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DOOM Guy gets hot and bothered

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2017 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: doom, gaming, hack, mod

It's the May Two-Four so you have probably turned down your furnace* and your thermostat has very little to do, so why not play a game of DOOM on it?  Over at Hack a Day you can get a port of Chocolate DOOM which you can set up and run on a Honeywell Prestige thermostat.  The colour may be better than the original but for now you will have to play it without sound, still it is impressive how far hardware has come, even in simple appliances.

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*offer may not be valid in Wyoming

"In his video, [cz7asm] shows us the game running quite nicely on the 480 x 272 LCD with an NES controller plugged into the USB port originally intended for software updates. The thermostat runs on a STM32F429 which is an ARM9 processor that has the juice to pull it off."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: Hack a Day

MSI's Z270 Krait Gaming shows off its stripes

Subject: Motherboards | May 24, 2017 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: msi, Z270 Krait Gaming, intel z270, Intel

For around $150 the MSI Krait Gaming motherboard is a decent deal for anyone building a computer around an LGA 1151 Intel processor.  With three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and an additional three PCIe 3.0 1x slots you have a lot of space to install additional cards.  The storage is equally expansive with six SATA 6Gbps ports as well as two M.2 slots for newer generation SSDs and there are a total of 16 USB ports split between 3.0 and 2.0 including a Type-C port.  The overclocking potential is also impressive, [H]ard|OCP easily configured  their i7-7600K to run at 5.1GHz with memory at 3600MHz.  Overall the board is a great mix of price and features and well worth considering.

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"While it is generally the flagship motherboards that grab the most attention, it's the midrange offerings that see the most sales. MSI's Z270 Krait Gaming motherboard is one of those bread and butter type offerings. It has everything the gamer needs without the unnecessary and expensive fluff."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #451 - New Surface Pro, Analog Keyboards, Water Cooled PSUs and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2017 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, video, Surface Pro, SolidScale, seasonic, ps4 pro, podcast, opencl, micon, macbook pro, Khronos, fsp, Eisbaer, Chromebook, Alphacool, aimpad

PC Perspective Podcast #451 - 05/25/17

Join us for talk about the wew Surface Pro, analog keyboards, water cooled PSUs 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!

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

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:39:25

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Casper!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

New AI products will Crest Computex

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, Lake Crest, Knights Crest

DigiTimes have heard about Intel's plans to reveal their next hardware devoted to AI functionality at Computex.  Lake Crest is their deep learning hardware to support a new generation of neural network based computing and Knights Crest is the result of Intel's $350m purchase of the deep learning company Nervana which will be based on the familiar Xeon and Xeon Phi families of processor. 

Jen-Hsun Huang, will deliver a keynote about NVIDIA's current AI projects along with their advancements in autonomous driving and deep learning, but we have not heard any juicy rumours about hardware announcements yet.  Love him or hate him, Jen-Hsun's keynotes are never a waste of time to listen to.

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"Nvidia and Intel are expected to unveil their latest plans on hardware platforms for artificial intelligence (AI) applications at Computex 2017, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Computex 2017: ASUS ZenBook Pro UX550 Packs i7 CPU, 1050Ti, and 15-inch 4K Screen Into a 4-Pound Package

Subject: Mobile | May 29, 2017 - 11:54 AM |
Tagged: zenbook pro, laptop, computex 2017, asus zenbook, asus

ASUS kicked off the day by unveiling its svelte new 13-inch convertible laptop, but didn't forget about users who need more power from their portable. Following the introduction of the new ZenBook Flip S, the company turned its attention to the higher-end ZenBook Pro line and announced the ZenBook Pro UX550, a 15.6-inch laptop packed with power that measures in at 18.9mm thick and 1.8kg (3.97 pounds).

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The latest ZenBook Pro is slated to ship with i7 (7700HQ) and i5 (7300HQ) processor options, a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti, up to 16GB of DDR4 2400MHz memory, and up to 1TB of NVMe flash storage.

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As a 2017 product, the ZenBook Pro UX550 unsurprisingly includes two USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, but it also retains plenty of "legacy" connectivity options as well, including two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type-A ports, a full-sized HDMI port, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and an integrated Micro SD Card reader.

