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Subject: Processors | May 30, 2017 - 03:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, computex 2017, computex, coffee lake, 8th generation core
During it's keynote at Computex today, Intel announced the high performane Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X platforms with CPU core counts as high as 18 (!!) but also gave a brief mention of its upcoming Coffee Lake product, the 8th Generation Core product family.
To quote directly from the Intel press information:
"As we move toward the next generation of computing, Intel also shared its commitment to deliver 8th generational Intel® Core™ processor-based devices by the holiday season, boasting more than 30 percent improvement in performance versus the 7th Gen Intel® Core™ processor."
That is quite the claim, but let's dive into the details.
Based on SYSmark* 2014 v1.5 (Windows Desktop Application Performance). Comparing 7th Gen i7-7500U, PL1=15W TDP, 2C4T, Turbo up to 3.5GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2133, vs. Estimates for 8th Gen Core i7: PL1=15W TDP, 4C8T, Turbo up to 4 GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2400, Storage: Intel® SSD, Windows* 10 RS2. Power policy assumptions: AC mode. Note: Kaby Lake U42 performance estimates are Pre-Silicon and are subject to change. Pre-Si projections have +/- 7% margin of error.
In a more readable format:
|Code name||Coffee Lake||Kaby Lake|
|Process Tech||14nm+||14nm Double Plus Good|
|Base Clock||?||2.7 GHz|
|Turbo Clock||4.0 GHz||3.5 GHz|
|TDP||15 watt||15 watt|
|Memory Clock||2400 MHz||2133 MHz|
The 30% performance claim comes from both a doubling of core and thread count (2- to 4-cores) but also a 500 MHz higher peak Turbo Clock, going from Kaby Lake to Coffee Lake. The testing was done using SYSmark 2014 v1.5, a benchmark that is very burst-centric and is comparable to common productivity tasks. Even with a 15% increase in peak clock speed and a 2x core/thread count, Intel is still able to maintain a 15 watt TDP with this CPU.
While we might at first expect much larger performance gains with those clock and core count differences, keep in mind that SYSmark as a test has never scaled in such a way. We don't yet know what other considerations might be in place for the 8th Generation Core processor platforms, and how they might affect performance for single of multi-threaded applications.
Intel has given us very little information today on the Coffee Lake designs, but it seems we'll know all about this platform before the end of the year.
Subject: Systems | May 30, 2017 - 02:18 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: zotac, PC, mini-itx, MEK, kaby lake, Intel Core i7, GTX 1080 Mini, GTX 1080, gaming, computex 2017, computex, computer
ZOTAC has introduces a new gaming brand at Computex, and along with it their first gaming PC. Have no fear, however, this gaming machine is quite compact from the mini-PC maker, as it is built around a mini-ITX motherboard and compact GPU.
"ZOTAC Gaming’s first gaming product, MEK Gaming PC, debuts at Computex Taipei. Built for gaming enthusiasts, it is powered by a ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 1080 Mini, 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a low-profile CPU Cooler to deliver overwhelming performance for high-end gaming and premium entertainment. With a futuristic design, MEK marks the beginning of gaming products for a new brand, ZOTAC Gaming, focused on gaming products fit for all who Live to Game."
The GPU might be based on a smaller than the average PCB, but you are getting a full NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 courtesy of ZOTAC's own GTX 1080 Mini graphics card, which is just 8.3 inches long (and "the world's smallest GeForce GTX 1080," according to ZOTAC).
Other than the above quoted 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor we don't have much information on the specifications for the upcoming MEK Gaming PC, but the images of the enclosure paint a promising picture for small form-factor gaming enthusiasts as it appears to be quite compact.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 12:48 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, mobile, max-q design, max-q, GTX 1080, geforce
During CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote at Computex tonight, NVIDIA announced a new initiative called GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design, targeting the mobile gaming markets with a product that is lighter, thinner yet more powerful than previously available gaming notebooks.
The idea behind this technology differentiation centers around gaming notebooks that have seen limited evolution over the last several years in form factor and design. The biggest stereotype of gaming notebooks today is that they must big, bulky and heavy to provide a competitive gaming experience when compared to desktop computers. NVIDIA is taking it upon itself to help drive innovation forward in this market, in some ways similar to how Intel created the Ultrabook.
Using “typical” specifications from previous machines using a GeForce GTX 880M (admittedly a part that came out in early 2014), NVIDIA claims that Max-Q Designs will offer compelling gaming notebooks with half the weight, nearly a third of the thinness yet still see 3x the performance. Utilizing a GeForce GTX 1080 GP104 GPU, the team is focusing on four specific hardware data points to achieve this goal.
First, NVIDIA is setting specifications of the GPUs in this design to run at their maximum efficiency point, allowing the notebook to get the best possible gaming performance from Pascal with the smallest amount of power draw. This is an obvious move and is likely something that has been occurring for a while, but further down the product stack. It’s also likely that NVIDIA is highly binning the GP104 parts to filter those that require the least amount of power to hit the performance target of Max-Q Designs.
Second, NVIDIA is depending on the use of GeForce Experience software to set in-game settings optimally for power consumption. Though details are light, this likely means running the game with frame rate limiting enabled, keeping gamers from running at refresh rates well above their screen’s refresh rate (static or G-Sync) which is an unnecessary power drain. It could also mean lower quality settings than we might normally associate with a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card.
Comparing a 3-year old notebook versus a Max-Q Design
The third and fourth points are heavily related: using the best possible cooling solutions and integrating the best available power regulators targeting efficiency. The former allows the GPU to be cooled quickly, and quietly (with a quoted sub-40 dbA goal), keeping the GTX 1080 at its peak efficiency curve. And putting the GPU in that state without inefficient power delivery hardware would be a waste, so NVIDIA is setting standards here too.
UPDATE: From the NVIDIA news release just posted on the company's website, we learned of a couple of new additions to Max-Q Design:
NVIDIA WhisperMode Technology
NVIDIA also introduced WhisperMode technology, which makes laptops run much quieter while gaming. WhisperMode intelligently paces the game's frame rate while simultaneously configuring the graphics settings for optimal power efficiency. This reduces the overall acoustic level for gaming laptops. Completely user adjustable and available for all Pascal GPU-based laptops, WhisperMode will be available soon through a GeForce Experience software update.
MaxQ-designed gaming laptops equipped with GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 and 1060 GPUs will be available starting June 27 from the world's leading laptop OEMs and system builders, including Acer, Aftershock, Alienware, ASUS, Clevo, Dream Machine, ECT, Gigabyte, Hasee, HP, LDLC, Lenovo, Machenike, Maingear, Mechrevo, MSI, Multicom, Origin PC, PC Specialist, Sager, Scan, Terrans Force, Tronic'5, and XoticPC. Features, pricing and availability may vary.
Jensen showed an upcoming ASUS Republic of Gamers notebook called Zephyrus that hit all of these targets – likely NVIDIA’s initial build partner. On it they demonstrated Project Cars 2, an impressive looking title for certain. No information was given on image quality settings, resolutions, frame rates, etc.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Max-Q Design Gaming Notebook
This design standard is impressive, and though I assume many gamers and OEMs will worry about having an outside party setting requirements for upcoming designs, I err on the side this being a necessary step. If you remember notebooks before the Intel Ultrabook push, they were stagnant and uninspiring. Intel’s somewhat forceful move to make OEMs innovate and compete in a new way changed the ecosystem at a fundamental level. It is very possible that GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design will do the same thing for gaming notebooks.
An initiative like this continues NVIDIA’s seeming goal of creating itself as the “PC brand”, competing more with Xbox and PlayStation than with Radeon. Jensen claimed that more than 10 million GeForce gaming notebooks were sold in the last year, exceeding the sales of Xbox hardware in the same time frame. He also called out the ASUS prototype notebook as having compute capability 60% higher than that of the PS4 Pro. It’s clear that NVIDIA wants to be more than just the add-in card leader, more than just the leader in computer graphics. Owning the ecosystem vertical gives them more control and power to drive the direction of software and hardware.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Max-Q Design Gaming Notebook
So, does the Max-Q Design technology change anything? Considering the Razer Blade B5 is already under 18mm thin, the argument could be made that the market was already going down this path, and NVIDIA is simply jumping in to get credit for the move. Though Razer is a great partner for NVIDIA, they are likely irked that NVIDIA is going to push all OEMs to steal some of the thunder from this type of design that Razer started and evangelized.
That political discussion aside, Max-Q Design will bring new, better gaming notebook options to the market from many OEMs, lowering the price of entry for these flagship designs. NVIDIA did not mention anything about cost requirements or segments around Max-Q, so I do expect the first wave of these to be on the premium end of the scale. Over time, as cost cutting measures come into place, and the necessity of thinner, lighter gaming notebooks is well understood, Max-Q Designs could find itself in a wide range of price segments.
