Ransomware Spreading Through Major Websites Via Infected Ad Servers

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2016 - 05:12 AM |
Tagged: ransomware, Malwarebytes, Malware, adware

Compromised ad servers have been pushing out ransomware directly to unwitting users of many popular domains. As reported by Ars Technica (via MalwareBytes and others), whose story is heavily referenced here, the domain list contains a number of high traffic sites.

"It hit some of the biggest publishers in the business, including msn (.com), nytimes (.com), bbc (.com), aol (.com), my.xfinity (.com), nfl (.com), realtor (.com), theweathernetwork (.com), thehill (.com), and newsweek (.com). Affected networks included those owned by Google, AppNexis, AOL, and Rubicon."

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(Image credit: Ars Technica)

Unfortunately, the story doesn't get better from here. The Ars report continues:

"The ads are also spreading on sites including answers (.com), zerohedge (.com), and infolinks (.com), according to SpiderLabs. Legitimate mainstream sites receive the malware from domain names that are associated with compromised ad networks. The most widely seen domain name in the current campaign is brentsmedia (.com)."

The ads have been traced back to multiple domains, including: trackmytraffic (.biz), talk915 (.pw), evangmedia (.com), and shangjiamedia (.com). The report continues:

"The SpiderLabs researchers speculate the people pushing the bad ads are on the lookout for expired domains containing the word "media" to capitalize on the reputation they may enjoy as a legitimate address."

The full article from Ars technica can be found here as well as the source link, and the cited Malware Bytes post can be found here.

So how did they do it? The banner ads themselves contained the malware, which could infect the viewers system undetected.

"When researchers deciphered the code, they discovered it enumerated a long list of security products and tools it avoided in an attempt to remain undetected.
'If the code doesn't find any of these programs, it continues with the flow and appends an iframe to the body of the html that leads to Angler EK [exploit kit] landing page,' SpiderLabs researchers Daniel Chechik, Simon Kenin, and Rami Kogan wrote. 'Upon successful exploitation, Angler infects the poor victim with both the Bedep trojan and the TeslaCrypt ransomware...' "

Of course it goes without saying that advertising online is a sticky issue. It can be intrusive, with ads blocking article text, or autoplay videos creating a cacophony of unwanted noise, somewhere amidst the many open tabs. Of course it can be done with class, respectful of the reader's experience (and I would use our own site as an example).

A large number of web users employ ad-blocking extensions to their browser, though it is often the case that ad revenue pays for the costs associated with keeping such sites online. This outbreak is a further blow to the current financial stability of many sites when news such as today's ransomware debacle hits the tech (and soon the mainstream) press.

Source: Ars Technica

2016 will be the year of the display, such as the first ever QLED display, the Philips 276E6ADSS

Subject: Displays | March 15, 2016 - 09:57 PM |
Tagged: quantum dots, philips, ips, epi, E-line 276E6ADSS

For a mere $300 you can see for yourself what the Quantum Dot displays we have been hearing rumours about for a few years now.  It remains an IPS panel and offers an impressive 99% Adobe RGB, or more than 100% of the standard sRGB colour gamut but at a price far below many professional grade monitors.  It delivers a brightness of 300 cd/m2 and a dynamic contrast ratio of 20,000,000.  It is a 16:9, 1080p display with a response time of 5ms, perhaps not as impressive as the variable refresh rate or a 4K monitor but if accurate colour reproduction is what you need then this display will certainly be worth consideration.

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Fremont, California – March 15, 2016 – Today EPI (North America brand license partner for Philips Monitors) announces the world’s first quantum dot-based monitor (E-line 276E6ADSS) is now available in North America. The new 27-inch monitor delivers 99% Adobe RGB color - 50 percent more color than traditional LED displays - thanks to Color IQ™ technology from QD Vision. The new E6 is ideal for entertainment, gaming, professional photography and design. It combines Color IQ optics with full HD resolution, resulting in a professional quality display at the price of mainstream monitors. The Philips 27-inch Quantum Dot display is now available on Amazon for $299.

QD Vision's Color IQ™ solution uses an innovative new semiconductor technology called quantum dots to precisely and efficiently convert light, delivering bluer blues, greener greens and redder reds. The result — vibrant, dynamic, “you-gotta-see-it-to-believe-it” color.

