Podcast #478 - Windows on ARM, Intel 10nm rumors, and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2017 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: xfx, Vega, Raspberry Pi, radeon, qualcomm, nicehash, Intel, IME, GTX 1070Ti, gddr6, evga, Elgato, dell, coolermaster, cluster, asus, arm, amd, AM4, Adrenalin Edition, 4k60, 10nm

PC Perspective Podcast #478 - 12/07/17

Join us for discussion on Windows on ARM, Intel 10nm rumors, 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, Jim Tanous

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:39:42

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Closing/outro

Source:

Dell Is Offering Laptops With Intel Management Engine (IME) Disabled

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2017 - 07:05 PM |
Tagged: system76, security, linux, Intel, IME, dell

Update 12-5-2017: Dell has provided a statement in response to the IME news which is as follows:

  • "Dell has offered a configuration option to disable the Intel vPro Management Engine (ME) on select commercial client platforms for a number of years (termed Intel vPro - ME inoperable, custom order on Dell.com). Some of our commercial customers have requested such an option from us, and in response, we have provided the service of disabling the Management Engine in the factory to meet their specific needs. As this SKU can also disable other system functionality it was not previously made available to the general public.
  • Recently, this option was inadvertently offered online as a configuration option for a couple of systems on Dell.com. Customers interested in purchasing this SKU should contact their sales representative as it is intended to be offered as a custom option for a select number of customers who specifically require this configuration."

(End of update.)

Niche system vendors System76 and Purism are now joined by Dell in offering laptops with Intel's Intel Management Engine (IME) blackbox disabled. The company, one of the largest laptop manfacturers, currently offers three higher-end laptops with the configuration option of "Intel vPro™ - ME Inoperable, Custom Order" where for around $20 Dell will disable IME. IME has come under fire recently due to a major vulnerability that affects many of its Core series processors and has had bugs dating back years.

IME is baked into Intel processors dating back to 2008 and operates at what is known as Ring -3 meaning that it has privileges well above that of software, drivers, OS kernel, and even UEFI. IME is an autonomous subsystem with its own processor running its own software that has full control over the computer and even has its own networking stack. Intel has obfuscated that closed source code and has made it notoriously difficult to enable while also claiming it is necessarly for the processor to hit full performance. Security researchers and companies like Google have committed to disabling it (there is a way to turn it off though Intel has not documented it). IME can be used alongside Intel AMT / vPro features (Ring -2+) for remote management, and since IME runs even when the system is off it makes it easy to roll out OS upgrades and re-image machines. Home users however do not need IME, but have traditionally been stuck with it anyway along with its security holes. (Note that AMD has its own platform management subsystem with the PSP though it has not drawn nearly the high profile reputation Intel has with the latest bugs and promised patches.)

Dell Disable IME.png

Specificlaly Dell is offering to disable IME for a small fee on the Latitude 14 Rugged laptop, Latitude 15 E5570, and Latitude 12 Rugged tablet which all run 6th Generation Core (6000 series and Core M) processors. Purism plans to sell PCs with IME disabled going forward and System76 has promised firmware updates for disabling IME on its PCs sold within the last few years. In reading about IME online, it seems that disabling IME is a tricky endevour with the potential to brick the system, but it can be done and the more documentation these vendors do the better for Linux, open source software, and security concious consumer proponents. For now you will have to pay a small fee to disable it but if you are worried about IME the peace of mind might be worth it. Also, with Dell now on board it shouldn't be long before other vendors start offering systems sans Intel Management Engine. Hopefully they are able to offer this IME disabled feature on models with the latest Intel processors as well for those that want it as the latest round of major bugs affected Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake CPUs.

What are your thoughts on this? Have your systems received an IME security patch? In any case, with the IME bugs, Mac OS High Sierra secuirty hole, and iOS encrypted backup loophole it has not been a good month for security!

