AMD Updates Its Users About RX 480 Power Issues

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 08:11 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, Polaris, graphics drivers, amd

In the next 24 hours or so, AMD will publish Radeon Software 16.7.1, which addresses the power distribution issues in the AMD Radeon RX 480. The driver makes two major changes. First, AMD claims that it will lower the draw from the PCIe bus. While they don't explicitly say how, it sounds like it will increase the load on the 6-pin PCIe cable, which is typically over-provisioned. In fact, many power supplies have 6-pin connectors that have the extra two pins of an 8-pin connector hanging off of it.

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Second, seemingly for those who aren't comfortable with the extra load on the 6-pin PCIe connector, a UI control has been added to lower overall power. Being that the option's called “compatibility”, it sounds like it should put the RX 480 back into spec on both slot and the extra power connector. Again, AMD says that they believe it's not necessary, and it seems to be true, because that option is off by default.

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Beyond these changes, the driver also adds a bunch of game optimizations. Allyn and Ryan have been working on this coverage, so expect more content from them in the very near future.

Valve Announces TF2 "Meet Your Match" Update

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, tf2

Conveniently just after Overwatch received its Competitive Play update, Valve has announced the Meet Your Match update to Team Fortress 2. This update includes Competitive Mode, which is a ranked, 6v6 gametype, which sounds even more like Overwatch. Only the first day has been revealed thus far, as Valve likes to break update posts into chunks and release them over the course of a week, but it includes three maps, two achievements, and the official launch of the PASS Time game mode. The second part of the update is coming soon.

PASS Time was originally announced last year, in collaboration with Bad Robot (J.J. Abrams' production company) and Escalation Studios. While I've never played it (yes, I pretty much only play 2Fort...) it sounds similar to game modes like Bombing Run or Grifball. Obviously, those game modes are typically for more individual shooters, not TF2's class system, so it's interesting to see how, for instance, a Level 3 Sentry plays into it.

Source: Valve

Rumor: Reddit Finds Listings for RX 460, RX 470, RX 480, and "RADEON 490"

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: amd, Polaris, rx 460, rx 470, rx 480, RX 490, sapphire

Unfortunately, I don't have a Sapphire SSC ID, so I cannot verify these myself. That said, a Reddit user by the name of CBwardog found a few extra listings on the company's drop-down menu for products which really shouldn't exist yet. The product name doesn't really have much associated with it, but it does have video RAM and display outputs.

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Image Credit: CBwardog on Reddit

According to Sapphire, the Radeon RX 460 will launch in 2GB and 4GB versions, each of which have one HDMI, one DVI, and one DisplayPort connector. The RX 470 will come in 4GB and 8GB versions. The 4GB version of the RX 470 will have HDMI and three DisplayPorts, while the 8GB version of the RX 470 will have two HDMI ports, one DVI port, and two DisplayPort connectors. Lastly, ignoring the RX 480 that we already know about, a “RADEON 490” (which an earlier leak by AMD called the RX 490) will be available in just an 8GB version, with one HDMI and three DisplayPorts.

As always, rumors should be taken with a grain of salt. Also, it is possible that port configuration could be specific to Sapphire, as we've seen AIB partners modify outputs before, but you would think that there would be at least one reference design per model, so, chances are, it should be fairly uniform across vendors.

Source: Reddit

NVIDIA Releases 368.69 WHQL Drivers for Dirt Rally VR

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: VR, Oculus, nvidia, graphics drivers, DiRT Rally

A Game Ready Driver has just launched for DiRT Rally VR. GeForce Drivers 368.69 WHQL increments upon the last release, obviously adding optimizations for DiRT Rally VR, but it also includes a few new SLI profiles (Armored Warfare, Dangerous Golf, iRacing: Motorsport Simulator, Lost Ark, and Tiger Knight) and probably other bug fixes.

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The update doesn't yet have a release date, but it should be soon. According to NVIDIA's blog post, it sounds like it will come first to the Oculus Store, but arrive on Steam later this month. I haven't been following the game too heavily, but there doesn't seem to be any announcement about official HTC Vive support that I can find.

You can pick them up at NVIDIA's website or through GeForce Experience. Thankfully, the GeForce Experience 3 Beta seems to pick up on new drivers much quicker than the previous version.