Most of today's high-end monitors are capable of displaying only 95% of the Adobe RGB color gamut, while mainstream models are often limited to showing 70% of the Adobe spectrum. Using QD Vision's Color IQ solution, the Philips 27-inch Quantum Dot Display will deliver over 99% of the Adobe RGB spectrum - more than 100% of the standard sRGB color gamut - but at a fraction of the price of commercial displays.

The IPS-ADS display offers 1920 x 1080 resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, 1000:1 static contrast, 5ms response time and 178°/178° viewing angles, making it possible to view the display from almost any angle. Unlike standard TN panels, IPS-ADS displays give you remarkably crisp images with vivid colors, making them ideal not only for photos, movies and web browsing, but also for professional applications that demand color accuracy and consistent brightness at all times. Ports include; VGA, DVI-D, HDMI (with MHL) and a 3.5mm audio output jack.

Source: Phillips

Basemark Announces VRScore Virtual Reality Benchmark

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2016 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: VRScore, VR, virtual reality, gdc 2016, GDC, crytek, CRYENGINE, benchmark, Basemark

Basemark has announced VRScore, a new benchmarking tool for VR produced in partnership with Crytek. The benchmark uses Crytek’s CRYENGINE along with the Basemark framework, and can be run with or without a head-mounted display (HMD).

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"With VRScore, consumers and companies are able to reliably test their PC for VR readiness with various head mounted displays (HMDs). Unlike existing tools developed by hardware vendors themselves, VRScore has been developed independently to be an essential source of unbiased information for anyone interested in VR."

An independent solution is certainly welcome as we enter what promises to be the year of VR, and Basemark is well known for providing objective benchmark results with applications such as Basemark X and OS II, cross-platform benchmarks for mobile devices. The VRScore benchmark supports the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Razer's OSVR headsets, and the corporate versions include VRTrek, a left/right eye latency measurement device.

Here’s the list of features from Basemark:

  • Supports HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and OSVR
  • Uses CRYENGINE
  • Supports both DirectX 12 and DirectX 11 
  • Features Codename: Sky Harbor, an original IP game scene by Crytek
  • Includes tests for interactive VR (VR game), non-interactive VR (360 VR video) and VR spatial audio (360 sound) 
  • Can be used with or without an HMD
  • Power Board, an integrated online service, gives personalized PC upgrading advice and features performance ranking lists for HMDs, CPUs and GPUs
  • Corporate versions include VRTrek, a patent pending latency testing device with dual phototransistors for application to photon latency, display persistence, left and right eye latency, dropped frames and duplicated frames testing

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VRScore Trek eye latency measurement device, included with corporate version

VRScore is currently available only to corporate customers via the company’s early access program and Benchmark Development Program. The consumer versions (free and paid) will be released in June.

Source: Basemark

The new Razer Blade gaming laptop is compatible with external GPUs

Subject: Mobile | March 15, 2016 - 07:12 PM |
Tagged: Razer Core, razer blade, gaming laptop

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The new version of Razer's Blade gaming notebook comes with a brand new feature, a USB-C port which is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and allows the use of the Razer Core external graphics enclosure which you can see below.  This is the model that they were showing off at CES, which will allow you to use any GPU that will fit in the enclosure as opposed to the GTX 970M which is in the laptop.

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A quick rundown of the specifications are a quad-core Intel i7-6700HQ, 16GB of DDR4-2133, the aforementioned 6GB GTX 970M and a choice between a 256GB or 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD at a price of $2000 or $2200.  The integral touchscreen is a 14.0", 16:9 IGZO panel with a native resolution of 3200x1800 and LED backlighting.

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Click here to see the full PR and spec list.

Source: Razer

Oh snap, old phones and new IoT devices just sprung another leak

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2016 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon, qualcomm, security, iot

TrendMicro discovered vulnerabilities in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series, including the 800, 805 and 810 on devices running a 3.10-version kernel.  They have privately discussed the issue with Google who have since pushed out updates to resolve these issues on their phones, preventing attackers from gaining root access with a specially crafted app.  Unfortunately that is the tip of the iceberg as according to Qualcomm more than a billion devices use Snapdragon processors or modems, many of them IoT devices which have not had this update.  With the already fragmented market getting worse as everyone and their dog are now creating IoT devices the chances are very good that your toaster, fridge and other random internet connected devices are vulnerable and will remain so. 

