Yet another obituary announcement for Moore's Law

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2017 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: moores law, nvidia, jen-hsun huang

You've heard this one before, though not from Jen-Hsun Huang of NVIDIA who has a vested interest in seeing Moore's Law finally be relegated to computing history.  NVIDIA is pushing GPUs as a better alternative to CPUs for a variety of heavy computational lifting.  Volta has been adopted by many large companies and he also just announced TensorRT3 a programmable inference accelerator with applications in self-driving cars, robotics and numerous other tasks previously best done with a CPU.  DigiTimes quotes Jen-Hsun as saying "while number of CPU transistors has grown at an annual pace of 50%, the CPU performance has advanced by only 10%", more or less accurate in broad strokes but certainly not a death rattle yet.

Intel has a different opinion of course, reporting Moore's Law to be perfectly healthy just last Tuesday.

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"Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang has said that with the emergence of GPU computing following the decline of the CPU era, Moore's Law has come to an end, stressing that his company's GPU-centered ecosystem has won support from China's top-five AI (artificial intelligence) players."

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Source: DigiTimes

The retro Ataribox comes with new AMD hardware

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2017 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: atari, ataribox, amd, Indiegogo

Atari have released a tiny trickle of new information about their somewhat mysterious Ataribox; it will run some flavour of Linux on AMD hardware and cost somewhere between $250 to $300.  They describe their upcoming product as equivalent to a mid-range PC, not quite up to running AAA games but able to handle Minecraft or Terraria in addition to classic Atari games.  This will make it somewhat more expensive than an NVIDIA Shield and more on par with a current generation gaming console; somewhat apt as they too rely on AMD hardware.

Atari will be launching an Indiegogo campaign this fall to fund the Ataribox, with an expected release 12 months after that launch date.  While the idea is intriguing, for who doesn't want to play old Atari games on a nice looking machine; one wonders if Atari can honestly refer to themselves as struggling entrepreneurs in need of assistance in launching a product.  Drop by The Inquirer for more.

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"The Ataribox will be based on PC tech, and as such won't be tied to any one ecosystem. Now, usually this would send us screaming for the hills, but we know this one is going to get funded, so we're not sweating about sharing some more info."

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Source: The Inquirer

What's New, Plexycat? Plex News Adds Customized News Clips to Your Media Library

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: plex server, plex pass, plex news, plex, news

Plex has always been an excellent way to organize the movies, TV shows, and other media that you already have, but one area in which it has traditionally lacked is outside content. The Plex team has taken steps to address this in recent years, first with the introduction of DVR support in late 2016 and followed by the ability to watch live TV this past June. Now Plex has set its sights on another area of outside content: news.

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Plex today announced Plex News, a new service that aggregates recent video clips from over 190 global and local news publishers and integrates them "seamlessly and beautifully" into your media library. The initiative is based upon Watchup, a personalized news aggregation service that Plex acquired last January. Users can choose the topics and sources of news they prefer, and Plex will create custom video feeds containing each day's news. "AI and machine learning" will then learn the type of content each users prefers and automatically adapt the user's news feed as new videos and content sources are added.

Plex News is especially exciting to us because it follows a progression we started with Live TV and DVR where we’re bringing you great media from outside your library in a way which integrates seamlessly and beautifully. This makes it easier than ever to start using Plex if you’re new, and gives you another universe of content to explore outside of your own media, without ever leaving Plex.

In addition to clips from expected sources like CNN and the CNET, Plex claims that it has reached a deal to provide users with local news in more than 80 percent of U.S. markets as well, which positions Plex as a unique source for both enjoying your on-demand content library and keeping up with important events in the "real world."

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Plex News is launching as a free ad-supported service and will roll out to all users over the next two days, starting first with Plex Pass subscribers. It is available at launch for Android TV (including NVIDIA SHIELD), Apple TV, Roku, Android Mobile, and iOS, with support for other platforms to follow.

