Realtime Raytracing Commit Spotted in Unity GitHub

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2018 - 10:32 PM |
Tagged: rtx, Unity, ray tracing, directx raytracing, DirectX 12

As Ken wrote up his take in a separate post, NVIDIA has made Turing architecture details public, which will bring real-time ray tracing to PC gaming later this month. When it was announced, NVIDIA had some demos in Unreal Engine 4, and a few partnered games (Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Metro Exodus) showed off their implementations.

As we expected, Unity is working on supporting it too.

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Not ray tracing, but from the same project at Unity.

The first commit showed up on Unity’s GitHub for their Scriptable Render Pipelines project, dated earlier today. Looking through the changes, it appears to just generate the acceleration structure based on the objects of type renderer in the current scene (as well as define the toggle properties of course). It looks like we are still a long way out.

I’m looking forward to ray tracing implementations, though. I tend to like art styles with anisotropic metal trims and soft shadows, which is difficult to get right with rasterization alone due to the reliance on other objects in the scene. In the case of metal, reflections dominate the look and feel of the material. In the case of soft shadows, you really need to keep track of how much of a light has been blocked between the rendered fragment and the non-point light.

And yes, it will depend on the art style, but mine just happens to be computationally expensive.

How does that 14TB BarraCuda Pro perform?

Subject: Storage | September 14, 2018 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, hdd, BarraCuda Pro, 14tb

Inside the Barracuda Pro are eight platters each 1.75 TB in size and comes with a nice addition to the warranty, if the drive dies before two years have expired you can ship the drive to Seagate and they will attempt to recover your data for free.  The Guru of 3D's testing showed the accuracy of the 250MB/sec rating, as expected from a modern SATA HDD. The total warranty is five years and the drive is rated for 24/7 use with a 300TB/yr rating so there are certainly plenty of usages for the drive.

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"It's here! We review the Megalodon among the HDDs, the Barracuda Pro 14TB from Seagate is unleashed today, that's a 14.000GB HDD folks! This, by far, is the biggest single consumer unit storage device to date. It might not offer SSD performance, but it certainly isn't slow. It's the year 2018, it's big but with these massive HDD platters, will it be fast enough?"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: Guru of 3D

Reopening a cold boot case

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2018 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: security, Lenovo, dell, apple

Many, many moons ago a vulnerability was discovered which would let you grab some or all of the data last written to RAM.  A computer in sleep mode could be powered off, the firmware specifically modified and then booted from a USB drive, allowing an attacker to extract data from the RAM.  This requires physical access and a specific skill set but does not take all that long.  This new attack is used to grab the encryption keys from memory, which then allows them to gain access to the data stored on your encrypted drives.  The Inquirer reports that there is a solution to this resurrected vulnerability, however it is only easy to implement before a system is provided to customers, worrying for companies using these commonly deployed brands.

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"But F-Secure principal security consultant Olle Segerdahl, along with other researchers from the security outfit, claim they've discovered a way to disable that safety measure and extract data using the ten-year-old cold boot attack method."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Cooler Master's Canadian clicky keyboard, the CK552

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2018 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: input, Gateron Red, gaming keyboard, cooler master, CK552

You can only find CM's CK552 at Best Buy, Staples Canada, and EB Games stores and it only comes with Gateron red switches; the CK550 is more widely available and offers a choice of Gateron mechanical switches. If you are curious if this keyboard is the equivalent of some sort of chromium chinpokoman, you should drop by The Tech Report for a look at why they recommend it.  It does help to share in their addiction to the click, but at ~$80 it could also be a good gateway into the world of clicky keyboards.

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"Cooler Master's CK552 mechanical gaming keyboard relies on Gateron switches and a fat-free design to offer the quality and feel of mechanical key switches without a high price tag. We put the CK552 under our fingers to see whether it delivers. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Coffee Lake ssssssssssssssssss

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2018 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: rumour, leak, Intel, coffee lake s

The S in Coffee Lake S should obviously sound like air slowly leaking out of an air mattress as we now have an idea of the pricing before Intel has official announced them.  The prices come from a Singaporean site, so the direct currency conversion which The Inquirer links to may not be completely accurate but the prices do seem in the right ballpark.  You can expect to pay around $452 for the i9-9900k with the i7-9700k coming in one hundred dollars cheaper at $352 or $251 for an i5-9600k.  If these prices are more or less correct then AMD's Ryzen 2 chips are noticeably less expensive. 