Subject: Storage | May 29, 2017 - 11:42 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Ultra, ssd, sandisk, nand, computex 2017, Blue, BiCS, 3d
Western Digital bought SanDisk nearly two years ago, but we had not really seen any products jointly launched under both brand labels. Until today:
The WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD are both products containing identical internals. Specifically, these are the first client SSDs built with 64-layer 3D NAND technology. Some specs:
- Sequential read: 560 MB/s
- Sequential write: 530 MB/s
- Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Form factor: 2.5" (WD and Sandisk), M.2 (SATA) 2280 (WD only)
MSRP's start at $99.99 for the 250GB models of all flavors (2.5" / M.2 SATA), and all products will ship with a 3-year warranty.
It might seem odd that we see an identical product shipped under two different brands owned by the same company, but WD is likely leveraging the large OEM relationship held by SanDisk. I'm actually curious to see how this pans out long term because it is a bit confusing at present.
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2017 - 08:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: machine learning, fluid, deep neural network, deep learning
SIGGRAPH 2017 is still a few months away, but we’re already starting to see demos get published as groups try to get them accepted to various parts of the trade show. In this case, Physics Forests published a two-minute video where they perform fluid simulations without actually simulating fluid dynamics. Instead, they used a deep-learning AI to hallucinate a convincing fluid dynamics result given their inputs.
We’re seeing a lot of research into deep-learning AIs for complex graphics effects lately. The goal of most of these simulations, whether they are for movies or video games, is to create an effect that convinces the viewer that what they see is realistic. The goal is not to create an actually realistic effect. The question then becomes, “Is it easier to actually solve the problem? Or is it easier having an AI learn, based on a pile of data sorted into successes and failures, come up with an answer that looks correct to the viewer?”
In a lot of cases, like global illumination and even possibly anti-aliasing, it might be faster to have an AI trick you. Fluid dynamics is just one example.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2017 - 08:30 PM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: Kingpin, gtx 1080 ti, gpu, evga, computex 2017
EVGA today took the wraps off its latest and highest-end NVIDIA GPU with the announcement of the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin Edition. Part of the company's continuing line of "K|NGP|N" licensed graphics cards, the 1080 Ti Kingpin includes performance, cooling, and stability-minded features that are intended to set it apart from all of the other 1080 Ti models currently available.
From a design standpoint, the 1080 Ti Kingpin features an oversized PCB, triple-fan iCX cooler, an expansive copper heat sink, and right-edge PCIe connectors (2 x 8pin), meaning that those with an obsession for cable management won't need to pick up something like the EVGA PowerLink. The card's design is also thin enough that owners can convert it into a true single-slot card by removing the iCX cooler, allowing enthusiasts to pack more water- or liquid nitrogen-cooled GPUs into a single chassis.
The GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin also features a unique array of display outputs, with dual-link DVI, HDMI 2.0, and three Mini DisplayPort 1.3 connectors. This compares with the three full-size DisplayPort and single HDMI outputs found on the 1080 Ti reference design. The presence of the DVI port on the Kingpin edition also directly addresses the concerns of some NVIDIA customers who weren't fans of NVIDIA's decision to ditch the "legacy" connector.
With its overbuilt PCB and enhanced cooling, EVGA claims that users will be able to achieve greater performance from the Kingpin Edition compared to any other currently shipping GTX 1080 Ti. That includes a "guaranteed" overclock of at least 2025MHz right out of the box, which compares to the 1480MHz base / 1600MHz boost clock advertised for the 1080 Ti's reference design (although it's important to note that NVIDIA's advertised boost clocks have become quite conservative in recent years, and many 1080 Ti owners are able to easily exceed 1600MHz with modest overclocking).
EVGA has yet to confirm an exact release date for the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin, but it is expected to launch in late June or July. As for price, EVGA has also declined to provide specifics, but interested enthusiasts should start saving their pennies now. Based on previous iterations of the "K|NGP|N" flagship model, expect a price premium of anywhere between $100 and $400.
Subject: Systems | May 29, 2017 - 08:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zotac, zbox
Zotac is announcing two new additions to their line of mini PCs: the ZBOX Pico PI225 and the ZBOX Pico PI335. There’s not a whole lot of information about specifications and other details, but they are both passively cooled.
The smaller PI225
The main difference between the two that one is smaller, but the other has more video connectivity. The ZBOX Pico PI225 is listed as the thinnest ZBOX that has ever been made, and it is capable of powering a single display at up to 4K resolution. Judging by the photos, it looks about SSD sized. The ZBOX Pico PI335 is bigger, but it has the ability to power two displays at up to 4K resolution.