Source: Plex Blog

Skimmer Scanner, a start to protecting yourself at the pump

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2017 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: skimmer scanner, security, bluetooth

If you haven't seen the lengths which scammers will go to when modifying ATMs to steal your bank info you should really take a look at these pictures and get in the habit of yanking on the ATM's fascia and keyboard before using them.  Unfortunately as Hack a Day posted about last week, the bank is not the only place you have to be cautious, paying at the pump can also expose your details.  In this case it is not a fake front which you need to worry about, instead a small PIC microcontroller is attached to the serial connection between card reader and pump computer, so it can read the unencrypted PIN and data and then store the result in an EEPROM device for later collection.  The device often has Bluetooth connectivity so that the scammers don't need to drive right up to the pump frequently.

There is an app you can download that might be able to help stop this, an app on Google Play will detect Bluetooth devices utilizing the standard codes the skimmers use and alert you.  You can then tweet out the location of the compromised pump to alert others, and hopefully letting the station owner and authorities know as well.  The app could be improved with automatic reporting and other tools, so check it out and see if you can help improve it as well as keeping your PIN and account safe when fuelling up. 

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"It would be nice to think that this work might draw attention to the shocking lack of security in gas pumps that facilitates the skimmers, disrupt the finances of a few villains, and even result in some of them getting a free ride in a police car. We can hope, anyway."

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Source: Hack a Day

EFF Leaves the W3C over DRM Decision

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2017 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: w3c, eff, DRM

On September 18th, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, announced that they were leaving the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, due to its stance on DRM, effective immediately. This was published in the form of an open letter from Cory Doctorow, which is available on the EFF’s website.

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There’s several facets to the whole DRM issue. In this case, Cory Doctorow seems focused mostly on the security side of things. Creating an architecture to attach code that manipulates untrusted data is sketchy, at a time that browser vendors are limiting that attack surface by killing as many plug-ins as possible, and, in this case, a legal minefield is layered atop it due to copyright concerns. Publishers are worried about end-users moving data in ways that they don’t intend... even though every single time that content is pirated before its release date is a testament that the problem is elsewhere.

We can also get into the issue of “more control isn’t the same as more revenue” again, some other time.

As for the consequences of this action? I’m not too sure. I don’t really know how much sway the EFF had internally at the W3C. While they will still do what they do best, fight the legal side of digital freedom, it sounds like they won’t be in a position to officially guide standards anymore. This is a concern, but I’m not in a position to quantify how big.

Source: EFF

New NVIDIA SHIELD TV SKU: 16GB with Remote for $179

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2017 - 10:29 PM |
Tagged: SHIELD TV, pc gaming, nvidia

NVIDIA is adding a third SKU to their SHIELD TV line-up, shaving $20 off the price tag by including just a media remote, rather than the current low-end SKU’s media remote and a gamepad. This makes the line-up: SHIELD (16GB, Remote Only) for $179.00, SHIELD (16GB, Remote + Gamepad) for $199.99, and SHIELD PRO (500GB, Remote + Gamepad) for $299.99.

All SKUs come with MSI levels of uppercase brand names.

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This version is for those who are intending to use the device as a 4K media player. If you are not interested in gaming, then that’s $20 in your pocket instead of a controller that you will never use on your shelf. If, however, you want to game in the future, then the first-party SHIELD CONTROLLER is $59.99 USD, so buying the bundle with the gamepad now will save you about $30 (Update, Sept 24th @ 5:45pm: $40... I mathed wrong.) That leaves a little bit to think about, but the choice can now be made.

The new bundle is now available for pre-order, and it ships on October 18th.

Source: NVIDIA

Unreal Engine 4.18 Preview Published to Epic Launcher

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2017 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: ue4, epic games, pc gaming

Epic Games has released a preview build of Unreal Engine 4.18. This basically sets a bar for shipped features, giving them a bit of time to crush bugs before they recommend developers use it for active projects. This version has quite a few big changes, especially in terms of audio and video media.

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WebAssembly is now enabled by default for HTML5.

First, we’ll discuss platform support. As you would expect, iOS 11 and XCode 9 are now supported, and A10 processors can use the same forward renderer that was added to UE4 for desktop VR, as seen in Robo Recall. That’s cool and all, but only for Apple. For the rest of us, WebAssembler (WASM) is now enabled by default for HTML5 projects. WASM is LLVM bytecode that can be directly ingested by web browsers. In other words, you can program in C++ and have web browsers execute it, and do so without transpiling to some form of JavaScript. (Speaking of which, ASM.js is now removed from UE4.) The current implementation is still single-threaded, but browser vendors are working on adding multi-threading to WASM.

As for the cool features: Epic is putting a lot of effort in their media framework. This allows for a wider variety of audio and video types (sample rates, sample depths, and so forth) as well as, apparently, more control over timing and playback, including through Blueprints visual scripting (although you could have always made your own Blueprint node anyway). If you’re testing out Unreal Engine 4.18, Epic Games asks that you pay extra attention to this category, reporting any bugs that you find.

Epic has also improved their lighting engine, particularly when using the Skylight lighting object. They also say that Volumetric Lightmaps are also, now, enabled by default. This basically allows dynamic objects to move through a voxel-style grid of lighting values that are baked in the engine, which adds indirect lighting on them without a full run-time GI solution.

The last thing I’ll mention (although there’s a bunch of cool things, including updates to their audio engine and the ability to reference Actors in different levels) is their physics improvements. Their Physics Asset Editor has been reskinned, and the physics engine has been modified. For instance, APEX Destruction has been pulled out of the core engine into a plug-in, and the cloth simulation tools, in the skeletal mesh editor, are no longer experimental.

Unreal Engine 4.18 Preview can be downloaded from the Epic Launcher, but existing projects should be actively developed in 4.17 for a little while longer.

Source: Epic Games

Crytek Releases CRYENGINE 5.4

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2017 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, crytek

The latest version of CRYENGINE, 5.4, makes several notable improvements. Starting with the most interesting one for our readers: Vulkan has been added at the beta support level. It’s always good to have yet another engine jump in with this graphics API so developers can target it without doing the heavy lifting on their own, and without otherwise limiting their choices.

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More interesting, at least from a developer standpoint, is that CRYENGINE is evolving into an Entity Component framework. Amazon is doing the same with their Lumberyard fork, but Crytek has now announced that they are doing something similar on their side, too. The idea is that you place relatively blank objects in your level and build them up by adding components, which attaches the data and logic that this object needs. This system proved to be popular with the success of Unity, and it can also be quite fast, too, depending on how the back-end handles it.

I also want to highlight their integration of Allegorithmic Substance. With game engines switching to a PBR-based rendering model, tools can make it easier to texture 3D objects by stenciling on materials from a library. That way, you don’t need to think how gold will behave, just that gold should be here, and rusty iron should be over there. All of the major engines are doing it, and Crytek, themselves, have been using Substance, but now there’s an actual, supported workflow.

CryEngine is essentially free, including royalty-free, to use. Their business model currently involves subscriptions for webinars and priority support.

Source: Crytek

Amazon Web Services Discuss Lumberyard Roadmap

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2017 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, amazon

Lumberyard has been out for a little over a year and a half, and it has been experiencing steady development since then. Just recently, they published a blog post highlighting where they want the game engine to go. Pretty much none of this information is new if you’ve been following them, but it’s still interesting none-the-less.

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From a high level, Amazon has been progressing their fork of CryEngine into more of a component-entity system. The concept is similar to Unity, in that you place objects in the level, then add components to them to give them the data and logic that you require. Currently, these components are mostly done in Lua and C++, but Amazon is working on a visual scripting system, like Blueprints from Unreal Engine 4, called Script Canvas. They technically inherited Flow Graph from Crytek, which I think is still technically in there, but they’ve been telling people to stop using it for a while now. I mean, this blog post explicitly states that they don’t intend to support migrating from Flow Graph to Script Canvas, so it’s a “don’t use it unless you need to ship real soon” sort of thing.

One of Lumberyard’s draws, however, is their license: free, but you can’t use this technology on any cloud hosting provider except AWS. So if you make an offline title, or you use your own servers, then you don’t need to pay Amazon a dime. That said, if you do something like leaderboards, persistent logins, or use cloud-hosted multiplayer, then you will need to do it through AWS, which, honestly, you were probably going to do anyway.

The current version is Lumberyard Beta 1.10. No release date has been set for 1.11, although they usually don’t say a word until it’s published.

Source: Amazon

Unity 2017.2.0f1 Released

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2017 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, Unity

While it’s not technically released yet, Unity has flipped the naming scheme of Unity 2017.2 to Unity 2017.2.0f1. The “f” stands for final, so we will probably see a blog post on it soon. This version has a handful of back-end changes, such as improved main-thread performance when issuing commands to graphics APIs, but the visible changes are mostly in two areas: XR (VR + AR) and baked lighting.

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From the XR standpoint, a few additions stand out. First, this version now supports Google Tango and Windows Mixed Reality, the latter of which is tied to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, so it makes sense that Unity would have support in the version before that gets released (October 17th). In terms of features, the editor now supports emulating a Vive headset, so you can test some VR elements without having a headset. I expect this will mostly be good for those who want to do a bit of development in places where they don’t have access to their headset, although that’s blind speculation from my standpoint.

The other area that got a boost is baked global illumination. Unity started introducing their new Progressive Lightmapping feature in Unity 5.6, and it bakes lighting into the scenes in the background as you work. This update allows you to turn shadows on and off on a per-object basis, and it supports double-sided materials. You cannot have independent lighting calculations for the front and back of a triangle... if you want that, then you will need to give some volume to your models. This is mostly for situations like the edge of a level, so you don’t need to create a second wall facing away from the playable area to block light coming in from outside the playable area.

I’m not sure when the official release is, but it looks like the final, supported build is out now.

Source: Unity

Still no good news on the DRAM front

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2017 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: DRAM, Samsung, SK Hynix, micron

The change process technology continues to have a negative effect on DRAM supplies and according to the story posted on Electronics Weekly there is no good news in sight.  The three major vendors, Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron are all slowing production as a result of new fabs being built and existing production lines upgraded for new process technology such as EUV.  This will ensure that prices continue to slowly creep up over the remainder of this year and likely into 2018.  Drop by for more information on the challenges each are facing.

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"While overall DRAM demand will remain high in 2018, new fabs being planned will not be ready for mass production until 2019 at the earliest."

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Podcast #468 - AMD Raven Ridge rumors, Intel and Global Foundries new fabrication technology!

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2017 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: z270, windows 10, WD, video, toshiba, ShadowPlay, ryzen, podcast, nvidia, nuc, msi, max-q, Intel, gs63vr, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, gigabyte, EPYC, ansel, 2500U, 12TB

PC Perspective Podcast #468 - 09/21/17

Join us for discussion on AMD Raven Ridge rumors,  Intel and Global Foundries new fabrication technology!

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, Sebastion Peak, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:39:59

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:

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Technical Conference Releases

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2017 - 09:44 PM |
Tagged: GLOBALFOUNDRIES, FinFET, FD-SOI, 12nm, 14nm, 14nm+, 22FDX, 28FDX, 12FDX, amd, Vega, ryzen

The day after Intel had its Technology and Manufacturing expo in China, GLOBALFOUNDRIES kicks off their own version of the event and has made a significant number of announcements concerning upcoming and next generation process technologies. GF (GLOBALFOUNDRIES) had been the manufacturing arm of AMD until it was spun off as its own entity in 2009. Since then GF has been open to providing fabless semiconductor firms a viable alternative to TSMC and other foundries. Their current 14nm process is licensed from Samsung, as GF had some significant issues getting their own version of that technology into production. GF looks to be moving past their process hiccups in getting to FinFET technologies as well as offering other more unique process nodes that will serve upcoming mobile technologies very well.
 
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The big announcement today was the existence of the 12LP process. This is a "12 nm" process that looks to be based off of their previous 14nm work. It is a highly optimized variant that offers around 15% better density and 10% better performance than current 14/16nm processes from competing firms. Some time back GF announced that it would be skipping the 10nm node and going directly to 7nm, but it seems that market forces have pushed them to further optimize 14nm and offer another step.  Regular process improvement cadences are important to fabless partners as they lay out their roadmaps for future products.
 
12FP is also on track to be Automotive Grade 2 Certified by Q4 2017, which opens it up to a variety of automotive applications. Self-driving cars are the hot topic these days and it appears as though GF will be working with multiple manufacturers including Tesla. The process also has an RF component that can be utilized for those designs.
 
