Internet Machines' PCI-Express Patent Lawsuit Targets Numerous System Vendors

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2011 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: Troll, pcie, PCI Express, Patent, Lawsuit

There is an expression that states "everything is bigger in Texas," and that goes double for patent lawsuits. A company by the name of Internet Machines MC LLC recently lodged a complaint with the Eastern District of Texas for alleged patent infringement by a number of OEM manufacturers, system builders, and retailers of computers containing PCI Express switching technologies. Specifically, Internet Machines holds US Patent number 7,539,190, a rather generalized patent that covers multicasting in a shared address space wherein data is stored in a buffer and then forwarded to its intended port. The companies being called to court include PLX Technology, Alienware, Dell, Samsung, and others. While the computers that are assembled using PCI Express may well be utilizing switching technology, the fact that Internet Machines is going after system assemblers and retailers-- companies that work with computers but do not design and build the motherboards and other components themselves-- instead of the standards body that designs and maintains the PCI Express standard that everyone in the industry uses raises a question of integrity on the part of Internet Machines. Are their motives true in defending their patents, or is it the method of operation of a patent troll?

 

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A diagram describing the patent in question

A system builder who wishes to remain anonymous contacted us with further details on the patent case in question. It seems that this patent showdown is not Internet Machines’ first rodeo. They have previously pursued other companies over US Patents 7,421,532 and 7,454,552 which cover switching with transparent and non-transparent ports. The case was settled in 2010, and it seems that Internet Machines (a seemingly no longer operating company) is not satisfied with the settlement. Internet Machines is moving for a jury trial in this latest round of lawsuits and concerns yet another data switching patent for PCI Express that covers multicasting in a shared address space.  It widens the net further by including numerous system builders and OEMs that build devices that contain PCI Express technology but do not deal with the PCIe standard directly. How the company has been able to patent aspects of the PCI Express standard is unclear; however, they patent is worded in such an ambiguous way that it could apply to almost anything they wanted it to.

Beyond the ambiguous use of the patent system is the issue of targeting companies that have little control over the PCI Express specification to begin with. Our source worded it best in stating that PCI Express is a standard that everyone uses. The companies targeted by Internet Machines’ recent lawsuit do not manufacture motherboards or control the PCI Express standard. “We build computers, that’s it.” What are your thoughts on the issue? Let us know in the comments below.

That's better! A psuedo Syndicate sequel that is half RTS and half global view

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2011 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: gaming, cartel, syndicate

Over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN is an interview with Shams Jorjani who works for Paradox and is involved in the development of a game called Cartel.  If you don't quite recognize the company's name, Paradox is most well known for Magicka and Mount & Blade. His first response defines what is great about Paradox, "Well we’re making PC games! That’s what we do, right?"

Cartel won't be ready for a year or more but as it is envisioned you will be fighting Cartels (think Megacorporations) with a squad of elite troops that you kit out with the equipment you have stolen or researched.  While Jorjani doesn't like the Syndicate: Total War comparison, it might be a good way for those who have no idea what Syndicate is to grasp the concept.

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"Paradox are developing a game called Cartel. The timing is interesting, because this is a game of two familiar halves: one real-time squad-based RTS action, the other on a global research and diplomacy map. And it is set in a near-future world of global mega-corporations, or “cartels”, battling for ultimate supremacy. Sound familiar? It should do. This is the antidote to EA’s new Syndicate being an FPS, and Paradox aren’t too shy about it. I talked to Paradox’s Shams Jorjani about what the Swedish publisher is up to, and whether this could be regarded as Syndicate: Total War.

Sadly, there are no images at this time. Boo."

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Kepler has arrived ... sort of

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2011 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, GK117, GK107

The news on the street is that two chips from NVIDIA's Kepler lineup should be arriving relatively soon, but don't get too excited.  The GK117 will be a hybrid Fermi/Kepler card, not a GPU but perhaps a powerful addition to any render farm or other application which can benefit the new architecture.  It could also just be a test chip the NVIDIA created to test the integration capabilities of the two architectures.  The GK107 seems to likely be a mobile part, something SemiAccurate dismisses quickly as it will have to compete with the integrated GPUs present in both AMD and Intel mobile chips. 

There is no sign of the Kepler everyone is waiting for, the GPU that will power NVIDIA's next generation of graphics cards.  Why haven't we seen any sign of it yet?  Drop by SemiAccurate for speculation on some of the possible reasons.

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"Nvidia has two Kepler parts taped out and likely back in house by now. They are however, not the fire-breathing big chips you would expect.

Sources tell SemiAccurate that the first Kepler chips taped out about three months after the first 28nm Fermi shrink taped out. If you remember when we exclusively told you about the dates on those about a month ago, now there are a few more details to add."

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Source: SemiAccurate

A quick peripheral roundup, Corsair's Vengeance series

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2011 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Corsair Vengeance, audio, keyboard, gaming mouse

Over at Overclockers Club is a look at Corsair's Vengeance series of keyboards, mice and headsets.  They captured several slides from a recent presentation that show a brief history of Corsair's products as well as having hands on time with the newest members of the Vengeance lineup.  From the M60 mouse with a dedicated sniper button to the K60 mechanical keyboard, they've focused on the needs of gamers, not casual users.  The Vengeance 1100 headset and it's noise cancelling microphone also gets a look.

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"The M60 is Corsair's new enthusiast grade-gaming mouse that looks to improve user experience in first-person shooters. Like the M90, the M60 utilizes an Avago 5670 DPI sensor with lift-detection for real-time adjustments. However, the M60 utilizes an aluminum unibody design with an adjustable center of gravity and PTFE glide pads. Making the Vengeance M60 potentially even more powerful as a FPS tool, there is also a red "sniper" button that lowers the DPI on-the-fly. When activated, the mouse toggles between a high-speed DPI mode and a precision mode. This serves to improve accuracy when using in-game sniper rifles, and could come in handy whenever a lower DPI is required for kills."

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Sort of secure socket layer

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2011 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: fud, SSL, tls, security

The good news about the discovery that the encryption procedure behind Secure Socket Layer and Transport Layer Security has been compromised is that the newest versions of both SSL and TLS are still safe and they have been available for a while now.  The bad news is that not only do only a tiny handful of websites utilize TLS 1.1/1.2 and SSL 3.0, most browsers don't even support the updated protocols.  Oddly Internet Explorer and Internet Information Services both support the newer protocols, though they are not enabled by default; the only one that does have TLS 1.2 enabled by default is Opera.  

You don't have to immediately switch browsers, in order for your secure connection to be compromised the attacker first has to compromise your browser or machine in order to get JavaScript code to run in your browser before they can start the decryption process.  It is not the quickest peice of programming either ... yet.  In the proof of concept that The Register references a 1000-2000 character long cookie will take about a half hour to crack, which is most likely longer than the average connection to your PayPal account will last, which is the site they used as an example.   Of course if you throw a dozen Tesla cards at it and it will probably decrypt the packets at a much quicker pace.

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"Researchers have discovered a serious weakness in virtually all websites protected by the secure sockets layer protocol that allows attackers to silently decrypt data that's passing between a webserver and an end-user browser.

The vulnerability resides in versions 1.0 and earlier of TLS, or transport layer security, the successor to the secure sockets layer technology that serves as the internet's foundation of trust. Although versions 1.1 and 1.2 of TLS aren't susceptible, they remain almost entirely unsupported in browsers and websites alike, making encrypted transactions on PayPal, GMail, and just about every other website vulnerable to eavesdropping by hackers who are able to control the connection between the end user and the website he's visiting."

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Source: The Register

Firefox versus Chrome; C++ versus JavaScript ... pouring salt on the browser war

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2011 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: native client, NaCl, javascript, firefox, chrome, c++, browser

The Browser War is about to heat up again as Google Chrome's native client is released at the same time that Intel is releasing updates to JavaScript to allow for parallel processing

Chrome's salty poke at browsers is to introduce a way to run C and C++ in a protected sandbox to allow a secure way to run the code on the web, similar to how Java and JavaScript are currently dealt with.  Using the segment registers on your CPU as a protected space Chrome will now accept and run C and C++ programs, hopefully creating a space in which code can run but not effect your system without your knowledge ... aka the drive-by attack familiar to Flash users.  This will give non-Java programmers the chance to program for the web in a way they have never done before as well as letting those who do not want to program in Java/JavaScript an alternative programming language.  It will take some time before we start to see anyone take advantage of this, let alone whether it will be able to compete with the current solutions already used on the web.

For the JavaScript fan there is good news coming out of the IDF, as Intel has been showing off River Trail and WebGL.  They have finally enabled JavaScript to take advantage of multi-core processors, the demonstration they provided had an eight core machine running a JavaScript app about 15 times faster than it performed with the non-updated code.  Even more interesting is what they plan to do with that performance increase; HTML5, Canvas, and WebGL are all compatible and can benefit from the true performance of multi-core processors.

Catch more on both of these stories and their history at The Register.

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"Google has officially launched Native Client – a means of securely running C and C++ code inside a browser – as part of a new stable version of its Chrome browser that activates this rather controversial sandboxing technology.

Mountain View turned on Native Client, aka NaCl, in the Chrome beta last month, and on Friday, it debuted in the new Chrome 14, a stable release that also includes Google's new Web Audio API."

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Source: The Register

Corsair Returns With A Vengeance (Line Of Gaming Headsets)

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2011 - 07:50 AM |
Tagged: usb, PC, mic, headsets, gaming, corsair, analog, 7.1, 5.1

Following in the success of the company’s HS1 gaming headset, Corsair recently unveiled three new gaming headsets in its new Vengeance lineup of gaming peripherals. The new arrivals include the Vengeance 1100, 1300, and 1500 audio peripherals, of which two support USB connections.

The Vengeance 1100 is the smallest of the three gaming headsets, and features a behind-the-head headphone design and boom microphone extending from the left speaker. Using 40mm drivers, the headphones are capable of a claimed 94 decibel dynamic range, and is one of Corsairs lightest headsets. The microphone is of the unidirectional variety and features noise cancellation technology. Connectivity options include two 3.5mm audio jacks at the end of the 1.8 meter cable for headphone and microphone or a single USB connection with the included adapter cable.

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The Vengeance 1300 headset with dual 3.5mm analog connections.

While lightweight and open ear headphones have their place, they are not for everyone. Thankfully, Corsair have also introduced two larger designs dubbed the Vengeance 1300 and 1500 to suit the needs of gamers who prefer (whether out of desire for isolated sound or to appease the significant other) the around-the-ears circumaural design. The 1300 supports connecting to high end sound cards with 3.5mm audio connections for both sound and the noise canceling cardioid microphone while the Vengeance 1500 connects to the computer using USB for both sound and microphone. Both models feature 50mm drivers, 95 decibel dynamic range, 3 meter cables, noise canceling microphones, and support for positional audio. Further, the Vengeance 1300 uses X-Fi CMSS-3D while the 1500 headset supports 5.1 and 7.1 Dolby Headphone positional audio. The larger designs are bound to be relatively heavy compared to the smaller Vengeance 1100; however, the closed ear design should provide cleaner audio while blocking out background noise.

As far as pricing and availability are concerned, the new gaming headsets and other Vengeance gaming peripherals are slated for an October 2011 launch worldwide. The Vengeance 1100 weights in at an attractive $39 US MSRP while the larger 1300 and 1500 have a suggested retail price of $79 US and $99 USD respectively.

Do you game with headsets, or are you more of the crank-the-home-theater-speakers-to-11 (and immerse the whole neighborhood in your Battlefield match) kind of person? I have somewhat recently moved to a pair of headphones for gaming and it definitely has its benefits (including the aforementioned spouse acceptance factor...). How do you think the new Corsair headsets will stack up to the competition? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Corsair

Corsair is a vengeful beast: K90, the (Black)Widow’s maker?

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2011 - 04:30 AM |
Tagged: mice, mechanical keyboard, corsair

For such an old technology it certainly seems like gaming mechanical keyboards are making a surge into the market lately. More and more hands are in the pot full of Cherries; each hand with their personal set of distinguishing features to set their offering apart from all the others. Some prefer to opt for backlighting; some prefer to opt for ludicrous amounts of keys to be pressed at once; and some prefer to duke it out in switch type, extra buttons, and price. Razer recently jumped in to the fray with their premiere and recently expanded BlackWidow product line. Corsair seems to have their sights directly on Razer, however, with their own mechanical keyboard lineup: The Vengence K60 FPS keyboard and the K90 MMO keyboard the latter with blue backlighting. Also announced are two gaming mice, one to complement each keyboard with similar model numbers: M60 and M90.

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Are your ears burning Razer? This could get bloody.

I must say that upon overviewing Corsair’s claims of a 20KRO keyboard I am quite interested in this product. According to their product page, they have essentially created the basis of an NKRO keyboard by isolating every key from each other (rather than having certain combinations of as low as 3 keys confuse the controller) but instead of using a native PS/2 controller for real NKRO they opted for messing with USB in such a way to allow up to 20 keys pressed at once. While the question still remains of how up-to “up-to” really is, if they really isolated every key it is possible that you simply will not have enough fingers to jam the keyboard without physically trying to make it happen. Such a feat is possible, however: Microsoft has done a similar accomplishment with their SideWinder X4 keyboard, claiming 26KRO over USB.

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I mean honestly, who needs two hands on your FPS keyboard?

It seems very much like Corsair is attempting to ram into the market chest-first like some Cherry-flavored Kool-Aid man. A special one-handed wristguard for the FPS model and replaceable keycaps for the WSAD and number keys knowing that without backlighting they are the first to go show that they thought this through before they made their leap. The backlight K90 also priced nearly identically to Razer’s BlackWidow Ultimate at $129 with the FPS-centric K60 priced at $109 though that price includes the wrist guard. The two mice are priced at $79 for the M90 and $69 for the M60. Update 9/17/2011: I forgot to mention, Corsair said it should be available in October.

Source: Corsair

Who put antivirus in my Windows disk?

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2011 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: win8, security, microsoft

It's confirmed, Windows 8 will have anti-virus rolled into it and it does a wee bit more than you might think.   They have updated and expanded Windows Defender as part of the protection scheme but have also taken advantage of the integration possible when your antivirus becomes part of your OS.  Your boot path will be scanned at every restart to ensure no malware has tainted it and it will be protected while your system is running by Defender, along with a long list of other vectors that are commonly used to attack systems. 

You can see a video of this in action over at The Register.

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"Rumours about Microsoft planning to bundle an antivirus function in its upcoming operating system have caused quite a bit of a stir in the security community over the past couple of days. Some people have declared themselves supportive of the move, while others rushed to point out its possible drawbacks."

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Source: The Register

Ubuntu? There’s an App store for that.

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2011 - 04:05 AM |
Tagged: ubuntu

People and their apps these days; why have a full blown application when you can have the first three letters of it for 99 cents? Apple started the trend aimlessly with their iPhone after realizing that people wanted more native access to the hardware and has since seen a very warm reception for that decision. App Stores have spread since that time with just about every mobile platform having at least one, Mac OSX having one, and Windows developing one for their next release. Before there were App Stores, Linux users had a long history of application repositories which functioned very similarly to App Stores except that they were free. Ubuntu decided that the time is right to allow paid applications alongside free ones with the restrictions of 2.99$ minimum cost and 20% commission for Canonical, according to The Register.

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Next thing you know and we’ll be able to rent a Tux.

Personally I like the ability for a developer to distribute their content digitally with an easy ecommerce platform for both developer and user. There always is the risk of greed taking over and locking down platforms except through controlled channels which can harm everyone involved: users have less choice and lock-in; developers have less freedom; the platform owner sacrifices the market share and openness of their platform; and art loses its permanence and preservation. On the other hand, a Linux distribution is one of the least likely to go greedy if only for the cross-compatibility and free-license nature of the platform allowing nearly instant turn-over.

What do you think about Ubuntu’s App Store? Is it a load of Crapp? Registration not required to comment.

Source: Ubuntu