Don’t shoot the megaphone: Battlefield 3 Alpha benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2011 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: battlefield 3

A non-disclosure agreement is created for those times where certain people need to receive information, get demonstrations, and so forth before the organization wishes to release to the public. We respect the wishes of the individuals and organizations that provide us with information that assists us with our jobs. Currently Battlefield 3 is undergoing private Alpha testing for a select number of invitees – I am not one of those invitees (at least, as of the time of this writing) and thus have no obligation to keep silent on information that was leaked to the public. That is convenient, of course, as some information leaked out on system benchmarks with a wide variety of video cards and processors pitted against DICE’s upcoming shooter.

battlefield3-collapse.jpg

The first thing to realize, and one of the main reasons for the non-disclosure, is that development builds are development builds: optimizations will be made that will speed things up; enhancements will be made that may make things possibly slower but better for some reason or another. Do not assume that these numbers will even closely reflect the finished product, just the state of the game as it exists right now.

That said and in mind: to expect a smooth experience at 1080p you should anticipate having a GTX 460 or Radeon 5830 as your minimum and a GTX 560 Ti or a Radeon 6950 if you want to hover at around 60 FPS. The GTX 590 actually fell well below the GTX 580 and even fell below the GTX 570 which means that SLi is not yet supported… which should be no surprise for an unreleased game! On the CPU side of things, while no Sandy Bridge processors were tested it looks like performance will hit a bit of a plateau around the 6-core Phenom IIs, upper Core i5, and lower Core i7 parts. Battlefield 3 Alpha really looks as if it appreciates four or more cores thumbing its nose at all the dual core offerings tested. If you would like to see more, check out GameGPU’s page.

Source: GameGPU.ru

Seconds of Raspberry Pi: $25 a slice, $35 with whip cream

Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 30, 2011 - 03:53 AM |
Tagged: usb computer, Raspberry Pi

I must say, that unlike cake: pie is the foundation of everlasting relationships – like circumference and diameter! That, and cake always seems to end up in lies (yes, that horse is still twitchin’). While my personal favorite flavor is blueberry I might just become fond of Raspberry Pi in the near future. We originally reported on the organization dedicated to providing computing technology to the masses a few months ago when they showed off their prototype computer-in-a-usb-stick. More progress on the logistics as well as a firm specification on the PCB have occurred since then and it aligns nearly perfectly with original predictions.

raspberry1.png

That… doesn’t really look edible…

(Picture from Raspberry Pi)

The original prediction was a $25 device 700 MHz device backed by 128MB of RAM and an OpenGL ES 2.0 1080p-capable GPU. While that is still true, a second model will be released for $35 with double the RAM and an extra USB port for peripheral connectivity due to the addition of the SMSC LAN9512 two-device USB hub. The alpha board is slightly larger than the final design due to the ports required for debugging purposes and contains an extra couple layers on the PCB that will not be present in the final version. It is still expected to ship within the next 9 months (12 from original post) with the target narrowed slightly to likely sometime in 2011.

Source: Raspberry Pi

Duke Nukem Forever has reached 2007 with upcoming DLC

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2011 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: duke nukem

You know that part of Portal 2 where you slowly advance in time throughout Aperture Science’s history? That is kind-of what I feel like whenever I play Duke Nukem Forever or it decides to show up in one way or another. At various points in the game you feel like you are walking around through a confused mess of references to Duke Nukem 3D, Half Life, Halo, Team America, and World of Warcraft. With the latest DLC it looks like you have dug up to the year 2007 as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Team Fortress 2 get their turn for parody.

Duke.jpg

WALKER!!!!!!

(Image from Gearbox Software)

The DLC, aptly called the “Parody Pack”, will contain four maps each with their own characteristic weapon. The first map is a typical modern urban map called “Call of Duke” where you will be given the option to wield the “N00b T00b” as your custom weapon. “Sandbox” is just like it sounds: you fight in a sandbox with children’s toys – and sticky bombs. “Inferno” appears to be one of those old-fashioned teleporter maps where you physically cannot get from point to point without warping at least once; for newer gamers, think somewhat like a Chiron TL34 from Halo only likely less enclosed -- and with a “DFG” for a weapon, whatever that is. Lastly we get the TF2 parody “2Forts1Bridge” where you can mow down people with a minigun. Three game modes are also included: “Freeze Tag” where you must freeze and shatter your opponents, “Hot Potato” which is like keep-away with a woman, and “Hail to the King” which rounds out any classic shooter with free for all deathmatch. It will be available in the autumn for free if you pre-ordered Duke though there is no word on the price if you are not in the “First Access Club”.

