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Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2019 - 11:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: OBS, xsplit
The makers of XSplit, SplitmediaLabs, has just become a Gold Sponsor of the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) project, which is an open-source alternative to their XSplit Broadcaster. According to the OBS Open Collective page, this amounts to $20,000 USD, which ties them for first with Games Done Quick.
Note that the third-place organization has contributed $250, so there’s a lot of room for smaller companies to jump in.
At the same time, Andreas Hoye, COO of SplitmediaLabs, published the blog post “Why XSplit is sponsoring OBS” to answer the obvious question “Why is XSplit sponsoring OBS?” According to his words, there appears to be three main reasons. The first reason is that the developer of OBS did this as a passion project, and multiple companies have swooped in to make for-profit forks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; companies, such as RedHat, have shown that you can be valuable by establishing a service atop an open-source platform. It’s reasonable for XSplit to see the open-source OBS as their true competitor, and they’re doing it for nothing, so why not show a friendly gesture to someone in your industry who is only there because they want to be?
This leads into the second reason: competition. The post claims to want to keep OBS strong so the open-source project innovates and thus shows XSplit new ways to better their own software. It’s the not-zero-sum way of looking at the world, where you make the entire industry grow rather than eat away at each other’s market share.
As for the third reason? XSplit makes other software than just Broadcaster, and their new VCam webcam background remover is compatible with OBS.
Regardless of the reason, it’s cool when a company supports open-source. XSplit being a competitor of OBS just makes the story better.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 11, 2019 - 03:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: FOCUS SGX, seasonic, modular psu, 80 Plus Gold, 650W
Given its small size, having four PCIe connectors, six SATA connectors, and three Molex connectors on the Seasonic FOCUS SGX is no mean feat. That will give almost any SFF build more than enough power, or even a full sized build if you prefer a small PSU for whatever reason. The 10 year warranty indicates Seasonic has a lot of faith in this unit, and [H]ard|OCP's testing shows it is deserved. You will pay a little more for the FOCUS SGX but in this case it is actually worth it.
"Seasonic is FOCUSing more on small footprint high output power supplies, and the new FOCUS SGX series is targeting the small form factor market once again. This beefy 650 watt unit is fully modular, packs a 10 year warranty, is diminutive in size, had good efficiency, and comes complete with an ATX adapter plate as well."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Enermax RevoBron TGA 700 W @ TechPowerUp
- Thermaltake Smart BX1 RGB 650W Power Supply Unit Review @ NikKTech
- Corsair SF750 SFX Platinum @ Kitguru
- ApexGaming AG-650M 650W Power Supply Unit Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2019 - 01:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: everspin, eMRAM, Samsung, iot, Optane
Embedded magnetic RAM has been around for a bit, usually thanks to the work of Everspin whom have licensed their technology to GLOBALFOUNDRIES, though today Samsung has announced they are developing their own. It is less expensive to produce than STT-RAM, PC-RAM or memristors yet offers many of the same advantages over flash memory, namely much higher performance and lower electrical requirements.
Samsung is a ways from production, according to The Register Samsung doesn't expect to tape out a 1Gb eMRAM test chip until later this year. This would be a big leap forward for the performance of embedded systems, as ARM is working with Samsung to ensure compatibility and we may even see eMRAM onboard ARM chips once Samsung's production lines ramp up. It will be interesting to see what effect this will have on the market once it arrives; hopefully a larger splash than a certain other type of non-volitile memory!
"Samsung this week claimed it is mass-producing and commercially shipping embedded magnetic RAM (eMRAM) to replace EEPROM, SRAM, and NAND memories in embedded electronics."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft will offer extended support for Windows 7 starting 1 April @ The Inquirer
- Samsung’s face unlock system once again fooled by static images @ Ars Technica
- Nvidia buys Israeli chipmaker Mellanox for £5.3bn @ The Inquirer
- Intel CPU shortages to worsen in 2Q19, says Digitimes Research @ DigiTimes
- Iranian hackers nabbed over 6TB of data from Citrix @ The Inquirer
- Coders Used Ham Radio To Send Bitcoin From Canada To San Francisco @ Slashdot
- Buffer overflow flaw in British Airways in-flight entertainment systems will affect other airlines, but why try it in the air? @ The Register <
- A brief history of Wi-Fi security protocols from “oh my, that’s bad” to WPA3 @ Ars Technica
- Saving Your Vision From Super Glue In The Eyes @ Hackaday
- Slime Rancher - How To Get This Game For FREE @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2019 - 08:50 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: video, usb4, Threadripper, swiftech, RTX 2060, radeon vii, podcast, mx518, MK730, logitech, GOG, evga, eUFS, diablo
PC Perspective Podcast #535 - 3/7/2019
Editor's Note: Our apologies for the delayed release of this week's podcast. We had an increasingly catastrophic storage disaster that required some lengthy data recovery. But we're back up and running and thankfully lost nothing but a bit of time.