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Other features include Full HD and 4K display choices with optional pen and touch support, a backlit keyboard, glass-covered trackpad with integrated fingerprint sensor and Windows Hello support, four 3-watt speakers with Harman Kardon surround-sound audio, and a 73 watt-hour battery capable of up to 14 hours of advertised battery life with fast-charging support.

ASUS has not yet announced a release date for the ZenBook Pro UX550, but it is expected to have a starting price of $1,299.

Source: ASUS

Windows Git gud

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2017 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: git, windows, microsoft

Microsoft have moved their huge collection of source code from an internal proprietary tool to Git.  The repository is 300 GB and is very popular with The Register reporting 8,421 pull requests and 1,760 official builds a day.  To help people access the repository they have developed their own Git Virtual File System, which present Git as a FAT file system to users.  This has not been viewed as favourably as they had hoped, the popularity is causing the service to process requests slowly, however it is still generally faster than going straight to Git.  If you want to give it a shot, read through this blog post over at Microsoft.

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"Redmond's certainly feeling pleased with itself about the move, in particular stroking itself about being able to move the whole 2,000-strong Windows OneCore team from the Source Depot internal tool to Git over a weekend."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

BitFenix Shogun, a well rounded case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2017 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: bitfenix, Shogun

BitFenix's Shogun case stands 250x565x525mm in size and allows coolers of up to 175mm in height and GPUs of up to 410mm.  It is not the largest case on the market but it is certainly no SFF enclosure, fitting E-ATX motherboards though the tray has mounting points for even mini-ITX if you have a strange idea in mind.  The front panel is subtly hidden in the gap between the front bezel and the cases top with enough of a gap you should not have any issues fitting a thumb drive in.  Bitfenix gave this metal and glass case high marks for functionality, even if they weren't personally in love with the overall aesthetics.

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"The Bitfenix Shogun may not look the part when it comes to its naming, but it does offer a nice and mostly functional feature set coupled with great overall build quality. It also sets itself apart by allowing the user to expand the motherboard tray for an E-ATX board."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: TechPowerUp

Win-ning friends in the workplace and hoping you hate group policy

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2017 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Win 10, enterprise

Microsoft is continuing with their policy of self inflicted hurdles for Enterprise adoption of Windows 10.  We have known for a while that Group Policy no longer works as expected on the new version of Windows and today The Inquirer posted more exact information this particular issue.  A security researcher locked down a machine using Group Policy settings and found that even with policies in place to prevent certain protocols and services, the machine continued to attempt connections.  The most damning proof of all was on a machine set to extreme security, with all but connections to Microsoft Update blocked, that still happily attempted to connect to advertising servers.  The marketshare of Win 10 devices in the workplace does not look to be on the rise any time soon.

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"On Monday, we revealed that a security researcher had used a packet sniffer to show that many settings designed to prevent access to the internet were being ignored with connections to a range of third party servers including advertising hubs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Thermaltake's Smart Pro RGB PSU series can provide you with the good kind of lightshow

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2017 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, Smart Pro RGB, 850W, modular psu

The Smart portion of the Thermaltake Smart Pro RGB seems to refer to the Riing 14 RGB fan that can produce up to 256 colours with five different lighting modes to choose from, and built-in memory to save your light shows. [H]ard|OCP turned the RGB off immediately, then proceeded to test the power the PSU provides, as you would expect.  The PSU passed all the tests, but not with flying colours, as some performance measures such as voltage regulation did not match the competitions.  On the other hand, if you need RGBs on your PSU then Thermaltake's Smart Pro RGB models are worth your consideration.

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"Frag-harder RGB lighting is all the rage, and so of course we are now seeing those in PSUs too. Thermaltake has a healthy 850 watt PSU here for review today that actually hits the sub-$100 mark by 1 cent. Fully modular with great DC output; is there anything not to like? You can turn the RGB off. And a 7 year warranty."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

EVGA's Hydro Copper waterblock for GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 26, 2017 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: evga, Hydro Copper GTX 1080, water cooler, nvidia

EVGA's Hydro Copper GTX 1080 is purpose built to fix any GTX 1080 on the market with thermal pads for the memory and VRMs already attached with a tube of EVGA Frostbite thermal paste for the GPU.  The ports to connect into your watercooling loop are further apart than usual, something that TechPowerUp were initially skeptical about, once they tested the cooler those doubts soon disappeared though they had other concerns about the design. Check out the review for the full details on this coolers performance.