Battle the bane of bulging caps, bring back life to your monitor

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2011 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: lcd, solder, capacitor, DIY

Over at The Tech Report you will find a handy guide on restoring a monitor with busted caps to working condition, for not much money nor effort. A bit effort is all that you need to track down a dead capacitor on the circuit board, identified by the bulge which will be apparent at the top of the cap.  Once you've found it you just need to desolder it and swap in a new one and your once broken monitor will be working again.  Even better, this procedure can resurrect any peice of equipment you have which is suffering from failed capacitors.  If you've never used a soldering iron to fix something, this would be a great place to start.

TR_bulge620.jpg

"In his latest blog post, our own David Morgan shows how to bring a monitor back from the dead with a simple capacitor transplant."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Minecraft: Soon with more ways to get messed with!

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2011 - 02:35 AM |
Tagged: Minecraft

Minecraft, the insanely popular videogame from independent developer Mojang, follows in the PC gaming history of providing customers with constant free content updates along with the usual bug-fix patches. Many developers have been swayed recently by the thought of micro-transactions and have to some extent pushed their customers toward paying for whatever content was not on the disk, and sometimes even paying extra for that too. Notch, the most high-profile member of Mojang, has been teasing about possible additions to be made in upcoming patches: the possibility of boss fights and a screenshot of an enigmatic new mob.

Minecraft2.png

I wonder if the bosses will have derpy eyes too.

One thing that has become a common view about Minecraft is that it will kill you and aggravate you in many annoying ways unless you are very careful (and often when you are). The creeper is often considered annoying by Minecraft players due to its ability to spawn or move into difficult to deal with spots, be even more difficult to deal with when there, and cause demolish your creations when there. Many players got frustrated enough to the point of disabling the mob or its destructive capabilities altogether. A development screenshot posted by Notch on his Google+ a new experimental mob doing what many fear could be the new creeper: hold a block! Where did (s)he get the block? What will (s)he do with it? Could the game itself grief you? No other details are available yet but it certainly puts players off ease for the possibilities… but not necessarily in a bad way.

minecraft-newmob.png

See this? This is someone’s nightmare.

(Image from Notch, Mojang)

Mojang has wanted to lead Minecraft more towards a more typical game model as an alternative to a tool for creation without much else to do thereafter. Due to an admiration of another Minecraft-like game, Terraria, Notch has mentioned the desire to add boss battles to the game. The catch is that, like Terraria, you would have the ability to create the terms for the boss battle rather than be guided to a game designer’s creation until you either quit playing or overcome it and move past it. I should also say that there have been plenty of additions to Minecraft that have been planned or worked on in the past that ultimately get scrapped so there is no guarantee that anything in this news story will end up in the game proper.

Source: PCGamer

Ya Rly. Intel releasing new CPUs for servers

Subject: General Tech, Processors | July 28, 2011 - 06:50 PM |
Tagged: Sandy Bridge-EP, Intel

Since we got back together with Sandy B we have played a few games, made a couple home movies together, and went around travelling. Now that our extended vacation is over Sandy decided it is time to get a job. Sandy B was working part-time as a server and apparently like her job because Intel brought her to a job opening in Jaketown. Intel has apparently released details on their server product, Sandy Bridge-EP “Jaketown” that will debut in Q4, to replace the current server line of up-clocked desktop parts with disabled GPUs.

11-intel.png

NO WAI!!!!!

According to Real World Tech, Intel’s server component will contain up to 8 cores and sport PCI-Express 3.0 and Quick Path Interconnect 1.1. Rumors state that the highest-clocked component will run at up to 3GHz with the lowest estimated to be 2.66GHz. The main components of the CPU will be tied together with a ring bus, although unlike the original Sandy Bridge architecture the Sandy Bridge-EP ring will be bi-directional. Clock rates of the internal ring are not known but the bidirectional nature should decrease travelling distance of data by half on average. The L3 cache size is not known but is designed to be fast and low latency.

Intel looks to be really focusing this SKU down to be very efficient for the kinds of processes that servers require. There is no mention of the Sandy Bridge-EP containing a GPU, for instance, which should leave more options for highly effective x86 performance; at some point the GPU will become more relevant in the server market but Intel does not seem to think that today is that day. Check out the analysis at Real World Tech for more in-depth information.