The larger PI335, view of ports
(not visible, 2x USB 3.0 and 1x DC Power on other side)
Zotac has not yet released pricing or availability info.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2017 - 05:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: thermaltake, Smart Pro RGB, 850W, modular psu
The Smart portion of the Thermaltake Smart Pro RGB seems to refer to the Riing 14 RGB fan that can produce up to 256 colours with five different lighting modes to choose from, and built-in memory to save your light shows. [H]ard|OCP turned the RGB off immediately, then proceeded to test the power the PSU provides, as you would expect. The PSU passed all the tests, but not with flying colours, as some performance measures such as voltage regulation did not match the competitions. On the other hand, if you need RGBs on your PSU then Thermaltake's Smart Pro RGB models are worth your consideration.
"Frag-harder RGB lighting is all the rage, and so of course we are now seeing those in PSUs too. Thermaltake has a healthy 850 watt PSU here for review today that actually hits the sub-$100 mark by 1 cent. Fully modular with great DC output; is there anything not to like? You can turn the RGB off. And a 7 year warranty."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- SilverStone SX800-LTI SFX-L @ [H]ard|OCP
- Corsair HX850 Platinum @ Kitguru
- Corsair TX 750M @ Kitguru
- FSP Dagger 600W SFX @ Kitguru
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2017 - 04:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: bitfenix, Shogun
BitFenix's Shogun case stands 250x565x525mm in size and allows coolers of up to 175mm in height and GPUs of up to 410mm. It is not the largest case on the market but it is certainly no SFF enclosure, fitting E-ATX motherboards though the tray has mounting points for even mini-ITX if you have a strange idea in mind. The front panel is subtly hidden in the gap between the front bezel and the cases top with enough of a gap you should not have any issues fitting a thumb drive in. Bitfenix gave this metal and glass case high marks for functionality, even if they weren't personally in love with the overall aesthetics.
"The Bitfenix Shogun may not look the part when it comes to its naming, but it does offer a nice and mostly functional feature set coupled with great overall build quality. It also sets itself apart by allowing the user to expand the motherboard tray for an E-ATX board."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Fractal Design Focus G ATX @ Kitguru
- Cooler Master Cosmos II 25th Anniversary @ techPowerUp
- Scythe Fuma @ techPowerUp
- ID-Cooling FrostFlow 240L AIO @ Kitguru
- Noctua NH-D15 SE-AM4 120mm U-Type Tower Heatsink Review @ Hardware Asylum
- FSP Windale 6 Cooler @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2017 - 02:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: git, windows, microsoft
Microsoft have moved their huge collection of source code from an internal proprietary tool to Git. The repository is 300 GB and is very popular with The Register reporting 8,421 pull requests and 1,760 official builds a day. To help people access the repository they have developed their own Git Virtual File System, which present Git as a FAT file system to users. This has not been viewed as favourably as they had hoped, the popularity is causing the service to process requests slowly, however it is still generally faster than going straight to Git. If you want to give it a shot, read through this blog post over at Microsoft.
"Redmond's certainly feeling pleased with itself about the move, in particular stroking itself about being able to move the whole 2,000-strong Windows OneCore team from the Source Depot internal tool to Git over a weekend."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Arozzi Vernazza Gaming Chair Unboxing & Assembly @ [H]ard|OCP
- Nitro Concepts E220 EVO Gaming Chair Review @ NikKTech
- Corsair T1 Race gaming chair @ Kitguru
- Done and done: BlackBerry ties up $940m settlement with Qualcomm @ The Register
- Nokia's retro revival 3310 goes on sale and disappears immediately @ The Register
- Raspberry Pi Foundation merges with CoderDojo Foundation to spread the coding bug @ The Inquirer
- Serious Statistics Review @ OCC
Computex 2017: ASUS ZenBook Pro UX550 Packs i7 CPU, 1050Ti, and 15-inch 4K Screen Into a 4-Pound Package
Subject: Mobile | May 29, 2017 - 11:54 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: zenbook pro, laptop, computex 2017, asus zenbook, asus
ASUS kicked off the day by unveiling its svelte new 13-inch convertible laptop, but didn't forget about users who need more power from their portable. Following the introduction of the new ZenBook Flip S, the company turned its attention to the higher-end ZenBook Pro line and announced the ZenBook Pro UX550, a 15.6-inch laptop packed with power that measures in at 18.9mm thick and 1.8kg (3.97 pounds).
