Child Online Privacy Protection Act

Category: General News
Posted: April 9, 2018 10:27AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

One of the amazing aspects of the Internet is how so much information and content are available to people, but it is also a potentially dangerous aspect. A complaint has been filed with the Federal Trade Commission claiming YouTube violates the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which is limits how a company collects data on persons under 13 years old, including requiring parental consent. As such data collection is used by YouTube, and other websites, to sell and target advertising, this could potentially mean the company has been profiting off of this information too.

According to YouTube's terms of service, it is not for those under the age of 13, and indeed to have an account you must say you are older than that. While that is what the TOS says and the accounts require, videos can be viewed freely without an account, it is possible to use someone else's account, and kids could lie when creating the account.

The complaint claims YouTube collected data over the source of years on 23 million children. If the FTC does find the company in violation of COPPA, it could fine YouTube up to $41,484 per violation, which very rapidly adds up into billions. It is also possible the FTC could require YouTube age gate its videos, but as an employee of one of the signers of the complaints points out, kids could just lie to get through the gate anyway. The preference would be to find a way for YouTube to still have content for kids but also find a means to comply with COPPA, and with the FTC reviewing the complaint, it may play a role in deciding what happens next.

Source: CNN Money

Report Claims Apple Might Replace Intel CPUs with Its Own in Macs Come 2020

Category: General News
Posted: April 2, 2018 04:18PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

While it might be April 2, this is a rumor and likely not a prank. According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on a plan to drop Intel CPUs from its products for an internally designed processor, starting as soon as 2020. Apple already designs its own ARM-based processors for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, so such a move could unify the various products on to the same platform. It would also allow Apple to release new products on a timeline it controls, instead of following the release of new Intel CPUs.

While it is estimated only 5% of Intel's revenue comes from its deal with Apple, it stocks dropped as much as 9.2% today (though the whole stock market also dropped) making it the biggest intraday drop in over two years. This plan, with the code name Kalamata, is still in the early stages of development according to Bloomberg's source, so its timeline could change or the entire plan could be dropped. Part of it may depend on what can be expected from the Apple-designed processors, as Intel CPUs still provide greater performance than ARM-based processors, but if the company feels its products will not lose capabilities, then perhaps we will see this happen.

For now this should probably just be considered a rumor, but it is one that could have a significant impact on the technology industry, if it turns out to be true. Apple could become the first of several companies deciding to turn to internally-designed processors instead of purchasing them from others.

Source: Bloomberg

SK Hynix GDDR6 Memory Reaching Mass Production in June-July

Category: General News
Posted: March 30, 2018 08:09AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

It was about a year ago when SK Hynix put out some information about its upcoming GDDR6 memory offerings, including that it will be used in a "forthcoming high-end graphics card," and now GamersNexus learned at GTC 2018 that the next generation memory will be reaching mass production in about three months. While there are no details on what the new graphics card might be, the speculation is it will be the part of NVIDIA's next series of GPUs. If SK Hynix is a launch-day memory provider, then it might not be long after mass production begins that these graphics cards could come to market, but if the company is not, then the wait might be longer.

Other information GamersNexus learned was that GDDR6 will be roughly 20% more expensive than the current standard, GDDR5. Considering it should be twice as fast while running at a lower voltage, that is not too bad an increase, but also as manufacturing continues, the cost should drop to 15% and even 10%.

WCCFtech adds that SK Hynix will be producing GDDR6 chips in both 1 GB and 2 GB capacities, which is important because each 32-bit GDDR controller connects to a single chip. A GPU with a 256-bit wide memory bus would then be able to have either 8 GB or 16 GB of memory. If NVIDIA is the only customer for this, then that would allow the same or multiple GPUs to have different memory configurations, or this could be an indication of other customers. We do know AMD has also been working on a GDDR6 memory controller, so while there is less anticipation of a new series of GPUs from them, they are also working to adopt the new memory standard.

Source: GamersNexus and WCCFtech

AV1 Video Codec Specification Released

Category: General News
Posted: March 28, 2018 09:08AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Whether we are watching a movie off of a Blu-Ray disc or streaming a video from YouTube, the video codec used is important. The long-held standard is h.264, or AVC, and while it has served our video needs very well for years, as the desire for more media with more detail at higher resolutions has grown, a successor has been needed. While technically better codec do exist, like h.265 (HEV) and VP9, there have been adoption issues, including the cost of the license, which is why the Alliance for Open Media, AOMedia, was formed to create the AV1 codec. Today the AV1 specification has been publicly released, which is a major step toward seeing it adopted in software and hardware.

The AV1 codec, or AOMedia Video Codec 1.0, has been developed with the goal of providing 4K UHD and higher resolution content while being more efficient than other encoders and royalty free. Its target is video streaming and with an average of 30% better compression compared to its competitors, it is meant to help bring better quality videos to more devices.

As the specification has only just been released, it may be some time before we see AV1 deployed in software and hardware products. Although with partners like AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix, the roll-out might not be slow. Still, it will likely take some time for encoders and decoders to become optimized enough to compete with some current standards, like x264, which might not offer the same level of compression but will almost certainly be faster.

Source: AOMedia

Ethereum Mining ASIC Coming and May Impact GPU Sales

Category: General News
Posted: March 28, 2018 07:32AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Cryptocurrency mining has been the focus of a lot of debate and argument for several months now, and receives a lot of blame for the high cost of video cards today. While Bitcoin might be the most famous of them, Ethereum is also a favorite of many, in part because of how some GPUs are able to mine it very quickly. There are now reports that the cryptocurrency mining company Bitmain might be releasing an Ethereum mining ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) which might upset the current state of video card sales, but there are also reasons why its impacts might be limited.

According to CNBC, at least one analyst at Susquehanna believes the release of the ASIC will result in AMD shares dropping to $7.50 from $13 on Friday and NVIDIA shares falling to $200 from $215. These predictions came along with a downgrade for AMD from neutral to negative. While an Ethereum ASIC might be disruptive though, there are some problematic points to this analysis.

The analyst estimates Ethereum related sales accounted for 20% of AMD's sales, and 10% of NVIDIA's. In AMD's Q4'17 earnings conference call though, the company stated the annual revenue related to Blockchain was around "mid-single digit percentage," which is quite far from the 20% estimate. I do not recall a similar estimate for NVIDIA, but with its even larger GPU market share and the preference for AMD GPUs for mining, one would think it would be less than its competitor. Another issue is Ethereum is not the only alternative cryptocurrency out there. There are many others and even if Ethereum is no longer profitable on GPUs, any of these others might be and continue to drive sales.

Source: CNBC and AMD

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