Podcast #164 - Intel and AMD Earnings, Intel MLAA, 28 nanometer GPUs, Viewer Questions and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2011 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: ssd, podcast, ocz, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #164 - 7/28/2011

This week we talk about Intel and AMD Earnings, Intel MLAA, 28 nanometer GPUs, Viewer Questions and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:26:36

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:43 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:13 Intel and AMD Provide Positive Earnings
  6. 0:13:35 Bulldozer will be on time, missing CEO or not
  7. 0:14:45 Intel MLAA: Matrox had the right idea, wrong everything else
  8. 0:23:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. 0:24:04 Intel reproduces '8MB bug', fix coming soon.
  10. 0:32:20 Video Perspective: AMD Steady Video Technology on AMD A-Series APUs
  11. 0:35:28 Phone in your overclocking, MSI Afterburner App for Android
  12. 0:37:00 OCZ wraps both its ARMs around a new SSD controller and gives it a little TLC
  13. 0:40:55 AMD CFO States They Will Have 28 Nano-meter GPUs Out This Year
    1. more info on low power HKMG aka HPL
  14. 0:45:45 Apple is da bomb! Vulnerability found in battery circuitry
  15. 0:54:05 Email from Tom about Eyefinity
  16. 0:59:06 Email from Greg about Eyefinity again
  17. 1:05:05 Email from Luke about SSDs
  18. 1:10:08 Email from Jesse about SRT notebooks
  19. 1:14:05 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
    1. Tshirts, prizes, stuff!
    2. Win a truck: http://www.pcper.com/news/Shows-and-Expos/QuakeCon-2011-Arrive-clunker%E2%80%A6-leave-beast
  20. 1:16:32 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Evernote
    2. Jeremy: isostick ... 1/2 way through the kickstart process even
    3. Josh: dirt cheap USB 3.0 16GB
    4. Allyn: Sony DSC-HX100V
  21. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  22. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  23. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  24. 1:25:46 Closing

Source:

SanDisk joins the hard drive haters with the release of their Ultra SSDs

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2011 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sandisk, sandisk ultra

SanDisk is releasing a line of SSDs, called the Ultra series.  They are not aimed at the high end market, they use the older SATA 2 interface and claim sequential transfer speeds of 280MB/s read and 270MB/s write.  The prices should range from $130 for the 60GB product to $450 for the 240GB model, which puts them about middle of the road for pricing.  They also list expected lifetime in terms of the amount of data written to them; 40TB of data written for the 60GB up to 120TB of total data written to the 240GB.  The Register covered the release here.

Elreg_sandisk_ultra_ssd.jpg

"SanDisk has a new Ultra line, a cruise flash missile aimed at taking out PC and notebook hard drives and replacing them with much faster SanDisk SSDs.

These are 2.5-inch format, 2-bit multi-level cell flash drives, coming in 60, 120 and 240GB capacity points. The Ultra brand is used by SanDisk for consumer flash products such as SDHC cards, and now a trio of SSDs will be sold under the Ultra name."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Sony: Lighthearted and Colorful Ads for Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 28, 2011 - 02:12 AM |
Tagged: sony, S2, S1

So part one and part two of Sony’s “Two Will” campaign went off to advertise the upcoming launch of the S1 and S2 Honeycomb tablets over the last couple months with promise of three more on the way. Recently Sony made good on that promise and posted the third last “Two Will” video to Youtube and this one was substantially different from the ones before it. Titled “Filled with fun”, this one has much less of a dark and bleak atmosphere trading the harsh shadowing with light and color.

I don't think it's legal to romance a tablet; well, maybe in Japan.

While rails still play an important role, there is much less emphasis on impressing you with perfectly timed plungers pressing the touchscreen as it zips past. Instead, “Filled with fun” passed by various stations which symbolize the various roles of the tablet: music, movie consumption, literature consumption, and games. There is also a strong emphasis on portability and love in the themes of each of their videos.

Why do you think Sony keeps referencing love in these videos? What is the significance of the couch just before the domino “to be continued”? (Registration not required to comment.)

Source: Sony

Bumpday 7/27/2011: Yo dawg, I heard you like bumps

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 27, 2011 - 09:26 PM |
Tagged: bumpday, DOSSHELL

This week (actually today) Jeremy went back in time and drug out the old DOSSHELL out of the 80’s and early 90’s and recounted Microsoft’s rise as a software platform company. The personal computer caught on quickly with DOSSHELL getting replaced for Windows, then Windows 95 and so forth to the present. And while Jeremy has fond memories of Wing Commander I just cannot help but see his Kilrathi raise him a Privateer.