The latest ZenBook Pro is slated to ship with i7 (7700HQ) and i5 (7300HQ) processor options, a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti, up to 16GB of DDR4 2400MHz memory, and up to 1TB of NVMe flash storage.
As a 2017 product, the ZenBook Pro UX550 unsurprisingly includes two USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, but it also retains plenty of "legacy" connectivity options as well, including two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type-A ports, a full-sized HDMI port, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and an integrated Micro SD Card reader.
Other features include Full HD and 4K display choices with optional pen and touch support, a backlit keyboard, glass-covered trackpad with integrated fingerprint sensor and Windows Hello support, four 3-watt speakers with Harman Kardon surround-sound audio, and a 73 watt-hour battery capable of up to 14 hours of advertised battery life with fast-charging support.
ASUS has not yet announced a release date for the ZenBook Pro UX550, but it is expected to have a starting price of $1,299.
Subject: Systems | May 29, 2017 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: RX 570, kaby lake, Intel, dell, AIO, amd
Dell has refreshed their XPS 27 All-in-one with two new models. Both of these have their GPU upgraded to the AMD RX 570 and their CPU refreshed to the Core i7-7700, which Dell highlights for its VR readiness. The difference between the two is that the lower-end model, $1999.99 USD, has a non-touch screen and a 2TB hard drive backed by 32GB of M.2 SATA SSD cache; the higher-end model, $2649.99 USD, has a touch screen and a 512GB, PCIe SSD, which makes it a quarter of the storage, but much faster. Both are loaded with 16GB of RAM, but they can be configured up to 64GB.
About two weeks ago, Kyle Wiggers of Digital Trends had some hands-on time with the refreshed all-in-one. He liked the vibrant, 4K panel that was apparently calibrated to AdobeRGB (although I can’t find any listing for how much it covers). The purpose of that color space is to overlap with both non-HDR video and with the gamut of commercial printers, which is useful for multiple types of publishers.
The Dell XPS 27 All-in-one is available now.
Computex 2017: ASUS ZenBook Flip S UX370, The World's Thinnest 13-inch 2-in-1 Featuring Windows 10 S
Subject: Mobile | May 29, 2017 - 03:38 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: zenbook, Windows 10 S, UX370, computex 2017, asus zenbook, asus
ASUS kicked off its Computex 2017 schedule with the announcement early Monday of a number of new laptops. The company's headlining product is the new ZenBook Flip S UX370, the "world's thinnest" (as of right now, at least) 13-inch 2-in-1 convertible notebook. Measuring 10.9mm thin with a weight of 1.1kg (2.4 pounds), the ZenBook Flip S is thinner and lighter than competing 13-inch convertibles, while still packing up to an Intel Core i7-7500 processor, 1TB of NVMe flash storage, and 16GB of memory.
As a convertible, the ZenBook Flip S UX370 display folds back onto the underside of the keyboard via "the world's most compact" ErgoLift 360-degree hinge. The display itself packs an unsurprising 3840-by-2160 UHD resolution, with ASUS instead choosing to turn heads with the device's bezel, or lack thereof. The device includes what ASUS is calling a "NanoEdge" display, which is saddled by just a 6.11mm side bezel for a class-leading 80 percent "screen-to-body ratio." The ZenBook Flip S also touts touch and pen support, although the company's presentation and press materials don't yet indicate if it will include the ASUS Pen in the box.
The convertible offers two USB Type-C ports, with a 39 watt-hour battery and fast charging support (achieving a 60 percent charge in 49 minutes). Once fully charged, ASUS claims that users can expect up to 11.5 hours of battery life.
As for operating system, the Flip S will ship in base configurations with the recently announced Windows 10 S, and it includes a built-in fingerprint sensor for compatibility with Windows Hello. This means that users will be limited to running Windows Store applications and the Microsoft Edge browser but, just like Microsoft's own Surface Laptop, ZenBook Flip S owners will have the option to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro post-purchase.
The ZenBook Flip S UX370 will start at $1,099 and is expected to launch in September.
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2017 - 02:23 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, riotoro
RIOTORO also had a couple of peripherals at Computex this year: a keyboard and a mouse.
The Ghostwriter Elite Prism keyboard is their new flagship mechanical keyboard, build around Cherry MX Red or Cherry MX Silent switches. Its RGB backlights can be controlled from the keyboard itself, without installing a driver. They don’t say whether this keyboard supports Linux, but moving that functionality to the hardware itself, rather than a proprietary driver, is a good sign. It also has USB pass-through, allowing easy access to a port for devices that hate hubs (like some high-end mice). Its volume control is a roller, which is my preferred way to adjust volume on a PC.
