[H]ard News

Saturday October 20, 2018

NVIDIA Launches GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5X Memory

NVIDIA’s official GeForce GTX 1060 landing page now alludes to a new model of the Pascal-era GPU: the specs section has been updated with a "GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB" featuring 6 GB of GDDR5/X memory. Hot Hardware suggests this is NVIDIA’s way of countering AMD’s upcoming Polaris refresh.

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NVIDIA's specifications chart doesn't differentiate memory speeds between the GDDR5 and GDDR5X versions, and simply lists 8Gbps. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the GDDR5X variant will not be clocked a little faster, as NVIDIA doesn't differentiate between 8Gbps and 9Gbps GDDR5 variants either. It's all a little confusing at the moment.

Discussion

DHS Seizes Aftermarket Apple Laptop Batteries from Independent Repair Expert

In the high-profile iPhone and Mac repair professional’s latest video, Louis Rossmann explains how US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) seized $1,000 worth of laptop batteries coming from China to his repair shop simply because they featured the Apple logo: "It is assumed that if something has that Apple logo on it, it must be counterfeit." According to Rossmann and other right-to-repair advocates who have had their property seized, this is a clear attack on independent repair by Apple and the government.

"If I become an Apple authorized service provider and I wish to obtain parts to a machine they consider vintage, Apple will say no," he said. "If I talk to somebody in China...they get taken by a company that’s using the power of the government to seize my stuff. Apple is working with the government to shut down those who mislead customers, aka trying to fix machines that they won’t fix because they consider them vintage after four or five years. Just around the time that your battery starts to die."

Discussion

Red Dead Redemption 2 Coming to PC in 2019, according to Retailer

While a PC release of Red Dead Redemption 2 always seemed inevitable, MediaMarkt, one of "Europe’s largest retailers for consumer electronics," has a new listing suggesting the action Western title will be out as soon as next year for the PC. VG24/7 warns this could just be a mistake or a placeholder for a future announcement, however.

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Rockstar has not announced the game for PC, but it released GTA 5 on the platform towards the end last-gen. Plus, with Red Dead Online coming, the beta takes place next month, it’s safe to assume it will come eventually. 2019 sounds about right. Red Dead Redemption 2 releases October 26 for PS4 and Xbox One.

Discussion

Friday October 19, 2018

Amazon Alexa Devices Now Have a Whisper Mode

Amazon has added a whisper mode to Alexa devices. Now you can whisper to your device and it will respond in kind. Here is an example of normal mode and whisper mode. I suggest that everyone try it with the "Sweet Talker" skill enabled. Or just command Alexa to "talk dirty to me."

If you're in a room where a child has just fallen asleep, and someone else walks in, you might start speaking in a whisper, to indicate that you're trying to keep the room quiet. The other person will probably start whispering, too. We would like Alexa to react to conversational cues in just such a natural, intuitive way, and toward that end, Amazon last week announced Alexa's new whisper mode, which will let Alexa-enabled devices respond to whispered speech by whispering back.

Discussion

John "TotalBiscuit" Bain to Be Inducted into Esports Hall of Fame

John Bain, otherwise known as TotalBiscuit in the gaming community, will be inducted into the Esports Hall of Fame at ESL One Hamburg 2018. He will be the first non-player inducted. TotalBiscuit was well known for his gaming reviews on YouTube, gaming podcasts and WoW Radio. The "Cynical Brit" formed a professional StarCraft 2 team called Axiom and was involved in the esports industry with various roles. He passed away earlier this year after a long and public fight with cancer.

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A true gaming legend will be inducted into the Esports Hall of Fame presented by paysafecard during ESL One Hamburg 2018 at the end of October - John Peter "TotalBiscuit" Bain. His influence on the esports scene can not be understated as his passion and support helped drive various competitive titles towards the heights they reached today. He left behind a body of work unmatched by any other while still managing to give a voice to indie scenes and breakout players.

Discussion

Tesla Announces $45,000 Model 3 with 260 Mile Range

Tesla has announced a cheaper version of the Tesla Model 3. The $45,000 version will forgo some of the range, 260 miles versus 310 miles, of the more expensive Model 3 cars. The cheaper Model 3 is rear-wheel-drive while the upscale versions have dual motors. Also the 8 year warranty for the cheaper version is valid for only 100,000 miles, while the more upper echelon Model 3 versions have 8 year / 120,000 mile warranties. 20" rims are not available as an option on the $45,000 electric car.