Bumpday2.png

… so I installed a bump in your bump so you can bump while you bump.

Just ten days before Halloween 2003 the fifth stepson of Newton had an important report to write for his history class, so we think. Xzibit then proclaimed that Microsoft pimped DOS Auto. Wait, what is this? Did Jim put the bump in my bumping bumpday bump? (Who put the RAM in the eighty-eighty-six slot?) But yes it is true, it is amazing to see how far we, especially the old farts, have come.

BUMP

Source: PCPer Forums

We've got gold! Deus Ex 2 is on time.

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2011 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: deus ex 3, gaming

The news out of Montreal is good, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is off to the production lines as the gold DVD has been stamped.  That means that come August 23 you will be able to pick it up at stores or use the copy you pre-ordered through Steam.  That doesn't give us any guarantees as to the quality of the game, though the trailers seem good and more importantly the gameplay previews do as well.  With Eidos it is hard to say how good the dialog and story will be as they've been the makers of some of the worst and some of the best examples over the years.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN better not have been lied to!

RPS_dxwalk.jpg

"Humans! The promised day has arrived. Some said it wasn’t possible. Some said rude, badly-spelled things in capital letters. Others were simply impatient. No matter: it has happened. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the third game in the series that has an awful lot to do with why an awful lot of us remain faithful, unswervingly loyal PC gamers to do this day, has gone gold. And I’m not just talking about its colour pallete. It is finished, Eidos Montreal have just revealed. Complete. Ready. Well, ready as it’ll ever be – and that means its release date on August 23 is actually happening."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

The clicky keyboard is back in a big way

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2011 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, input

Once you had to go digging through old keyboard graveyards to get your hands on a mechanical keyboard, or track down the rare and elusive Das Keyboard.  Now many different peripheral companies offer mechanical keyboards, for instance Razer's new BlackWidow and BlackWidow Ultimate.  This new breed of keyboards are not the familiar buckling-spring switches, instead they a combination of springs and metal clips to provide tactile feedback, the click being an optional feature.  These two keyboards not only give you enough travel and resistance to provide tactile feedback for your fingers, they also included the click so that your ears don't feel left out of your typing experience.  The difference in these two models lies in the Ultimate's programmable macro buttons which the basic model lacks.  Read on to see if the Tech Report had heard enough by the end of the review, or would never go without the click again.

TR_widow-standard-620.jpg

"We've tested both of Razer's clicky mechanical gaming keyboards to figure out whether they're worth the money—and hearing loss."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Older than DOS ... but not dirt

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2011 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: qdos, msdos, microsoft

Back in the ancient days before the comment "Drop to command prompt" made sense as the command prompt a little known company called Microsoft bought QDOS and renamed it as MS DOS.  That was also back when IBM was the be all and end all of 8086 (and 8080) processors and planned for their newly designed Personal Computer to run an OS called CP/M-86 but couldn't get a good enough deal on the licensing; which lead to Microsoft's product being adopted.  It also lead to the Personal Computer catching on much more quickly and thoroughly than anyone predicted.

From that humble beginning came what was first used to slow your 386DX based computer enough to be able to control Wing Commander and now controls almost 90% of the PCs currently running and keeps techs employed world wide.. 

DosShell.png

"Thirty years ago, on July 27 1981, Microsoft bought the rights for QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Seattle Computer Products (SCP) for $25,000. QDOS, otherwise known as 86-DOS, was designed by SCP to run on the Intel 8086 processor, and was originally thrown together in just two months for a 0.1 release in 1980."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: ExtremeTech

'Anonymous' Raids: List of 1000 IPs

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2011 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: paypal, Anonymous

Recently there was a lot of news about alleged members of Anonymous getting arrested by the FBI across America. 40 search warrants were served against people accused of attacking Paypal from a list, provided by the company, of one-thousand IP addresses carrying the most traffic during the time period of Anonymous’ “Operation Payback”. Wired also has the affidavit from the July 19th search of a couple from Arlington, Texas and their son which includes the ability to seize electronic devices either allegedly used in the attack or contains evidence of the attack.

anonymous-raid.png

The importance of living up to your name.

While these searches did not necessarily lead to arrests and were with warrant the concept of linking an IP address with a person is often hotly debated. The “LOIC” tool, a program designed to direct a large amount of traffic at a computer often with the intent of diluting system resources from what the computer is supposed to do, gets its name from the Command and Conquer super weapon, the Low Orbit Ion Cannon. In many cases, traffic from LOIC is easily identifiable as it contains vanity strings as its attack payload and often comes from the user’s personal IP address (not very anonymous); that said, there is nothing to say that the same effects could not be caused by one person controlling an army of a thousand or more virus-infected computers. While I am not commenting on the situations themselves, I do hope that the FBI had more evidence for their 40 warrants than just a random selection of addresses on that list.

