... and there's the AMD suit

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2018 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, spectre, meltdown, Lawsuit

The lawsuit against Intel was launched last week and yesterday a similar case was launched against AMD by a shareholder, alleging that the company knew about their vulnerability to Spectre and hid that information causing detrimental affects to stock prices.  There were several interesting points in the way the two cases differ, which The Register highlighted.  The first is the timing, Intel's case encompasses the time from 27 July 2017, to 4 January 2018 while AMD's lawsuit starts the day of their last end of year report, 21 February, 2017.  Not only does this encompass a longer period of time that the suit against Intel, it starts well before 1 June, 2017 when Project Zero first informed AMD of the vulnerability.  Also worth noting is that AMD's stock prices are higher than they were at the beginning of 2017 which makes any damage to share prices hard to demonstrate.

The various companies that are vulnerable to Spectre, Meltdown or both need to make right by this but it is somewhat interesting to see the disparity between these two specific cases.

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"Responding to the class-action lawsuit, an AMD PR rep told The Reg: "We believe these allegations are without merit. We intend to vigorously defend against these baseless claims."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #483 - News from CES: Kaby Lake G, Zen+, and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2018 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: Zen+, Vega, spectre, podcast, meltdown, Kaby Lake G, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #483 - 01/18/18

Join us this week for a recap of news from CES 2018! We talk about Intel's Kaby Lake G processor featuring Vega graphics, Zen+ CPUs, the performance impact of Meltdown 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: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison

Program length: 1:52:54

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:42:20 Thanks to HelloFresh for supporting our podcast. Go to HelloFresh.com and use the code pcper30 to get $30 off your first week of deliveries.
  3. News items of interest:
    1. CES 2018
      1. AMD
      2. ASUS
      3. Lenovo
  4. 1:40:20 Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: GPU Price suck.
  5. Closing/outro
 

Sapphire snazzes up the Vega 56

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2018 - 05:31 PM |
Tagged: sapphire, NITRO+ Radeon RX Vega 56 Limited Edition 8GB HBM2, RX Vega 56, amd

The Sapphire NITRO+ Radeon RX Vega 56 Limited Edition 8GB HBM2 with Tri-X dual ball bearing fans and Vapor Chamber cooling bears a name almost as long as the card itself.  There are some interesting physical features, such as easily removable Tri-X dual ball bearing fans for cleaning and the ability to connect case fans to your card.  The improved cooler design is not able to defeat the overclocking limits which both Vega cards seem to have, however it does ensure very quiet operation which may be a more attractive benefit to some users.  Drop by Overclockers Club for performance details.

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"To make sure that this card performs well under a load, Sapphire slapped a massive Vapor Chamber-based cooling solution on the card. The combination of Sapphire's Tri-X dual ball bearing fans and Vapor Chamber cooling solution make this card one of the coolest running cards I have tested, both stock and overclocked. What makes this cooling performance that much more impressive is that the power consumed by the card is in excess of 300 watts stock and overclocked. Impressive indeed."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

That's no moon! Stellaris adds planet killers plus the chance to mine the corpse of your enemies home

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2018 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, stellaris, paradox

In the not too distant future new DLC will arrive for Stellaris, likely in conjunction with the new free patch that Paradox will be releasing as that is their style.  The new DLC will include two new ship classes, Titans, which outweigh battleships and come with specific weaponry only available to that class of ship as well as the colossus.  A colossus is only marginally a fleet ship, it does not have much in the way of hull or conventional armament but is specifically designed to go after planets while your fleet protects them.  There are several different weapons you can install, from the aforementioned planet cracker to a shield generator which forever seals a planet off from the universe to a God Ray you can use on your own planets to increase spiritualist ethics attraction.

As well, the free 'Cherryh' patch will make some huge changes to the base gameplay; restricting all races to hyperspace pathways, changing how borders work and adding starbases and more detailed ground combat. 

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"Too many worlds. That’s the problem with space. You develop interstellar flight and hope to find a big emptiness that you can coast around in until all of the stars fade to black, but there’s all this stuff scattered about. Planets and asteroid belts and big alien jellysquids."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Don't have a meltdown boss; I really do need a new phone

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2018 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: security, cellphones, spectre, meltdown

The fact that Spectre and Meltdown combined affect 72% of Android and Apple devices on the market offers a compelling reason to request a new work phone.  In many cases the devices being used in large enterprises are old enough that there is no patch coming, the story Slashdot linked to suggests almost 25% of the devices in use will fall into that category.  Since those devices have also missed out on numerous security features which were added in newer operating systems, you should have enough reasons to justify the expenditure.  The next time you are banking or dealing with a service provider in your own personal life you might want to peek at the phone they use and make sure they aren't endangering your own information.

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"Analysis of more than 100,000 enterprise mobile devices shows that just a tiny percentage of them have been protected against the vulnerabilities -- and some simply may never be protected. Security firm Bridgeway found that just 4 percent of corporate phones and tablets in the UK have been patched against Spectre and Meltdown."