The RIOTORO Ghostwriter Elite Prism will be available in Q3. Pricing is expected at $149.99 USD.
The Auxor Prism RGB Optical Gaming Mouse is based around the Pixart PWM3330 optical sensor, which has a resolution of 10,000 DPI. Unfortunately, while it’s relatively symmetric in shape, its three thumb buttons are an exception, so it’s right-handed only. Right-handed users, however, might take a little extra interest in the “three thumb buttons” comment. Many mice have two, one forward and one back. This one adds an extra, trigger-like “sniper” button that RIOTORO intends to drop DPI for precise shots – for eight programmable buttons total. As hinted, it also has 16.8 million color RGB lighting.
A little tip as an aside – if you’re going to the extent of dropping your DPI to snipe in PC games, consider binding a fire button to the keyboard. For instance, when I played with the arrow keys (again, I’m a lefty) I bound NumPad 0 to fire (as well as the left mouse button). Clicking a button will cause the mouse to jiggle a bit, so separating that action off to your other hand (for critical shots) makes a significant difference for the better. If you have ever played America’s Army 2 back in the early 2000s, and tried to qualify for sniper training, then you’ll probably know what I mean when I say “that’s how I passed it”.
The RIOTORO Aurox Prism RGB Optical Mouse will be available in black or white (limited edition) in June. The website doesn’t confirm this, but the PR email has price expected at $39.99 USD for the black, and $44.99 USD for the white.
Computex 2017: RIOTORO Announces CR500 Tempered Glass, CR1288 Prism RGB Full-Tower, and CR1088 Mini-Tower Cases
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2017 - 01:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: riotoro, RGB
We first heard about RIOTORO at the CES before last, where they launched their CR1280 Prism case with its RGB lighting. They’ve since added quite a few models across different product segments.
Now, at Computex, they’re introducing three new models: the CR1288, the CR1088, and the CR500. The first two build upon existing products, while the last occupies a new segment for the company.
I’ll start with the CR1288 Prism, which fills a similar role as their aforementioned CR1280 Prism. It’s unclear whether this will replace that case, or whether they will both co-exist. Either way, RIOTORO claims that it has better cooling, noise reduction, and access for installation than its predecessor. It also looks quite different from the front, with a big, vertical stripe up the center of that side. It retains the CR1280 Prism’s front panel controls.
The CR1288 Prism Full-Tower
The CR1288 Prism is listed as a Q3 launch with a $159.99 USD expected street price.
Next is the CR1088 “Ultra-Compact Tower Case”. Like the CR1288, this is a redesign of the CR1080, although it’s unclear whether they will co-exist. This case is a little larger than a cubic foot, 15.7” long x 9” wide x 14.1” high, but supports a full-sized ATX motherboards and graphics cards. The design routes air across the typical hot spots, and it separates the power supply and drives (2x 3.5” and 3x 2.5”) into its own compartment, with cable routing for cable management.
The CR1088 Mini-Tower
The CR1088 is listed as a Q3 launch with an $89.99 USD expected street price.
Last is the CR500, which definitely does not replace any existing model. This is a lower-cost mid-tower with a tempered glass window, a separate compartment (which I’m guessing is for the power supply and drives, like the CR1288), and tool-free installation (with cable management). It’s made out of steel, and can mount up to a 240mm radiator.
The CR500 Mid-Tower
The CR500 is listed as a Q3 launch with a $79.99 USD expected street price. RIOTORO says that it will have a $69.99 USD introductory price, but it’s unclear what that means (ex: if it’s a pre-order, and from who).
Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2017 - 07:10 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: samba, linux, ransomware, security, networking
Last week, the development team behind Samba – popular software suite used on Linux and Unix clients and servers that uses TCP/IP protocol for file and print sharing to SMB/CIFS clients (including Microsoft Windows) – released a security advisory along with patches for a remote code execution hole that has been present in Samba for seven years since the release of Samba 3.5.0 in March 2010. The vulnerability, classified under CVE-2017-7494, allows an attacker to upload malicious code to a Samba server and get the server to run the code by sending a malformed IPC request that references the local file path. The Samba server will run the code in the malicious shared library (.so) file even though it is from an untrusted remote source.
The bad news is that this is a fairly serious flaw that could lead to an attacker successfully holding a business or home user’s files (including backups!) at ransom, stealing data, or using the now owned file server to attack other network resources that trust the file server. If not securely configured (e.g. allowing anonymous writes), the attack could even be wormable which would allow it to self-replicate across the network or Internet. Further, while various security firms have slightly different numbers, they all seem to agree that around 100,000 Internet-accessible machines are running vulnerable versions of Samba.
