Apple's special sauce, the A12X SoC

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2018 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: apple, SoC, A12X

Apple made a lot of claims with their new USB-C carrying iPad Pro and the A12X inside of it, stating it offer 90% better multicore performance of the previous A10X as well as twice the graphical power, they describe it as equivalent to the GCN 1.0 GPU in the XBone S, and finally that it is faster than 92% of all portable PCs.  That last claim is the one to raise the most eyebrows but in at least some cases it is not completely inaccurate. 

Ars Technica sat down with Anand Shimpi and Phil Schiller from Apple to discuss how the A12X is capable of so much more than the A12 and other previous generation SoCs.  As is common with Apple they don't offer a lot of specifics on the design but there are certainly some interesting tidbits revealed.

appleipadproOct2018event_0329-640x427.jpg

"Apple's new iPad Pro sports several new features of note, including the most dramatic aesthetic redesign in years, Face ID, new Pencil features, and the very welcome move to USB-C. But the star of the show is the new A12X system on a chip."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Vega claims the new MacBook Pro

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2018 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: apple, amd, Vega

Among the various Apple announcements this week was a win for AMD, as Apple has renewed their agreement and will be using Radeon Pro Vega GPUs in it's soon to be released MacBook Pros.  We aren't expecting any more big surprises from the release, such as the iPad Pro now sporting USB C, the updated GPU may be the largest change this generation but it will be appreciated by some content creators.  You can read more about the various announcements over at The Inquirer.

B42zwMXHcD2jIPc2FupqyO4Zs_VCAQF4vClmmkqwphE.jpg

"AMD GPUs are nothing new in Mac machines, given the MacBook Pros have previously rocked the Radeon Pro 560X, but Cupertino is now bringing AMD's Vega-based GPUs to its expensive laptops."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Are you sure you want to bite into that Apple?

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2018 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: apple, security, webroot, webkit, SecureAnywhere

There is a bit of a fuss being made by Apple fans today, as once again reality contradicts their claims of the invulnerability of their favourite devices.  The less serious but still active bug is more an inconvenience than a threat, but having your device crash simply because you visited a webpage is more than a little embarrassing.

The second vulnerability involves SecureAnywhere and while it has been mitigated in recent updates (9.0.8.34) it was unpatched for quite a while.  The patch was released several months ago, but it is only this week we are learning about it, with the justification offered to The Register following the usual claims that letting people know might expose more devices to the threat.  Security through obscurity can lead to delayed upgrades as users wait to see if a patch has negative effects, while leaving themselves open to attack.  In this case the vulnerability was only effective on an already compromised device, hopefully that reduced the number of people targetted.

codling_apple_f.jpg

"Details of a locally exploitable but kernel-level flaw in Webroot's SecureAnywhere macOS security software were revealed yesterday, months after the bug was patched."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Reopening a cold boot case

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2018 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: security, Lenovo, dell, apple

Many, many moons ago a vulnerability was discovered which would let you grab some or all of the data last written to RAM.  A computer in sleep mode could be powered off, the firmware specifically modified and then booted from a USB drive, allowing an attacker to extract data from the RAM.  This requires physical access and a specific skill set but does not take all that long.  This new attack is used to grab the encryption keys from memory, which then allows them to gain access to the data stored on your encrypted drives.  The Inquirer reports that there is a solution to this resurrected vulnerability, however it is only easy to implement before a system is provided to customers, worrying for companies using these commonly deployed brands.

lap-top.jpg

"But F-Secure principal security consultant Olle Segerdahl, along with other researchers from the security outfit, claim they've discovered a way to disable that safety measure and extract data using the ten-year-old cold boot attack method."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Apple Announces iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR Smartphones with 7nm A12 Bionic Processor

Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2018 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: SoC, smartphone, mobile, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iphone, ios, apple, A12 Bionic, 7nm

Apple’s event today included expected (and previously leaked) iPhone announcements for the faster “S” variant of the iPhone X, as well as a new, larger iPhone XS Max, and finally the new, lower-cost iPhone XR. All three phones include Apple’s latest mobile processor, the A12 Bionic, as well as new cameras and other improvements.

XS_XS_Max.PNG

The design is unchanged, but the 6.5-inch form-factor is new (image via Apple)

Beginning with the primary announcement, the new 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhone XS and XS Max phones both feature Super Retina OLED displays which Apple says now offer wider dynamic range, and the glass protecting them is “the most durable glass ever” in a smartphone. The new XS Max offers the same 458 ppi density as the iPhone XS with its 2688x1242 resolution (the iPhone XS has the same 2436x1125 resolution as the iPhone X), and both phones are now IP68 water and dust resistant and dual-SIM capable (using eSIM).