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"The EVGA Hydro Copper GTX 1080 is a full-cover waterblock that offers integrated lighting with no cable management needed, a six-port I/O port manifold, and an aluminum front cover for aesthetics and rigidity alike. It also aims to simplify installation by incorporating pre-installed thermal pads out of the box."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: TechPowerUp

G.Skills svelte Ripjaws KM570 mechanical keyboard

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2017 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: G.Skill, Ripjaws KM570 RGB, gaming keyboard, RGB

G.Skill learned from the feedback offered from users of the KM780R and incorporated it into the KM570.  They've simplified the design and added back the top plate to protect the switches, though they did replace the volume wheel with buttons, a decision The Tech Report were not wholly enthusiastic about.   The keyboard sports two USB plugs, one is for transferring software settings to the keyboard and is not needed unless you are updating your settings.  The lighting has five different brightness settings as well as the all important off setting.  It retails for $120, which is less than much of the competitions offerings; as odd as it is to say.

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"G.Skill's KM570 puts an everything-you-need, nothing-you-don't board in the company's gaming-keyboard quiver. We tried out this distilled gaming board to see whether it has what it takes to stand out in a crowded field."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Computex 2017: EVGA Unveils GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin With Guaranteed 2GHz+ Overclock

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2017 - 08:30 PM |
Tagged: Kingpin, gtx 1080 ti, gpu, evga, computex 2017

EVGA today took the wraps off its latest and highest-end NVIDIA GPU with the announcement of the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin Edition. Part of the company's continuing line of "K|NGP|N" licensed graphics cards, the 1080 Ti Kingpin includes performance, cooling, and stability-minded features that are intended to set it apart from all of the other 1080 Ti models currently available.

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From a design standpoint, the 1080 Ti Kingpin features an oversized PCB, triple-fan iCX cooler, an expansive copper heat sink, and right-edge PCIe connectors (2 x 8pin), meaning that those with an obsession for cable management won't need to pick up something like the EVGA PowerLink. The card's design is also thin enough that owners can convert it into a true single-slot card by removing the iCX cooler, allowing enthusiasts to pack more water- or liquid nitrogen-cooled GPUs into a single chassis.

The GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin also features a unique array of display outputs, with dual-link DVI, HDMI 2.0, and three Mini DisplayPort 1.3 connectors. This compares with the three full-size DisplayPort and single HDMI outputs found on the 1080 Ti reference design. The presence of the DVI port on the Kingpin edition also directly addresses the concerns of some NVIDIA customers who weren't fans of NVIDIA's decision to ditch the "legacy" connector.

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With its overbuilt PCB and enhanced cooling, EVGA claims that users will be able to achieve greater performance from the Kingpin Edition compared to any other currently shipping GTX 1080 Ti. That includes a "guaranteed" overclock of at least 2025MHz right out of the box, which compares to the 1480MHz base / 1600MHz boost clock advertised for the 1080 Ti's reference design (although it's important to note that NVIDIA's advertised boost clocks have become quite conservative in recent years, and many 1080 Ti owners are able to easily exceed 1600MHz with modest overclocking).

EVGA has yet to confirm an exact release date for the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin, but it is expected to launch in late June or July. As for price, EVGA has also declined to provide specifics, but interested enthusiasts should start saving their pennies now. Based on previous iterations of the "K|NGP|N" flagship model, expect a price premium of anywhere between $100 and $400.

Source: EVGA
Manufacturer: The Khronos Group

The Right People to Interview

Last week, we reported that OpenCL’s roadmap would be merging into Vulkan, and OpenCL would, starting at some unspecified time in the future, be based “on an extended version of the Vulkan API”. This was based on quotes from several emails between myself and the Khronos Group.

Since that post, I had the opportunity to have a phone interview with Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group and chairman of the OpenCL working group, and Tom Olson, chairman of the Vulkan working group. We spent a little over a half hour going over Neil’s International Workshop on OpenCL (IWOCL) presentation, discussing the decision, and answering a few lingering questions. This post will present the results of that conference call in a clean, readable way.