Source: NVIDIA

Saturday July 9 10:00 AM ET - Fragging Frogs VLAN #13 is right around the corner

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, vlan, kick ass, gaming, fun, fragging frogs

That's right, it is time for another Fragging Frog VLAN, this time lucky number 13, kicking off this Saturday morning.  If you are at all interested in having the best possible Saturday ever then head to the forums and put your name in the list of attendees.  If you are not a member of the Forums for some bizarre reason you need to sign up ASAP as it is members and contributors of PCPer and the Fragging Frogs who are given first shot at games and prizes.  To that end you will need to post at least 5 times to our Forums between now and Saturday; pictures of SPAM not included.

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The list of possible games is already quite long, from UT2K4 up to the newly released Overwatch, by way of Battle both field-ish and Front-ian with many more on the list.  If you don't see one of your favourites post it to the thread and we will add it on.  Before joining in, make sure to check out this thread here for the information you need to hop onto the TeamSpeak server so you can chat with your fellow gamers.  You also need to join into the channel if you want to win any of the prizes which will be given away during the event.

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That's right, prizes and gaming!  The wonderful folks at AMD have sent over some mysterious parts for you to have a chance to win and several of the staff of PCPer have dug through their closets and sent out some of the gear we have reviewed recently.  What could these be?  Only one way to find out; see you on Saturday!

That ThinkPwn vulnerability extends beyond Lenovo as the fault is with the motherboard

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2016 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: ThinkPwn, Lenovo, gigabyte, 68-UD3H, z77x-ud5h, Z87MX-D3H, Z97-D3H, Intel, SMM

The ThinkPwn vulnerability which has been in the news lately, which allows attackers to disable Secure Boot and bypass Virtual Secure Mode on Win10 Enterprise as well as disabling flash write protection turns out not to be yet another questionable Lenovo feature.  Instead the problem lies with the motherboards UEFI, specifically the Intel System Management Mode implemented on Gigabyte motherboards.  So far the issue has been located on Z68-UD3H, Z77X-UD5H, Z87MX-D3H, and Z97-D3H but it is possible that the vulnerability exists on far more motherboards, perhaps even beyond Gigabyte as the flaw is in the Intel code.  The Register also postulates this could effect HP Pavilion machines as they use these boards as well.

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"Gigabyte has been swept into turmoil surrounding low-level security vulnerabilities that allows attackers to kill flash protection, secure boot, and tamper with firmware on PCs by Lenovo and other vendors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Vive, DisplayPort, and GP104 Apparently Don't Mix For Now

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 07:15 AM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, htc vive, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, GP104

NVIDIA is working on a fix to allow the HTC Vive to be connected to the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 over DisplayPort. The HTC Vive apparently has the choice between HDMI and Mini DisplayPort, but the headset will not be identified when connected over that connection. Currently, the two workarounds are to connect the HTC Vive over HDMI, or use a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter if your card's HDMI output is already occupied.

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It has apparently been an open issue for over a month now. That said, NVIDIA's Manuel Guzman has acknowledged the issue. Other threads claim that there are other displays that have a similar issue, and, within the last 24 hours, some users have experienced luck with modifying their motherboard's settings. I'd expect that it's something the can fix in an upcoming driver, though. For now, I guess plan your monitor outputs accordingly if you were planning on getting the HTC Vive.

Source: NVIDIA

AMD Denies Rumor that RX 480 Has Disabled CUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: rx 480, Polaris, amd

Apparently, some people think that AMD will be releasing an RX 490 based on Polaris 10 with an extra four compute units, bringing the total number of stream processors to 2560. I'm guessing that people expected it to be a nice, round number or something, but that's not the case. According to Evan Groenke, Senior Product Manager at AMD, the die has 36 compute units, and there is “nothing else hidden on the product that end users might be looking forward to unlocking”.

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Really, this kind-of makes sense. AMD seems to have designed this chip around the performance target of VR, which the RX 480 hits. I don't think that it would really make sense to push about 11% more compute processors into the design, decreasing their yield per wafer for such a relatively small gain.

We are expecting an RX 490 card to land at some point though, thanks to a mistake in publishing on AMD's part. It won't be Polaris 10 or 11.

Razer Announces BlackWidow X Tournament Edition

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: razer, mechanical keyboard, Cherry MX

Well this is interesting. Razer has announced the BlackWidow X Tournament Edition, which is a new tenkeyless mechanical keyboard that uses Cherry MX Blue switches. This is interesting, because it does not use Razer's own switches -- not even as a customization (like the BlackWidow X Ultimate). You must use Cherry MX Blue. It's an interesting change, and I'm not sure why they did that, but they did.