You should think twice when considering the balance of convenience and security when you are purchasing internet connected household appliances and other IoT devices.  You can see what Slashdot readers think about this here if you so desire.

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"Security experts at Trend Micro have discovered a vulnerability in Qualcomm Snapdragon-produced SoC devices. In fact, it is the same vulnerability that cropped up earlier in the month, affecting Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy Edge Android handsets. This in itself is concerning as these are devices that are no longer in line for security updates, but more concerning is the fact that the same chips are used in IoT devices."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

ARM Partners with TSMC to Produce SoCs on 7nm FinFET

Subject: Processors | March 15, 2016 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, SoC, servers, process technology, low power, FinFET, datacenter, cpu, arm, 7nm, 7 nm FinFET

ARM and TSMC have announced their collaboration on 7 nm FinFET process technology for future SoCs. A multi-year agreement between the companies, products produces on this 7 nm FinFET process are intended to expand ARM’s reach “beyond mobile and into next-generation networks and data centers”.

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TSMC Headquarters (Image credit: AndroidHeadlines)

So when can we expect to see 7nm SoCs on the market? The report from The Inquirer offers this quote from TSMC:

“A TSMC spokesperson told the INQUIRER in a statement: ‘Our 7nm technology development progress is on schedule. TSMC's 7nm technology development leverages our 10nm development very effectively. At the same time, 7nm offers a substantial density improvement, performance improvement and power reduction from 10nm’.”

Full press release after the break.

Source: ARM

AMD's Raja Koduri talks moving past CrossFire, smaller GPU dies, HBM2 and more.

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 15, 2016 - 06:02 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, raja koduri, Polaris, HBM2, hbm, dx12, crossfire, amd

After hosting the AMD Capsaicin event at GDC tonight, the SVP and Chief Architect of the Radeon Technologies Group Raja Koduri sat down with me to talk about the event and offered up some additional details on the Radeon Pro Duo, upcoming Polaris GPUs and more. The video below has the full interview but there are several highlights that stand out as noteworthy.

  • Raja claimed that one of the reasons to launch the dual-Fiji card as the Radeon Pro Duo for developers rather than pure Radeon, aimed at gamers, was to “get past CrossFire.” He believes we are at an inflection point with APIs. Where previously you would abstract two GPUs to appear as a single to the game engine, with DX12 and Vulkan the problem is more complex than that as we have seen in testing with early titles like Ashes of the Singularity.

    But with the dual-Fiji product mostly developed and prepared, AMD was able to find a market between the enthusiast and the creator to target, and thus the Radeon Pro branding was born.

    pro_duo_zoom.jpg

    Raja further expands on it, telling me that in order to make multi-GPU useful and productive for the next generation of APIs, getting multi-GPU hardware solutions in the hands of developers is crucial. He admitted that CrossFire in the past has had performance scaling concerns and compatibility issues, and that getting multi-GPU correct from the ground floor here is crucial.
     

  • With changes in Moore’s Law and the realities of process technology and processor construction, multi-GPU is going to be more important for the entire product stack, not just the extreme enthusiast crowd. Why? Because realities are dictating that GPU vendors build smaller, more power efficient GPUs, and to scale performance overall, multi-GPU solutions need to be efficient and plentiful. The “economics of the smaller die” are much better for AMD (and we assume NVIDIA) and by 2017-2019, this is the reality and will be how graphics performance will scale.

    Getting the software ecosystem going now is going to be crucial to ease into that standard.
     

  • The naming scheme of Polaris (10, 11…) has no equation, it’s just “a sequence of numbers” and we should only expect it to increase going forward. The next Polaris chip will be bigger than 11, that’s the secret he gave us.

    There have been concerns that AMD was only going to go for the mainstream gaming market with Polaris but Raja promised me and our readers that we “would be really really pleased.” We expect to see Polaris-based GPUs across the entire performance stack.
     

  • AMD’s primary goal here is to get many millions of gamers VR-ready, though getting the enthusiasts “that last millisecond” is still a goal and it will happen from Radeon.
     
  • No solid date on Polaris parts at all – I tried! (Other than the launches start in June.) Though Raja did promise that after tonight, he will only have his next alcoholic beverage until the launch of Polaris. Serious commitment!
     