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First and foremost, while OpenCL is planning to merge into the Vulkan API, the Khronos Group wants to make it clear that “all of the merging” is coming from the OpenCL working group. The Vulkan API roadmap is not affected by this decision. Of course, the Vulkan working group will be able to take advantage of technologies that are dropping into their lap, but those discussions have not even begun yet.

Neil: Vulkan has its mission and its roadmap, and it’s going ahead on that. OpenCL is doing all of the merging. We’re kind-of coming in to head in the Vulkan direction.

Does that mean, in the future, that there’s a bigger wealth of opportunity to figure out how we can take advantage of all this kind of mutual work? The answer is yes, but we haven’t started those discussions yet. I’m actually excited to have those discussions, and are many people, but that’s a clarity. We haven’t started yet on how Vulkan, itself, is changed (if at all) by this. So that’s kind-of the clarity that I think is important for everyone out there trying to understand what’s going on.

Tom also prepared an opening statement. It’s not as easy to abbreviate, so it’s here unabridged.

Tom: I think that’s fair. From the Vulkan point of view, the way the working group thinks about this is that Vulkan is an abstract machine, or at least there’s an abstract machine underlying it. We have a programming language for it, called SPIR-V, and we have an interface controlling it, called the API. And that machine, in its full glory… it’s a GPU, basically, and it’s got lots of graphics functionality. But you don’t have to use that. And the API and the programming language are very general. And you can build lots of things with them. So it’s great, from our point of view, that the OpenCL group, with their special expertise, can use that and leverage that. That’s terrific, and we’re fully behind it, and we’ll help them all we can. We do have our own constituency to serve, which is the high-performance game developer first and foremost, and we are going to continue to serve them as our main mission.

So we’re not changing our roadmap so much as trying to make sure we’re a good platform for other functionality to be built on.

Neil then went on to mention that the decision to merge OpenCL’s roadmap into the Vulkan API took place only a couple of weeks ago. The purpose of the press release was to reach OpenCL developers and get their feedback. According to him, they did a show of hands at the conference, with a room full of a hundred OpenCL developers, and no-one was against moving to the Vulkan API. This gives them confidence that developers will accept the decision, and that their needs will be served by it.

Next up is the why. Read on for more.

AMD Announces #Ryzen7Seconds Sweepstakes

Subject: Processors | May 26, 2017 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, giveaway, amd

Between now and July 7th, 2017, which could also be written as 7/7/17, AMD is hosting a sweepstakes (not a contest) to promote Ryzen 7. The premise is that fans will create a video of themselves doing seven different activities in seven seconds. Prizes will be awarded for randomly selected, eligible entries. Alternatively, you can enter by doing some things on Twitter… the details are available on AMD’s website.

This is the reason why I said “not a contest”. According to the rules, these videos will not actually be judged; it's pure luck. The drawing will occur on (roughly) June 2nd, June 9th, June 16th, June 23rd, June 30th, and two drawings on July 7th. Each drawing is for an AMD Ryzen 7 1700X, with one winner per drawing.

Source: AMD

Computex 2017: Western Digital Launches Client SSDs Sporting 64-Layer NAND

Subject: Storage | May 29, 2017 - 11:42 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Ultra, ssd, sandisk, nand, computex 2017, Blue, BiCS, 3d

Western Digital bought SanDisk nearly two years ago, but we had not really seen any products jointly launched under both brand labels. Until today:

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The WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD are both products containing identical internals. Specifically, these are the first client SSDs built with 64-layer 3D NAND technology. Some specs:

  • Sequential read: 560 MB/s
  • Sequential write: 530 MB/s
  • Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
  • Form factor: 2.5" (WD and Sandisk), M.2 (SATA) 2280 (WD only)

MSRP's start at $99.99 for the 250GB models of all flavors (2.5" / M.2 SATA), and all products will ship with a 3-year warranty.

It might seem odd that we see an identical product shipped under two different brands owned by the same company, but WD is likely leveraging the large OEM relationship held by SanDisk. I'm actually curious to see how this pans out long term because it is a bit confusing at present.

Full press blast after the break:

Computex 2017: NVIDIA GeForce GTX Max-Q Design Notebooks are Thinner, Lighter

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 12:48 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, mobile, max-q design, max-q, GTX 1080, geforce

During CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote at Computex tonight, NVIDIA announced a new initiative called GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design, targeting the mobile gaming markets with a product that is lighter, thinner yet more powerful than previously available gaming notebooks.

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The idea behind this technology differentiation centers around gaming notebooks that have seen limited evolution over the last several years in form factor and design. The biggest stereotype of gaming notebooks today is that they must big, bulky and heavy to provide a competitive gaming experience when compared to desktop computers. NVIDIA is taking it upon itself to help drive innovation forward in this market, in some ways similar to how Intel created the Ultrabook.

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Using “typical” specifications from previous machines using a GeForce GTX 880M (admittedly a part that came out in early 2014), NVIDIA claims that Max-Q Designs will offer compelling gaming notebooks with half the weight, nearly a third of the thinness yet still see 3x the performance. Utilizing a GeForce GTX 1080 GP104 GPU, the team is focusing on four specific hardware data points to achieve this goal.

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First, NVIDIA is setting specifications of the GPUs in this design to run at their maximum efficiency point, allowing the notebook to get the best possible gaming performance from Pascal with the smallest amount of power draw. This is an obvious move and is likely something that has been occurring for a while, but further down the product stack. It’s also likely that NVIDIA is highly binning the GP104 parts to filter those that require the least amount of power to hit the performance target of Max-Q Designs.

Second, NVIDIA is depending on the use of GeForce Experience software to set in-game settings optimally for power consumption. Though details are light, this likely means running the game with frame rate limiting enabled, keeping gamers from running at refresh rates well above their screen’s refresh rate (static or G-Sync) which is an unnecessary power drain. It could also mean lower quality settings than we might normally associate with a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card.

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Comparing a 3-year old notebook versus a Max-Q Design

The third and fourth points are heavily related: using the best possible cooling solutions and integrating the best available power regulators targeting efficiency. The former allows the GPU to be cooled quickly, and quietly (with a quoted sub-40 dbA goal), keeping the GTX 1080 at its peak efficiency curve. And putting the GPU in that state without inefficient power delivery hardware would be a waste, so NVIDIA is setting standards here too.

UPDATE: From the NVIDIA news release just posted on the company's website, we learned of a couple of new additions to Max-Q Design:

NVIDIA WhisperMode Technology
NVIDIA also introduced WhisperMode technology, which makes laptops run much quieter while gaming. WhisperMode intelligently paces the game's frame rate while simultaneously configuring the graphics settings for optimal power efficiency. This reduces the overall acoustic level for gaming laptops. Completely user adjustable and available for all Pascal GPU-based laptops, WhisperMode will be available soon through a GeForce Experience software update.

Availability
MaxQ-designed gaming laptops equipped with GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 and 1060 GPUs will be available starting June 27 from the world's leading laptop OEMs and system builders, including Acer, Aftershock, Alienware, ASUS, Clevo, Dream Machine, ECT, Gigabyte, Hasee, HP, LDLC, Lenovo, Machenike, Maingear, Mechrevo, MSI, Multicom, Origin PC, PC Specialist, Sager, Scan, Terrans Force, Tronic'5, and XoticPC. Features, pricing and availability may vary.

Jensen showed an upcoming ASUS Republic of Gamers notebook called Zephyrus that hit all of these targets – likely NVIDIA’s initial build partner. On it they demonstrated Project Cars 2, an impressive looking title for certain. No information was given on image quality settings, resolutions, frame rates, etc.

zephyrus.jpg

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Max-Q Design Gaming Notebook

This design standard is impressive, and though I assume many gamers and OEMs will worry about having an outside party setting requirements for upcoming designs, I err on the side this being a necessary step. If you remember notebooks before the Intel Ultrabook push, they were stagnant and uninspiring. Intel’s somewhat forceful move to make OEMs innovate and compete in a new way changed the ecosystem at a fundamental level. It is very possible that GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design will do the same thing for gaming notebooks.

An initiative like this continues NVIDIA’s seeming goal of creating itself as the “PC brand”, competing more with Xbox and PlayStation than with Radeon. Jensen claimed that more than 10 million GeForce gaming notebooks were sold in the last year, exceeding the sales of Xbox hardware in the same time frame. He also called out the ASUS prototype notebook as having compute capability 60% higher than that of the PS4 Pro. It’s clear that NVIDIA wants to be more than just the add-in card leader, more than just the leader in computer graphics. Owning the ecosystem vertical gives them more control and power to drive the direction of software and hardware.