We do have to wait for the release before we can give you performance per dollar ratings, either by thread or by chip.

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"INFO AROUND INTEL'S 9th-gen chips is leakier than a bucket that been battered by a morning star, an indicated by the prices for the next wave of Intel CPUs slipping out prematurely in Singapore."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #513 - Gaming on Threadripper 2990WX, Huawei Cheating in Benchmarks, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2018 - 10:45 AM |
Tagged: podcast, ryzen, Threadripper, 2990wx, 2950x, be quiet, Silent Base 601, toshiba, XG6

PC Perspective Podcast #513 - 09/13/18

Join us this week for discussion on gaming on Threadripper 2990WX, Huawei Cheating in Benchmarks, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:22:09

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Thanks to Casper for supporting our podcast! Save $50 on select mattresses at http://www.casper.com/pcper code pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:14:25 Ken: ASUS PG27UQ for less money
  5. Closing/outro

Apple Announces iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR Smartphones with 7nm A12 Bionic Processor

Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2018 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: SoC, smartphone, mobile, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iphone, ios, apple, A12 Bionic, 7nm

Apple’s event today included expected (and previously leaked) iPhone announcements for the faster “S” variant of the iPhone X, as well as a new, larger iPhone XS Max, and finally the new, lower-cost iPhone XR. All three phones include Apple’s latest mobile processor, the A12 Bionic, as well as new cameras and other improvements.

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The design is unchanged, but the 6.5-inch form-factor is new (image via Apple)

Beginning with the primary announcement, the new 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhone XS and XS Max phones both feature Super Retina OLED displays which Apple says now offer wider dynamic range, and the glass protecting them is “the most durable glass ever” in a smartphone. The new XS Max offers the same 458 ppi density as the iPhone XS with its 2688x1242 resolution (the iPhone XS has the same 2436x1125 resolution as the iPhone X), and both phones are now IP68 water and dust resistant and dual-SIM capable (using eSIM).

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Apple says the A12 Bionic chip will be the first to market at 7nm (Hauwei's 7nm Kirin 980 was previously announced but not shipping until mid-October), and the move to this smaller process should allow for lower power consumption and increased performance.

A12_Screen.png

The A12 Bionic has a 6-core CPU design as we saw with the A11, and uses the same Apple-designed Fusion architecture. Apple says its two performance cores are “up to 15% faster and 40% lower power”, and the four efficiency cores offer “up to 50% lower power” with no stated increase in performance.  Other than stating that it is a proprietary design little was revealed about the GPU other than it is now a 4-core design, which Apple says is “50% faster” than before.

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The camera system on the new phones offers a new “advanced bokeh” feature which allows for f-stop adjustment after the photo has been taken, and during the presentation this feature appears to work in a very realistic way comparable to dedicated lenses with a DSLR. Other features include improved speakers, stereo audio recording with video, and "Gigabit-class" LTE.

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The iPhone XR is an LCD variant with lower cost (image via Apple)

The “one more thing” at the even was a new lower-cost iPhone based on the iPhone X design, but with an LCD display that Apple is calling “Liquid Retina”. This 6.1-inch device has a display resolution of 1792x828 (326 ppi), uses the new A12 chip, and while it is a single-camera phone like the iPhone 8 it uses the latest wide-angle camera from its “S” model siblings.

XR_Screen.png

The display also features “120 Hz touch-sensing” - which may be independent of display refresh, but that is unknown at this point - a wide color gamut, and is a True Tone display like the iPhone X. The phone drops 3D Touch, using instead what appears to be a long-press detection with haptic feedback. The phone does not offer the "Gigabit-class LTE" of the XS/XS Max, is IP67 rather than IP68 water and dust resistant, but does retain the new “most durable glass” from the "S" models.

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Pricing for the new lineup is as follows:

  • iPhone XS 64GB - $999
  • iPhone XS 256GB - $1149
  • iPhone XS 512GB - $1349
  • iPhone XS Max 64GB - $1099
  • iPhone XS Max 256GB - $1249
  • iPhone XS Max 512GB - $1449
  • iPhone XR 64GB - $749
  • iPhone XR 128GB - $799
  • iPhone XR 256GB - $899

The new iPhones XS and XS Max will be available next week, with a September 21 launch day (pre-ordering begins on Friday, September 14). The iPhone XR launches on October 26 (pre-order October 19).

Source: Apple

Meet the Fractal Design Define R6 USB-C and its friends

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 12, 2018 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: fractal design, eatx, Define R6 USB-C

Fractal Design have upgraded their Define lineup with the Define R6 USB-C as well as offering accessories to modify it to meet your needs.

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The EATX case can hold a CPU cooler of up to 185mm in height and offers a wide variety of cooling options.  Depending on how you configure the case, the front can handle up to three 120mm or two 140mm fans or a radiator of up to 280mm.  The top can be configured to hold up to three 120mm or 140mm fans, or a 420mm radiator if your motherboard doesn't impinge on it.  The rear can fit a single 120mm fan or radiator, or a single 140mm fan while the bottom can support a pair of 120mm or 140mm fans or a 280mm rad. 

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You can also chose between a solid metal side panel or a tempered glass one as well as drive bracket upgrade kits which will add support for an additional pair of HDDs or SSDs depending on which you order. 

The basic model will set you back $140 or $160 with tempered glass, if you change your mind later on a glass side panel will cost you $30.  The drive brackets are $10 regardless of the type of drive they will be holding and you can pick it up now.

Sweden, September 12, 2018 – Fractal Design proudly announces the expansion of the Define R6 line with new USB C versions and a number of accessories including seamless tempered glass side panels and drive bracket dual packs, now available separately to even further extend the capabilities of the Define R6.

Fractal Design Define R6 USB-C
Designed from the ground up, the Define R6 goes beyond iteration with a profound stride of innovation – the latest and largest step in the legacy of the world-renowned Define Series.

Seamless tempered glass and sound dampened steel panels encase a fully redesigned interior with more storage capability than ever before. USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C front I/O supports Fast Charging plus up to 10Gbps transfer speeds, and with nine fan mounts, included PWM fan hub, and 420mm radiator support, the R6 is the perfect platform for building your dream water loop. Improved third generation ModuVent technology allows an effortless transition from metal-clad sound dampened top panel to filtered high airflow multi-fan ventilation.

Expanding on the timeless, elegant form and silent modular function that brought so much success to its predecessors, the Define R6 offers the most demanding hardware enthusiast a solid foundation and flexible framework with limitless potential.

Define R6 Tempered Glass Side Panel
Add a layer of refinement to your Define R6 with an upgrade to tempered glass.

The Fractal Design TG panel upgrade kit lets you equip one or both sides of your Define R6 with a seamless, scratch-resistant tempered glass panel for a sleek, super-premium look.

HDD Drive Tray and SSD Bracket Kit
Increase the storage capacity of your Fractal Design case with a drive bracket upgrade kit. Each kit includes everything you need to add two additional drive mounts to cases with Fractal Design Type-A drive brackets and available mounting positions.

 

Cool, quiet or a mix of the two from Enermax's new ATX enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 12, 2018 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: enermax, EQUILENCE, atx, tempered glass

You have a bit of choice with the EQUILANCE, it can be configured for silent running or you can remove some of the features which reduce noise to increase cooling.  For instance the top of the case features a magnetically attached foam dampener which could be removed to allow you to install three 120mm or two 140mm fan or up to a 360mm radiator.  The front offers a similar choice, with space for three 120mm fans or up to a 360mm radiator, though the latter will require removal of the PSU shroud.  The side panel is made of 4mm thick tempered glass mounted with four rubber-surrounded screws to ensure no noise escapes from there. 

[H]ard|OCP tested the case in it's default configuration, all dampening material installed and two 120mm fans in the front with a single 140mm exhaust in the rear and saw very good temperatures, which can only improve if you add more cooling.

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"The Enermax EQUILENCE comes with a lot of promises, mostly that it is silent. In our experiences however, "silent" cases are usually hotter on your hardware. Enermax has looked to figure that out while giving us an unassuming looking case that has tons of cooling options and features built into a very workable form factor."

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

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Play the other Battlefield for cheap

Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2018 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: ea, battlefield, battlefield 1, battlefield 4, origin

If you didn't pick up BF1 when it was released or during a sale, or you still lack some or all of the DLC then you should consider picking it up this week.   The DLC, as in all of them, are currently free over on Origin and the base game is selling for $5 US.  You could pick up the the Premier Edition for about $12 US if you are one of those who like to support the existence of loot boxes; which are supposedly not in the new Battlefield.

While you are there you can also grab the entire list of DLC for BF4 for free as well, though the base game will set you back $20 if you do not have it.  Visit Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for direct links or just head to Origin.

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"Battlefield 5‘s open beta is over, but the battle for objective points is eternal. As promised last week, EA have made the DLC Premium Pass for Battlefield 1 free today and for the next week."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

A glimpse through the new Windows; Edge goes full Clippy

Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2018 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, onedrive, edge, Storage Sense

Ars Technica posted a look into some of the new features offered in the upcoming Windows October update.  The first feature Microsoft will offer you is a nag screen when you try to install another browser for the first time, reminding you of the existence of the Edge browser and what Microsoft would like you to think about the program. 

The second feature is every bit as useful as the previous one and will help you with those pesky storage space problems you have been experiencing.  Storage Sense is a feature which will automatically remove various files, from your temp directories, downloads folder and even OneDrive files you haven't recently used, thus ensuring that 1TB drive you have will have a few extra megabytes of free space.   This will replace the current Disk Cleanup tool, though hopefully cleanmgr.exe will still be available for those who would rater choose what files are removed.  They have more details as well as a way to keep your OneDrive files handy and modify your cleaning schedule in this post.

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"Because, of course these users know Edge exists; they're explicitly choosing not to use it. Why is Microsoft being so invasive and telling them something that they already know and don't care about?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Ars Technica

1MORE is at the spearhead of 3D audio design

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2018 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: audio, 1MORE, Spearhead VRX, gaming headset

While it might look like 1MORE's Spearhead uses an ancient voice tube style microphone but the truth is far more terrifying.  That tube is part of the RGBs and will glow whenever you are talking; in fact there are three microphones on this device.  The one which picks up your voice is a pinhole style, providing audio quality at the exact level TechPowerUp and you would expect.  The two additional microphones are rear facing and are used for the sound cancellation feature on the Spearhead.  On the plus side, this is the first headset to feature the Waves Nx technology that enables 3D audio very effectively. 

Take a read through the whole review here.

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"The freshly released 1MORE Spearhead VRX is the newest, technologically beefiest, and most expensive gaming headset 1MORE has to offer. It comes with a unique head-tracking unit that works in conjunction with an advanced DSP to achieve an immersive surround sound experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

Coffee is Refreshing, if it is authentic

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2018 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: geekbench, ryzen 2, coffee lake s, rumours, amd, Intel, i9-9900K, i7-9700K

Geekbench leaks are pretty common, and often at least a wee bit photoshopped so don't take the performance numbers leaked out as fact but there is a slight possibility they are based in reality.  The i9-9900K is shown with a score of 6248 points in single core and 33037 in multicore, while the i7 part reached 6297 and 30152 respectively.  The logic holds somewhat as the i7-9700K is 100MHz slower than the i9 but has half the threads as it is not multi-threaded.  These numbers are higher than Ryzen 2 in single threaded performance but fall behind on multi-threaded apps; as has been historically the case.  

Grab your salt shaker and head to WCCFTech for more details on these two chips as well as the i5-9600K.

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"Geekbench 4 benchmarks for three next-generation Core processors popped up early according to the folks at WCCFtech, with the chips so far look to be mild refreshes on the current Coffee Lake S generation of processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: WCCFTech

NVIDIA and Arrow Electronics New Jetson Xavier AI Computer

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 10, 2018 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: jetson xavier, nvidia, arrow electronics

Looking to do a little bit of black box programming but need new hardware to do it?  NVIDIA have partnered with Arrow Electronics to produce the newest Jetson system, the Xavier.

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The Xavier supports JetPack and DeepStream SDKs, as well as CUDA, cuDNN, and TensorRT software libraries.  The 512-core Volta GPU with Tensor Cores offer 10 TFLOPS at FP16 and 20 TOPS at INT8, with the two NVDLA engines adding another 5 TOPS each.  It is not just the processing power which has been upgraded, running full out the Xavier is rated at 30W with the option to reduce that maximum to 10W or 15W if efficiency is more important than raw speed.

If you are currently using the Jetson TX2 you have some thinking to do as this units pin-out will not be compatible, however many of the signals are.  The units are in pre-order right now, with the Dev Kit selling for $2500 (USD), $1300 if you are a NVIDIA Developer Program member.

Check out the specs and PR below.

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SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NVIDIA and Arrow Electronics, Inc. today announced they are bringing NVIDIA Jetson Xavier, a first-of-its-kind computer designed for AI, robotics and edge computing, to companies worldwide to create next-generation autonomous machines.

The collaboration combines NVIDIA’s world-leading AI capabilities with Arrow’s global roster of industrial customers and its broad support network of engineers and designers. This opens the door to the development and deployment of AI solutions for manufacturing, logistics, smart cities, healthcare and more.

“We are entering a new era of intelligent machines that will supercharge industries from manufacturing to healthcare,” said Deepu Talla, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Machines at NVIDIA. “NVIDIA and Arrow are working together to ensure that the unmatched AI capabilities of the Jetson Xavier platform reach deep into the global marketplace with first-class technical support and design.”

“At Arrow, we focus on connecting our global customers and developers to the right technology to enable transformative digital business,” said Aiden Mitchell, vice president and general manager, IoT Global Solutions at Arrow. “NVIDIA’s AI platform and Jetson Xavier is at that point, and our industrial customers can secure the Xavier developer kit from Arrow.com today.”

Jetson Xavier — available as a developer kit that customers can use to prototype designs — is supported by comprehensive software for building AI applications.

This includes the NVIDIA JetPack and DeepStream SDKs, as well as CUDA, cuDNN and TensorRT™ software libraries. At its heart is the new NVIDIA Xavier processor, which provides more computing capability than a powerful workstation and comes in three energy-efficient operating modes.

“Edge intelligence in modern robotics is a critical component in driving new use cases and increasing adoption. This relationship is primed to showcase the value of robotics in new areas and help drive continued innovation in the space,” said John Santagate, research director of Worldwide Robotics at IDC.

The NVIDIA Jetson Xavier developer kit is now available for purchase through Arrow’s website at https://www.arrow.com/nvidia.

 

Source: NVIDIA

14TB for anyone! Seagate's new HDD lines

Subject: Storage | September 10, 2018 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: skyhawk, Seagate, ironwolf, exos x14, BarraCuda Pro, 14tb

No matter what you need it for, Seagate can provide supersized storage for your needs.  To lead with the most important information, the IronWolf and IronWolf Pro 14TB will run you $529.99 and $599.99 respectively, a 14TB BarraCuda Pro sits at $579.99, a SkyHawk14TB a mere $509.99 and the Exos X14 at $614.99.   These prices might sound expensive until you think how much 14TB of NVMe storage will cost you.

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The IronWolf and IronWolf Pro as designed to be used in a NAS, with firmware designed to provide reliability in a variety of arrays along with health management and recovery tools baked right in.  The drives are rated at 300TB/year, with a 5 year warranty on the Pro and 3 years on the other.

The Barracuda Pro is one you are more likely to grab, the 7200 RPM HDD has 256MB Of cache which allows up to 250mb/s data transfer rates depending on the task you require of it.  You will get a 5 year warranty to ensure you get your moneys worth out of the drive.

The Skyhawk is great for surveillance systems, the 14TB allows you to capture over 9000 hours of H.264 video with 1M pixels, medium quality, at 15FPS; with support for up to 64 attached cameras.  It would also make a great drive for a DVR if you intended to record every single moment of TV you missed while on vacation.  The 3 year warranty in part reflects the expectation you will be writing to this drive 24/7/

Last is the Exos X14, which you can order already installed into the chassis you see above, with up to a 1.4PB of storage.  The helium-based design is not only for longevity, Seagate claims a 10% reduction in weight versus other drives.

Full PR below the fold.

Source: Seagate

Why hack into Apple devices when the userbase is willing to pay to have their device infected?

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2018 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: apple, security, app store, Adware Doctor

Adware Doctor is a $5.00 app available on the macOS app store which is a rip off of Malwarebytes for Mac with some extra data harvesting included.  The app will grab all your history from Chrome, Firefox, and Safari and send it off to parts unknown as well as a list of running processes which implies it can get around Apple's sandbox implementation.  The researchers who discovered this also informed The Register of other apps which have the same behaviour, including Open Any Files, Dr. Antivirus, and Dr. Cleaner.  The new version of macOS, due in the near future, should ameliorate this issue but in the mean time you should check what apps you have installed on your devices and reconsider your next purchase on the App Store carefully.

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"As Wardle – an expert in Apple security – noted, Adware Doctor, which sold for $4.99, was the fourth-highest grossing app in the "Paid Utilities" category of the macOS App Store."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Qualcomm Launches Next-Gen Snapdragon Wear W3100 Smartwatch Platform

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2018 - 12:10 PM |
Tagged: wearables, W3100, W2100, snapdragon wear, snapdragon, smartwatch, qualcomm, QCC1110, PWM3100, platform

Qualcomm has launched their latest smartwatch platform today, announcing the new ultra-low power Snapdragon Wear 3100 at a Google-supported event which also included the announcement of the first customers of this new platform.

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The Snapdragon Wear 3100 uses what the company calls “a new ultra-low power hierarchical system architecture approach”, with high-performance A7 processor cores supported by a high-efficiency integrated DSP and the new ultra-low power QCC1110 co-processor.

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“The new co-processor, the Qualcomm QCC1110, has been designed from the ground up and is at the heart of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform. It is incredibly small at ~21mm2, is optimized for ultra-low power operation, and acts as a powerful companion to the main processor, re-defining audio, display, and sensor experiences for next generation smartwatches. The co-processor also integrates a deep learning engine for custom workloads, such as keyword detection, and is extensible over time.”

A new PMW3100 power management sub-system also supports “lower power and higher integration”, as the goal is naturally to improve battery life as well as performance. The W3100 will offer 4 - 12 hours longer life than the previous W2100 platform, according to Qualcomm.

W3100_Battery.PNG

Smartwatches are in many ways a lifestyle product, and Qualcomm announced a trio of designer customers of the new Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform:

“With the Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform, we envisioned a new ultra-low power system architecture and in collaboration with the latest from the Wear OS by Google team, to help deliver a rich interactive mode, bring in new personalized experiences and support extended battery life for tomorrow’s smartwatches. We are delighted to announce Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc as our first Snapdragon Wear 3100 customers.”

3100 Lifestyle 3.jpg

Qualcomm states that this new Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform will be offered “in three variants targeting Bluetooth and Wi-Fi tethered smartwatches, GPS-based tethered smartwatches, and 4G LTE connected smartwatches”, and that the W3100 “is in mass production and shipping today”.

Source: Qualcomm

Huawei Kirin Cheating Extends to Geekbench, P20 Pro Tested

Subject: Processors, Mobile | September 9, 2018 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: p20 pro, Kirin 970, Kirin, Huawei

This story first appeared on ShroutResearch.com.

Last week the gang at Anandtech posted a story discovering systematic cheating by Huawei in smartphone benchmarks. In its story, AT focused on 3DMark and GFXBench, looking at how the Chinese-based silicon and phone provider was artificially increasing benchmark scores to gain an advantage in its battles with other smartphone providers and SoC vendors like Qualcomm.

As a result of that testing, UL Benchmarks (who acquired Futuremark) delisted several Huawei smartphones from 3DMark, taking the artificial scores down from the leaderboards. This puts the existing device reviews in question while also pulling a cloud over the recently announced (and impressive sounding) Kirin 980 SoC meant to battle with the Snapdragon 845 and next-gen Qualcomm product. The Kirin 980 will be the first shipping processor to integrate high performance Arm Cortex-A76 cores, so the need to cheat on performance claims is questionable.

Just a day after this story broke, UL and Huawei released a joint statement that is, quite honestly, laughable.

"In the discussion, Huawei explained that its smartphones use an artificial intelligent resource scheduling mechanism. Because different scenarios have different resource needs, the latest Huawei handsets leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to optimize resource allocation in a way so that the hardware can demonstrate its capabilities to the fullest extent, while fulfilling user demands across all scenarios.

To somehow assert that any kind of AI processing is happening on Huawei devices that is responsible for the performance differences that Anandtech measured is at best naïve and at worst straight out lying. This criticism is aimed at both Huawei and UL Benchmarks – I would assume that a company with as much experience in performance evaluation would not succumb to this kind of messaging.

After that AT story was posted, I started talking with the team that builds Geekbench, one of the most widely used and respected benchmarks for processors on mobile devices and PCs. It provides a valuable resource of comparative performance and leaderboards. As it turns out, Huawei devices are exhibiting the same cheating behavior in this benchmark.

Below I have compiled results from Geekbench that were run by developer John Poole on a Huawei P20 Pro device powered by the Kirin 970 SoC. (Private app results, public app results.) To be clear: the public version is the application package as downloaded from the Google Play Store while the private version is a custom build he created to test against this behavior. It uses absolutely identical workloads and only renames the package and does basic string replacement in the application.

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Clearly the Huawei P20 Pro is increasing performance on the public version of the Geekbench test and not on the private version, despite using identical workloads on both. In the single threaded tests, the total score is 6.5% lower with the largest outlier being in the memory performance sub-score, where the true result is 14.3% slower than the inaccurate public version result. Raw integer performance drops by 3.7% and floating-point performance falls by 5.6%.

The multi-threaded score differences are much more substantial. Floating point performance drops by 26% in the private version of Geekbench, taking a significant hit that would no doubt affect its placement in the leaderboards and reviews of flagship Android smartphones.

Overall, the performance of the Huawei P20 Pro is 6.5% slower in single threaded testing and 16.7% slower in multi-threaded testing when the artificial score inflation in place within the Huawei customized OS is removed. Despite claims to the contrary, and that somehow an AI system is being used to recognize specific user scenarios and improve performance, this is another data point to prove that Huawei was hoping to pull one over on the media and consumers with invalid performance comparisons.

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Some have asked me why this issue matters; if the hardware is clearly capable of performance like this, why should Huawei and HiSilicon not be able to present it that way? The higher performance results that 3DMark, GFXBench, and now Geekbench show are not indicative of the performance consumers get with their devices on real applications. The entire goal of benchmarks and reviews is to try to convey the experience a buyer would get for a smartphone, or anything else for that matter.

If Huawei wanted one of its devices to offer this level of performance in games and other applications, it could do so, but at the expense of other traits. Skin temperature, battery life, and device lifespan could all be impacted – something that would definitely affect the reviews and reception of a smartphone. Hence, the practice of cheating in an attempt to have the best of both.

The sad part about all of this is that Huawei’s flagship smartphones have been exceptional in nearly every way. Design, screen quality, camera integration, features; the Mate and P-series devices have been excellent representations of what an Android device can be. Unfortunately, for enthusiasts that follow the market, this situation will follow the company and cloud some of those positives.

Today’s data shows that the story of Huawei and benchmarks goes beyond just 3DMark and GFXBench. We will be watching this closely to see how Huawei responds and if any kinds of updates to existing hardware are distributed. And, as the release of Kirin 980 devices nears, you can be sure that testing and evaluation of these will get a more scrutinizing eye than ever.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey Specs. They Are Interesting.

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2018 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged:

Once again, we’re entering the fall and winter rushes of video games, which will provide several months of AAA releases. One of the earlier entries, launching October 5th, will be Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

Ubisoft recently published their requirements for “Minimum” at 720p, “Recommended” at 1080p, and “Recommended 4K” at, as the name suggests, 4K. Each of these levels assume 30 FPS. While 30Hz is not what a lot of PC gamers consider recommended, I am glad that Ubisoft qualified what “minimum” and “recommended” actually corresponds to. They even publish expected clock rates, which leads to a notable scenario...

Here are the specifications. Be sure to read the analysis after! It should be interesting.

Minimum:

  • 64-bit Windows 7 SP1 (or later)
  • AMD FX 6300 @ 3.8 GHz or Intel Core i5-2400 @ 3.1 GHz or AMD Ryzen 3 - 1200
  • AMD R9 285 (2GB) or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 46GB of available storage

Recommended:

  • 64-bit Windows 7 SP1 (or later)
  • AMD FX-8350 @ 4.0 GHz or Intel Core i7-3770 @ 3.5 GHz or AMD Ryzen 5 – 1400
  • AMD Radeon R9 290X (4GB) or NVIIDA GeForce GTX 970 (4GB)
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 46GB of available storage

Recommended 4K:

  • Windows 10 64-bit
  • AMD Ryzen 1700X @ 3.8 GHz or Intel Core i7-7700 @ 4.2 GHz
  • AMD Vega 64 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB)
  • 16GB of RAM
  • 46GB of available storage

As I look through this list, a few details pop out at me:

  1. AMD Ryzen 1700X requires a lower clock rate than the Core i7-7700 at 4K
    • Seems to suggest that Odyssey will meaningfully use more than eight threads.
    • Makes a strong case for higher core counts in consumer PCs going forward.
  2. 4K only requires a GTX 1080 (or a Vega 64)
    • Suggests that even a single GTX 1080 Ti can run 4K significantly above 30FPS maxed.
  3. 4K recommends 16GB of RAM
    • Seems to suggest that Ubisoft will keep higher level-of-detail (LOD) assets loaded at longer draw distances when the resolution is up to 4K. (I could be wrong though.)

Obviously the first point is the most interesting for me. Intel could have increased core counts for a long time now, albeit at the expense of more SKUs, larger dies, and so forth. If Assassin’s Creed is any indication, we’re beginning to see consumer software getting more comfortable with parallel code. That said, I expect that, even if Intel released bigger SKUs earlier, software would still lag until around this time anyway. The point is that AMD has an answer for it now, and, unlike their gamble with Bulldozer, it’s well-timed with software trends.

Of course, AMD probably coaxed that to happen with the Xbox One and PS4.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey launches on Friday, October 5th. Check out the system specs here.

Source: Ubisoft

PCPer Mailbag #57 - How Many Rays Would a Ray Tracer Trace If a Ray Tracer Could Trace Rays?

Subject: Editorial | September 7, 2018 - 10:03 PM |
Tagged: video, Ryan Shrout, pcper mailbag

It's time for the PCPer Mailbag, our weekly show where Ryan and the team answer your questions about the tech industry, the latest and greatest GPUs, the process of running a tech review website, and more!

On today's show:

00:51 - NVIDIA 7nm GPU plans?
03:57 - NVIDIA vs. AMD for older CPUs?
06:33 - Threadripper workstation boards?
08:43 - Jensen Huang?
10:19 - Ray tracing performance drop?
12:50 - Ray tracing quality vs. performance slider?
15:10 - Updates for RTX AI breaking games?
17:13 - PCPer interviews with game developers?

Want to have your question answered on a future Mailbag? Leave a comment on this post or in the YouTube comments for the latest video. Check out new Mailbag videos each Friday!

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss our weekly reviews and podcasts, and please consider supporting PC Perspective via Patreon to help us keep videos like our weekly mailbag coming!

Source: YouTube