  • Curious about the HBM2 inclusion in Vega on the roadmap and what that means for Polaris? Though he didn’t say it outright, it appears that Polaris will be using HBM1, leaving me to wonder about the memory capacity limitations inherent in that. Has AMD found a way to get past the 4GB barrier? We are trying to figure that out for sure.

    roadmap.jpg

    Why is Polaris going to use HBM1? Raja pointed towards the extreme cost and expense of building the HBM ecosystem prepping the pipeline for the new memory technology as the culprit and AMD obviously wants to recoup some of that cost with another generation of GPU usage.

Speaking with Raja is always interesting and the confidence and knowledge he showcases is still what gives me assurance that the Radeon Technologies Group is headed in the correct direction. This is going to be a very interesting year for graphics, PC gaming and for GPU technologies, as showcased throughout the Capsaicin event, and I think everyone should be looking forward do it.

AMD Named Exclusive GPU Provider for Crytek VR First

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2016 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: crytek, CRYENGINE, amd

AMD will be the sole GPU presence in the labs at universities participating in Crytek’s VR First initiative, which “provides colleges and universities a ready-made VR solution for developers, students and researchers”, according to AMD.

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AMD is leveraging the newly-announced Radeon Pro Duo graphics cards for this partnership, which lends immediate credibility to their positioning of the new GPU for VR development.

“The new labs will be equipped with AMD Radeon™ Pro Duo graphics cards with LiquidVR™ SDK, the world’s fastest VR content creator platform bridging content creation and consumption and offering an astonishing 16 teraflops of compute power. Designed to be compatible with multiple head mounted displays, including the Oculus Rift™ and HTC Vive™, AMD Radeon™ Pro Duo cards will encourage grassroots VR development around the world. The initial VR First Lab at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul is already up and running in January of this year.”

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Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli explains VR First:

“VR First labs will become key incubators for nurturing new talent in VR development and creating a global community well-prepared to innovate in this exciting and emerging field. VR experiences, harnessing the power of the CRYENGINE and developed using world-class Radeon™ hardware and software, will have the potential to fundamentally transform how we interact with technology.”

This certainly appears to be an early win for AMD in VR development, at least in the higher education sector.

Source: AMD

AMD claims 83% VR market share, shows VR on Polaris

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2016 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: VR, radeon pro duo, radeon, capsaicin, amd

As part of AMD’s Capsaicin event in San Francisco today, the company is making some bold statements around its strategy for VR, including massive market share dominance, new readiness programs and the future of VR with the Polaris architecture due out this year.

The most surprising statement made by AMD at the event was the claim that “AMD is powering the overwhelming majority of home entertainment VR systems around the world, with an estimated 83 percent market share.” This is obviously not based on discrete GPU sales in the PC market alone, but instead includes the sales of the PlayStation 4 game console, for which Sony will launch its own PlayStation VR headset later this year. (Side note, does JPR not include the array of Samsung phones to be “home entertainment VR” systems?)

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There is no denying that Sony's install base with the PS4 has put AMD in the driver seat when it comes to global gaming GPU distribution, but as of today this advantage has not amounted to anything noticeable in the PC space – a stance that AMD was selling hard before the consoles’ launch. I am hesitant to put any weight behind AMD’s PS4 integration for VR moving forward, so the company will have to prove that this is in fact an advantage for the chip maker going into 2016.

AMD is talking up other partnerships as well, including those with HTC and Oculus for their respective headset launches, due in the next 30 days. Beyond that, AMD hardware is being used in the just announced Sulon Q wireless VR headset and has deals in place with various healthcare, media and educational outlets to seed development hardware.

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For system vendors and add-in card builders, AMD is launching a certification program that will create labels of “Radeon™ VR Ready Premium” and “Radeon™ VR Ready Creator”. The former will be assigned to graphics cards at Radeon R9 290 performance and above to indicate they are capable of meeting the specifications required by Oculus and HTC for their VR headsets; the latter is going to be assigned only to the Radeon Pro Duo dual-Fiji graphics card, meant to target developers that need maximum performance.

Finally, AMD is showing that its next generation graphics architecture, Polaris, is capable of VR as well.