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The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Max-Q Design Gaming Notebook

So, does the Max-Q Design technology change anything? Considering the Razer Blade B5 is already under 18mm thin, the argument could be made that the market was already going down this path, and NVIDIA is simply jumping in to get credit for the move. Though Razer is a great partner for NVIDIA, they are likely irked that NVIDIA is going to push all OEMs to steal some of the thunder from this type of design that Razer started and evangelized.

That political discussion aside, Max-Q Design will bring new, better gaming notebook options to the market from many OEMs, lowering the price of entry for these flagship designs. NVIDIA did not mention anything about cost requirements or segments around Max-Q, so I do expect the first wave of these to be on the premium end of the scale. Over time, as cost cutting measures come into place, and the necessity of thinner, lighter gaming notebooks is well understood, Max-Q Designs could find itself in a wide range of price segments.

Source: NVIDIA

Computex 2017: ZOTAC Introduces the MEK Mini-ITX Gaming PC

Subject: Systems | May 30, 2017 - 02:18 AM |
Tagged: zotac, PC, mini-itx, MEK, kaby lake, Intel Core i7, GTX 1080 Mini, GTX 1080, gaming, computex 2017, computex, computer

ZOTAC has introduces a new gaming brand at Computex, and along with it their first gaming PC. Have no fear, however, this gaming machine is quite compact from the mini-PC maker, as it is built around a mini-ITX motherboard and compact GPU.

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"ZOTAC Gaming’s first gaming product, MEK Gaming PC, debuts at Computex Taipei. Built for gaming enthusiasts, it is powered by a ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 1080 Mini, 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a low-profile CPU Cooler to deliver overwhelming performance for high-end gaming and premium entertainment. With a futuristic design, MEK marks the beginning of gaming products for a new brand, ZOTAC Gaming, focused on gaming products fit for all who Live to Game."

The GPU might be based on a smaller than the average PCB, but you are getting a full NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 courtesy of ZOTAC's own GTX 1080 Mini graphics card, which is just 8.3 inches long (and "the world's smallest GeForce GTX 1080," according to ZOTAC).

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Other than the above quoted 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor we don't have much information on the specifications for the upcoming MEK Gaming PC, but the images of the enclosure paint a promising picture for small form-factor gaming enthusiasts as it appears to be quite compact.

Source: ZOTAC

Samba Developers Release Patch For Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2017-7494)

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2017 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: samba, linux, ransomware, security, networking

Last week, the development team behind Samba – popular software suite used on Linux and Unix clients and servers that uses TCP/IP protocol for file and print sharing to SMB/CIFS clients (including Microsoft Windows) – released a security advisory along with patches for a remote code execution hole that has been present in Samba for seven years since the release of Samba 3.5.0 in March 2010. The vulnerability, classified under CVE-2017-7494, allows an attacker to upload malicious code to a Samba server and get the server to run the code by sending a malformed IPC request that references the local file path. The Samba server will run the code in the malicious shared library (.so) file even though it is from an untrusted remote source.

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The bad news is that this is a fairly serious flaw that could lead to an attacker successfully holding a business or home user’s files (including backups!) at ransom, stealing data, or using the now owned file server to attack other network resources that trust the file server. If not securely configured (e.g. allowing anonymous writes), the attack could even be wormable which would allow it to self-replicate across the network or Internet. Further, while various security firms have slightly different numbers, they all seem to agree that around 100,000 Internet-accessible machines are running vulnerable versions of Samba.

It is not all bad news though, and in some respects this vulnerability is not as big of an issue as the WannaCry ransomware and EternalBlue SMB vulnerability because in order to successfully exploit the Samba flaw an attacker needs to obtain credentials to upload the malicious code to the file share(s) which need to be writeable in the first place and not running as noexec under a SELinux policy. Also, attackers need to know or guess the local path name of the files on the file share to send the malformed IPC request. More importantly, the Samba team released three security releases (4.6.4, 4.5.10, and 4.4.14) for the newer branches and is working with OS distributions on providing patches for older Samba versions. For systems that cannot be updated or patched, there is also a workaround that can be implemented by modifying the global Samba config file to contain the setting “nt pipe support = no”. While this will break some expected Windows functionality (mainly machines will not be able to access null shares and will need to use the specific share path rather than just the server path), it will make it so that Samba will not accept the malicious requests.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this vulnerability is that security researchers estimate that up to 90% of the vulnerable Internet-connected Samba endpoints do not have a direct patch or update available yet and may not ever get one. While the enterprise hardware and even bigger consumer and SMB hardware providers will provide support for this in the form of patches or firmware updates, there is a sea of home routers, NAS boxes, file and print servers, and IoT devices running on home networks that are not open to user updates and may not ever get firmware updates. The best thing to do in this scenario according to the security advisory (if you can’t just not use it or replace it with different hardware that can be patched or isn’t affected of course) is to not expose it to the Internet. There would still be a risk of it being exploited should someone get a virus on a client machine through email, malicious downloads, or social engineering though. Considering these home NAS devices are usually used as destinations for backups, the risk of ransomware not only infecting client machines but also the main file share and network backups is scary. I have always been a fan of offline and/or cloud backups and in these modern times they are more important than ever with the rise of ransomware and other profit motivated viruses.

If you are not sure if your network is affected, there are tools being made available (including a Metasploit module, nmap scripts, and Internet scans) to help you determine that and reduce your attack surface using that information by updating to the latest security release, applying patches, updating, using SELinux policies to prevent the server from executing files itself, and preventing them from communicating with the Internet in order of effectiveness.

All that is to say don’t panic, stay vigilant, and make sure your important data is properly backed up and secured as much as possible!

Source: Samba.org
Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

An abundance of new processors

During the its press conference at Computex 2017, Intel has officially announced the upcoming release of an entire new family of HEDT (high-end desktop) processors along with a new chipset and platform to power it. Though it has only been a year since Intel launched the Core i7-6950X, a Broadwell-E processor with 10-cores and 20-threads, it feels like it has been much longer than that. At the time Intel was accused of “sitting” on the market – offering only slight performance upgrades and raising prices on the segment with a flagship CPU cost of $1700. With can only be described as scathing press circuit, coupled with a revived and aggressive competitor in AMD and its Ryzen product line, Intel and its executive teams have decided it’s time to take enthusiasts and high end prosumer markets serious, once again.

slides-3.jpg

Though the company doesn’t want to admit to anything publicly, it seems obvious that Intel feels threatened by the release of the Ryzen 7 product line. The Ryzen 7 1800X was launched at $499 and offered 8 cores and 16 threads of processing, competing well in most tests against the likes of the Intel Core i7-6900X that sold for over $1000. Adding to the pressure was the announcement at AMD’s Financial Analyst Day that a new brand of processors called Threadripper would be coming this summer, offering up to 16 cores and 32 threads of processing for that same high-end consumer market. Even without pricing, clocks or availability timeframes, it was clear that AMD was going to come after this HEDT market with a brand shift of its EPYC server processors, just like Intel does with Xeon.

The New Processors

Normally I would jump into the new platform, technologies and features added to the processors, or something like that before giving you the goods on the CPU specifications, but that’s not the mood we are in. Instead, let’s start with the table of nine (9!!) new products and work backwards.

  Core i9-7980XE Core i9-7960X Core i9-7940X Core i9-7920X Core i9-7900X Core i7-7820X Core i7-7800X Core i7-7740X Core i5-7640X
Architecture Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Kaby Lake-X Kaby Lake-X
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 18/36 16/32 14/28 12/24 10/20 8/16 6/12 4/8 4/4
Base Clock ? ? ? ? 3.3 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.5 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz
Turbo Boost 2.0 ? ? ? ? 4.3 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz 4.5 GHz 4.2 GHz
Turbo Boost Max 3.0 ? ? ? ? 4.5 GHz 4.5 GHz N/A N/A N/A
Cache 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 13.75MB 11MB 8.25MB 8MB 6MB
Memory Support ? ? ? ? DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
DDR4-2666 Dual Channel
PCIe Lanes ? ? ? ? 44 28 28 16 16
TDP 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 140 watts 140 watts 140 watts 112 watts 112 watts
Socket 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066
Price $1999 $1699 $1399 $1199 $999 $599 $389 $339 $242

There is a lot to take in here. The most interesting points are that Intel plans to one-up AMD Threadripper by offering an 18-core processor but it also wants to change the perception of the X299-class platform by offering lower price, lower core count CPUs like the quad-core, non-HyperThreaded Core i5-7640X. We also see the first ever branding of Core i9.