It is not all bad news though, and in some respects this vulnerability is not as big of an issue as the WannaCry ransomware and EternalBlue SMB vulnerability because in order to successfully exploit the Samba flaw an attacker needs to obtain credentials to upload the malicious code to the file share(s) which need to be writeable in the first place and not running as noexec under a SELinux policy. Also, attackers need to know or guess the local path name of the files on the file share to send the malformed IPC request. More importantly, the Samba team released three security releases (4.6.4, 4.5.10, and 4.4.14) for the newer branches and is working with OS distributions on providing patches for older Samba versions. For systems that cannot be updated or patched, there is also a workaround that can be implemented by modifying the global Samba config file to contain the setting “nt pipe support = no”. While this will break some expected Windows functionality (mainly machines will not be able to access null shares and will need to use the specific share path rather than just the server path), it will make it so that Samba will not accept the malicious requests.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this vulnerability is that security researchers estimate that up to 90% of the vulnerable Internet-connected Samba endpoints do not have a direct patch or update available yet and may not ever get one. While the enterprise hardware and even bigger consumer and SMB hardware providers will provide support for this in the form of patches or firmware updates, there is a sea of home routers, NAS boxes, file and print servers, and IoT devices running on home networks that are not open to user updates and may not ever get firmware updates. The best thing to do in this scenario according to the security advisory (if you can’t just not use it or replace it with different hardware that can be patched or isn’t affected of course) is to not expose it to the Internet. There would still be a risk of it being exploited should someone get a virus on a client machine through email, malicious downloads, or social engineering though. Considering these home NAS devices are usually used as destinations for backups, the risk of ransomware not only infecting client machines but also the main file share and network backups is scary. I have always been a fan of offline and/or cloud backups and in these modern times they are more important than ever with the rise of ransomware and other profit motivated viruses.
If you are not sure if your network is affected, there are tools being made available (including a Metasploit module, nmap scripts, and Internet scans) to help you determine that and reduce your attack surface using that information by updating to the latest security release, applying patches, updating, using SELinux policies to prevent the server from executing files itself, and preventing them from communicating with the Internet in order of effectiveness.
All that is to say don’t panic, stay vigilant, and make sure your important data is properly backed up and secured as much as possible!
Subject: General Tech | May 27, 2017 - 10:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xr, VR, mr, istaging, AR
iStaging is virtual-, augmented-, and mixed-reality company that focuses on the real estate, interior design, furniture, and related industries. The news that lead to this post is that Yungching Realty Group, based out of Taiwan, has partnered with iStaging to enhance their real estate business with VR and AR. The demo that they are showing at their press conference was a virtual street, which presented information about restaurants, schools, and other points of interest for someone researching the neighborhood.
I’d expect our audience is more interested in the technology side of this, although let us know in the comments (or via email – my address is in my author page linked on the byline) if you’re interested in the enterprise / real-estate side. From the technology standpoint, it’s interesting to see applications like these push high-end graphics into more and more businesses, large and small. Likewise, these applications give a stable income that XR technology companies (ex: HTC Vive) can rely upon while they find a foothold in fickle, but potentially lucrative consumer market.
Lastly, I’m curious what applications will be possible when another round of innovation learns from this generation. What does this enable, even if only by expanding what people think is possible?
Definitely something to think about.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 27, 2017 - 12:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vision fund, softbank, nvidia, iot, HPC, ai
SoftBank, the Tokyo, Japan based Japanese telecom and internet technology company has reportedly quietly amassed a 4.9% stake in graphics chip giant NVIDIA. Bloomberg reports that SoftBank has carefully invested $4 billion into NVIDIA avoiding the need to get regulatory approval in the US by keeping its investment under 5% of the company. SoftBank has promised the current administration that it will invest $50 billion into US tech companies and it seems that NVIDIA is the first major part of that plan.
NVIDIA's Tesla V100 GPU.
Led by Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, SoftBank is not afraid to invest in technology companies it believes in with major past acquisitions and investments in companies like ARM Holdings, Sprint, Alibaba, and game company Supercell.
The $4 billion-dollar investment makes SoftBank the fourth largest shareholder in NVIDIA, which has seen the company’s stock rally from SoftBank’s purchases and vote of confidence. The (currently $93) $100 billion Vision Fund may also follow SoftBank’s lead in acquiring a stake in NVIDIA which is involved in graphics, HPC, AI, deep learning, and gaming.