AMD today demonstrated for the first time ever the company’s forthcoming Polaris 10 GPU running Valve’s Aperture Science Robot Repair demo powered by the HTC Vive Pre. The sample GPU features the recently announced Polaris GPU architecture designed for 14nm FinFET, optimized for DirectX® 12 and VR, and boasts significant architectural improvements over previous AMD architectures including HDR monitor support, industry-leading performance-per-watt 2, and AMD’s 4th generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.

We are still waiting to see if this is the same silicon that AMD showed at CES, a mainstream part, or if we might be witnessing the first demo of a higher end part, wetting the appetite of the enthusiast community.

AMD launches dual-Fiji card as Radeon Pro Duo, targeting VR developers, for $1500

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2016 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: VR, radeon pro duo, radeon, Fiji, dual fiji, capsaicin, amd

It’s finally here, and AMD is ready to ship it, the much discussed and often debated dual-Fiji graphics card that the company first showed with the launch of the Fury series of Radeon cards way back in June of last year. It was unnamed then, and I started calling it the AMD Fury X2, but it seems that AMD has other plans for this massive compute powerhouse, now with a price tag of $1,499.

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As part of the company’s Capsaicin event at GDC tonight, AMD showed the AMD Radeon Pro Duo, calling it the “most powerful platform for VR” among other things. The card itself is a dual-slot configuration with what appears to be a (very thick) 120mm self-contained liquid cooler, similar to the Fury X design. You’ll need three 8-pin power connectors for the Radeon Pro Duo as well, but assuming you are investing in this kind of hardware that should be no issue.

Even with the integration of HBM to help minimize the footprint of the GPU and memory system, the Radeon Pro Duo is a bit taller than the standard bracket and is more analogous the length of a standard graphics card.

Radeon_Pro_Duo_02.jpg

AMD isn’t telling us much about performance in the early data provided, only mentioning again that the card provides 16 teraflops of compute performance. This is just about double that of the Fury X, single GPU variant released last year; clearly the benefit of water cooling the Pro Duo is that it can run at maximum clock speeds.

Probably the biggest change from what we learned about the dual-GPU card in June to today is its target market. AMD claims that the Radeon Pro Duo is “aimed at all aspects of the VR developer lifestyle: developing content more rapidly for tomorrow’s killer VR experiences while at work, and playing the latest DirectX® 12 experiences at maximum fidelity while off work.” Of course you can use this card for gaming – it will show up in your system just as any dual-GPU configuration would and can be taken advantage of at the same level owning two Fury X cards would.

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The Radeon Pro Duo is cooled by a rear-mounted liquid cooler in this photo

That being said, with a price tag of $1,499, it makes very little sense for gamers to invest in this product for gaming alone. Just as we have said about the NVIDIA TITAN line of products, they are the best of the best but are priced to attract developers rather than gamers. In the past AMD had ridiculed NVIDIA for this kind of move but it seems that the math just works here – the dual-Fiji card is likely a high cost, low yield, low production part. Add to that the fact that it was originally promised in Q3 2015, and that AMD has publicly stated that its Polaris-based GPUs would be ready starting in June, and the window for a consumer variant of the Radeon Pro Duo is likely closed.

"The Radeon Pro Duo is AMD's evolution of their high-end graphics card strategy with them positioning the Radeon Pro Duo more towards a content creator audience rather than gamers. This helps justify the higher price and lower volumes as well as gives developers the frame of mind to develop for multi-GPU VR from the get go rather than as an afterthought." - Anshel Sag, Analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy

For engineers, developers, educational outlets and other professional landscapes though, the pure processing power compressed into a single board will be incredibly by useful. And of course, for those gamers crazy enough out there with the unlimited budget and the need to go against our recommendations.


Update: AMD's Capsaicin livestream included some interesting slides on the new Pro Duo GPU, including some of the capabilities and a look at the cooling system.

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The industrial design has carried over from the Fury X

As we see from this slide, the Pro Duo offers 2x Fiji GPUs with 8GB of HBM, and boasts 16 TFLOPS of compute power (the AMD Nano offers 8.19 TFLOPS, so this is consistent with a dual-Nano setup).

PRO_DUO_GPU_BLOCK.png

The cooling system is again a Cooler Master design, with a separate block for each GPU. The hoses have a nice braided cover, and lead to a very thick looking radiator with a pre-attached fan.

PRO_DUO_COOLER.png

From the look of the fan blades this looks like it's designed to move quite a bit of air, and it will need to considering a single (120 mm?) radiator is handling cooling for a pair of high-end GPUs. Temperatures and noise levels will be something to look for when we have hardware in hand.