With that out of the way, join us for a look at the EVGA RTX 2060 Ultra, the Cooler Master MK730 mechanical gaming keyboard, a pricey CPU water block from Swiftech, the latest USB news, and more!
Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast
Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast
00:00:06 - Intro
00:07:19 - Review: EVGA RTX 2060 XC Ultra
00:24:01 - Review: Cooler Master MK730 Mechanical Keyboard
00:29:49 - Review: Swiftech Apogee SKF Heirloom Water Block
00:33:12 - News: USB4
00:40:53 - News: Third-Gen Threadripper & Navi Details
00:47:33 - News: RTX Triple-Threat Bundle & 419.35 Drivers
00:51:01 - News: Radeon VII Undervolting
01:01:29 - News: Windows Retpoline Optimizations & Game Breakers
01:06:09 - News: Intel CPU SPOILER Vulnerability
01:14:26 - News: GPU Price Cuts?
01:20:03 - News: Samsung eUFS 3.0 Mobile Storage
01:28:36 - News: HoloLens 2
01:32:54 - Picks of the Week
Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2019 - 05:16 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, layoffs
UploadVR received a statement from Valve that 13 full-time employees and “a portion of our contractor agreements were terminated”. The statement goes on to say that “It’s an unfortunate part of business, but does not represent any major changes at the company.”
UploadVR (and others of course) then went on to check who the affected people were. Based on their research, they found individuals working on projects related to VR and the Steam Controller claiming that their employment at Valve ended in 2019.
An old render of the Steam Controller. Image Source: Valve Software.
I have not heard any info about the contractors, such as who they are or what they were doing.
According to a PC Gamer post from 2016, there were approximately 360 employees at Valve at that time. Assuming then is roughly the same as now, which is not really a good assumption but it’s what we need to work with, this would represent about 4% of their workforce… depending on how instrumental the “portion of our contractor agreements” was.
A restructure for larger companies is typically around 10% lay-offs, which 4% is significantly below. Granted, I’m not too worried about Valve’s financial health, but it’s generally good to check as an early sign of financial or structural issues involving the whole company.
Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2019 - 04:03 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, retpoline
Microsoft has just acknowledged a graphics and mouse input performance issue with their March 1st, 2019 update for Windows 10. The “Known Issues” section of the update’s documentation, KB4482887, claims that users “may notice graphics and mouse performance degradation with desktop gaming when playing certain games, such as Destiny 2”.
Microsoft is working on a patch for the patch. For now, affected users must remove KB4482887.
While the update, which brings Windows 10 up to build 17763.348, contains several fixes, one that stands out is the addition of Retpoline for high-performance Spectre 2 mitigation. (Check out Tim's post on it.) It was a bit of a surprise when this update was released for the Windows 10 October 2018 update (rather than waiting a month until the April 2019 update). Further, even though it is added with the update, it is disabled by default and must be activated with a registry key. If this was the offending issue, then I would expect a registry flag to simply disable it as opposed to telling users to remove the entire update.
Of course, the cynic in me would find it hilarious if the offending branch/commit was the one responsible for “Updates time zone information for Chile” or “Addresses an issue that may prevent Internet Explorer from loading images that have a backslash (\) in their relative source path”. Something small and innocuous sounding.
Thankfully, I did not install the update, so I flipped Windows Update into “Paused” mode. (I am running Windows 10 Pro.) It’s probably a good idea to avoid this patch for a bit.
Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2019 - 01:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: wireless keyboard, K83, iCUE, corsair
Corsair's K83 wireless keyboard offers you a variety of ways to interact with whatever you connect it to in its brushed aluminium shell. Not only do you get the standard keys, there is a large touchpad with laptop style buttons and a joystick at the top, all of which can be programmed with iCUE. This should help you interface with even the most poorly designed GUI, or well designed ones which support gestures, TechPowerUp offers a list of compatible TVs and other devices in the full review.
"The CORSAIR K83 Wireless keyboard attempts to be an integral part of your living room, bringing with it a deluge of relevant features. Multiple connection options and modes give it a role with many host devices, including PCs and smart TVs, with navigation in the form of a keyboard, touch pad, and even a joystick to boot."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Corsair K83 Wireless Review - An Entertainment Keyboard @ Kitguru
- Cooler Master CK530 Review – £70 RGB Tenkeyless Keyboard @ Kitguru
- Mad Catz RAT Pro S3 review: The rat is back @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Examining the Cooler Master MM830 gaming mouse and its d-pad @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2019 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: security, hack, automotive, car alarm
Another week goes by and another half dozen vulnerabilities have been announced, as has sadly become tradition. If you prefer to jump directly to the Chrome and Win7 ones below feel free, but this particular vulnerability Hackaday describes is a bit different from the norm. It seems popular car alarm systems from Viper/Clifford and Pandora can be used quite effectively as carjacking tools.
They both had poorly implemented security protocols which made it fairly trivial to change any users password so you could gain access to the account. That access allows you to locate the car via GPS, listen to what is going on if the car has a microphone open or lock the doors and even start and stop the engine, as well as triggering the alarm. This is as they say, a bad thing, and thankfully it was effectively patched once reported to the companies involved.
"As ethics demand, the group notified the vendors and supposedly the holes have been plugged. Sometimes you hear about a hack that requires some very exotic work, but these were trivially simple. It is unknown if anyone ever used these hacks in a bad way, but it was certainly a real possibility."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Put down the cat, coffee, beer pint, martini, whatever you're holding, and make sure you've updated Chrome (unless you enjoy being hacked) @ The Register
- A “serious” Windows 0-day is being actively exploited in the wild @ Ars Technica
- Microsoft's latest Windows 10 update is hurting game performance @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft Rolls Out New Skype for Web; Does Not Support Firefox, Safari, and Opera @ Slashdot
- It's a hard drive ahead: Seagate hits density problem with HAMR, WD infects MAMR with shingles @ The Register
- Monolayer resets record for thinnest non-volatile memory device @ PhysicsWorld
- The Raspberry Pi 3A+ is getting Linux 5.1 kernel support @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2019 - 01:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming headphones, asus, ROG, delta usb-c, RGB, ROG Armory, audio
Hopefully the ASUS ROG USB-C RGB headset will survive the lunacy that those in charge of the USB spec have been inflicting upon the world, but for now it will work on your phone or computer. Kitguru does suggest installing the ROG Armory software to make use of the features offered by the built in DAC.
Check out the full review and why the reviewer preferred it over their Corsair Void Pro, in the full video review.
"Today we are reviewing the high-end ASUS Republic of Gamers Delta USB-C RGB headset. It has a beautifully ergonomic D-shaped ear cup design, and provides detailed, true to life audio with its updated Essence drivers and hi-fi grade ESS quad DAC"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Cooler Master MH752 Gaming Headset @ TechPowerUp
- Jabra MOVE Style Edition Wireless Stereo Headphones Review @ NikKTech
- SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset Review @ Techgage
- 1MORE Spearhead VR BT In-Ear Headphones Review @ NikKTech
- EVGA NU Audio Sound Card @ TechPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2019 - 12:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Zen 2, threadripper the third, ryzen pro mobile, Ryzen 3000, epyc 2, amd
Near the beginning of AMD's Investor Relations slidedeck sits a glimpse at what we will see from the company, except for a date with Navi. Some time before summer break we will see the release of the second generation of Ryzen Pro Mobile chips (picture not to scale), which will bring Zen 2 and improved graphics to your office devices.
Just after the mobile chips and in time to give you a reason not to go outside the third generation of Ryzen desktop chips will hit the market, just as AMD promised. We already have a good idea about what those chips will be called as well as their specifications; Tim covered it in length here if you have yet to memorize all the models.
We will also see Thirdripper or as The Tech Report prefers, Threadripper the Third, though we lack any information on the date or models, you should expect to see it before the end of the year with even more cores running at a higher frequency.
AMD will also be releasing a Zen 2 based EPYC family, for chiplet fans everywhere! They suggest it will be twice as fast as the previous generation overall, up to four times as fast in certain floating point operations and as is tradition it will be compatible with the current sockets on EPYC motherboards so you can do a quick and easy drop in upgrade.
"Can you really call something a leak if the company released it on purpose? AMD's just released a slide deck for its investors, and buried in those slides are a few tiny nuggets of interesting information. Let's take a quick peek into the red team's path ahead."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Blizzard has handed Diablo 1’s keys to GOG, and you can buy it right now @ Ars Technica
- Microsoft open-sources Windows Calculator 'cos maths keeps changing, apparently @ The Inquirer
- 5G is 'ready' once you redefine 'ready'... and then redefine 'reality' @ The Register
- The digital game store wars: Who are the players? @ The Tech Report
- Did you know?! Ghidra, the NSA's open-sourced decompiler toolkit, is ancient Norse for 'No backdoors, we swear!' @ The Register
- Servers key to reversing downward trend in DRAM prices @ DigiTimes
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 7, 2019 - 11:07 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: nvidia, gaming, fps, battle royale
NVIDIA has published an article about GPU performance and its impact on gaming, specifically the ultra-popular battle royale variety. The emphasis is on latency, and reducing this when gaming with a combination of high FPS numbers and a 144 Hz (and higher) refresh display. Many of these concepts may seem obvious (competitive gaming on CRTs and/or lower resolutions for max performance comes to mind), but there are plenty of slides to look over - with many more over at NVIDIA's post.
"For many years, esports pros have tuned their hardware for ultra-high frame rates -- 144 or even 240 FPS -- and they pair their hardware with high refresh rate monitors. In fact, ProSettings.net and ProSettings.com report that 99% of Battle Royale Pros (Fortnite,PUBG and Apex Legends) are using 144 Hz monitors or above, and 30% are using 240 Hz monitors. This is because when you run a game, an intricate process occurs in your PC from the time you press the keyboard or move the mouse, to the time you see an updated frame on the screen. They refer to this time period as ‘latency’, and the lower your latency the better your response times will be."
While a GTX 750 Ti to RTX 2080 comparison defies explanation, latency obviously drops with performance in this example
"Working with pros through NVIDIA’s research team and Esports Studio, we have seen the benefits of high FPS and refresh rates play out in directed aiming and perception tests. In blind A/B tests, pros in our labs have been able to consistently discern and see benefits from even a handful of milliseconds of reduced latency.
But what does higher frame rates and lower latency mean for your competitiveness in Battle Royale? A few things:
- Higher FPS means that you see the next frame more quickly and can respond to it
- Higher FPS on a high Hz monitor makes the image appear smoother, and moving targets easier to aim at. You are also less likely to see microstutters or “skip pixels” from one frame to the next as you pan your crosshair across the screen
- Higher FPS combined with G-SYNC technologies like Ultra Low Motion Blur (ULMB) makes objects and text sharper and easier to comprehend in fast moving scenes
This is why for Battle Royale games, which rely heavily on reaction times and your ability to spot an enemy quickly, you want to play at 144 FPS or more."
One of the more interesting aspects of this article relates to K/D ratios, with NVIDIA claiming an edge in this are based on GPU performance and monitor refresh rate:
"We were curious to understand how hardware and frame rates affect overall competitiveness in Battle Royale games for everyday gamers - while better hardware can’t replace practice and training, it should assist gamers in getting closer to their maximum potential."
"One of the common metrics of player performance in Battle Royales is kill-to-death (K/D) ratio -- how many times you killed another player divided by how many times another player killed you. Using anonymized GeForce Experience Highlights data on K/D events for PUBG and Fortnite, we found some interesting insights on player performance and wanted to share this information with the community."
For more on this topic, and many more charts, check out the article over at NVIDIA.com.
Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2019 - 10:37 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: water, twitch, streaming, logitech g, logitech, IWD, International Women’s Day, gaming, fundraiser, event, charity, blue microphones, ASTRO Gaming
Logitech is hosting a 24-hour live stream beginning today (March 7) at 2:00 PM Pacific Time / 5:00 PM Eastern to celebrate International Women’s Day; with Logitech G, ASTRO Gaming, and Blue Microphones also involved in this "multi-city live stream".
"To celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to acknowledge the women who contributed to gaming. Some of our favorite games have women at the helm, and many women are involved in creating the amazing technology used to play these great games.
As a part of this celebration, Logitech, Logitech G, ASTRO Gaming and Blue Microphones will host a 24-hour, multi-city live stream on March 7 and 8 to raise funds for charity: water. Their goal is to bring clean and safe drinking water to developing countries improving health, education and opportunity – especially for women and children, who spend up to 40 billion hours a year walking to collect clean water. It’s our goal to help improve the quality of life for women globally."
You can access the stream via the Logitech G Twitch channel and on TILTIFY, featuring "female gamers and Logitech employees around the world." Donations can be made to the foundation during the live stream, with Logitech matching the first $15,000.
"Please join us for this one-of-a-kind event. Help us celebrate diversity and donate to a worthy cause. As little as a $30 donation will bring clean water to an individual for an entire year. And if we hit our $30,000 goal, we’ll be able to bring three full communities clean water!"
Logitech provides this 24-hour stream schedule:
Thursday, March 7
- 2pm – 10pm PT
- Broadcast from the Logitech office in Newark, Calif.
- Guest Streamer: @JessBrohard
- 10pm – 2am PT / Mar 8 7pm – 11pm Napier, New Zealand
- Broadcast from New Zealand
- Guest Streamer: LoriiPops
Friday, March 8
- 2am – 6am PT / 10am – 2pm GMT
- Broadcast from the Logitech office in Cork, Ireland
- Guest Streamer: Fuzzy Freaks
- 6am – 10am PT / 8am – 12pm CST
- Broadcast from Mexico City, Mexico (in Spanish)
- Guest Streamer: Why So Sara
- 10am – 2pm PT
- Broadcast from ASTRO Gaming in San Francisco, Calif.
- Guest Streamer: @JessBrohard
Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2019 - 03:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Respawn Entertainment, ea, Star Wars, Jedi: Fallen Order, gaming
On April 13th the true power of the Fallen Order shall be demonstrated, as EA and Respawn Entertainment will reveal a demonstration of the new Star Wars game at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Chicago. Along with the new game, there will also be an announcement involving Star Wars: The Old Republic, for those who are still playing that game.
We don't know much about the new game, and with the developer of Titanfall and Apex Legends involved it could be just about anything. You can see the official announcement of the pending announcement over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.
"If you’ve been off in a galaxy far, far away, Fallen Order is set shortly after the prequel trilogy, and tells the story of a young Padawan who somehow survived Order 66, the backstabbilicious Jedi purge carried out by the Emperor’s loyal clone army."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The New 'Red Dead Redemption' Reveals the Biggest Problem With Marquee Games Today: They're Boring as Hell @ Slashdot
- Massive Skyrim multiplayer mod under fire after code-theft accusations @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Humble Indie Bundle
- Wot I Think: Devil May Cry 5 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- DiRT Rally 2.0 @ Overclockers Club
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 6, 2019 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: radeon vii, amd, undervolting, Radeon Wattman, Radeon Chill
A question that has been asked about the new Radeon VII is how undervolting will change the performance of the card and now [H]ard|OCP has the answer. Making use of AMD's two tools for this, Wattman and Chill, and the 19.2.2 driver they tested clockspeed and temperature when running Far Cry 5. As it turns out, undervolting the Radeon VII has a noticeable impact on performance, increasing the average FPS to 105.7 from 101.5, while enabling Chill drops that number to 80fps.
Check out the full review to see what happened to the performance in other games as well as the effect on temperatures.
"Is Radeon Chill or GPU undervolting the answer? We run the Radeon VII through some real world gaming and show you exactly what Chill and Undervolting will do to, or for your gameplay."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (Laptop GPU) @ TechSpot
- Ryzen Mobile Gets Better Drivers, Finally @ TechSpot
- Zotac RTX 2060 AMP @ Modders-Inc
- GTX 1660 Ti 4-way/40 game OC Shootout @ BabelTechReviews
- GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Mega Benchmark @ Techspot
- MSI Gaming X Geforce GTX 1660 TI @ Modders-Inc
- Palit GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GamingPRO OC @ Guru of 3D
- It's Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti time: All the cards currently available @ The Tech Report
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Linux Gaming Benchmarks @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2019 - 12:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, nvidia, cryptocurrency
The cryptocurrency fad has been driving us insane for the past few years as we saw unprecedented demand for GPUs cause prices to jump far above MSRP and possibly contribute to the launch prices of the current generation of GPUs. Now that the miners have moved on to other things, or to ASICs designed specifically for mining, NVIDIA and AMD saw a large drop in sales volume.
DigiTimes have heard from card vendors that they have an immense amount of inventory stuck in warehouses now that demand has dried up. According to their sources, the price cuts we've seen on the GTX 1060 and 1070 as well as the RX580 may start to spread to other cards in an attempt to clear space for new inventory. You shouldn't expect huge drops over a short time, but you should definitely keep your eye out for bargains over the coming months.
"With the dissipation of the cryptocurrency mining fad, graphics card players have begun cutting product prices in a bid to clear out excess inventory at the expense of profitability, according to industry sources."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- New Contest: Flexible PCBs @ Hackaday
- Corning is working on flexible glass for foldable phones @ The Inquirer
- The first ZX Spectrum prototype laid bare... (What? It was acceptable in the '80s) @ The Register
- Privacy International finds major Android apps are still sharing data with Facebook @ The Inquirer
- Linux 5.0 is out except it's really 4.21 because Linus 'ran out of fingers and toes' to count on @ The Register
- iFixit opens up the Galaxy S10, revealing tiny in-display fingerprint sensor @ Ars Technica
- That's a nice ski speaker you've got there. Shame if it got pwned @ The Register
- Apple no longer refuses to fix iPhones with third-party batteries @ Ars Technica
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2019 - 06:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: spoiler, spectre, security, meltdown, Intel
A spokesperson from Intel reached out to provide a statement for us.
“Intel received notice of this research, and we expect that software can be protected against such issues by employing side channel safe software development practices. This includes avoiding control flows that are dependent on the data of interest. We likewise expect that DRAM modules mitigated against Rowhammer style attacks remain protected. Protecting our customers and their data continues to be a critical priority for us and we appreciate the efforts of the security community for their ongoing research.”
This is good news as the original report suggested a sofware mitigation might not be possible.
********** End Update ***********
If Tim's post earlier today was bright spot on an otherwise dismal day, then get ready for the clouds to roll back in. The performance drop experience from protecting yourself against Spectre and it's variants may have been mitigated to a point, however researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, and the University of Lubeck have discovered Intel chips are still vulnerable to a newly discovered vulnerability dubbed Spoiler.
Like the previous vulnerabilities it exploits speculative execution however unlike Spectre, Meltdown and their variants, it attacks via the Memory Order Buffer, using the timing behaviour it exposes. If there is one bit of good news in this discovery, it is that only Intel processors are affected and not AMD nor ARM.
"Like the Spectre and Meltdown attacks revealed in January 2018, Spoiler also abuses speculative execution in Intel chips to leak secrets. However, it targets a different area of the processor called the Memory Order Buffer, which is used to manage memory operations and is tightly coupled with the cache."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft Edge running on Chromium has more than a hint of Chrome about it @ The Inquirer
- Structural supercapacitors prepare for take-off @ PhysicsWorld
- iPhone 11 release date, specs and price: 2019 iPhones might offer waterproof display tech @ The Inquirer
- 3D Print Your Own Electric Screwdriver @ Hackaday
- Armor Games admits all its users' deets slurped in database mega-hack as site moves to repair chink @ The Register
- Microsoft Will Launch Disc-Less, 'All Digital' Xbox One S Next Month, Report Says @ Slashdot
- Blender 2.80 (Beta) Viewport & Rendering Performance @ Techgage
- Dealmaster: A whole bunch of Anker charging gear is on sale today @ Ars Technica
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2019 - 11:05 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: V-NAND, smartphone, Samsung, eUFS
Samsung has begun mass production of its latest V-NAND based mobile storage solution. Conforming to the eUFS 3.0 standard, Samsung’s latest chips pair eight layers of 512Gb dies with a high-performance controller into a tiny 512 GB chip suitable for thin phones and tablets.
Samsung claims its eUFS (embedded Universal Flash Storage) 3.0 chips offer up to twice the sequential performance of previous generation eUFS 2.1 storage and 20-times the performance of a typical micro SD card (~100 IOPS though some are faster). Specifically, the 512GB eUFS 3.0 chip offers up to 2,100 MB/s sequential read, 410 MB/s sequential write, 63,000 random read, and 68,000 random write speeds. The chart below compares eUFS 3.0, eUFS 2.1, eMMC 5.1, and a M.2 NVMe SSD.
|Samsung eUFS 3.0||Samsung 1TB eUFS 2.1||Samsung 512GB eUFS 2.0||MyDigitalSSD SBX M.2 NVMe||eMMC 5.1|
|Sequential Read||2,100 MB/s||1,000 MB/s||860 MB/s||1,600 MB/s||250 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||410 MB/s||260 MB/s||255 MB/s||1,300 MB/s||125 MB/s|
|Random Read IOPS||63,000||58,000||42,000||240,000+||11,000|
|Random Write IOPS||68,000||50,000||40,000||180,000+||13,000|
eUFS 3.0, eUFS 2.1, and eMMC 5.1 numbers courtesy Samsung. NVME PCI-E x2 SSD numbers are from PC Perspective in our review of the drive. For further comparison typical modern SATA SSD tend to be around 550 MB/s for sequentials and 95,000 IOPS.
Smartphone and tablets utilizing eUFS 3.0 should end up being notably faster than previous storage solutions. Interestingly, Samsung has managed to pull off sequential read performance that rivals much larger multi-chip NVME PCI-E x2 M.2 solid state drives though writes do not come close to those drives due to the number of chips/channels being much higher on the M.2 form factor whereas the eUFS 3.0 is limited to a single chip and limited layers to spread writes across. Random read and write performance is respectable with eUFS 3.0 but again not anywhere close to PCI-E/NVMe M.2 drives. Compared to a SATA SSD however, eUFS 3.0 looks much better offering significantly faster sequential reads (writes are fairly low to be competitive though) and with random performance that starts to approach budget and/or low capacity SATA SSD performance. That’s not to say computer users should give up M.2 for eUFS, of course, but that smartphone storage is rapidly improving and starting to close the gap between the platforms / form factors.
Samsung will be launching 512 GB and 128 GB eUFS 3.0 chips imminently with 1 TB and 256 GB chips to follow in the second half of 2019. We may have to wait until next year to see the new eUFS 3.0 standard catch on with most smartphones launching in 2019 already announced last month at Mobile World Congress. It is possible that some of those phones will use the faster internal storage, like Samsung’s own Galaxy Fold, but most will likely be based on eUFS 2.1.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 5, 2019 - 09:48 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Tom Clancy’s The Division II, RTX Triple Threat Bundle, rtx, ray tracing, nvidia, geforce, gaming, devil may cry 5, bundle, Apex Legends, 419.35 WHQL
GeForce Game Ready Driver 419.35 WHQL
NVIDIA has released their latest Game Ready driver today, 419.35 WHQL, for "the optimal gaming experience for Apex Legends, Devil May Cry 5, and Tom Clancy’s The Division II". The update also adds three monitors to the G-SYNC compatible list, with the BenQ XL2540-B/ZOWIE XL LCD, Acer XF250Q, and Acer ED273 A joining the ranks.
Apex Legends World Overview (image credit: EA)
"Our newest Game Ready Driver introduces optimizations and updates for Apex Legends, Devil May Cry 5, and Tom Clancy’s The Division II, giving you the best possible experience from the second you start playing.
In addition, we continue to optimize and improve already-released games, such as Metro Exodus, Anthem, and Battlefield V, which are included in our new GeForce RTX Triple Threat Bundle."
RTX Triple Threat Bundle
NVIDIA's latest game bundle offers desktop and laptop RTX 2060 and 2070 buyers a choice of Anthem, Battlefield V, or Metro Exodus. Buyers of the high-end RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards (including laptops) get all three of these games.
"For a limited time, purchase a qualifying GeForce RTX 2080 Ti or 2080 graphics card, gaming desktop, or gaming laptop and get Battlefield V, Anthem, and Metro Exodus (an incredible $180 value!). Pick up a qualifying GeForce RTX 2070 or 2060 graphics card, gaming desktop, or gaming laptop and get your choice of these incredible titles."
The free games offer begins today, with codes redeemable "beginning March 5, 2019 until May 2, 2019 or while supplies last." You can download the latest NVIDIA driver here.
Microsoft Rolling Out Retpoline Optimizations Update to Reduce Performance Impact of Spectre 2 Mitigations
Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2019 - 08:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows udpate, spectre, security, retpoline, microsoft, meltdown, cve-2017-5715
Microsoft recently detailed its testing of retpoline optimizations present in Windows Insider Preview builds of its Windows 10 operating system (18272 and newer) and has announced that starting with Microsoft Update KB4482887 on March 1st the company will be rolling out and enabling the Google-developed Retpoline performance optimizations that reduce the performance impact of security mitigations put in place to combat Spectre Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715). Windows 10 users running 64-bit versions of Windows 10 Build 1809 and newer will have the Retpoline optimizations installed with the KB4482887 and other updates turned on via cloud configuration in a phased rollout.
No retpoline fixups for me, at least not until Microsoft Update stops failing to install a newer build (heh). It may be time to nuke it from orbit and start fresh! If you get this error on a supported build you may have to run this PowerShell script from the Microsoft Support website to get it to work though when I tried I was not able to get PS to import the module...
As a refresher, Spectre Variant 2 is a security vulnerability related to speculative execution that requires CPU microcode as well as OS kernel updates to mitigate. Red Hat summarizes CVE-2017-5715 as “an indirect branching poisoning attack that can lead to data leakage. This attack allows for a virtualized guest to read memory from the host system.” Microsoft further clairifies:
“At a high level, the Spectre variant 2 attack exploits indirect branches to steal secrets located in higher privilege contexts (e.g. kernel-mode vs user-mode). Indirect branches are instructions where the target of the branch is not contained in the instruction itself, such as when the destination address is stored in a CPU register.”
Unfortunately, while Spectre Variant 1 was able to be patched at the OS kernel level, Spectre Variant 2 required processor microcode updates (or new hardware with different speculative execution methods) and the patches while necessary to improve security and mitigate potential attacks have an impact on performance. Last year, Google began work on “retpoline” to attempt to reduce the performance impact that these security measures have on systems. Retpoline ended up being much faster than IBRS (indirect branch restricted speculation) which is the default behavior post-mitigations but still slower than regular indirect calls / jumps (pre-mitigations). Retpoline replaces all indirect calls or jumps in kernel-mode binaries with indirect brand sequences that have safe speculation behavior, according to Microsoft. Retpoline applies to all AMD processors as well as Intel Broadwell and older architecture-based chips where the CPU RET (return from procedure) instructions do not speculate based on the contents of indirect call brand prediction. The retpoline methods allow for safe control transfers to target addresses by performing a function call, modifying the return address, and returning it. The optimizations are traditionally done at compile time with indirect calls being replaced with retpoline sequences. Microsoft stated that due to its need for legacy support and third-party driver code, such a compile-time optimization was simply not practical. Instead, Microsoft performs the retpoline optimizations at runtime. It extended the DVRT (Dynamic Value Relocation Table) format and NT Memory Manager to support the new retpoline metadata that can be added to the DVRT without breaking backwards compatibility. Speaking of backwards compatibility, the Redmond-based software giant plans to continue shipping Windows 10 as-is in a non-retpoline state to maintain wider compatibility and software support. Drivers and software that do support retpoline will be able to take advantage of the optimizations, however.
“As mentioned earlier, the Windows implementation needs to support mixed environments in which some drivers are not compiled with retpoline support. This means that we cannot simply replace every indirect call with a retpoline sequence like the example shown in the introduction. We need to ensure that the kernel gets the opportunity to inspect the target of the call or jump so that it can apply appropriate mitigations if the target does not support retpoline.” - Mehmet_Iyigun, Microsoft
DVRT metadata can store retpoline data for import calls/jumps, switchable jumps, and generic indirect calls/jumps, and then the extended NT Memory Manager infrastructure is used to understand that metadata and apply fixups / retpoline optimizations where applicable.
What does all this mean for performance though? Well, according to Microsoft and its internal testing, the company saw approximately 25% faster Microsoft Office application startup times and between a 1.5 to 2-times increase in storage and networking performance which is a notable improvement post-Spectre 2 patches. They also claimed that the performance impact has been "reduced to noise level for most situations." If you are running Windows Insider Preview 18272 or later on supporting hardware the retpoline optimizations should already be turned on for you (you can double check with PowerShell cmdlet Get-SpeculationControlSettings) and if you are running Windows 10 1809 or later the optimizations will be enabled within the first half of this year in a phased rollout.
Until we get new processors that are not affected by the various speculative execution attacks (which could be difficult if not impossible to totally eliminate just due to the nature of how those performance tricks work), optimizations like retpoline to reduce the performance impact of patches that improved security but limited full potential chip performance may well be our best bet.
Are you running one of the Windows Insider builds with retpoline enabled and noticed any increased application performance? You can check out Microsoft’s blog post with all the juicy programming details here. You can find the KB4482887 update information page here.
- Google's 'free' Spectre patch @ PC Perspective
The continuing shortage of high end Intel CPUs for servers has been good for AMD, or at least it could be if they could get the major vendors to help sell them. While a local shop or small business might have had a bad experience years ago which has resolved them never to use another AMD products, large scale hosts like CTL or Amazon are not going to be limited by prejudice which has an effect on their bottom line.
What better way to demonstrate the abilities of an AMD EPYC system to someone than to build one and roll it out into production? Phoronix have done just that, using ASRock's EPYCD8-2T board so they could test the performance on eight different Linux distros. Check out the results for yourself and think about the possiblity of an upgrade, before you can get your hands on that Xeon.
"If you are looking to assemble an AMD EPYC workstation, a great ATX motherboard up for the task is the ASRock Rack EPYCD8-2T that accommodates a single EPYC processor, eight SATA 3.0 ports (including SAS HD), dual M.2 PCIe slots, dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports,and four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots all within ATX's 12 x 9.6-inch footprint."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Corsair ONE i160 Compact Gaming PC @ TechPowerUp
- Guru3D Winter 2019 PC Buyers Guide
- The Corsair One i140 is a nearly perfect SFF PC, but that price... @ The Tech Report