There had been some questions before this about what GF would do between 14nm and their expected 7nm offering. AMD had previously shown a roadmap with the first generation Zen being offered on 14nm and a rather nebulous sounding 14nm+ process. We now know that 12LP is going to be the process that AMD leverages for Zen and Vega refreshes next year. GF is opening up risk production in 1H 2018 for early adopters. This typically means that tuning is still going on with the process, and wafer agreements tend to not hinge on "per good die". Essentially, just as the wording suggest, the monetary risks of production fall more on the partner rather than the foundry. I would expect the Zen/Vega refreshes to start rolling out mid-Summer 2018 if all goes well with 12LP.
 
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RF is getting a lot of attention these days. In the past I had talked quite a bit about FD-SOI and the slow adoption of that technology. In the 5G world that we are heading to, RF is becoming far more important. Currently GF has their 28FDX and 22FDX processes which utilize FD-SOI (Fully Depleted Silicon On Insulator). 22FDX is a dual purpose node that can handle both low-leakage ASICs as well as RF enabled products (think cell-phone modems). GF has also announced a new RF centric process node called 8SW SOI. This is a 300mm wafer based technology at Fab 10 located in East Fishkill, NY. This was once an IBM fab, but was eventually "given" to GF for a variety of reasons. The East Fishkill campus is also a center for testing and advanced process development.
 
22FDX is not limited to ASIC and RF production. GF is announcing that it is offering eMRAM (embedded magnetoresistive non-volatile memory) support. GF claims that ic an retain data through a 260C solder reflow while retaining data for more than 10 years at 125C. These products were developed through a partnership with Everspin Technologies. 1Gb DDR MRAM chips have been sampled and 256Mb DDR MRAM chips are currently available through Everspin. This technology is not limited to standalone chips and can be integrated into SOC designs utilizing eFlash and SRAM interface options.
 
GLOBALFOUNDRIES has had a rocky start since it was spun off from AMD. Due to aggressive financing from multiple sources it has acquired other pure play foundries and garnered loyal partners like AMD who have kept revenue flowing. If GF can execute on these new technologies they will be on a far more even standing with TSMC and attract new customers. GF has the fab space to handle a lot of wafers, but these above mentioned processes could be some of their first truly breakthrough products that differentiates itself from the competition.

NVIDIA news; Ansel and ShadowPlay walk into Mordor

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 20, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, ShadowPlayk, ansel, battlegrounds, shadow of mordor

Gamescom 2017 just wrapped up and NVIDIA made a few interesting announcements during the conference.  For those enjoying PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, they announced the game now fully supports ShadowPlay Highlights along with the newly released Lawbreakers.  That means you can capture all your gameplay in 4K 60 FPS, with either always-on or manual saving, and built-in uploading tools.

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In addition to video capture of gameplay, their Ansel screen capture tool for the artistically inclined has also been updated.  Ansel now works in 25 titles, from The Witcher 3 through Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice to new genres like Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 so you can truly show that the 'injured' player lying on the turf truly did take a dive.  NVIDIA reports that you will be able to capture super-resolution, 360-degree, HDR, and stereo photographs in games developed in either the Unity Engine or the Unreal Engine as Ansel will now be provided as an add-in for those game engines.

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Last but not least is a giveaway.  NVIDIA will be giving away 50,000 Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor game codes to GeForce Experience community members!  You do have to sign up to win but once you are a member of GFE you are automagically entered to win.  They will message you in app on Sept 26th to let you know if you are a winner so you can still sign up if you are interested.  It will also support Ansel, if you run across a photogenic orc beheading you want to share.

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As a reminder, the offer for any who purchases of select GeForce GTX 1080 Ti or 1080 GPUs, as well as systems and laptops containing the same will get Destiny 2 on the PC launch date.