Zalman's ZM-M600R gaming mouse, a simple mouse for simple people

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2016 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: ZM-M600R, zalman, input, gaming mouse, ambidextrous

There are those for whom more is always better, even when talking about buttons on a mouse.  There are also those who prefer simplicity and have no interest in a mouse with well over a dozen buttons.  The Zalman ZM-M600R gaming mouse is very much made for the latter type of user, be they left or right handed.  There are three buttons in total, along with a scroll wheel; the third button on the top is a back button for when you are browsing.  DPI and polling rates are controlled by physical switches on the bottom of the mouse as the mouse does not have software to control it.  It does have a way to turn the mouse into a storage device for saving a 'profile', you should read about the process over at Overclockers Club, it is certainly ... unique.

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"In the end I wasn't sold on the Zalman ZM-M600R gaming mouse. I can carry on the rant from the testing pages on my annoyance with the lack of buttons on this mouse, but I'm sure that's been stated enough throughout the review. It's apparently becoming a popular choice for some professional gamers, and it's hard to say if they honestly like them or, like most people, like to get free stuff."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

AMD Live Stream and Live Blog TODAY!!

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2016 - 08:41 PM |
Tagged: video, live, capsaicin, amd

AMD is hosting an event during the Games Developer Conference called Capsaicin, focused on VR, the new Polaris architecture, and will be announcing some new products we can't discuss quite yet. (*wink*) On our PC Perspective Live! page we are hosting AMD's live stream and will be adding our commentary with a live blog. Won't you join us?
 
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The event starts at 4pm PT / 7pm ET
 
 
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 Live from the event as the team puts the final touches on tonight’s big show by AMD Radeon.
 
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Crucial's DDR4-2133 32GB Dual-Channel kit; decent price but can it perform?

Subject: Memory | March 14, 2016 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: crucial, ddr4, ddr4-2133

The price of DDR4 continues to come down from the stratosphere and into affordable territory, especially when you look at the kits lower their frequencies to allow you to buy a larger pool of RAM.  The Crucial DDR4-2133 32GB kit is an example of this, albeit a strange one as they have opted for two DIMMs as opposed to four.  The DDR4-2133 15-15-15-36-2T kit retails for ~$175 and has forgone heatspreaders, not a major problem as they are generally only useful for those who want flashy looking RAM.  Unfortunately the price is a bit higher than some of the competition and from Hardware Canucks' testing the DIMMs really do not like to be overclocked.  If you are still holding out on upgrading your system solely because of the price of DDR4, do a bit of shopping around as you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

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"The Crucial DDR4-2133 32GB memory kit may look unassuming but its combination of huge capacity, good speeds, decent overclocking and a low price make for a perfect combination."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

 

Live in the US and are looking for a new router? Don't buy TP-Link

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2016 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: tp-link, dd-wrt

The US FCC backed off on preventing users from flashing the firmware on their routers, as long as they do not operate outside authorized radio frequency band, not that this had anything to do with why users wanted to flash to DD-WRT.  This has not stopped TP-Link from doing so, as of now they will not sell routers which allow a user to install customized firmware.  Assumedly this is a CYA move to ensure that they cannot be sued if someone does change the frequency limits, output power, country codes or other banned modifications but is more likely to cause a decline in their sales.  The Register has more on the decision from the FC and TP-Link here.

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"In a brief statement and FAQ published this week, TP-Link – which is based in Shenzhen, China – said the FCC's revised rules on radio-based equipment makes user reprogrammable firmware illegal in America, and therefore it cannot sell in the US routers that can be re-flashed by their owners."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

AMD Announces the Sulon Q: First Wireless VR Headset

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2016 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: wireless vr headset, vr headset, VR, virtual reality, Sulon Q, FX-8800P, amd fx, amd

AMD is powering the world's first truly self-contained VR solution, the Sulon Q, a wireless headset with a powerful computer built in.

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AMD has partnered with Sulon Technologies, an startup based in Toronto, to produce this new headset, which seems to have the potential to disrupt the fledgling VR market. The idea is simple, and unique; unlike existing designs that require a VR-ready PC (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) or the latest smartphone (GearVR) to work, the Sulon Q VR headset incorporates a full gaming PC inside the headset, allowing for the first actually wireless experience in this young technology's existence.