XS_Screen.png

Apple says the A12 Bionic chip will be the first to market at 7nm (Hauwei's 7nm Kirin 980 was previously announced but not shipping until mid-October), and the move to this smaller process should allow for lower power consumption and increased performance.

A12_Screen.png

The A12 Bionic has a 6-core CPU design as we saw with the A11, and uses the same Apple-designed Fusion architecture. Apple says its two performance cores are “up to 15% faster and 40% lower power”, and the four efficiency cores offer “up to 50% lower power” with no stated increase in performance.  Other than stating that it is a proprietary design little was revealed about the GPU other than it is now a 4-core design, which Apple says is “50% faster” than before.

XS_Bokeh.png

The camera system on the new phones offers a new “advanced bokeh” feature which allows for f-stop adjustment after the photo has been taken, and during the presentation this feature appears to work in a very realistic way comparable to dedicated lenses with a DSLR. Other features include improved speakers, stereo audio recording with video, and "Gigabit-class" LTE.

iPhone_XR.PNG

The iPhone XR is an LCD variant with lower cost (image via Apple)

The “one more thing” at the even was a new lower-cost iPhone based on the iPhone X design, but with an LCD display that Apple is calling “Liquid Retina”. This 6.1-inch device has a display resolution of 1792x828 (326 ppi), uses the new A12 chip, and while it is a single-camera phone like the iPhone 8 it uses the latest wide-angle camera from its “S” model siblings.

XR_Screen.png

The display also features “120 Hz touch-sensing” - which may be independent of display refresh, but that is unknown at this point - a wide color gamut, and is a True Tone display like the iPhone X. The phone drops 3D Touch, using instead what appears to be a long-press detection with haptic feedback. The phone does not offer the "Gigabit-class LTE" of the XS/XS Max, is IP67 rather than IP68 water and dust resistant, but does retain the new “most durable glass” from the "S" models.

iPhone_Lineup.PNG

Pricing for the new lineup is as follows:

  • iPhone XS 64GB - $999
  • iPhone XS 256GB - $1149
  • iPhone XS 512GB - $1349
  • iPhone XS Max 64GB - $1099
  • iPhone XS Max 256GB - $1249
  • iPhone XS Max 512GB - $1449
  • iPhone XR 64GB - $749
  • iPhone XR 128GB - $799
  • iPhone XR 256GB - $899

The new iPhones XS and XS Max will be available next week, with a September 21 launch day (pre-ordering begins on Friday, September 14). The iPhone XR launches on October 26 (pre-order October 19).

Source: Apple

Why hack into Apple devices when the userbase is willing to pay to have their device infected?

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2018 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: apple, security, app store, Adware Doctor

Adware Doctor is a $5.00 app available on the macOS app store which is a rip off of Malwarebytes for Mac with some extra data harvesting included.  The app will grab all your history from Chrome, Firefox, and Safari and send it off to parts unknown as well as a list of running processes which implies it can get around Apple's sandbox implementation.  The researchers who discovered this also informed The Register of other apps which have the same behaviour, including Open Any Files, Dr. Antivirus, and Dr. Cleaner.  The new version of macOS, due in the near future, should ameliorate this issue but in the mean time you should check what apps you have installed on your devices and reconsider your next purchase on the App Store carefully.

adware-doctor.jpg

"As Wardle – an expert in Apple security – noted, Adware Doctor, which sold for $4.99, was the fourth-highest grossing app in the "Paid Utilities" category of the macOS App Store."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: ARM

Aggressively Pursuing New Markets

ARM has had a pretty fascinating history, but for most of its time on this Earth it has not been a very public facing company. After the release of the iPhone and ARM’s dominance in the mobile market, they decided to push their PR efforts up a few notches. Now we finally were able to see some of the inner workings of a company that was once a little known low power CPU designer that licensed cores out to third parties.

arm_road_01.JPG

The company was not always as aggressive as what we are seeing now. The mobile space for a long time was dominated by multiple architectures that all have eventually faded away. ARM held steady with design improvements and good customer relations that ensured that they would continue into the future. After the release of the original iPhone, the world changed. Happily for us, ARM changed as well. In previous years ARM would announce products, but they would be at least three years away and few people took notice of what they were up to. I originally started paying attention to ARM as I thought that their cores might have the ability to power mobile gaming and perhaps be integrated into future consoles so that there would be a unified architecture that these providers could lean upon. This was back when the 3DS and PSP were still selling millions of units.