Overall, this is good news for NVIDIA and its shareholders. I am curious what other plays SoftBank will make for US tech companies.
What are your thoughts on SoftBank investing heavily in NVIDIA?
Subject: Processors | May 26, 2017 - 11:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ryzen, giveaway, amd
Between now and July 7th, 2017, which could also be written as 7/7/17, AMD is hosting a sweepstakes (not a contest) to promote Ryzen 7. The premise is that fans will create a video of themselves doing seven different activities in seven seconds. Prizes will be awarded for randomly selected, eligible entries. Alternatively, you can enter by doing some things on Twitter… the details are available on AMD’s website.
This is the reason why I said “not a contest”. According to the rules, these videos will not actually be judged; it's pure luck. The drawing will occur on (roughly) June 2nd, June 9th, June 16th, June 23rd, June 30th, and two drawings on July 7th. Each drawing is for an AMD Ryzen 7 1700X, with one winner per drawing.
Subject: General Tech, Memory, Storage | May 26, 2017 - 10:14 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: XPoint, Intel, HPC, DIMM, 3D XPoint
Intel recently teased a bit of new information on its 3D XPoint DIMMs and launched its first public demonstration of the technology at the SAP Sapphire conference where SAP’s HANA in-memory data analytics software was shown working with the new “Intel persistent memory.” Slated to arrive in 2018, the new Intel DIMMs based on the 3D XPoint technology developed by Intel and Micron will work in systems alongside traditional DRAM to provide a pool of fast, low latency, and high density nonvolatile storage that is a middle ground between expensive DDR4 and cheaper NVMe SSDs and hard drives. When looking at the storage stack, the storage density increases along with latency as it gets further away from the CPU. The opposite is also true, as storage and memory gets closer to the processor, bandwidth increases, latency decreases, and costs increase per unit of storage. Intel is hoping to bridge the gap between system DRAM and PCI-E and SATA storage.
According to Intel, system RAM offers up 10 GB/s per channel and approximately 100 nanoseconds of latency. 3D XPoint DIMMs will offer 6 GB/s per channel and about 250 nanoseconds of latency. Below that is the 3D XPoint-based NVMe SSDs (e.g. Optane) on a PCI-E x4 bus where they max out the bandwidth of the bus at ~3.2 GB/s and 10 microseconds of latency. Intel claims that non XPoint NVMe NAND solid state drives have around 100 microsecomds of latency, and of course, it gets worse from there when you go to NAND-based SSDs or even hard drives hanging of the SATA bus.
Intel’s new XPoint DIMMs have persistent storage and will offer more capacity that will be possible and/or cost effective with DDR4 DRAM. In giving up some bandwidth and latency, enterprise users will be able to have a large pool of very fast storage for storing their databases and other latency and bandwidth sensitive workloads. Intel does note that there are security concerns with the XPoint DIMMs being nonvolatile in that an attacker with physical access could easily pull the DIMM and walk away with the data (it is at least theoretically possible to grab some data from RAM as well, but it will be much easier to grab the data from the XPoint sticks. Encryption and other security measures will need to be implemented to secure the data, both in use and at rest.
Interestingly, Intel is not positioning the XPoint DIMMs as a replacement for RAM, but instead as a supplement. RAM and XPoint DIMMs will be installed in different slots of the same system and the DDR4 RAM will be used for the OS and system critical applications while the XPoint pool of storage will be used for storing data that applications will work on much like a traditional RAM disk but without needing to load and save the data to a different medium for persistent storage and offering a lot more GBs for the money.
While XPoint is set to arrive next year along with Cascade Lake Xeons, it will likely be a couple of years before the technology takes off. Supporting it is going to require hardware and software support for the workstations and servers as well as developers willing to take advantage of it when writing their specialized applications. Fortunately, Intel started shipping the memory modules to its partners for testing earlier this year. It is an interesting technology and the DIMM solution and direct CPU interface will really let the 3D XPoint memory shine and reach its full potential. It will primarily be useful for the enterprise, scientific, and financial industries where there is a huge need for faster and lower latency storage that can accommodate massive (multiple terabyte+) data sets that continue to get larger and more complex. It is a technology that likely will not trickle down to consumers for a long time, but I will be ready when it does. In the meantime, I am eager to see what kinds of things it will enable the big data companies and researchers to do! Intel claims it will not only be useful at supporting massive in-memory databases and accelerating HPC workloads but for things like virtualization, private clouds, and software defined storage.
What are your thoughts on this new memory tier and the future of XPoint?
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