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Beyond that, it's a fairly standard keyboard. It doesn't have a number pad, but it does have a button to record macros on it. I personally do not like those ever since my original Razer BlackWidow. I would accidentally press the button, not realize it, then have everything I typed get spammed out for the next half hour, including passwords. I would assume Razer has fixed that issue in the last four-or-so years, but I haven't used their keyboards in a while. There might have even been an option to prevent it back then, but I never found it. Also, for some, a macro button is probably a nice feature, seeing as they've consistently included it.

The talk about Cherry Switches and Macro Keys aside, the keyboard seems like a pretty decent value. The Razer BlackWidow X Tournament Edition costs $69.99 and ships next week.

Source: Razer

Xbox Play Anywhere Has Been Formalized

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: xbox, windows 10, microsoft

Microsoft is launching Xbox Play Anywhere this fall, which allows games that are purchased on Xbox Store and Windows Store to be available on the other for no additional cost.

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To our site, this means that these games will also be available on Windows 10. Moreover, Microsoft has announced that “every new title published from Microsoft Studios will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store.” So this means that, starting with Re-Core, Microsoft should publish all of their games on the PC.

Update (July 6th @ 3:33pm EDT): Turns out that it was updated to clarify "at this year's E3". So the list of games on XboxPlayAnywhere is all they're announcing so far.

That said, it will all be done through Windows Store, and so we'll need to remain concerned about the openness of that platform. The obvious example is when Games for Windows Live was shut down, bricking all software that the developer didn't patch out (or patch over to Steam). There's also concern about people being able to distribute software independently and anonymously as well.

That said, Microsoft is free to publish their own software however they like, and it's nice to see them supporting the PC again. I just want to make sure a strong, alternative platform exists (like Win32 or a strong Web standard) that cannot be (legally or technically) pivoted into Windows RT (or iOS), which forced all browsers to be re-skins of Internet Explorer (or Safari in iOS's case), forced content guidelines on games, etc. Someone will abuse any restrictions that are made, now or in the future.

Toshiba's HK4R Enterprise SATA SSD, 2TB of speedy reading

Subject: Storage | July 5, 2016 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, HK4R, TC58, sata ssd

If you are looking for large sized storage and can accept the SATA 6Gbps bottleneck, the 1920GB Toshiba HK4R SATA SSD certainly has some room for files.  It uses Toshiba's own TC58 controller with 15nm MLC NAND and sports an endurance rating of 1 Drive Write Per Day for the duration of the 5 year warranty or up to 3520TB written.  The testing done at The SSD Review showed sequential read and write speeds of 524MB/s and 503MB/s respectively making the drive a great choice for consumers or enterprise as the drive has many features required in the data centre.  There is a distinct lack of pricing information, we shall see what these drives sell at some time in the near future.

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"SATA SSDs are all the rage in data centers. Unlike their PCIe bothers, these SATA SSDs don’t often need to have high endurance figures and lightning fast IOPS performance. Instead, they typically just need to be cheap, reliable, and what is becoming more important lately, high capacity."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

MSI Reference Radeon RX 480 Graphics Card Out of Stock Currently but Returning Soon

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 5, 2016 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, Radeon RX 480, polaris 10, Polaris, msi, gcn4

It appears that MSI will be one of the first AIB partners to get a reference version of the AMD RX 480 graphics card out. Available as soon as next week, the MSI Radeon RX 480 8G pairs AMD’s Polaris-based GPU with 8GB of GDDR5 memory on a reference platform and cooler.

The MSI card uses the AMD reference cooler with a blower style fan and measures 9.45” in length. It is a dual slot design with a red and black aesthetic. Rear IO includes three DisplayPort and one HDMI ports. It is powered by a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector.

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There is not much to say with regards to clocks on this GCN4-based card as there are no factory overclocks to speak of. The base clock sits at 1120 MHz (which is an average expected clock, not necessarily the minimum) and the GPU can boost up to a maximum of 1266 MHz out of the box. MSI is clocking the memory at the full 8 GHz though, which is good (AMD stated that partners could clock memory anywhere from seven to eight GHz).

Looking around various retailers, it appears that you will be able to get your hands on it as soon as July 9th from Newegg for $240. 

Watch out for pricing before clicking that buy button though, because some sites that allow third party sellers have jacked up the prices quite a bit! If you are looking for a reference design, this card should be as good as the rest. Personally, I am looking forward to MSI and other AIB partner’s custom RX 480 cards which should have much higher overclocking potential and a better power phase setup that should alleviate any power consumption concerns of the reference design’s VRM setup. That is not to say that the reference MSI is going to blow up your PC or anything, but from a buyer's perspective I would rather wait for the custom boards with better coolers that I can push further and faster for only a fairly slight premium. If you need a blower style cooler, this card should work.