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Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

The Spectre of control system Meltdown

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2018 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: security, spectre, meltdown

The various patches released to ameliorate the damage which can be inflicted to computer systems is slowing down or crashing some systems, up to and including industrial control systems according to The Register.  These issues are not specific to Windows machines, many control systems run on Linux, the vulnerabilities stem from an architectural issue and so any operating system could suffer slowdowns.  Seeing your VMs slow down on Azure or AWS is rather frustrating, slow response from critical systems in a power plant could be much more than just an inconvenience.  The story also has a link to a compiled list of Meltdown patches if you would like to see what is currently in development.

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"Rockwell Automation revealed that the same patch had caused issues with Studio 5000, FactoryTalk View SE, and RSLinx Classic (a widely used product in the manufacturing sector). "In fairness [this] may be RPC [Remote Procedure Call] change related," said cybersecurity vulnerability manager Kevin Beaumont."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Hear the roar of the Cougar Immersa Pro gaming headset

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2018 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: virtual 7.1, Immersa Pro, gaming headset, Cougar, audio

The Cougar Immersa Pro offers virtual 7.1 sound when plugged in via USB to a machine with the driver installed, you will only hear stereo from the 50mm drivers if plugged into an audio jack.  On the other hand plugging it into the audio jack also disables the RGB features on the headset, if you don't feel like forcing the driver to disable them.  The Guru of 3D appreciated the comfort of the earcups as well as the overall quality of sound but felt somewhat let down by the quality of the microphone; a common complaint on gaming headsets.

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"They recently sent us a box full of goodies, including the new Immersa Pro, their top headset. If you thought you’d forgotten about RGB all the things, well, Cougar is here to remind you with the Immersa Pro."

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Audio Corner

 

Source: Guru of 3D

Google's 'free' Spectre patch

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2018 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: google, spectre, retpoline, security

Google have released their own patch for the second Spectre vulnerability and claim that there is no noticeable performance hit after installation.  The patch isolates indirect branches from speculative execution, similar in effect to what the Microsoft patch does but without the extra trampoline overhead.  Intel responded to The Inquirer's contact and confirmed Google's patch is both effective and more efficient than the patch currently being distributed but do mention there is a microcode update which must also be installed for the patch to be fully effective.  This is good news for those who use Google and hint at updated patches for Spectre which might mitigate any performance hits it causes.

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"The fix, called 'Retpoline' uses software patches rather than disabling the affected CPU features, which Google claims resulted "in no performance degradation across the different mitigation techniques they have developed."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 Raised Over $2.26 Million

Subject: General Tech | January 14, 2018 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: speedrun, pc gaming, gdq, charity

This winter’s event set another new record for Games Done Quick. The current total, although they leave the donation form open a little while after the event for late entries, is $2,263,633.19 USD. This is the sum of 44471 donations from 32286 unique donors. The previous record was set a year ago at January’s AGDQ 2017: $2,222,791.52 USD. The current record set for a Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) event, typically held in July, is $1,792,342.37 USD.

AGDQ 2018, like the previous eight AGDQs, benefits the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

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The premise of these events is simple – the organizers bring in enough video game speedrunners to run a 24-hour stream for almost a solid week. These segments can be several hours or just a handful of minutes, depending on how long it takes to accomplish the set goal. While most are typical speedruns for a well-known category, some of them are races, some of them are glitch expositions, and some of them even force the runner to play in a non-typical way, such as blind-folded or two different games on a single controller.

If you're interested in the runs, then check out their YouTube channel.

Wi-Fi Alliance Bringing Improved WPA3 Security To Wi-Fi Devices This Year

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2018 - 10:27 AM |
Tagged: WPA3, wifi alliance, wifi, wi-fi, networking, encryption

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced an update to its Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security suite in the form of WPA3. The first major update in more than a decade, WPA3 is a very welcome and much needed refresh with four new features aimed at both personal and enterprise networks.

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Image courtesy Blue Coat Photos via Flickr Creative Commons.

The standards body did not go into many details on the new security suite, but did tease a few upcoming features in addition to closing known security vulnerabilities like KRACK. WPA3 uses a new 192-bit security suite "aligned with the Commercial National Security Algorithm (CNSA) suite from the Committee on National Security Systems" which is a collection of encryption techniques and algorithms that are reportedly up to the task of maintaining confidentiality on personal, enterprise, and industrial networks. Open Wi-Fi networks in particular will get the biggest boost from moving to WPA3 with support for individualized data encryption so that communication channels between the access point and users' devices are secured on a per-device basis. Personal networks also get improved security in the form of protections to protect users against themselves and maintain strong encryption even when they choose weak passwords. Setting up these security configurations is also being considered, and the Wi-Fi Alliance is promising easier configuration on devices with limited or no displays.

I am looking forward to more information on WPA3 as an update to WPA2 has been a long time coming. WEP has long been a joke and WPA2 has been vulnerable for a while so I hope that WPA3 lives up to its promises! What is not clear from the announcement is that if new hardware will be required or if WPA3 could be implemented through firmware and software updates. End user devices may be trickier to get updates from manufacturers, but perhaps wireless routers and access points can be upgraded without needing to buy new hardware. I suppose it depends on if radio and other hardware like the hardware accelerators / co processors need upgraded to support the new algorithms or not. In any case if you have been eyeing a new Wi-Fi AP or wireless router, maybe hold off for a few months to see how this shakes out.

Stay tuned for more information as it develops. What are your thoughts on WPA3 and the Wi-Fi Alliance's promises?

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