As Ars Technica notes in their post on the Sulon Q this morning:

"According to the announcement, that 'wear and play' untethered design makes the Sulon Q quite different from competition like the Oculus Rift or SteamVR-powered HTC Vive, which both need a relatively high-end PC to actually generate the images on the headset. With the Sulon Q, the Windows 10 PC hardware is built into the unit, including an expected four-core AMD FX-8800P processor with a Radeon R7 graphics card."

Who wouldn't want to wear an entire PC on their head? Thermal (and other health) concerns aside, just what sort of hardware is under the hood (so to speak)? According to the report published at VideoCardz this morning, it will offer a new AMD FX processor (the FX-8800P) and overall specs that look like they belong more to a gaming laptop than a VR headset.

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(Quoting directly from the report on VideoCardz via this Reddit post):

Experiences: VR, AR, and spatial computing Ergonomics Lightweight, comfortable, ergonomically designed all-in-one tether-free form factor

Processors: AMD FX-8800P processor at up to 35W with Radeon R7 Graphics leveraging AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture 4 compute cores and 8 GPU cores unlocked through Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Sulon Spatial Processing Unit (SPU)

Memory: 8 GB DDR3 Memory

Storage: 256 GB SSD

Display: 2560×1440 OLED display at 90 Hz 110-degree Field-of-View

Audio: 3D spatial audio powered by GenAudio’s AstoundSound® technology Built-in 3.5 mm audio jack Custom spatially-optimized Sulon Q earbuds Dual noise-cancelling embedded microphones.

Tracking: Sulon Spatial Processing Unit combining real-time machine vision technologies and mixed reality spatial computer for real-time environment mapping and tracking from the inside outward, dynamic virtualization for VR/AR fusion, and gesture recognition

Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, SPU

Software: Microsoft Windows® 10 “Project Dragon” application for spatial computing AMD LiquidVR technologies for ensure smooth and responsive VR and AR experiences

Peripherals: Wireless keyboard and mouse provided in box Any other Windows 10-compatible controllers and joysticks

Connectivity: WiFi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.1, 2x USB 3.0 Type A, Micro HDMI OUT

A video for the Sulon Q is also up on YouTube this morning:

The two biggest questions that always accompany any new hardware announcement - how much will it cost, and when is it available - have not been answered just yet. We'll await further information as GDC has just begun, but it seems very safe to say that 2016 will be focused very heavily on VR.

Source: VideoCardz

Huawei honor 5X; that other phone company

Subject: Mobile | March 11, 2016 - 11:33 PM |
Tagged: Huawei, honor 5x

Huawei's new honor 5x is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 with 8 cores, 4 ARM Cortex A53 @ 1.5 GHz and another 4 ARM Cortex A53's @ 1.2 GHz. Qualcomm's Adreno 405 provides GPU power for the 5.5" 1090p IPS display.  As is common with many of their other phones the honor supports dual SIMs, one micro and nano. TechARP have put together a comprehensive review of the phone, covering the specifications as well usage and setup.  Check it out here.

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"The honor 5X is one of the most anticipated smartphones to come out of CES 2016. It offers a 5.5″ full HD display, and a second-generation rim-free fingerprint reader, powered by a Qualcomm octa-core processor underneath its metal alloy body at less than US$220. "

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Source: Tech ARP

Rumor: NVIDIA's Next GPU Called GTX 1080, Uses GDDR5X

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 11, 2016 - 10:03 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, pascal, nvidia, HBM2, gtx1080, GTX 1080, gtx, GP104, geforce, gddr5x

We are expecting news of the next NVIDIA graphics card this spring, and as usual whenever an announcement is imminent we have started seeing some rumors about the next GeForce card.

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(Image credit: NVIDIA)

Pascal is the name we've all being hearing about, and along with this next-gen core we've been expecting HBM2 (second-gen High Bandwidth Memory). This makes today's rumor all the more interesting, as VideoCardz is reporting (via BenchLife) that a card called either the GTX 1080 or GTX 1800 will be announced, using the GP104 GPU core with 8GB of GDDR5X - and not HBM2.