 

Source: NVIDIA

Divinity: Original Sin 2 arrives

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2017 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: gaming, divinity original sin 2

The original game was the first RPG that offered you a chance to argue with yourself, with a unique method of dialogue between the two main characters you played.  It incorporated the environmental effects of spells in a much more effective way than the majority of RPGs, making it wise to dump water on an opponent before zapping them with a lightning bolt.  The quests were often quite unique and the sequel seems to keep that alive, one reviewer at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN describes how they "ate the meat from the shark’s mouth" as part of the solution to a quest.  If you are looking for a different type of fantasy RPG that will make you smile, cry and scratch your head, often simultaneously, then check out the review and see if you want to pick up the game that launched today.

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"Divinity: Original Sin 2 is out of Early Access and fully released. Adam and John have both spent many, many hours with the alpha, and are now beginning to chew their way through the full version."

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NUC-kle up Baby, we're off to Hades Canyon!

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2017 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: nuc, kaby lake h, Intel, Hades Canyon VR, Hades Canyon

CNXSoft were granted a look at upcoming Intel NUC models this morning, including the next generation of systems, dubbed Hades Canyon, with a variety of other Canyons as well.  The most interesting are the top models, powered by Kaby Lake H and a discrete GPU, the NUCxi7HVK aka Hades Lake VR and NUCxi7HNK which is Hades Lake without VR.  Those two models will support for up to six displays and offer two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a pair of PCIe SSDs as well as support for Intel Optane.  All of these features could require a slightly larger footprint than we are used to with NUCs especially considering the dGFX.  Head on over for more details on the other NUC models you can expect to see in the coming years. 

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"Intel’s new generation of Gemini Lake and Coffee Lake processors is expected to launch at the end of this year, beginning of next, and this morning I received Intel’s NUC roadmap that gives a good idea of what’s coming in 2018 and 2019."

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Source: CNXSoft

Intel Technology and Manufacturing Day in China

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2017 - 11:33 PM |
Tagged: Intel, China, cannon lake, coffee lake, 10nm, 14nm+, 14nm++, 22FFL, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Samsung, 22FDX

Today in China Intel is holding their Technology and Manufacturing Day. Unlike previous "IDF" events this appears to be far more centered on the manufacturing aspects of Intel's latest process nodes. During presentations Intel talked about their latest steps down the process ladder to smaller and smaller geometries all the while improving performance and power efficiency.
 
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Mark Bohr presenting at Intel Technology and Manufacturing Day in China. (Image courtesy of Intel Corporation)
 
It really does not seem as though 14nm has been around as long as it has, but the first Intel products based on that node were released in the 2nd half of 2014.  Intel has since done further work on the process. Today the company talked about two other processes as well as products being made on these nodes.
 
The 10nm process has been in development for some time and we will not see products this year. Instead we will see two product cycles based on 14nm+ and 14nm++ parts. Intel did show off a wafer of 10nm Cannon Lake dies. Intel claims that their 10nm process is still around 3 years more advanced than the competition. Other foundry groups have announced and shown off 10nm parts, but overall transistor density and performance does not look to match what Intel has to offer.
 
We have often talked about the marketing names that these nodes have been given, and how often their actual specifications have not really lived up to the reality. Intel is not immune to this, but they are closer to describing these structures than the competition. Even though this gap does exist, competition is improving their products and offering compelling solutions at decent prices so that fabless semi firms can mostly keep up with Intel.
 
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Nothing like handling a 10nm Cannon Lake wafer with bare hands! (Image courtesy of Intel Corporation)
 
A new and interesting process is being offered by intel in the form of 22FFL. This is an obviously larger process node, but it is highly optimized for low power operation with far better leakage characteristics than the previous 22nm FF process that Intel used all those years ago. This is aimed at the ultra-mobile devices with speeds above 2 GHz. This seems to be a response to other low power lines like the 22FDX product from GLOBALFOUNDRIES. Intel did not mention potential RF implementations which is something of great interest from those also looking at 22FDX.
 
Perhaps the biggest news that was released today is that of Intel Custom Foundry announcing and agreement with ARM to develop and implement those CPUs on the upcoming 10nm process. This can have a potentially huge impact depending on the amount of 10nm line space that Intel is willing to sell to ARM's partners as well as what timelines they are looking at to deliver products. ARM showed off a 10nm test wafer of Cortex-A75 CPUs. The company claims that they were able to design and implement these cores using industry standard design flows (automated place and route, rather than fully custom) and achieving performance in excess of 3 GHz.
 