Source: Wired

Developer Watch: CUVI 0.5 released

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 26, 2011 - 08:39 PM |
Tagged: gpgpu, Developer Watch, CUVI

Code that can be easily parallelized into many threads have been streaming over to the GPU with many applications and helper libraries taking advantage of CUDA and OpenCL primarily. Thus for developers who wish to utilize the GPU more but are unsure where to start there are more and more options for libraries of functions to call and at least partially embrace their video cards. OpenCV is a library of functions for image manipulation and, while GPU support is ongoing through CUDA, primarily runs on the CPU. CUVIlib, which has just launched their 0.5 release, is a competitor to OpenCV with a strong focus on GPU utilization, performance, and ease of implementation. While OpenCV is licensed as BSD which is about as permissive a license as can be offered, CUVI is not and is based on a proprietary EULA.

Benchmark KLT - CUVILib from TunaCode on Vimeo

Benchmark KLT - OpenCV from TunaCode on Vimeo.

The little plus signs are the computer tracking motion. CUVI (top; 33fps), OpenCV (bottom; 2.5fps)

(Video from CUVIlib)

Despite the proprietary and non-free for commercial use nature of CUVI they advertise large speedups for certain algorithms. For their Kanade-Lucas-Tomasi Feature Tracker algorithm when compared with OpenCV’s implementation they report a three-fold increase in performance with just a GeForce 9800GT installed and 8-13x faster when using a high end computing card such as the Tesla C2050. Their feature page includes footage of two 720p high definition videos undergoing the KLT algorithm with the OpenCV CPU method chugging at 2.5 fps contrasted with CUVI’s GPU-accelerated 33fps. Whether you would prefer to side with OpenCV’s GPU advancements or pay CUVIlib to augment what OpenCV is not good enough for your needs at is up to you, but either future will likely involve the GPU.

Source: CUVIlib

A little something for the audiophile; M-Audio Studiophile Reference Monitor

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2011 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: audio, studio quality, audiophile

There are speakers and then there are studio monitors, with the difference being quality.  For most gamers and movie watchers there is no point in picking up a pair of studio quality monitors, not only because of the lack of a discerning ear but also because the audio source is unable to provide the quality these monitors need to perform.  Much as Scotches or wines taste similar to the untrained palate, studio quality speakers are for professionals with professional level needs.  If you are one, or simply want the best possible sound reproduction and are willing to spend $300+ for a pair of monitors then you should check out the M-Audio Studiophile CX5 Active Studio Reference Monitor review at ModSynergy.  With a proper audio card and file as a source these monitors will equal a $1000 pair of monitors and are a great deal for those with the ears to enjoy them.

MSyn_studiophile.jpg

"Today I will be providing a long-term review on a different beast. Today you will be reading the review of one of M-Audio’s latest offerings on the market within their Studiophile lineup, the CX5 High-Resolution Active Studio Reference Monitor. Read on to see how this 90-watt near-field studio monitor performs and holds up. Will this be your next investment?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: ModSynergy

OCZ wraps both its ARMs around a new SSD controller and gives it a little TLC

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2011 - 12:03 PM |
Tagged: ssd, ocz, arm, tlc, sata 6Gps, Indilinx Everest

OCZ is never satisfied with the performance of their SSDs in general and their controllers specifically.  After purchasing Indilinx to ensure that their controllers would be of high quality and designed to OCZ's specific needs, they've now been pushing Indilinx to improve on their controllers.  That has lead to Everest, which has a dual core ARM processor and 400MHz DDR3 cache that can support up to 512MB.  The controller is optimized for 8K writes which is perfect for the current flash utilized in SSDs.  OCZ has also optimized the flash memory, developing Triple Level Cell (TLC) which has three layers as opposed to MLC which sports two.  The controller will be backwards compatible, which is a good idea if OCZ wants to license the controller to other manufacturers, which makes sense as Everest should hit 200MT/s as compared to SandForce's current 166MT/s.  There is more that this controller can do, click on over to The Register to read about it.

Holysh.jpg

"OCZ is sampling a new flash controller that gives a picture of future solid state drives.

The company bought Indilinx for its solid state drive (SSD) controller technology in March this year and has now unveiled the Indilinx Everest controller platform.

