Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ASUS

A Unique Blend of Lighting and Customization

The ROG Strix Flair is a mechanical gaming keyboard from the ASUS Republic of Gamers division that offers Cherry MX RGB switches, customizable lighting with underglow effects, a unique pop-out badge that can be swapped for a custom logo or text, dedicated media keys, USB passthrough, and programmable macro support. All of these features carry a premium price tag, and with a list price of $179.99 (though our Cherry MX Red version has been selling for quite a bit less) it sits in the upper range for gaming keyboards. Is it worth it? That is always the question, and we will try to answer it here.

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“Flare up your game with ROG Strix Flare – a mechanical gaming keyboard that's got everything you want and more. Feel the satisfaction of every keystroke with world-renowned Cherry MX switches. Enjoy instant access to dedicated media keys on the upper left while gaming. And experience an unparalleled level of personalization with a customizable badge illuminated by Aura Sync RGB lighting. Boast your gaming flair as you dominate the battlefield.”

Features from ASUS ROG:

  • German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical key switches that deliver satisfying mechanical feel with optimal actuation – The choice of professional gamers and enthusiasts
  • Customizable illuminated badge – Boast your ROG pride or show your flair with a personal or team insignia
  • Dedicated media keys and volume wheel positioned on the left for instant in-game audio control, a USB passthrough for easy connection and a detachable soft-touch wrist rest
  • Individually backlit keys and vibrant underglow powered by Aura Sync RGB lighting technology
  • Map macros on-the-fly to our fully programmable keys, adjust settings with enhanced ROG Armoury II software, and store profiles on the keyboard’s onboard memory

ROG_Strix_Flare_Logo.jpg

The clear insert with the ROG badge can be swapped for additonal customization

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Strix Flare mechanical gaming keyboard

Infecting files? That's so naughties, we use PowerShell now

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2019 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: security, powershell

Bad news from the trenches of the eternal battle between white hats and black hats, as attackers have moved from infecting files on drives to simply running PowerShell scripts in memory.  That type of attack does not leave the same traces on your file system as previous styles of infection and renders your fancy antivirus software ineffective.  A well crafted PowerShell script can happily sit in memory and convince your system to mine cryptocurrency, upload password files or completely map your network to assist in attacks against other machines.

The Register offers insight into this and several other security issues which are on the rise.

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"This finding is important because it is another reminder that admins can no longer solely rely on detecting malicious executables and similar data on hard drives and other storage, to identify cyber-intrusions."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Logitech Z606 Review

Logitech this week released a new model of affordable 5.1 surround sound speakers. Priced at $129.99, the Logitech Z606 is a 5.1 powered speaker setup aimed at users looking for a budget-minded upgrade to their home theater or PC audio experience.

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We got an early look at the Z606 and found that, despite some improvements over previous Logitech surround sound packages, its lack of digital inputs may limit its appeal. But if your specific audio setup conforms to the system’s limitations, you’ll end up with a nice sounding 5.1 system that’s hard to beat for the price.

Check out our complete quick look review to see if the Logitech Z606 is the affordable surround sound system you're looking for.

GPU prices just too damn high? NVIDIA might have something for you

Subject: General Tech | February 26, 2019 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: rumour, nvidia, gtx 1660, gtx 1650

You could successfully argue that neither AMD nor NVIDIA have offered a lower end GPU for casual gaming and content consumption in the last generation.  Rumours abound that NVIDIA will offer not one, but two cards priced around the $200 mark which would fill that niche, the GTX 1660 and GTX 1650.  We have little information about them, though you can safely assume that they will perform at a lower level than the GTX 1660 Ti

The launch dates for these cards, assuming they exist, is pegged for March 15th and April 30th, according to DigiTimes.  According to one of our favourite leakers, TUM_APISAK, the GTX 1650 will sport 4GB of RAM and have a core clock of 1,485MHz.  The GTX 1660 remains a mystery.

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"The sources said that Nvidia is slated to launch GTX 1660 on March 15 and GTX1650 on April 30, which will bear minimum price tags of US$229 and US$179, respectively."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: DigiTimes

You shouldn't salt your Iris ... Interesting benchmarks, Plus Graphics 940

Subject: General Tech | February 25, 2019 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: vega 10, Sunny Cove, rumour, Iris Plus Graphics 940, Intel, ice lake

If you liked Jim's example of a bad chart on the podcast, you are going to love these leaked Intel Ice Lake graphics benchmarks.  At the root, the as yet to be released Iris Plus Graphics 940 portion of the APU is faster than AMD's Vega 10, which was released in 2017.  This should not shock anyone.

The numbers at The Inquirer show just how much salt you should take this with, the frequently posted 77.41% better performance is when you compare a coming generation of GPU against a previous one and drops to about 44% when a specific test which favours Intel is dropped.  Remember that AMD and Intel both have tests which favour their architecture, and keep that in mind when you are reading PR from either company. 

When you compare Intel's scores to AMD's current Vega 11 the advantage drops to a hair under 2% better and falls behind when you don't order a Manhattan.

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"The incoming part, also referred to as the Iris Plus Graphics 940, is, on average, 77.41 per cent faster than Gen9 in the GFXBench 5.0 benchmark and around 62.97 per cent faster than AMD's Vega 10 graphics."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Inquirer

TSMC Will Begin Mass Production of Enhanced 7nm Node Using EUV In March, 5nm to Follow

Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2019 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, lithography, euv, asml, 7nm, 5nm

According to Hexus, chip manufacturing giant TSMC will begin mass production of its enhanced 7nm process node as soon as next month. The new "CLN7FF+, N7+" mode incorporates limited use of EUV (extreme ultraviolet lithography) on four non-critical layers using specialized equipment from ASML to offer 20% higher transistor density and between six to twelve percent lower power consumption at the same complexity/frequency. Those numbers are versus TSMC's current 7nm process node (CLN7FF, N7) which uses DUV (deep ultraviolet lithography) with ArF (Argon Fluoride) excimer lasers.

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TSMC is reportedly buying up slightly more than half of ASML's production of EUV equipment for 2019 with the chip maker reserving 18 of the 30 EUV units that will ship this year. It will use the ASML Twinscan NXE step and scan machines to produce its enhanced 7nm node and allow TSMC to familiarize themselves with the technology and dial it in for use with its upcoming 5nm node (and beyond) which will more heavily incorporate EUV with it being used on up to 14 layers of the 5nm process node manufacturing. AnandTech reports that the 5nm EUV node will bring 1.8-times the transistor density (45% area reduction) of the non-EUV 7nm node along with either 20% less power usage or 15% more performance at the same chip complexity and frequency.

Interestingly, while 7nm production accounted for roughly 9% of TSMC's output in 2018, it will reportedly be up to a quarter of all TSMC's chip shipments in 2019.

Mass production of the 7nm EUV node will begin as soon as March with risk production of 5nm chips slated to being in April with the first chip designs being taped out within the first half of the year. Volume production of 5nm chips is not expected until the first half of 2020, however, though that would put it just in time for AMD's Zen 2+ architecture. Of course, AMD, Apple, HiSilicon, and Xilinx are TSMC's big customers for the current 7nm node (especially AMD who is using TSMC for its 7nm CPU and GPU orders), and Huawei / HiSilicon may well be TSMC's first customer for the EUV incorporating CLN7FF+, N7+ node. 

With GlobalFoundries backing off of leading-edge process techs and shelving 7nm, Intel and Samsung are TSMC's competition in this extremely complicated and expensive space. 2020 and beyond are going to be very interesting as EUV production ramps up and is pushed as far as it can go to bring process technologies as close to the theoretical limits that the market will bear. I think we still have a good while left for process shrinks, with some of these lower node numbers being attributed to marketing (with some elements being that small but depending on what and how they measure these nodes) but it is definitely going to get expensive and I am curious who will continue on and carry the ball to the traditional manufacturing process finish line or if we will need some other exotic materials or way of computing paradigm shift to happen before we even attempt to get there simply due to unrealistic R&D and other costs not making it worth it enough for even the big players to pursue.

In talking with Josh Walrath, he clarified that EUV does not, by itself, offer performance enhancements, but it does cut down on exposures/patterning and reduces the steps where things can go wrong which can lead to improved yields when implemented correctly. Using extreme ultraviolet lithography isn't a magic bullet though, as the fabrication equipment is expensive and uses a lot of power driving up manufacturing costs. TSMC is using EUV on its N7+ node to get "tighter metal pitch" and more density along with lower power consumption. Performance improvements are still unknown  at this point (to the public, anyway), but as Mr. Walrath said performance isn't going to increase simply from moving to EUV. When moving to 5nm, TSMC does claim performance improvements, but most of those gains are likely attributed to the much higher density of the resulting chips.  Using EUV to get yields up at that small of a node is likely the biggest reason for utilizing EUV to get enough useable wafer and dies per wafer. TSMC must believe that the costs [of EUV] versus trying to do it [5nm] without working in EUV into the processis worth it. Stay tuned to this week's PC Perspective podcast if you are interested in additional thoughts from JoshTekk and the team (or check out our Discord server).

What are your thoughts?

Source: Hexus

The Return of the IntelliMouse, now playing at a theatre far far away

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2019 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: Pro IntelliMouse, PAW3389PRO-MS, microsoft, input

Logitech's MX518 isn't the only classic mouse which was beloved by many users, Microsoft's IntelliMouse was a standard for a long time and just like the MX518 it is coming back on the market.  The new mouse uses a custom PixArt sensor called the PAW3389PRO-MS which TechPowerUp found to be identical in performance to the more common PMW3389.  It also has shiny RGB buttocks for those that are into that sort of thing. 

There is one small problem however, it will only be released overseas so if you want one you might want to contact Microsoft!

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"Behold! The one true heir to the Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 has arrived: the Pro IntelliMouse. It has the exact same shape as its predecessor, which is great news for many people who loved the original. It features a top optical sensor, Omron switches rated for 20 million clicks, and an RGB tail light."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechPowerUp

Sorry about that, you are going to have to post your smartphone usage stats to Facebook manually now

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2019 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: facebook, Onavo Protect, vpn, apple, Android, dirty pool

You may remember news back in the summer of 2018 about Facebook's Onavo Protect VPN, when it was pulled from the Apple store due to the fact it collected an impressive array of information and sent it home to Ryan's clone.  It had been available since 2013 and it took five years of this behaviour before Apple finally pulled it.  If you were still desperate to overshare your phone habits with Facebook then Google was happy to help you out, until today that is.  While the VPN is still available on the Play Store, Ars Technica has been assured it no longer collects usage data to send back to Facebook; though one should probably go cold turkey just in case.

There are a number of Facebook employees that suggest these moves from Facebook are not indicative of a change of heart from the company, merely a move to try to save ...

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"Facebook "will immediately cease pulling in data from [Onavo] users for market research though it will continue operating as a Virtual Private Network in the short term to allow users to find a replacement," TechCrunch reported yesterday."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

PC Perspective Podcast #533 - Synology DS1019, Logitech MX518, and NVIDIA Q4 Results

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2019 - 09:12 PM |
Tagged: podcast

PC Perspective Podcast #533 - 2/20/2019

This week we review a new Synology NAS, a capable-but-pricey CPU water block, discuss launch date rumors for Ryzen 3000 and Navi, take a look at NVIDIA's Q4 financial results, and more!

Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast

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

Show Topics
00:01:43 - Review: Synology DS1019+ NAS
00:12:05 - Review: Aquacomputer Cuplex Kryos Water Block
00:23:46 - News: Rumored Launch Dates for Ryzen 3000 & Navi
00:33:59 - News: Intel Pentium Gold G5620
00:39:20 - News: RTX BIOS Flashing
00:42:45 - News: Return of the Logitech MX518 Gaming Mouse
00:48:56 - News: NVIDIA Q4 Financial Results
01:11:41 - News: Samsung Galaxy Fold
01:13:22 - News: Undisclosed Microphones in Nest Secure
01:19:12 - Picks of the Week
01:30:55 - Outro

Join us on Discord!

Picks of the Week
Jim: HDTV & Home Theater Podcast
Jeremy: Gamdias Poseidon M1 Gaming Combo
Josh: Dell U3417W
Sebastian: CHOETECH Wireless Charger
Morry: MyDigitalSSD M2X

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

NVIDIA Announces Quarterly and Fiscal Year 2019 Earnings

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2019 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: quarterly earnings, nvidia, financial results

On Valentine's Day NVIDIA released its yearly and quarterly financial results for fiscal year 2019. While yearly revenue was up 21% from last year at 11.72 billion, its quarterly revenue of 2.2 billion fell 31% versus the previous quarter and 24% versus the same quarter last year. On the yearly revenue front, Nvidia credits gaming, data center, professional visualization, and automotive products/divisions for its record revenue in FY2019.

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Nvidia launched its RTX 2060 graphics card in Q4.

Q4 of FY2019 ended Jan 27th and saw operating expenses increase 6% versus last quarter and 25% YoY. while operating income fell 72% QoQ and 73% YoY. Net Income of $567 million fell 54% versus the third quarter and 49% versus Q4'FY18. Earnings per diluted share also fell to 92 cents. In Q4 Nvidia completed $700 million in share repurchases.

GAAP results. $ values in millions USD. (###) indicates a negative value.
  Q4 FY19 Q3 FY19 Q4 FY18 Q/Q Y/Y
Revenue $2.205 $3.181 $2.911 (31%) (24%)
Gross Margin 54.7% 60.4% 61.9% (570 bps) (720 bps)
Operating Expenses $913 $863 $728 + 6% + 25%
Operating Income $294 $1.058 $1.073 (72%) (73%)
Net Income $567 $1.230 $1.118 (54%) (49%)
Diluted Earnings Per Share $0.92 $1.97 $1.78 (53%) (48%)

In FY2019 Nvidia reportedly returned $1.95 billion to shareholders through $371 million in cash dividend payments and $1.58B in share repurchases. Looking at FY2020 the graphics giant plans to return $2.3 billion to shareholders through a combination of dividends and share buybacks.

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang was quoted in the press release in stating

“This was a turbulent close to what had been a great year. The combination of post-crypto excess channel inventory and recent deteriorating end-market conditions drove a disappointing quarter.

“Despite this setback, NVIDIA’s fundamental position and the markets we serve are strong. The accelerated computing platform we pioneered is central to some of world’s most important and fastest growing industries – from artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles to robotics. We fully expect to return to sustained growth,”

Looking into next year, Nvidia expects Q1 FY2020 revenue to hit $2.2 billion (+/- 2%) and for yearly revenue to stay flat or decrease slightly. First quarter gross margins and operating expenses are expected to increase to 58.8% and $930 million respectively (those are GAAP numbers).

Nvidia has had a rough last quarter and both graphics chip makers AMD and Nvidia have experienced yet another cryptocurrency mining craze and crash in 2018 except this time around the companies had jumped more into it than before with mining specific graphics card lines and all. Nvidia's stock price (currently at $158.55) has fallen quite a bit since October but is still above where it was just a few years ago. Nvidia has a wide range of products and diversified interests where I am not worried about their future, but I don't know enough to say with confidence which way things will go in FY2020 and if their outlook predictions will hold true. The company launched its RTX 2060 last quarter and is expected to bring budget and mid-range cards sans ray tracing support (e.g. the rumored GTX 1660 Ti) this quarter along with the professional market products ramping up with data center and professional workstation graphics cards and projects like NVIDIA DRIVE and the Mercedes Benz partnership – and that's only a couple slices of what the company is involved in – so it will be interesting to see how FY2020 shakes out for them in general as well as for enthusiasts.

You can expect more discussion about Nvidia's financial results on tonight's PC Perspective Podcast so if you are interested be sure to tune in (you can even watch live)!

You can dig into the nitty-gritty numbers over at investor.nvidia.com if you are curious.

Source: NVIDIA