OK, we exeucted Order 66 ... now what?

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2019 - 03:23 PM |
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.

starwars1313-920x584.jpg

"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."

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Chilling out with the Radeon VII

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 6, 2019 - 01:47 PM |
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.

1551043702oc0tueeqyz_1_6_l.png

"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."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

How about some good news for a change, like a GPU price correction?

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2019 - 12:34 PM |
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.

pmEa6Rb.jpg

"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."

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Source: DigiTimes

Spoiler alert! Don't have a Meltdown but Spectre isn't the only spooky thing about Intel chips

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2019 - 06:29 PM |
Tagged: spoiler, spectre, security, meltdown, Intel

******Update*****

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.

Read on at Slashdot if you aren't already depressed enough.

hahahaha-oh-i-made-myself-sad.jpg

"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:

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Source: Slashdot

Samsung Mass Producing eUFS 3.0 Mobile Storage

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2019 - 11:05 AM |
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.

eUFS_512GB USB3.0_Ver_ A.jpg

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.

Related reading:

Source: Samsung

NVIDIA Announces GeForce 419.35 WHQL Driver, RTX Triple Threat Bundle

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 5, 2019 - 09:48 AM |
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-screenshot-world-overview.jpg

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.

geforce-rtx-triple-bundle.jpg

"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.

Source: NVIDIA

Microsoft Rolling Out Retpoline Optimizations Update to Reduce Performance Impact of Spectre 2 Mitigations

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2019 - 08:12 PM |
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.

noretpolineforme.jpg

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.

Related reading:

Source: Microsoft

So, you're looking for an EPYC rack?

Subject: Systems | March 4, 2019 - 07:44 PM |
Tagged: amd, EPYC, asrock, EPYCD8-2T

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.

rack.PNG

"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."

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Systems

Source: Phoronix

MSI has a new Cherry ride for your fingers, the Vigor GK6

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2019 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: cherry mx red, msi, gaming keyboard, Vigor GK60, input, RGB

MSI's new Vigor GK60 keyboard sports Cherry MX Red switches and has an MSRP of $109.99, but is available for $99.99 for a limited time if you feel the need right now.   As this is 2019 the keyboard is legally required to meet a minimum of RGBs, which the GK60 easily surpasses and for those who are using MSI's Mystic Light for other components, you will see your new keyboard listed in that software.

Click over to TechPowerUp for a closer look at the outsides and insides of this keyboard, the caps and the switches.

keyboard-2.jpg

"2019 brings with it our first MSI keyboard review in the form of the recently announced Vigor GK60. It is a full-size keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches for a solid base for gamers and does not break the bank. The addition of some MSI-specific features and software and hardware control over function and form means this is a keyboard you would want to know more about!"

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Source: TechPowerUp

USB superfriends ... Intel, Thunderbolt and the USB Promoters Group are here to save us from the USB-IF!

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2019 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: usb-if, usb 4, thunderbolt 3, open source, Intel

Intel has made good on their promise from 2017 to release the Thunderbolt specifications to the industry so that upcoming products can offer that connection without being tied to an Intel license and the possible limitations included therein.  Today Thunderbolt 3 was released to the USB Promoter Group, who promptly undid the insanity that the USB-IF released upon us last week by promptly announcing it will be the basis of USB 4.

Thanks to their lack of an obsession over stringing letters and numbers to the back of USB 3 we will end up with a certified standard that provides "two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables and up to 40 Gbps operation over 40 Gbps-certified cables" (pdf link).  It will maintain backwards compatibility with previous Thunderbolt generations as well as the various flavours of USB 2 and 3.  It may or may not be compatible with the new ones, such as USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 ... indeed one might hope they refuse to accept such things into their specifications. 

Considering that the USB-IF and USB-PG are closely related, this new nomenclature will be the new standard and last weeks announcement just a memory.

Intel-Thunderbolt3-3.jpg

"Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today’s simplest and most versatile port available to everyone. This, in combination with the integration of Thunderbolt 3 into upcoming Intel processors is a win-win for the industry and consumers."