Also read:

Source: Liliputing

IFA 2017: Dell announces refreshed Quad-Core XPS 13 Notebook

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 28, 2017 - 10:20 PM |
Tagged: ifa, IFA 2017, dell, XPS 13, 8th generation core, i7-8550U, i5-8250U

As expected, this year's IFA trade show in Berlin is proving busy for notebook manufacturers. Hot on the heels of Intel's announcement of 15W 8th Generation quad-core processors in the Kaby-Lake refresh family earlier in the month, we are starting to see some announcements of actual products utilizing these new processors.

Not to be left behind, Dell has officially announced the refreshed version of their well-received XPS 13 notebook. 

xps13.png

It appears that there has been little physical change to the XPS 13 centered around these new processor options. Customers will still find 2 USB-A Ports upgraded to USB 3.1 Gen 2, a Thundebolt 3 Port, full-size SD card slot, a standard headphone jack, and a power connector (although charging over Thunderbolt 3 is supported). There's no indication yet as to the Thunderbolt 3 implementation, but we hope Dell has gone with the full PCIe x4 bandwidth instead of x2 as found on the current XPS 13.

Same as the current XPS 13, customers will be able to choose from a 1080p non-touch display or a 3200x1800 touchscreen, up to 16GB of RAM, and SSD options including SATA and NVMe.

badge.jpg

Battery size remains at 60Wh, which Dell claims has a MobileMark battery life score of 22 hours on the 1080p display model and 12 hours with the 3200x1800 QHD+ Touchscreen option.

Expect a longer rollout than usual with these new 8th generation parts from Dell, with the highest end i7-8550U to be available starting September 12th, and the i5 parts coming later in October. We have no current indications of pricing, but I would expect it to fall along the current XPS 13 models, in which the i7 model starts at $1349 along with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB NVMe SSD, and the 1080p display.

Source: Dell

You can now get a Dell laptop that charges wirelessly, but it will cost you

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2017 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: dell, Latitude, Latitude 7285, wireless charging

It will set you back $1800 or more once you have purchased the requisite extra components but once set up your Latitude 7285 will charge.  The wireless charging mat puts out 18.5V which will keep you going even when working hard.  They specifically mention that it is not for use on metal desks, so keep that in mind unless you really need a jolt to wake you up.  The 2880 x 1920 12" tablet and comes with an i7 or i5 processor, an SSD of 128GB or 256GB and your choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM.  Keep in mind the price estimate above would be for the low end model.  Pop by The Register to see more.

LargePNG.png

"Which is where things get a bit weird, because the Latitude 7285 starts at US$1,199, but the Wireless Charging Keyboard costs $379.99 and the Charging Mat is another $199.99. That's an extra $579.98 for the convenience of wireless charging (with a wire for the charging mat)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Podcast #454 - Cryptocurrency Revisited, XBox One X, and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2017 - 10:38 AM |
Tagged: xps, video, Samsung, Project Scorpio, powerplay, podcast, logitech, G433, g-sync, freesync, destiny 2, dell, cryptocurrency, corsair, Area-51, alienware

PC Perspective Podcast #454 - 06/15/17

Join us for talk about Cryptocurreny mining resurgence, XBox One X, 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, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:26:18
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
 
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

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

Source:

Dell's 8k UP3218K display; good luck with the GPUs

Subject: Displays | June 14, 2017 - 03:06 PM |
Tagged: UP3218K, ultrasharp, dell, 8k

Ars Technica had the chance to test Dell's new $5000 UltraSharp UP3218K, a 32" 10-bit IPS panel with a resolution of 7680×4320.  It uses two DisplayPort 1.4 connections to drive this beast and as even the GTX 1080 Ti struggles with high graphics settings at 4k there are some performance problems.  Ars was able to test Rise of the Tomb Raider, Metro: Last Light, and GTA V and while they ran at 8K on a single GTX 1080 Ti; "they also crashed. A lot."  GTA V performed the best of the lot, reaching a high of 50FPS and a low of 15FPS, though they looked very pretty while doing so.  Drop by to download a screenshot and pan around to get a sense of what this screen can do.

DMG-Melted-Graphics-Card.jpg

"While Acer's 4K, HDR-ready, 144Hz Predator X27 gaming monitor is pretty hot, Dell has something even better: the 8K Dell UltraSharp UP3218K (buy here). This, if you're unfamiliar, is a display that sports a whopping 7680×4320 pixels spread over a 32-inch 10-bit IPS panel."

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

 

Source: Ars Technica

E3 2017: Alienware Advanced Gaming Mouse (AW558) and Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse (AW958) Announced

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2017 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: gaming mouse, e3 17, E3, dell, alienware

As mentioned in the Alienware mechanical keyboard news, the brand is pushing back into gaming peripherals at this year’s E3 conference. This announcement is for their pair of RGB-lit gaming mice, the Alienware Advanced Gaming Mouse (AW558) and the Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse (AW958), which consists of a base model and a higher-end one variant with more customization.

alienware-e3-elite-gaming-mouse.png

Both mice are built on a nine-button, right-handed chassis. It’s difficult to tell from the photos, but it looks like the mouse has three buttons on the thumb side, two on the pinky side, and an extra button on the top (as well as left, right, and scroll wheel click, of course). I could be wrong about this, though. The RGB lighting, two strips of it below the buttons and one going up the palm rest, forming a triangular crosshair, is available on both models.

alienware-e3-advanced-gaming-mouse.png

So what’s different about the Elite? The higher-end mouse can have its side-grips replaced to change up the form and feel of the thumb buttons. It can also have weights added to it, which should help twitch gamers get used to it quicker, because they can make it feel slightly more familiar. Interestingly, the higher-end model (AW958) can store five DPI profiles, while the lower-end one (AW558) can only store three. I don’t know why they didn’t just let both choose five.

The Alienware Advanced Gaming Mouse (AW558) has an MSRP of $49.99 USD and the Alienware Elite Gaming Mouse (AW958) has an MSRP of $89.99 USD. They are available on June 13th.

Source: Alienware

E3 2017: Alienware Announces 240 Hz Gaming Monitors: AW2518H (G-Sync) and AW2518HF (FreeSync)

Subject: Displays | June 12, 2017 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: g-sync, free sync, dell, alienware, 240Hz

Also at the E3 event, Alienware launched a gaming monitor with two SKUs: one with G-Sync and one with FreeSync. Otherwise, these displays are apparently identical. They also apparently have lighting on the back, although it’s unclear whether this is RGB or locked to the Alienware shade of teal. (I’m guessing it’s Alienware teal.) At first, I was wondering why you would even want a light behind a display at all, but I guess it would make sense if it was very low power and you could leave it on while the rest of the display is off, giving a slight glow to an otherwise dark room.

alienware-e3-240hzmonitors.png

As for the specifications: both of these displays operate at 240 Hz, native, not overclocked. To achieve this rate, its panel is 24.5-inch, 1080p, and TN. The structure itself has a thin bezel on the top, left, and right side, although the bottom has a bit more thickness for the Alienware typeface logo and buttons. Despite being otherwise identical, the G-Sync model (AW2518H) has an MSRP of $699.99, while the FreeSync model (AW2518HF) is $200 cheaper at $499.99.

Both models launch on June 13th.

Source: Alienware

Dell Announces Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition

Subject: Systems | June 12, 2017 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Threadripper, sli, ryzen, RX 580, PC, gtx 1080 ti, gaming, desktop, dell, crossfire, amd, alienware

Dell has revealed their new Alienware Area-51 gaming desktops featuring the latest high-performance AMD and Intel processors. We will begin with a look at the Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition, and Dell has an exclusive on pre-built systems using the new Ryzen Threadripper CPUs.

Area-51 TE.jpg

"Through 2017, Dell will be the exclusive OEM partner to deliver AMD Ryzen Threadripper pre-built systems to the market and the high-end 16-core will be factory-overclocked across all 16-cores and 32 logical threads. The Area-51 Threadripper Edition is ideal for customers who explore the world of mega-tasking, doing many system demanding tasks at the same time, and are looking for a complete, reliable solution from a trusted brand."

The systems are based on the X399 chipset and can be configured with either a 12-core/24-thread or 16-core/32-thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors, which are liquid-cooled in all configurations. Standard memory configurations begin with quad-channel 2667 MHz DDR4 up to 64GB, with 2933MHz HyperX memory up to the same quad-channel 64GB available. Graphics options begin with a choice between an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 570, and max out at either dual GTX 1080 Ti or triple Radeon RX 580 cards.

Threadripper.jpg

Storage options include up to a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD and 2TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s HDD, and networking is handled by dual Killer E2500 Gigabit NICs and a choice of either Dell 1820 802.11ac 2x2 or Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi. (A look at the other Area-51 desktop annoucement provides a more complete look at the rest of the general specifications - with a few chipset-related differences.)

Features from Dell/Alienware:

  • Designed for Megatasking, game streaming and more, the new Area 51 Threadripper Edition is ready for today’s most demanding PC gaming enthusiast and supports high performance configurations with a chipset that enables up to 64 PCIe Gen 3 lanes.
  • All configuration come standard with unlocked, factory-overclocked across all cores and liquid cooled AMD Ryzen Threadripper CPUs with Alienware's most powerful liquid cooling unit to date.
  • Iconic triad high quality, uniquely engineered chassis built to deliver exceptional airflow, thermal management, and user ergonomics for daily use and future upgrades.
  • Supports NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire graphics technology, with dual and triple GPU options
  • Introduces M.2 storage options to Area-51.
  • Built for gaming enthusiast wanting the absolute best gaming performance played with a VR, 4k or 8k display
  • Alienware Command Center includes AlienFX, AlienAdrenaline, AlienFusion, Thermal and Overclocking Controls

Area-51 Open.jpg

The Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition will be available beginning June July 27, and pricing information is not yet announced.

Source: Dell

E3 2017: Alienware Advanced Gaming Keyboard (AW568) and Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard (AW768) Announced

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2017 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, e3 17, E3, dell, alienware

Alienware has announced a pair of mechanical keyboards at E3 this year. While the company has made gaming mice and keyboards before, its been quite a while. After a little Googling, the most recent entries that I’ve seen were over five years old, those being the TactX mouse and keyboard. If you look on their website recently, though, you can’t really see anything first-party -- just brands like Razer and Roccat.

alienware-e3-advanced-gaming-keyboard.png

These two keyboards, the Alienware Advanced Gaming Keyboard (AW568) and the Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard (AW768), are based on a similar design, with a few differences. First, the similarities. Both of these are mechanical keyboards that are based on brown switches from Kailh, which are very similar to Cherry MX Brown switches. Each key is also isolated in the key matrix, which Alienware claims is N-key rollover, but it’s unclear whether they just mean to the keyboard’s controller, or whether the PC will stop registering buttons after some multiple of USB limitations. (Typically, NKRO requires PS/2, although keyboards started doing things like registering as multiple keyboards to extend this limit... but it’s hard to find a USB keyboard that can literally handle every button independently.)

alienware-e3-pro-gaming-keyboard.png

As for the differences, the main changes are, surprise surprise, RGB backlighting and a volume roller on the AW768 (versus no backlight and volume buttons on the AW568). Interestingly, Alienware claims onboard memory for the AW768, to store macros, although they just advertise the Alienware Control Center for the AW568. This might mean that the AW568 doesn’t have onboard memory, requiring the driver for custom macros, but it could just be an awkwardly-worded press release.

The Alienware Advanced Gaming Keyboard (AW568) has an MSRP of $89.99 and the Alienware Pro Gaming Keyboard (AW768) has an MSRP of $119.99. They will be available in the US on June 13th.

Source: Alienware