Also read:

Source: MSI

Yes, some of your users phones are infected

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: security, Malware

Managing mobile devices in an enterprise environment is a nightmare, even with properly set up security polices and some sort of Mobile Device Manager.  Security firm Skycure recently estimated one in every 200 devices is infected with some form of malware, which seems a bit low especially considering that some the devices tested had 290 apps installed.  Infections of Android devices are most common but do not think for a moment that your iOS device is safe, it may only be half as likely to be compromised but it does indeed have serious vulnerabilities as well.  Drop by The Register for a look at the numbers of bad apps on various stores.

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"Researchers found enterprises have three unique infection instances with devices sporting an eye-watering average of 290 apps a piece."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

MSI DUKE GTX 1080 and 1070: More GP104 Versions!

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 5, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, GP104, duke

Getting a custom-cooled GTX 1080 (for around its MSRP) basically involves monitoring Newegg for a good business week or two, several times per day, pouncing on whatever isn't marked-up. Whether it's low supply or high demand, add-in board vendors haven't stopped announcing new models.

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Image Credit: EXPReview

The MSI GTX 1080 8G DUKE is a three-fan (“TriFrozr”) design with an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCIe power connector, which provides 75W more headroom than the Founders Edition. EXPReview claims that it slides between the AERO and the GAMING lines. Although they don't claim how it matches up to ARMOR, which is also between AERO and GAMING, it looks like it's slightly above it, with its RGB LEDs. The GTX 1080 GPU is factory overclocked to 1708 MHz and boosts to 1847 MHz, and the GTX 1070 is overclocked to 1607 MHz with a 1797 MHz boost.

Launch regions are not listed for the cards, but the launch price is supposedly 5399 Chinese Yuan (which converts to $810 USD) and 3499 Chinese Yuan ($524.70 USD) for the GTX 1070. This is quite a bit higher than we would expect, but I'm not sure how regional pricing on electronics works between the USA and China.

Source: EXPReview

The 8-Bit Guy (and Friends) on Cassette Tapes for PCs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 5, 2016 - 02:52 AM |
Tagged: cassette, tape

Some old PCs didn't have storage, so users needed to add programs manually by typing in the source code. As The 8-Bit Guy explains, one of the first consumer solutions was to attach a cassette tape to the computer through analog audio cables. They would actually be programmed by pulsing electrical intensities, which would be interpreted as binary data, within the audio range. Near the end, he even plays a clip of normal data, and “fast loader” data.

He, and his co-hosts, talk about their experiences with the medium, such as using a two-deck cassette player to copy programs and share them with friends. It doesn't go too deep into the technology or the time period, unlike some of his previous videos, but it's still entertaining none-the-less.

More Examples of Why AV Software Can Be Bad

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2016 - 02:13 AM |
Tagged: symantec, security

I know that I've mention this in the past, and I'm not advocating running no antivirus software, but it's good to remember that you're using high-privileged software to load untrusted data. While mistakes can happen in any reasonably complex software, some companies are more complacent than others, and some design choices fail to respect the trust you have in them. Symantec, as far as I know, has one of the better reputations of security companies, but this flaw is terrible.

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Basically, to detect malware that has been obfuscated by executable compression, antivirus software unpacks it themselves and looks. Symantec's solution runs in the kernel, allowing any malware that targets it to have kernel permissions. They were also using “at least” seven-year-old forks of open source libraries. Well... crap.

The bugs have been privately disclosed to Symantec, and fixed before Google went public. If you have any Symantec, or their consumer brand, Norton, software, then make sure it's up to date. Consumer software will have the fix pushed through LiveUpdate, but some some products, like Symantec Endpoint Protection and Symantec Protection for SharePoint Servers might require administrator action.

Source: Google

Gigabyte Shows Off Bite Sized GTX 1070 Mini ITX OC Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 5, 2016 - 01:49 AM |
Tagged: gigabyte, gtx 1070, pascal, mini ITX, factory overclocked

Custom graphics cards based on NVIDIA’s GTX 1070 GPU have been rolling out from all the usual suspects, and today small form factor enthusiasts have a new option with Gigabyte’s Mini ITX friendly GTX 1070 Mini ITX OC. As the name implies, this is a factory overclocked card that can hit 1746 MHz boost with the right checkboxes ticked in the company’s vBIOS utility.