Intel only provided detailed specifications up to the Core i9-7900X, a 10-core / 20-thread processor with a base clock of 3.3 GHz and a Turbo peak of 4.5 GHz using the new Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0. It sports 13.75MB of cache thanks to an updated cache configuration, includes 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0, an increase of 4 lanes over Broadwell-E, quad-channel DDR4 memory up to 2666 MHz and a 140 watt TDP. The new LGA2066 socket will be utilized. Pricing for this CPU is set at $999, which is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it is $700 less than the starting MSRP of the 10c/20t Core i7-6950X from one year ago; obviously a big plus. However, there is quite a ways UP the stack, with the 18c/36t Core i9-7980XE coming in at a cool $1999.

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The next CPU down the stack is compelling as well. The Core i7-7820X is the new 8-core / 16-thread HEDT option from Intel, with similar clock speeds to the 10-core above it, save the higher base clock. It has 11MB of L3 cache, 28-lanes of PCI Express (4 higher than Broadwell-E) but has a $599 price tag. Compared to the 8-core 6900K, that is ~$400 lower, while the new Skylake-X part iteration includes a 700 MHz clock speed advantage. That’s huge, and is a direct attack on the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X that sells for $499 today and cut Intel off at the knees this March. In fact, the base clock of the Core i7-7820X is only 100 MHz lower than the maximum Turbo Boost clock of the Core i7-6900K!

Continue reading about the Intel Core i9 series announcement!

Computex 2017: Intel 8th Gen Core Processors 30% Faster than 7th Gen

Subject: Processors | May 30, 2017 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Intel, computex 2017, computex, coffee lake, 8th generation core

During it's keynote at Computex today, Intel announced the high performane Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X platforms with CPU core counts as high as 18 (!!) but also gave a brief mention of its upcoming Coffee Lake product, the 8th Generation Core product family.

To quote directly from the Intel press information:

"As we move toward the next generation of computing, Intel also shared its commitment to deliver 8th generational Intel® Core™ processor-based devices by the holiday season, boasting more than 30 percent improvement in performance versus the 7th Gen Intel® Core™ processor."

That is quite the claim, but let's dive into the details.

Based on SYSmark* 2014 v1.5 (Windows Desktop Application Performance). Comparing 7th Gen i7-7500U, PL1=15W TDP, 2C4T, Turbo up to 3.5GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2133, vs. Estimates for 8th Gen Core i7: PL1=15W TDP, 4C8T, Turbo up to 4 GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2400, Storage: Intel® SSD, Windows* 10 RS2. Power policy assumptions: AC mode. Note: Kaby Lake U42 performance estimates are Pre-Silicon and are subject to change. Pre-Si projections have +/- 7% margin of error.

In a more readable format:

  8th Gen
Core i7
7th Gen
Core i7-7500U
Code name Coffee Lake Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm Double Plus Good
Cores/Threads 4/8 2/4
Base Clock ? 2.7 GHz
Turbo Clock 4.0 GHz 3.5 GHz
TDP 15 watt 15 watt
Memory 8GB 8GB
Memory Clock 2400 MHz 2133 MHz

The 30% performance claim comes from both a doubling of core and thread count (2- to 4-cores) but also a 500 MHz higher peak Turbo Clock, going from Kaby Lake to Coffee Lake. The testing was done using SYSmark 2014 v1.5, a benchmark that is very burst-centric and is comparable to common productivity tasks. Even with a 15% increase in peak clock speed and a 2x core/thread count, Intel is still able to maintain a 15 watt TDP with this CPU.

intelcoffeelake.jpg

While we might at first expect much larger performance gains with those clock and core count differences, keep in mind that SYSmark as a test has never scaled in such a way. We don't yet know what other considerations might be in place for the 8th Generation Core processor platforms, and how they might affect performance for single of multi-threaded applications.

Intel has given us very little information today on the Coffee Lake designs, but it seems we'll know all about this platform before the end of the year.

Source: Intel