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Gus Yeung of ARM holding a 10nm Cortex-A75 based CPUs designed by Intel. (Image courtesy of Intel Corporation)
 
Intel continues to move forward and invest a tremendous amount of money in their process technology. They have the ability to continue at this rate far beyond that of other competitors. Typically the company does a lot of the heavy lifting with the tools partners, which then trickles down to the other manufacturers. This has allowed Intel to stay so far ahead of the competition, and with the introduction of 14nm+, 14nm++, and 10nm they will keep much of that lead. Now we must wait and see what kind of clockspeed and power performance we see from these new nodes and how well the competition can react and when.

Texting troubles with 2FA

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2017 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: security, sms, 2fa

Two factor authentication is the way to go when dealing with important information online, unfortunately the most common way of enabling 2FA has proven rather vulnerable.  With just your name, surname and phone number an unsavoury type could use a vulnerability on cellular networks to gain access to your accounts.  The example given over at Slashdot is of a Coinbase wallet with 2FA, registered with a Gmail address also protected by 2FA, which the security researchers easily took control of.  Take a look at the article for more details on the SS7 network vulnerabilities this attack exploits as well as better ways of making use of 2FA. 

If you do intend to continue to use SMS as part of your 2FA, at least consider disabling the feature on your phone which allows you to breifly read a text without unlocking your phone.

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"The report notes of several ways you can protect yourself from this sort of attack: "On some services, you can revoke the option for SMS two-factor and account recovery entirely, which you should do as soon as you've got a more secure app-based method established. Google, for instance, will let you manage two-factor and account recovery here and here; just set up Authenticator or a recovery code, then go to the SMS option for each and click 'Remove Phone.'"

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Source: Slashdot

Raven Ridge rumours

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2017 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, raven ridge, Bristol Ridge, Ryzen 5 2500U, Zen, Vega, 14nm

If the rumours are true, the new 14nm Raven Ridge based AMD Ryzen 5 2500U will offer an impressive jump in performance compared to AMD's current generation of APUs.  The Inquirer's source suggests the new APU will offer a 50% jump in single threaded performance and an impressive 90% advantage on multi-threaded performance.  The multithreaded performance improvement may be the headline but seeing a huge increase in single threaded applications, AMD's recent Achilles Heel, shows some interesting improvements to Zen.  This will also mark the arrival of their first APU with Vega onboard, so you can expect better graphics performance as well.  The benchmark numbers and links are here.

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"LEAKED BENCHMARKS for AMD's forthcoming Raven Ridge APUs suggest that upcoming devices, expected to be launched in time for Christmas, will outperform current Bristol Ridge APUs by up to 90 per cent on multicore applications."

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Source: The Inquirer

Street View Added to Google Earth VR Desktop

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2017 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: google, VR

So this is a bit of a weird one. As our readers are probably well aware, Google Maps offers Street View, which allows you to see 360-degree images from a car as it travels as many roads as it can... since, like, 2007. Also, this year, they are beginning to upgrade the quality of these images with new cars. Now that VR is taking off, it would be kind-of cool to see this data around you. Daydream (and apparently Cardboard) have an app that offers a few locations that you can view... sort-of like you would see in QuickTime in the 90s. Meanwhile, on Oculus, you had Google Earth, which let you see a view that was based on their new 3D Google Maps Satellite view, but it wouldn’t pull in the Street View data.

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Image Credit: Google

Now it will. A couple of days ago, Google updated Google Earth VR to allow teleporting into that spherical image. You will see a preview in a sphere atop your left hand. The weird part, though, is that you can’t travel while within street view. As far as I can tell, you need to jump back to the satellite view, move, then drop back down into street view any time you want to go anywhere. This... makes little sense to me, unless they plan on adding that feature but it just didn’t make this release schedule. It seems like they have all of the pieces scattered across existing software, but it's obviously next-to-impossible to tell for sure from the outside. Perhaps the data linked into the web-based Street View is insufficient for some reason?

Rant aside, if you have a compatible headset (which Steam says is an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive) then it’s worth a free download to check it out.

Source: Google