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The new SFF graphics card measures a mere 6.7-inches long and is a dual slot design with a custom single 90mm fan HSF. It is a custom design that uses a 5+1 power phase design which Gigabyte claims is engineered to provide lower temperatures and more stable voltage compared to Nvidia’s reference design which is a 4+1 setup. The cooler on the dual slot card uses an aluminum fin array that is fed by three direct touch heatpipes. The 90mm fan is able to spin down to 0 rpm when the card is not under load which would make it a good candidate for a gaming capable living room PC that also doubles as your media center. Gigabyte further claims that their "3D stripe" ridged fan blade design helps to reduce noise and improve cooling performance.

Rear IO on the card includes two dual link DVI connectors, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort output. The graphics card is powered by a single 8-pin PCI-E power connector.

As far as the nitty gritty specifications are concerned, Gigabyte has the GTX 1070 GPU clocked out of the box at 1531 MHz base and 1721 MHz boost. Using the company’s Xtreme Engine utility, users can enable the “OC Mode” which automatically clocks the card further to 1556 MHz base and 1746 MHz boost. The OC Mode in particular is a decent factory overclock over the reference clocks of 1506 MHz base and 1683 MHz boost respectively. The 8 GB of GDDR5 memory remains effectively untouched at 8008 MHz.

Unfortunately as is usually the case with these kinds of launches pricing and availability has not yet been announced. From a cursory look around Newegg I would guess that the card will be somewhere around $465 (both the factory overclock and SFF premium).

Source: Gigabyte

The custom GTX 1080's are starting to appear, here's the ASUS ROG GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 4, 2016 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING, GTX 1080, factory overclocked

It is rather difficult to rate the cost to performance ratio of GTX 1080's as the prices and availability are in a constant state of flux but we can certainly peg the overall performance of the cards.  [H]ard|OCP recently strapped the new ASUS ROG GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING GPU to their testbed to see how it performs.  Right out of the box the cards base clock is 1759MHz with a boost clock of 1898MHz and 10GHz GDDR5X, which [H] successfully raised to 1836MHz base, 1973MHz boost with in game frequencies reaching 2139 MHz and the GDDR5 running at 11.3GHz.  This had an effect on performance.

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"Today we review in full detail our first custom GeForce GTX 1080 video card. ASUS has decked the ROG GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING out with a factory overclock, the STRIX cooling system, and a fully customizable lighting system. Let's see this beast overclock and compare it to the previous gen's GTX 980 Ti and Radeon R9 Fury X."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gigabyte's 17" P57W laptop thinks you should go big or go home

Subject: Mobile | July 4, 2016 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, P57W, GTX 970M

Gigabyte's 17" laptop contains some decent hardware although the GPU is somewhat questionable; with that much room inside they still opted to go with a GTX 970M and one with only 3GB of available VRAM.  On the other hand the i7-6700HQ is a strong choice, paired with 16GB of Crucial DDR4-2133, storage is handled by a 256GB LiteOn SATA SSD and a 1TB Hitachi HDD.  The screen is a 1080p panel and while the NVIDIA card can handle upscaling on some games, The Tech Report saw performance drops on many intense games when using that feature.  Check out more details in their full review.

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"17" laptops have long been maligned for their bulk, but the onward march of technology means one can now get a big machine like Gigabyte's P57W that's slim and trim. We put this large laptop to the test to see whether gamers on the go should go big."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

Your encrypted Android phone's Keymaster will settle for anyone, not just Sigourney

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2016 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: andriod, keymaster, qualcomm, snapdragon, encryption

The only good news about this particular decryption hack requires physical access to your phone and as you should be aware once someone has your device in their hands all bets about security are off.  The vulnerability exists on ARM-compatible Snapdragon system-on-chips and the TrustZone, a secure part of the chip which runs outside of the operating system and passes information pertaining to the encryption on your phone via the Qualcomm Secure Execution Environment.

It is possible to to exploit an Android kernel security vulnerability to load your own QSEE application which can then query the TrustZone for your unencrypted blob and RSA key.  From there it is simply a matter of brute forcing the phones PIN or password which then allows you access to all the encrypted data on the device.  The Register explains not only the vulnerability but also how TrustZone and KeyMaster work on your devices in this article.

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"Essentially, if someone seizes your Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered phone, they can potentially decrypt its file system's contents with a friendly Python script without knowing your password or PIN."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register