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Source: Intel

Samsung Announces Galaxy Smartphone Lineup for 2019

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 2, 2019 - 11:00 AM |
Tagged: MWC, snapdragon 855, SD855, Samsung, galaxy, foldable, android 9

During Samsung's own Samsung's Unpacked press conference as well as Mobile World Congress in Spain the Sourth Korea-based tech giant unveiled a beaucoup of new smartphones, tablets, and accessories. The new Galaxy series smartphones were the headliners though with Samsung revealing a new flagship foldable smartphone at the top, four high-end S10 tier phones, and two budget A tier smartphones all within the Galaxy brand. Needless to say, it is a lot to process!

Samsung Galaxy Fold.png

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is the new Galaxy flagship and is Samsung's first smartphone with a foldable AMOLED display [Video]. At first blush the new device is a thck bar of soap with rounded edges, a USB-C port along the bottom edge, and a camera bump around back with three lenses. A 4.6" full HD display sits in the center of the front face with a 10MP selfie camera and large bezels top and bottom. The right side is where the magic happens though, where the smartphone can be opened up like a book to reveal a larger 7.3" dynamic AMOLED display (QXGA) where it can be used like a tablet with up to three applications running at once in separate windows. Samsung claims that "app continuity" allows apps to switch between the cover display and the main tablet display with ease. When the 2-in-1 device is opened up in tablet mode there are two front facing selfie cameras (10MP dual pixel + 8MP RGB depth camera). Around back there are three cameras including a 12MP wide angle, 16MP ulta wide angle, and 12MP telephoto camera. The camera system offers dual optical image stabilization as well.

Samsung Galaxy Fold Cover and Rear Camera.png

On the inside Samsung has opted for Qualcomm's Snaptdragon 855 platform paired with 12GB of LPDDR4x memory and 512GB of storage. Unfortunately there is no micro SD card support on the Galaxy Fold, but at least the internal memory is UFS 3.0 rather than the older (and slower) UFS 2.1 used in the rest of the Galaxy series. Two batteries (one in each half to balance the weight) add up to 4,380 mAh.

Samsung's new flagship comes at quite a premium though, with MSRP of $1980. It should be available starting in April 2019.

Moving down to the (slightly) more affordable S tier, Samsung has refreshed the Galaxy S series with four new devices: the S10+ at $999, the S10 at $899, and the entry-level S10e at $749. There is also the S10 5G that includes the optional X50 modem to all the largest S10 to connect to upcoming 5G cellular networks.

Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10, S10Plus.jpg

The Galaxy S10+ offers a 6.4" Infinity-O edge QHD+ AMOLED display sans notch with a 10MP dual pixel camera and 8MP RGB depth camera in the top right corner of the display in a slim body with rounded corners. Around back, the S10+ features a triple camera system with a wide angle, ultra wide angle, and telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and dual OIS. The S10+ comes with glass display and either a glass back or a ceramic back with the ceramic variant weighing slightly more but, at least in theory, being much more durable.

The S10+ comes in Prism White, Prism Black, Prism Green, Prism Blue, Ceramic White, and Ceramic Black. The glass backs' prism colors have a glossy pearlescent look while the ceramic models are more solid and matte.

Internally, the S10+ uses a Snapdragon 855 SoC, 4,100mAh battery, and comes in configurations of 8GB RAM / 128GB ROM, 8GB RAM / 512GB ROM, and 12GB RAM / 1TB ROM. Yes, that's 1TB of internal memory on a phone – and it can be expanded with a Micro SD card officially up to 512GB.

  S10e S10 S10+ S10 5G Fold
Display 5.8" Flat FHD (2280x1080) 6.1" Edge QHD+ (3040x1440) 6.4" Edge QHD+ (3040x1440) 6.7" QHD+ 4.6" (FHD) - 7.3" (QXGA)
Cameras

Front: 10MP dual pixel AF

Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle

OIS

Front: 10MP dual pixel AF

Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle + 12MP telephoto 45° (2x optical zoom)
Dual OIS

Front: 10MP dual pixel + 8MP RGB depth

Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle + 12MP telephoto 45° (2x optical zoom)
Dual OIS

 

Front: 10MP dual pixel + 8MP RGB depth

Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle + 12MP telephoto 45° (2x optical zoom) + 3D depth sense camera (ToF sensor)
Dual OIS

Cover: 10MB

Front: 10MP dual pixel + 8MP RGB depth

Rear:12MP wide 77° FOV + 16MP 123° ultra wide angle + 12MP telephoto 45° (2x optical zoom)
Dual OIS

CPU SD855 SD855 SD855 SD855 + X50 SD855
RAM 6GB / 8GB 8GB 8GB / 8GB / 12GB 8GB 12GB LPDDR4x
Storage 128GB / 256GB 128GB / 512GB 128GB / 512GB / 1TB 256GB 512GB
mSD Yes Yes Yes N/A N/A
Battery 3,100 mAh 3,400 mAh 4,100 mAh 4,500 mAh 4,380 mAh
Dimensions 142.2 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm 57.6 x 74.1 x 7.8 mm 162.6 x 77.1 x 7.94 mm ?
Weight 150 g 157 g 175 g (glass) or 175 g (ceramic) 198 g ?
Price $749 $899 $999 $? $1980

Stepping down to the standard S10 model gets you a slightly small phone with a similar quality edge QHD+ AMOLED display albeit at 6.1". There is only one front facing camera here though, with the depth sensor being removed and only the 10MP dual pixel camera remaining. Bokeh effects in selfie portraits are still possible, but using the NPU to simulate it rather than doing it in hardware. Around back, the S10 matches the triple camera system of the S10+ model so you are not losing anything there. The smaller phone is also lighter at 157 grams vs 175+ on the S10+ and it comes in the same Prism color options sans the ceramics.

You lose some battery going with the smaller S10 though at just 3,400 mAh as well as hardware specifications with the smartphone maxing out at 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 512GB of UFS 2.1 storage.

Samsung also introduced the S10e which is a new entry level tier to the Galaxy S series that gets you most of the features at a more affordable (for today's smartphones anyway) price with some compromises. The S10e is the smallest and lightest of the bunch and offers a 5.8" flat full HD+ display that is still Infinity-O Dynamic AMOLED and HDR10+ certified like the higher end models but is flat rather than curved. There is a single front-facing 10MP camera in the top right corner of the display and a dual camera system on the back of the phone which includes a 12MP wide angle and a 16MP ultra wide angle lens. There is no telephoto lens for optical zoom and the optical image stabilization is also of lower caliber. While the higher-end S10 and S10+ have ultrasonic fingerprint sensors embedded in the display, the budget S10e opts for an optical fingerprint reader integrated into the side power button which is not the end of the world so long as it's fast.

Specifications wise, the S10e retains the Snapdragon 855 (or Exynos 9820 depending on market) of the rest of the S series but RAM and storage options are limited to 6GB / 128GB or 8GB / 256GB respectively though there is still a micro SD card slot. You also lose a bit of battery at just 3,100 mAh but the loss is not as big as the gap between the S10 and S10+.

The S10+ comes in all of the same glossy Prism color as well as a Canary Yellow option with not all regions getting the same colors (if you want the yellow version you'll need to import it in the US, for example). The prism colors have a pearlescent look while the Canary Yellow is a solid flat but bright color.

According to Samsung, the various S10 models (which are all also IP68 rated) are the first smartphones with HDR10+ and Wi-Fi 6 certifications. The Snapdragon 855 offers 29% more CPU and 37% GPU performance versus last year's Galaxy S9. Samsung is using an intelligent battery algorithm to improve battery life by up to 25% by analyzing how you use apps and reducing CPU usage accordingly. The phones support wireless charging (Fast Wireless Charging 2.0) as well as reverse wireless charging with Powershare to charge other Qi devices (like the new Samsung Galaxy Buds (video), but that's a different story). All the S10 smartphones reportedly offer displays that can get very bright (850 to 1250+ nits) which should help a ton when trying to use it outdoors on sunny days. Other interesting tidbits of information that have come out include a heart rate/oxygen sensor on the back of the S10 and S10+, the S10+ (and only the plus version) using heat pipe / vapor cooling, and the ability to (finally) remap the Bixby button coming soon (for the S10 and older Galaxy devices).

The S10e, S10, and S10+ are slated for US availability on March 8th, with the Galaxy Fold coming sometime in April and the S10 5G making its debut over the summer.

Engadget got hands-on with the S10 5G at MWC 2019 on a test 5G network.

Samsung also showed off the "Galaxy S10 5G" which is an even larger Galaxy phone with a 6.7" display. The company did not reveal as much information about this 5G capable devices as it did about the others, but it is a bit of an odd duck. It has the same front facing camera setup and the rear camera system has been beefed up with a fourth sensor: a Time of Flight sensor that allows for more realistic depth of field as well as adjustable bokeh effects when recording video and taking portraits.

The S10 5G gets the Snapdragon 855 and the X50 modem along with a larger 4,500 mAh battery, but storage has been limited to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There is no microSD card support on this model.

Pricing and available colors are still an unknown though it is expected to launch this summer in the US.

Left: The Galaxy A30. Right: the Galaxy A50. (Image Credit: Samsung)

Finally, it is worth also mentioning that Samsung also announced two budget A tier Galaxy phones with the Galaxy A30 and Galaxy A50. These cheaper Galaxy devices use Samsung's notched Infinity-U displays at 6.4" (2340x1080 resolution) and a "3D Glasstic" body construction. The A50 gets a 25MP + 8MP ultra-wide + depth camera in back along with a single 25MP front camera while the A30 only have a dual rear camera system (16MP + 5MP wide angle) and a 16MP front camera. The Galaxy A50 is powered by an Exynos 9610 SoC, Mali G72 GPU, and either 4GB RAM / 64GB storage or 6GB RAM / 128GB storage. It uses a 4,000 mAh battery. The A50 will come in black, white, blue, and coral colors. Meanwhile the Galaxy A30 steps things down to a Exynos 7885 Octa and Mali-G71 GPU along with 3GB RAM / 32GB ROM or 4GB RAM / 64GB ROM. It will be available in black, white, or blue. While the A50 has an in-display fingerprint reader, the A30's fingerprint reader is mounted on the back of the phone. The A series is also IP68 dust and water resistant like its more expensive S siblings. These budget phones which are primarily going to launch in non-US markets (e.g. India, China, et al) are expected to be available in Q1.

What are your thoughts on Samsung's 2019 lineup? I think they did some interesting things and while I'm not sold on the Galaxy Fold (the front/cover display bezels are a bit much especially on an almost $2,000 phone!), I am looking forward to the reviews on the S10+ and the S10 5G with the video recording and photo/camera improvements they've made along with things like the laser cutout for the front cameras eliminating the need for a notch and the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor (though I think I would still prefer the rear mounted sensor like my V30 has as the positioning seems more natural than at the bottom of the front face). The battery AI sounds cool, but how useful it will be in practice remains to be seen. If the reports of the much brighter displays is true though, that's going to be pretty huge as viewing OLED in direct sunlight is a pain.

Source:

A little cost savings on a SilentiumPC LCS

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 1, 2019 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: watercooling, SilentiumPC, Navis RGB 240, Navis RGB 280, AIO, LCS

These two coolers from SilentiumPC run a little cheaper than many kits of similar size on the market, which might indicate they are not quite up to snuff or that they are a great bargain.  The Guru of 3D is here to help, by offering you their results and removing that mystery.  As you should expect, the 280mm kit offers better cooling results and generates less noise, though the 240mm kit still handled their i7-8700 without issue.  While these two coolers did not top the performance charts they do offer solid performance at a decent cost, as you can see for yourself.

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"Priced at 65 and 75 EUR we take a peek at two new AIO coolers from SilentiumPC: the Navis RGB 240 and 280 mm variants. These are the latest products from this Polish company known mainly for their chassis, power supplies and air coolers."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: Guru of 3D

Holla Holla for the HoloLens 2

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2019 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: hololens 2, microsoft, AR

The new HoloLens will set you back $3500, so the chances are slim you will convince your boss to buy one, and as it is an AR device to help with work you are not likely to pick one up for your home.  That does not make it any less interesting, using the headset a reporter from The Inquirer was able to be assisted through safely replacing a worn belt of a mock landing gear part which is apparently no small feat for the untrained.  It isn't suggested you use it to Skype your surgeon to assist in performing random appendectomies but perhaps your surgeon could be helped by a specialist from a far off location. 

Check out the new carbon fibre design and initial thoughts, as you probably won't get hands on this anytime soon.

HoloLens2RMC-540x334.jpg

"Packing a head-mounted display with all the processing power needed in the headset and the ability to mess with holograms superimposed over the real-world was undeniably a little taste of future tech sci-fi promised."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

GeForce Driver Updates Contain Security Fixes

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 28, 2019 - 11:25 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, security

Normally, when we discuss graphics drivers, there are a subset of users that like to stay on old versions. Some have older hardware and they believe that they will get limited benefits going forward. Others encounter a bug with a certain version and will refuse to update until it is patched.

In this case – you probably want to update regardless.

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NVIDIA has found eight security vulnerabilities in their drivers, which have been corrected in their latest versions. One of them also affects Linux... more on that later.

On Windows, there are five supported branches:

  • Users of R418 for GeForce, Quadro, and NVS should install 419.17.
  • Users of R418 for Tesla should install 418.96.
  • Users of R400 for Quadro and NVS should install 412.29.
  • Users of R400 for Tesla should install 412.29.
  • Users of R390 for Quadro and NVS should install 392.37.

Basically, you should install 419.17 unless you are using professional hardware.

One issue is being likened to Meltdown and Spectre although it is not quite the same. In those cases, the exploit took advantage of hardware optimizations leak system memory. In the case of CVE-2018-6260, however, the attack uses NVIDIA’s performance counters to potentially leak graphics memory. The difference is that GPU performance counters are a developer tool, used by applications like NVIDIA Nsight, to provide diagnostics. Further, beyond targeting a developer tool that can be disabled, this attack also requires local access to the device.

Linux users are also vulnerable to this attack (but not the other seven):

  • Users of R418 for GeForce, Quadro, and NVS should install 418.43.
  • Users of R418 for Tesla should install 418.39.
  • Users of R400 for GeForce, Quadro, NVS, and Tesla should install 410.104.
  • Users of R390 for GeForce, Quadro, NVS, and Tesla should install 390.116.
  • Users of R384 for Tesla should install 384.183.

Whether on Windows or Linux, after installing the update, a hidden option will allow you to disable GPU performance counters unless admin credentials are provided. I don’t know why it’s set to the insecure variant by default… but the setting can be toggled in the NVIDIA Control Panel. On Windows it’s Desktop then Enable Developer Settings then Manage GPU Performance Counters under Developer then Restrict access to the GPU counters to admin users only. See the driver release notes (especially the "Driver Security" section) for more info.

nvidia-2019-disableperfcounters.png

The main thing to fix is the other seven, however. That just requires the driver update. You should have received a notification from GeForce Experience if you use it; otherwise, check out NVIDIA’s website.

Source: NVIDIA

Cooler Master's got that analogue feeling, the MH751

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2019 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: MH751, analogue, cooler master, gaming headset, audio

Cooler Master's MH751 is the analogue sibling of the USB MH752 and is designed to offer performance, with no extraneous features like RGBs, for a decent price.   They are available for $80, so at least they managed that goal, but as for performance and comfort you will have to rely on TechPowerUp's experiences for now.  They described the feel of the headset "like a hug for your head" and were more than happy with the quality of audio which is good news for anyone shopping for a decent, understated headset.

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"Cooler Master's new analogue gaming headset hits all the right spots: it's comfortable, performs very well, and offers good value for your money!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

ADATA hits new highs and lows with the XPG SX8200 Pro

Subject: Storage | February 28, 2019 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: adata, SX8200 Pro, 1TB, NVMe, SM2262EN

Last year ADATA launched their XPG SX8200 NVMe SSD, which offered impressive speed without a high cost, currently you can grab 1TB for just under $200.  This year they followed up with the XPG SX8200 Pro, using Silicon Motion's new SM2262EN controller, paired with the same 64-layer Micron TLC flash as used on the original.  The Tech Report tested it out and found it to be almost a chart topper, surpassing many other more famous brands, and the best news is it is a mere $10 more than the previous version

If you are looking for a PCIe 4x M.2 NVMe drive, this one should be on your list!

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"Last year's XPG SX8200 was a great NVMe drive, but Adata thinks it can do even better. The XPG SX8200 Pro is mostly the same hardware with just a couple of small changes. Join us to find out whether those end up making all the difference."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Meet 5G* ... some restrictions may apply

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2019 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: 5G, wireless, Huawei, qualcomm, x50, X55

The roll out of 5G has been somewhat painful to watch, with a variety of questionable marketing techniques and a staggered roll out.  The Inquirer dropped by MWC to see how much progress the various vendors, such as Qualcomm, Intel and Huawei are faring at the moment.  Qualcomm will be rolling out their new X55 to market some time this year, offering up to 7Gbps download speeds with similar power requirements to the existing LTE 4G chips.  Huawei expects delays, for reasons obvious to those who follow the news and Intel is not expecting to deliver anything until next year. 

Take a peek at the picture below for an idea of how segmented the standard is at the moment and then head over for a more detailed look.

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"If you've been following closely, leading vendors have been subtly playing down expectations and that's closer to reality. The missing bits of Release 15 were delayed three months to focus on stability, the 3GPP said at the time."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

PC Perspective Podcast #534 - GTX 1660 Ti, Corsair Dominator RGB Memory, and USB 3.2

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2019 - 09:43 AM |
Tagged: Z390, usb 3.2, speakers, podcast, microSD, Hyper 212 Black Edition, gtx 1660 ti, gtx 1660, Dominator Platinum RGB, Adrenalin

PC Perspective Podcast #534 - 2/27/2019

This week we review the new GTX 1660 Ti, Dominator Platinum RGB Memory from Corsair, the high-end ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390 motherboard, and talk about the absurd new USB 3.2 specification.

Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast

Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast

Show Topics
00:00:47 - Review: GTX 1660 Ti
00:32:04 - Review: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB Memory
00:43:33 - Review: ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula Z390
00:49:04 - Review: Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition
00:58:19 - Review: Logitech Z606 5.1 Speakers
01:08:19 - Review: ASUS ROG Strix Flare Keyboard
01:13:16 - News: NVIDIA MX230 & MX250 Mobile GPUs
01:15:43 - News: RX Vega 56 Price Cuts
01:20:03 - News: GTX 1660 & 1650 Rumors
01:26:21 - News: Return of the Intellimouse
01:29:58 - News: TSMC 7nm & 5nm EUV Production
01:36:33 - News: Radeon Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.2.3 Update
01:39:40 - News: 1TB SanDisk microSDXC Card
01:42:26 - News: Absurd New USB 3.2 Specifications
01:54:15 - Picks of the Week

Picks of the Week
Jim: Star Trek Comics Bundle
Jeremy: Discounted RTX 2070 for Canucks
Josh: DiRT Rally 2.0

Today's Podcast Hosts
Sebastian Peak
Josh Walrath
Jeremy Hellstrom
Jim Tanous

Huawei Knows When to Hold ‘em and When to Fold ‘em, Shows Off Mate X Foldable Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2019 - 11:12 PM |
Tagged: nm card, MWC, mate x, Leica, Kirin 980, Huawei, foldable, balong 5000, android 9

Huawei raised the stakes at MWC 2019 with the reveal of its new flagship foldable smartphone that is nearly all screen wrapping around the front and back in phone mode and able to fold outwards into an eight-inch tablet.

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The upcoming Mate X measures 78.3 x 161.3 x 5.4 to 11mm when folded up in phone mode and expands to 146.2mm x 161.3 x 5.4-11mm in tablet mode. The Interstellar Blue phone weighs in a 259 grams (0.57 lbs) and is nearly all OLED display except for a small bump along the right side (which can double as a useful handle when in tablet mode akin to Kindle devices or Lenovo’s smaller tablets) where the three cameras, fingerprint sensor/power button, volume controls, USB Type-C port, and many of the internal hardware components are nestled.

As far the screen, Huawei is using an OLED panel covered with plastic (no glass here, unfortunately, but that’s the tradeoff for going foldable) with a resolution of 2480 x 2200 when unfolded in tablet mode or 2480 x 1148 for the 6.6” front display and 2480 x 892 for the 6.38” rear display when folded. Huawei’s Mate X is a very sleek design with rounded edges and corners that is able to fold into a fairly slim package (slimmer than Samsung’s Galaxy Fold which folds inwards). A button on the side unlocks the rear display and allows it to fold outwards to make a display that is reportedly flat without a crease or visible divider though does have a different feel to it than other flagship smartphones that have moved to glass displays. It certainly looks impressive though long-term reviews will flesh out how well the display holds up over time and many folds.

Internally, Huawei is using the Kirin 980 SoC along with the Balong 5000 5G modem to power the smartphone. The smartphone further includes 8GB of RAM and 512GB of internal memory. The Kirin 980 SoC is comprised of two Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.6 GHz, two Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 1.92 GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz, a Mali-G76 GPU, and NPU for AI acceleration tasks. The Balong 5000 modem supports 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G multi mode in stand alone or non standalone configurations. The phone supports a dual SIM design with one SIM for 5G and the other for up to 4G networks. Alternatively, instead of a second SIM card users can slot in a nano memory card (NM card) up to 256GB which is Huawei’s expandable storage form factor that is a memory card with the size and form factor of a nano SIM. A 4,500 mAh battery powers the foldable phone with a 55W SuperCharger able to charge the battery from 1% to 85% in 30 minutes (4G standby, screen turned off). Connectivity options include 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0 (with AptX and other features supported), and USB Type-C 3.1 gen 1 with a cable purchased separately (the out-of-the-box cable is USB 2.0). The Mate X runs Android 9 with Huawei’s EMUI 9.1.1 skin.

Huawei-Mate-X-Camera-Selfie-2.png

The Leica cameras include a 40MP wide angle, 16MP ultra-wide angle, and 8MP telephone camera with the ability to mirror the screen when taking photographs (or selfies) so that the subjects can see the photo at the same time as the photographer to help compose the shot.

Huawei’s flagship Mate X foldable will be available in around the second half of 2019 with a MSRP of 2299 Euros (~$2615 though we likely won't see it in the US unless imported) that demands your wallet to go all in or fold. With that asking price, it is likely out of reach of most people, but it is an interesting look at the future and what it could bring as costs go down and the hinges and bendable display technologies are refined. I was admittedly not very excited about the idea of a foldable phone, especially seeing the rumor now reality where Samsung’s Galaxy Fold has a smaller screen in phone mode, but Huawei’s design has piqued my interest of what’s possible and I’m ready. Having a bigger screen on tap would be very helpful in being able to blow up text and make reading textbooks and fiction not yet available as an audiobook much easier on the eyes. It also just looks cool and futuristic to me as well(heh) with the only thing missing being a stylus/pen input hidden away in the ridge on the right side (if only!).

If you are curious to see the folding action, Michael Fisher was able to get hands on video  at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

I’m ready. What are your thoughts on these foldable flagships and the idea of a foldable phone?

Source: Huawei

MWC: HMD Launches Nokia PureView 9 Camera-Focused Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2019 - 08:10 PM |
Tagged: nokia, HMD, android one, pie, light, camera, photography, pOLED, snapdragon 845, qualcomm

Finnish company HMD Global Oy unveiled an interesting new smartphone under its Nokia brand at Mobile World Congress that, in typical Nokia fashion, focuses on camera quality. The Nokia PureView 9 offers up five rear cameras along with the hardware and software to harness computational photography techniques to deliver high quality HDR images.

Nokia PureView 9 Android One Smartphone.jpg

The PureView 9 nestles a 5.99-inch QHD+ pOLED HDR10 certified display (2880x1440 resolution) in a two-tone Midnight Blue body with front and back glass faces and aluminum sides with curved stylized edges. There is an optical fingerprint reader under the display and a small front facing camera sitting above the display. If you are looking for an edge-to-edge display, the PureView 9 is not the phone for you as it does have small bezels top and bottom and the front face does not curve into the sides. Ars Technica compares the design to the LG V30 which I would say is fair as both phones have similar bezels with curved display corners. For a most specific comparison, the V30 puts the “selfie” camera on the left not the right like the PureView 9, the bezels on the Nokia may be ever so slightly thicker and there is also a Nokia logo in the top right corner while there is no branding on the front of the V30. Nokia’s PureView 9 features a single USB-C port on the bottom edge along with what looks to be a single speaker. The right side holds the volume and power buttons while the left side is blank. The top edge appears to be the SIM tray slot.

I like the blue colors HMD has chosen, and while a good portion of the back is taken up by the camera system, the lenses sit flush with the body which is nice to see (Nokia has never been one afraid of cameras protruding from the phone in the name of photo and lens quality). There are five Zeiss camera lenses, one LED flash, and a sensor suite including time of flight grouped in a hexagonal shape.

The cameras are the star of the show with the Nokia PureView 9 and where most of the money was focused. HMD/Nokia partnered with Light to design a system with five 12MP f/1.8 camera sensors two of which have the RGB color filters and three of which are monochrome sensors that let it far more light than your usual camera sensor thanks in large part to not having a color filter which absorbs most of the light that enters the camera. In fact, HMD claims that the PureView 9’s five camera sensor system captures 10 times as much light as single sensor of the same type. Light provided its Lux Capacitor co-processor to allow all five cameras (it supports up to six) to shoot simultaneously allowing Nokia to use up to 60MP of total data from a single shot from each of the five 12MP cameras or up to 240MP of data when doing temporal image stacking with each camera taking four shots each combined and then downstacked/downsampled into, ideally, a much better 12MP (JPG or RAW DNG) image than would be possible with a single camera on its own using various computational photography and “Image stacking” techniques. The camera should do really well in low-light situations as well as being able to offer depth of field and bokeh effects that are much closer to reality and DSLR cameras than to your typical smartphone that can fake it. Nokia’s also partnered with Google to allow photographers to save shots to Google Photos with GDepth at up to 1200 layers of dept of field data that can be adjusted later to get customized photos in editing. Speaking of editing, Nokia and Adobe are supporting the PureView 9 in the Android version of Lightroom with a camera profile allowing you to work with the RAW DNG images right on your phone which is interesting, at least in theory (it’s not clear what performance will be like with the SD845).

In typical Nokia fashion, its Pro Camera UI offers a full manual mode as well as features like long exposure (with a tripod), time lapse, bokeh, filters, scenes, and more.

What is powering this camera that happens to make calls and run Android though? Well, here is where Nokia has compromised in the design with the use of the older Snapdragon 845 chipset though it is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 internal memory (not expandable as there is no microSD card support). There is a 3320 mAh battery though and a stock Android One (Pie) OS experience.

HMD’s Nokia PureView 9 will reportedly be a limited production run product with an MSRP of $699. The flagship pricing may be difficult for some smartphone enthusiasts to justify especially with competing flagships also being announced at MWC featuring newer designs with edge-to-edge displays, newer processors, and support for 2TB microSD cards. For amateur photographers and anyone that uses their smartphone as their primary camera and love taking photos though the Nokia PureView 9 may be the niche product to beat in 2019 so long as the usual build quality, I’ve come to expect from Nokia holds up.

I do worry about the glass back and how that will hold up (it is Gorilla Glass 5 at least and the phone is IP67 rated for dust/water resistance) and 9-to-5 Google’s hands-on video mentions that the optical fingerprint reader was hit-or-miss (which can hopefully be improved between now and launch). No microSD card slot and no headphone jack may also turn off buyers (one advantage the V30 retains), and while many photo-happy users could live without the headphone jack, no expandable storage is a real disappointment and the 128GB of internal storage simply may not be enough.

I am looking forward to the reviews on this and am curious to see how the camera performs in the real world and what is possible with video recording as well. I don’t see the PureView 9 winning any popularity contests in 2019 and it appears to be kind of a mixed bag even with its exciting camera system with certain drawbacks dragging it down but I can also appreciate why some users might well choose it even with its compromises.

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Source: 9to5Google