This of course never came to pass as I had expected it to, but at least ARM did make it into the Nintendo Switch. ARM worked hard to quickly put faster, more efficient parts out the door. They also went on a buying spree and acquired several graphics startups that would eventually contribute to the now quite formidable Mali GPU family of products. Today we have an extensive lineup of parts that can be bundled into a tremendous amount of configurations. ARM has a virtual monopoly in the cellphone market because they have been willing to work with anyone who wants to license their designs, technologies, and architectures. This is actually a relatively healthy “monopoly” because the partners do the work to mix and match features to provide unique products to the marketplace. Architectural licensees like Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung all differentiate their products as well and provide direct competition to the ARM designed cores that are licensed to other players.

arm_road_02.JPG

Today we are seeing a new direction from ARM that has never been officially explored. We have been given a roadmap of the next two generations of products from the company that are intended to compete in not only the cellphone market, but also in the laptop market. ARM has thrown down the gauntlet and their sights are set on Intel and AMD. Not only is ARM showing us the codenames for these products, but also the relative performance.

Click here to read the entire ARM Roadmap Editorial!

Autodesk Discontinues Alias and VRED for macOS Mojave+

Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2018 - 09:22 PM |
Tagged: autodesk, apple

This news can be taken in one of two ways…

As we noted a couple of months ago, Apple has deprecated OpenGL and OpenCL on macOS and iOS. They want developers to write their software in Metal, which allows them to have more control over the whole stack (and this makes it slightly more difficult to port to competing platforms).

Apple-logo.jpg

Citing this decision, Autodesk has dropped support for Alias and VRED on macOS. You will be forced to use 2019.0 on High Sierra, at the latest, unless you switch to Windows.

On the one hand, Autodesk is a big company to act against Apple’s decision. On the other hand, they are doing it with Alias and VRED, which are more for industrial users. Should they follow this up with, let’s say, deprecating Maya, then that would be a huge blow to Apple’s core professional audience. But they aren't, and the macOS version of Alias and VRED might have been on the fence for a while, particularly with Autodesk’s ongoing losses.

So it might not be a big deal, but it’s a clear, explicit example of a product team packing up in response to Apple’s demands.

Source: Autodesk

WWDC 18: OpenGL & OpenCL Are Deprecated on Mac & iOS

Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2018 - 10:12 PM |
Tagged: opengl, opencl, apple

Apple has just announced that OpenGL and OpenCL are deprecated for all Apple platforms, starting with macOS 10.14 and iOS 12. The APIs are still available on these operating systems, but their development tools will apparently start to nag you about using it and, eventually, it could disappear. Instead, Apple wants users to move to their Metal API.

Apple-logo.jpg

This kinda bites.

I have a couple thoughts about this.

First, of course, relying upon Apple for APIs if you’re expecting to make a timeless work of art… is a bad idea. They are not quite as bad as a console could be, and Microsoft has been flirting with killing Win32 since Windows 8, but you shouldn’t expect that your content will be around forever. They do stuff like this. This is the stuff they do. I know I’ve said it before, but they’ve even sent the Khronos Group a legal notice for attempting to expand the usage of OpenCL, which they own the trademark and several patents for. It’s fine to use Apple products and platforms, but don’t be shocked when stuff like this happens.

Moving on…

Second, I wonder how much of this has to do with the Imagination Technologies announcement from last year. At the time, I said, “Apple already has their own low-level graphics API, Metal, so they might have a lot to gain, although some macOS and iOS applications use OpenGL and OpenGL ES. We’ll find out in less than two years.”

One year later, and it looks like part of Apple’s strategy was, in fact, to deprecate OpenGL and OpenGL ES. I can see a tiny chance that Apple will, in the future, release GPUs that cannot run OpenGL / OpenGL ES / OpenCL software, because they want to own the whole stack from software to hardware. This sounds like something Apple would do, although I’m not sure if owning their own GPU is enough of a draw for them. After all, they will be fighting against an industry that uses PC-compatible hardware, so it runs the risk of stagnating like a lot of RISC companies (except ARM, which was also a battleground of multiple vendors) that just couldn’t keep up to the x86 war.

But it seems like something Apple would do… I don’t know.

Third, this announcement lines up well with recent Valve’s Vulkan-through-Metal (via MoltenVK) release through Dota2. I’m now wondering what Valve was trying to accomplish by pushing that news out five days before Apple pushed against OpenGL. You would think that Valve would have to have known about this, and timed their announcement appropriately… but to what effect?

So those are my three thoughts. What do you think?

Source: Apple

Podcast #494 - Intel 8th Gen launch, Samsung Z-NAND, and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2018 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: Z-NAND, video, Samsung, project trillium, podcast, p20 pro, nuc, msi, Lenovo, Jedi Challenges, Intel 8th Gen, Intel, Huawei, H370, gigabyte, fractal design, Bloody Gaming, asus, apple, adata

PC Perspective Podcast #494 - 04/05/18

Join us this week for Intel 8th Gen launch, Samsung Z-NAND, 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, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:53:12

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. Alex: Altered Carbon Trilogy
  4. Closing/outro
Source: