Windows 10 Caveat Emptor Update

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2018 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: windows, update, october update, nvidia, microsoft, Intel

If you are one of those wise souls who held of on installing to the new Windows 10 Update, so that others can act as the canaries in the coal mine we now have some advice.  If you are running an NVIDIA GPU, ensure you have plenty of space on your OS drive.  There have been reports of users losing files from their drives if there is not enough space for the entire 10GB update to download to; if there isn't enough space then the update deletes all non-system files.  The Inqurier is quick to point out that the tool you would use to resolve this problem, Disk Cleanup, no longer exists once you perform this update.

There have also been reports that systems with certain versions of Intel Display Audio drivers have seen greatly increased CPU usage after the update and this has been draining batteries quickly.  According to The Register, Microsoft is no longer pushing the update to machines that would be affected.  You can check out the driver version here.

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"Usually though, we'd expect it to affect a small number of users. This time however, the problems seem to come from anyone with an Nvidia GPU and anyone… erm… with files."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Intel Responds to Reboot Issues with Meltdown and Spectre Updates

Subject: Processors | January 18, 2018 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: update, spectre, security, restart, reboot, processor, patch, meltdown, Intel, cpu

The news will apparently get worse before it gets any better for Intel, as the company updated their security recommendations for the Spectre/Meltdown patches for affected CPUs to address post-patch system restart issues. Specifically, Intel notes that issues may be introduced in some configurations with the current patches, though the company does not recommend discontinued use of such updates:

" Intel recommends that these partners, at their discretion, continue development and release of updates with existing microcode to provide protection against these exploits, understanding that the current versions may introduce issues such as reboot in some configurations".

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Image credit: HotHardware

The recommendation section of the security bulletin, updated yesterday (January 17, 2018), is reproduced below:

  • Intel has made significant progress in our investigation into the customer reboot sightings that we confirmed publicly last week
  • Intel has reproduced these issues internally and has developed a test method that allows us to do so in a predictable manner
  • Initial sightings were reported on Broadwell and Haswell based platforms in some configurations. During due diligence we determined that similar behavior occurs on other products including Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake, and Kaby Lake based platforms in some configurations
  • We are working toward root cause
  • While our root cause analysis continues, we will start making beta microcode updates available to OEMs, Cloud service providers, system manufacturers and Software vendors next week for internal evaluation purposes
  • In all cases, the existing and any new beta microcode updates continue to provide protection against the exploit (CVE-2017-5715) also known as “Spectre Variant 2”
  • Variants 1 (Spectre) and Variant 3 (Meltdown) continue to be mitigated through system software changes from operating system and virtual machine vendors
  • As we gather feedback from our customers we will continue to provide updates that improve upon performance and usability

Intel recommendations to OEMs, Cloud service providers, system manufacturers and software vendors

  • Intel recommends that these partners maintain availability of existing microcode updates already released to end users. Intel does not recommend pulling back any updates already made available to end users
  • NEW - Intel recommends that these partners, at their discretion, continue development and release of updates with existing microcode to provide protection against these exploits, understanding that the current versions may introduce issues such as reboot in some configurations
  • NEW - We further recommend that OEMs, Cloud service providers, system manufacturers and software vendors begin evaluation of Intel beta microcode update releases in anticipation of definitive root cause and subsequent production releases suitable for end users

Intel recommendations to end users

  • Following good security practices that protect against malware in general will also help protect against possible exploitation until updates can be applied
  • For PCs and Data Center infrastructure, Intel recommends that patches be applied as soon as they are available from your system manufacturer, and software vendors
  • For data center infrastructure, Intel additionally recommends that IT administrators evaluate potential impacts from the reboot issue and make decisions based on the security profile of the infrastructure

Intel has worked with operating system vendors, equipment manufacturers, and other ecosystem partners to develop software updates that can help protect systems from these methods. End users and systems administrators should check with their operating system vendors and apply any available updates as soon as practical.

The full list of affected processors from Intel's security bulletin follows:

  • Intel® Core™ i3 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ i5 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ i7 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ M processor family (45nm and 32nm)
  • 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 5th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 6th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 7th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 8th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • Intel® Core™ X-series Processor Family for Intel® X99 platforms
  • Intel® Core™ X-series Processor Family for Intel® X299 platforms
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 3400 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 3600 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 6500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 7500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v5 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v6 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor Scalable Family
  • Intel® Xeon Phi™ Processor 3200, 5200, 7200 Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor C Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor E Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor A Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor x3 Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor Z Series
  • Intel® Celeron® Processor J Series
  • Intel® Celeron® Processor N Series
  • Intel® Pentium® Processor J Series
  • Intel® Pentium® Processor N Series

We await further updates and developments from Intel, system integrators, and motherboard partners.

Source: Intel

MSI motherboards BIOS versions with updated security microcode

Subject: Motherboards | January 17, 2018 - 09:56 PM |
Tagged: msi, spectre, meltdown, bios, update, security

MSI have released updated BIOS versions for their Z370 motherboards to protect against Meltdown and Spectre which you can grab here.

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These patches are live now, with new BIOS versions in the works for the renaming series, including all X299, 200, 100-series and X99 series including the various X, H and B sub-series motherboards.  The list is quite impressive, follow that link to see if your board will be getting an update in the near future.  The page lists the version number of the upcoming BIOS you will need, so keep an eye on this page and MSI for the official release.

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Source: MSI

Lenovo Announces Updated ThinkPad Lineup Ahead of CES

Subject: Mobile | December 28, 2016 - 12:01 AM |
Tagged: yoga, update, Thinkpad, Refresh, notebook, Lenovo, laptop, kaby lake, Intel, convertible, CES 2017, CES, 7th generation, 2-in-1

Lenovo has unveiled their new ThinkPad notebook lineup ahead of the upcoming CES 2017, with refreshed models featuring the new 7th-generation Intel (“Kaby Lake”) processors, among other new features.

Yoga 370.jpg

ThinkPad Yoga 370 (Image credit: Lenovo)

New models include the newly-designed ThinkPad Yoga 370 2-in-1 convertible, refreshed T Series (T470, T570, T470s, and T470p) and L Series (L470 and L570) models, the new X270, and an updated version of the ThinkPad 13.

Thinkpad_13.jpg

ThinkPad 13 (Image credit: Lenovo)

In addition to the move to 7th-generation Intel CPUs, there are number of features across the board with the new ThinkPads, including:

  • Microsoft Signature: All ThinkPads comes loaded out of the box with the Microsoft Signature Image (clean install, no bloatware)
  • Precision TouchPad: Microsoft’s PTP standard supported across all devices
  • USB-C “Anti-Fry” Protection: Systems with USB-C have equipped with protection circuit to protect from improperly designed/malfunctioning USB-C power supplies
  • dTPM 2.0 security support: Universal implementation of discrete TPM 2.0
  • ThinkPad Intelligent diagnostic codes: Intelligent Diagnostics with musical tones from notebook interpreted by companion smartphone app
  • Intel Optane Performance: Non-volatile storage medium in the PCIe M.2 format for significant improvements in endurance, performance, and power consumption

Thinkpad X270.jpg

ThinkPad X270 (Image credit: Lenovo)

** Edit by Allyn **

Digging further into the model options / specs, it appears that some of these models will have an optional 16GB (smaller of the two) variant of Optane storage installed as a Storage Accelerator. This accelerator appears to be configurable with either an NVMe (NAND) SSD *or* a HDD. Intel will most likely overlay this cache using their RST Driver, as that infrastructure was put in place way back in 2011 when they introduced Z68 RST Caching. The 2011 version of this caching was an attempt to overlay a small SATA SSD onto a HDD, and while it was effective, the rapid adoption and sales of low-cost MLC SSDs quickly outweighed the need for such a cache as a boot volume.

intel-optane-memory-8000p.jpg

XPoint should offer enough of a performance boost (particularly for very small random access) to make for effective performance gains even over NVMe SSDs. Depending on how Intel tunes their RST driver to employ XPoint, we might see some impressive benefits, especially if the non-volatility is taken advantage of. Near instant wake from hibernates if the hiberfile is mostly cached on wake/boot, as an example.

Something else worth considering, that is not present in the above leaked specs, is that Optane will very likely be able to handle <4KB random accesses extremely well (XPoint is byte / word randomly writable / addressable). The key question is if that is possible in its first generation implementation, which we should know more about shortly after CES.

** End edit **

We won’t have detailed information about hardware (specific CPU models, etc.) until CES, so stay tuned!

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.3 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2016 - 10:16 AM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, radeon software, Crimson Edition 16.7.3, driver, graphics, update, rx480, rise of the tomb raider

AMD has released the Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.3 driver, with improved performance in Rise of the Tomb Raider for Radeon RX 480 owners, as well as various bug fixes.

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From AMD:

Radeon Software Crimson Edition is AMD's revolutionary new graphics software that delivers redesigned functionality, supercharged graphics performance, remarkable new features, and innovation that redefines the overall user experience. Every Radeon Software release strives to deliver new features, better performance and stability improvements.

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.3 Highlights

Performance Improvements:

Rise of the Tomb Raider performance increase up to 10% versus Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.2 on Radeon RX 480 graphics

For a full list of bug fixes and known issues, you can visit AMD's release notes page for 16.7.3. The new driver is available now from this link.

Source: AMD

Gigabyte adds full GIMPS and Prime95 compatibility to Skylake processors

Subject: Motherboards | January 28, 2016 - 05:55 PM |
Tagged: update, Skylake, gigabyte, bug

Gigabyte has released UEFI updates today which will resolve the freezing issues on Skylake seen in certain circumstances of Prime95 and GIMPS processing.  Just head over to their download site and enter in your motherboards model and download the new UEFI, or BIOS if you prefer the old terminology.

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As a bonus you may receive the ability to use higher clocked RAM, see any stability issues fixed or better performance from integrated components such as LAN or SATA.  Their update process is easy with none of the stress that once accompanied updates via floppy disjs or masks and UV light.  We can neither confirm nor deny these updates will also resolve unwanted ear hair growth.

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Source: Gigabyte

Choose Your Own Windows 10 Update Cycle Adventure?

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2014 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, update

I cannot help but think of Adobe Creative Cloud when I read Peter Bright report on Windows 10's update schedule. Previously, we would have general security and stability updates for Windows with the occasional Service Pack to roll updates together and sometimes introduce new features. Now, users might be able to choose how quickly to apply these updates, opt-out of everything but security patches, and/or accept experimental features.

windows-10.png

I say "might" because this is not technically a Microsoft announcement. Windows 10 has a new user interface, along with a few registry entries, for users to choose update frequency and development branches. The company would not say whether the Windows Insider program would continue after release, but the assumption is that it would be around for enthusiasts and IT testers to prepare for (and influence) upcoming changes. Think of it like an OS equivalent to the prerelease versions of Chrome and Firefox.

The article also suggests that the version number could periodically increase and that this initiative would replace Service Packs.

And this is where it feels a lot like Creative Cloud. Rather than waiting for an 18-month release schedule, Adobe is able to push out features at their leisure. Initially, I expected that this would lead to stagnation, but I do not see many complaints about that. On the other hand, it also pushed Adobe's software into a subscription service, which is something that people have been anticipating (and fearing with some) for quite some time now. Alternatively, it could be setting up Microsoft to subsidize Windows with online services. Either way, it could make it harder for them to justify incrementing the major version number.

Source: Ars Technica

Microsoft Rumored to Release Subscription-based Windows Blue Update in 2013

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2012 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: Windows Store, windows blue, windows 8, update, subscription, OS, microsoft

In other Microsoft news, the company is rumored to be working on its next generation operating system. Codenamed Windows Blue, it will be a low cost upgrade for existing Windows users that will be based on a subscription service for updates.

Details are extremely scarce at this point but it does seem like a probable move from Microsoft. It does seem like Microsoft has been moving in that direction for some time now. According to The Verge in reporting on sources in the know, Windows Blue will keep the Windows 8 name for branding purposes but the OS will receive a new SDK, UI changes, and performance tweaks during yearly updates. The updates are due in mid-2013, and the Windows Blue update service will span from Windows 8 to Windows Phone (Windows Server was not mentioned). Oddly enough, with the Windows Blue update Microsoft will stop accepting new Windows Store applications built to run on Windows 8. The Windows Store will continue to allow existing Windows 8 applications, but will require developers to rewrite their applications using the new SDK in order to get them on the Store for users running Windows Blue subscription service.

win8_retail_box_lg.jpg

It is a lot to take in, and there are many unknowns at this point. Do you think Microsoft has a good idea with the yearly subscription model, or will it cause backlash from users used to the way Windows has worked for years. Especially those that buy an OEM system with a pre-installed OS and use it until something breaks. Will they be receptive to yet another subscription service for an OS that traditionally has been a one-time purchase?

Assuming it is a good idea, how much would you pay for yearly updates? Will the Windows Store be enough of a success to essentially subsidize the development cost and allow for cheap pricing on the subscriptions?

Find more details on the rumored Windows Blue subscription over at The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet Receive Root Access Killing Software Updates

Subject: Mobile | December 21, 2011 - 02:51 AM |
Tagged: update, tablet, root, nook tablet, modding, kindle fire

Both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet have been given recent software updates. These updates were stated to improve performance and squash minor bugs. Unfortunately, in addition to these improvements, the automatic updates contained a “fix” that removed the ability to gain root access to the tablets. Specifically, the updates in question were 6.2.1 for the Amazon Kindle Fire and 1.4.1 for the Barnes and Noble Nook tablet. What is even more unfortunate is the fact that these updates are pushed to the devices automatically. The Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet will update as soon as they are connected to a WiFi hotspot, for example.

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The Nook Tablet gets an even worse deal, however. In addition to the removal of root access, users will not be able to side-load other Android applications. The ability to side-load other Android apps was likely a deciding factor for many when comparing the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire, as well as Nook eReaders traditionally being more hackable and mod-friendly.

Currently, the only way to keep root access on both tablets is to stay off of WiFi connections or disable automatic updates in the case of the Nook Tablet. If your Nook has already been updated, XDA has somewhat of a solution. While you will not be able to use the 1.4.1 update, you will at least be able to have root access, mod, and side-load applications to your hearts content. Their fix involves rolling back the 1.4.1 update to the previous 1.4.0 update and is detailed here.

Kindle Fire users will need to either stay off of WiFi hotspots or in the case of an already updated tablet wait for a workaround from the modding community.

The restrictions placed on both tablets are not likely to please users, especially buyers of Nook tablets as Barnes and Noble's eReaders have traditionally been friendly to modders. On one hand, users want options and the ability to install third party applications. On the other hand are Amazon and Barnes and Noble selling their tablets at a loss and needing to make up money by convincing people to buy into their software and services (their applications, bookstore, et al). For aspiring modders, patience is key as workarounds are likely to emerge soon. Until then, getting a tablet for cheap will have to suffice ;).

Where do you stand on the issue, do you think removing root access was the right move for Amazon and B&N? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Maximum PC