The report also claims that NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang will have an announcement for Pascal in April, which leads us to believe a shipping product based on Pascal is finally in the works. Taking in all of the information from the BenchLife report, VideoCardz has created this list to summarize the rumors (taken directly from the source link):

  • Pascal launch in April
  • GTX 1080/1800 launch in May 27th
  • GTX 1080/1800 has GP104 Pascal GPU
  • GTX 1080/1800 has 8GB GDDR5X memory
  • GTX 1080/1800 has one 8pin power connector
  • GTX 1080/1800 has 1x DVI, 1x HDMI, 2x DisplayPort
  • First Pascal board with HBM would be GP100 (Big Pascal)

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Rumored GTX 1080 Specs (Credit: VideoCardz)

The alleged single 8-pin power connector with this GTX 1080 would place the power limit at 225W, though it could very well require less power. The GTX 980 is only a 165W part, with the GTX 980 Ti rated at 250W.

As always, only time will tell how accurate these rumors are; though VideoCardz points out "BenchLife stories are usually correct", though they are skeptical of the report based on the name GTX 1080 (though this would follow the current naming scheme of GeForce cards).

Source: VideoCardz

Arctic Cooling doubles up with the Liquid Freezer 240

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 11, 2016 - 08:36 PM |
Tagged: arctic cooling, Liquid Freezer 240, AIO

Arctic Cooling has expanded their AIO CPU cooler lineup with the Liquid Freezer 240, which will fit on any modern AMD or Intel CPU.  As with the smaller Liquid Freezer 120 the CPU mounting bracket locks into place, making the install a breeze.  When [H]ard|OCP strapped it onto a CPU overclocked to 4.4GHz they were quite pleased to see this cooler take top spot, 69.7C under full load.  It was rather quiet as well, 41.7dBA is very acceptable for such a powerful cooler.  Pricing is equally impressive, $100 for the best AIO cooler they have tested.  No wonder it picked up a Gold Award.

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"Arctic Cooling claims its new Liquid Freezer 240 is "Extremely Powerful yet Quiet," "Designed for Extreme Cooling Performance" and that it has "Optimal Heat Dissipation." This All-In-One CPU cooler has a 240mm radiator that is poised to do great things with a stock Push/Pull 4-fan configuration and excellent cold plate."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

The Daring Young Bits on the Flying Trapeze

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2016 - 06:15 PM |
Tagged: koruza, infrared, LiFi

Transmitting data over light beams is not a new idea, we've even covered flourescent light LANs in the not too distant past, however these solutions have tended to be expensive. Over at Hack a Day is news about a project working on a less expensive solution, beaming data over infrared light.  They use Raspberry Pi powered machines with motorized lenses in a 3D-printed chassis to project the signal.  A green light is used for rough aiming of the devices, once they are pointed at each other a web interface allows you to fine tune the IR emitter and receiver, with real time feedback to show how the signal is changing.  As with other LiFi networks you are limited by line of sight and people walking in between the transmitter and receiver can cause dropped packets but it is still a lot cheaper than running fibre optics through your building.  Check out this project and several other similar solutions over at Hack a Day.

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"The Koruza project is an open-source, “inexpensive” system that aims to transmit 1 Gb/sec over distances around 100 meters, using modulated infrared light. The intended use-case is urban building-to-building communication at speeds that would otherwise require laying fiber-optic cables."

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Source: Hack a Day

Splitting the difference, Corsair's Void Surround

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2016 - 10:20 PM |
Tagged: audio, corsair, VOID Surround, 7.1

The new VOID Surround from Corsair sits between the Void Stereo and Void USB in price, but has some features which might make it more appealing to a wider crowd.  It ships with both a four-pole 3.5-mm jack for mobile devices, consoles and PCs as well as a Dolby Headphone USB adapter for which supports Dolby 7.1 virtual surround.  The mute button and volume wheel are on the left side of the headset as opposed to being on the cord which is a handy design, although it does make confirming you are muted a bit difficult.  The Tech Report tried it out and found it usable, albeit they were not overly fond of the microphone or the virtual Dolby 7.1 implementation.  Check out the full review before you decide if you like this headset or not.

corsair void surround.png

"Corsair's Void Surround headset promises universal device compatibility and surround-sound immersion, thanks to an included Dolby 7.1 USB dongle that works with Corsair's CUE software to do its thing. We put the Surround to the test with games and music to see whether it offers a more immersive experience than the average stereo headset."

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