It has a 6Gbit/s SATA III interface, a dual-core ARM processor and a number of enticing features, such as 3-bit multi-level cell (MLC) support. This is going to be called TLC, for triple-level cell, to distinguish it from today's MLC, which is 2-bit MLC."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Apple is da bomb! Vulnerability found in battery circuitry

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | July 25, 2011 - 10:24 PM |
Tagged: Malware, apple

Okay, so the title is more joke than anything else but security researcher Charlie “Safari Charlie” Miller discovered a vulnerability in Apple devices, sort of. This exploit, which appears to not actually be a security flaw and rather just an over-permissive design, allows an attacker to gain access to your battery control using one of two static company-wide passwords. Charlie has discovered many exploits in the past several years on the OSX and iOS platforms. One of the most high profile attacks he discovered involved a data-execution vulnerability in the iPhone’s SMS handling: under certain conditions your iPhone could potentially confuse inbound text messages as code and run it with high permissions.

applebattery.jpg

Malware assaults and battery charges.

(Image from Apple, modified)

So what does having the ability to write to a laptop’s battery firmware mean? Firstly, remember the old advice of “Get a virus? Reinstall your OS!”? Well assuming you actually can perform a clean install without ridiculous hacking (thanks Lion) the battery controller can simply re-infect you if the attacker knows an exploit for your version of OSX. But how does the attacker know your current version of OSX? Well if you are installing from an optical disk they just need to know a Snow Leopard RTM exploit; unless of course you extract Lion from the Mac App Store and clean install using it – assuming the attacker does not know an exploit for Lion or simply just infects the reinstall media if you created it from the infected computer. True, malware is about money so it is highly unlikely that an attacker would go for that narrow of a market of Mac users (already a narrow-enough market to begin with) but the security risk is there if for some reason you are a tempting enough target to spear-phish. Your only truely secure option is removing the battery while performing the OHHHHHHHH.

You know, while working (very temporarily) on the Queen's University Solar Vehicle project I was told that Lithium cells smell like sweet apples when they rupture. I have never experienced it but if true I find it delightfully ironic.

While that would all require knowledge of other exploits in your operating system, there is a more direct problem. If for some reason someone would like to cause damage against your Apple devices they could use this flaw to simply break your batteries. Charlie has bricked nine batteries in his testing but has not even attempted to see whether it would be possible to over-charge a battery into exploding. While it is possible to force the battery controller to create the proper conditions for an explosion there are other, physical, safe guards in place. Then again, batteries have exploded in the past often making highly entertaining Youtube videos and highly unentertaining FOX news clips.

Source: Forbes

Overclocking Llano just makes sense, but the RAM not so much

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2011 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: llano, ddr3-1866, a8-3850

Most reviewers made a financial decision when pairing RAM to review AMD's new Llano A8-3850 processor.  Most chose 1333MHz DDR3, since when building a low cost PC most users are going to choose the lower cost as opposed to spending half the budget simply on DDR3.  After seeing significant overclocks produced by a variety of testers, The Tech Report thought it would be interesting to see the impact of high speed RAM on the performance of an A8-3850, especially the graphics portion.   As it turns out, the decision to go with lower cost RAM made a lot of sense as the the graphical performance did not benefit from faster RAM.

TR_llano dimms.jpg

"Will 1866MHz memory make a big difference to the performance of the AMD A8-3850 APU? How does power consumption look without a discrete GPU involved? We aim to find out."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Phone in your overclocking, MSI Afterburner App for Android

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | July 25, 2011 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: msi, Android

Are you a hardcore PC user who likes to tweak your computer? Naturally there is an app for you. MSI has launched an application for the Android Marketplace this morning to allow users wishing to monitor and overclock their computers the ability to use their Android-powered smartphone or tablet for that purpose through their wireless network. This version allows you to monitor temperature, voltage, fan speed and adjust clock rates, voltages, and fan speeds.

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Let's hope Angry Birds doesn't see this: Some systems' power consumptions are pigs!

MSI Afterburner APP has relatively modest requirements: a tablet or smartphone device running Android 1.6 or higher, a system running Windows XP or later with a discrete graphics card, access to a network with wireless access for the Android device to link into, and Afterburner 2.1.0 or later installed on the PC. Setting up your PC is relatively simple once you have Afterburner installed as you just need to run, not even install, an application “Remote Server” that you can download from the MSI website linked to from the Android Marketplace link. While this application is too new to be rated, it is free and thus there is little reason to not simply try it out yourself.