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The new version has a delivery period of six to 10 weeks, according to the website, which would customers eligible for the current $7,500 U.S. tax credit if they take delivery by the end of the year. The tax credit for Tesla cars will drop by half on Jan. 1. Although Tesla has promised a base-level version of the Model 3 priced at $35,000, so far it has only produced higher-cost versions starting at about $49,000. Tesla has said that it would not manufacture the base-level version of the Model 3 this year.

Discussion

Industry Groups Representing Internet Providers Sue Vermont over Net Neutrality Law

Vermont is the latest state to be sued by multiple industry groups representing the cable industry and internet providers. The trade associations filed the lawsuit to block states from being able to write laws that adopt Net Neutrality. "The lawsuit argues that states cannot regulate 'indirectly through their spending, procurement, or other commercial powers what they are forbidden from regulating directly.'" California is facing a similar lawsuit.

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Scott said he was disappointed the lawsuit was filed against the state "for taking action to protect our citizens and our economy." The Republican governor said he believed Vermont residents "have a right to free and open access to information on the internet. In the absence of a national standard to protect that right, states must act."

Discussion

Human Augmentation Biohacks Become Mainstream

Humans are augmenting their bodies with biohacks; chips and other devices inserted under the skin that give new functionality to the individual. These range from simple chip insertions that allow an employee to enter an office building without having to remember to bring their security badge, to sex toys that implant vibrators into the pelvis. From simple magnets implanted under the skin to Tesla CEO Elon Musk raising $27 million for Neuralink Corp to develop brain-computer interfaces; humans are just starting to scratch the surface of hacking our bodies to add more functionality to our everyday lives. The following video is of Moon Ribas; a dancer with implants that allow her to feel earthquakes from around the world.

Digiwell is one of a handful of companies offering similar services, and biohacking advocates estimate there are about 100,000 cyborgs worldwide. "The question isn't 'Do you have a microchip?' Kramer says. "It's more like, 'How many?' We've entered the mainstream." Biohacking raises a host of ethical issues, particularly about data protection and cybersecurity as virtually every tech gadget risks being hacked or manipulated. And implants can even become cyberweapons, with the potential to send malicious links to others. "You can switch off and put away an infected smartphone, but you can't do that with an implant," says Friedemann Ebelt, an activist with Digitalcourage, a German data privacy and internet rights group.

Discussion

Atlis Electric Truck Battery Charges in 13 Minutes

As part of their effort to make the first fully electric pickup truck on the market, Atlis claims to have broken the charge time record for electric vehicles. The startup charged a 3kwh battery in just 12 minutes and 35 seconds, beating Porsche's time of 15 minutes for an 80 percent charge. Interestingly, the company's truck is built on an open electric platform other companies could use to build anything from "RVs and box trucks to vans and entire fleets." You can download the full press release here.

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"This was the key to proving our technology - recharge times for batteries is still one of the largest obstacles to wider adoption of electric vehicles." The prototype battery is a lithium-ion cell with a unique cooling system for optimum temperature management. "Properly managing cell temperatures is still overlooked by many electric vehicle manufacturers but is one of the most critical components to battery performance and longevity. Ignoring temperature management, or just providing mild surface cooling of the cells is insufficient." Hanchett added.

Discussion

Employee Criticizes Amazon's Facial Recognition Technology

On Medium, an Amazon employee spoke out against the company's own facial recognition software. In the op-ed, the employee says that Amazon is "currently allowing police departments around the country to purchase its facial recognition product, Rekognition, and I and other employees demand that we stop immediately." Earlier this year, the ACLU tested the service using mugshots of congress members, and found that "Rekognition" incorrectly identified 28 of them as criminals. But that apparently didn't stop Amazon's plans to sell the service to the police. Over 450 employees delivered a letter to Jeff Bezos himself, asking the company to exercise some ethical restraint, but Bezos would rather wait for "society's 'immune response.'" Medium also interviewed the anonymous employee here.

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Amazon talks a lot about values of leadership. If we want to lead, we need to make a choice between people and profits. We can sell dangerous surveillance systems to police or we can stand up for what's right. We can't do both.

Discussion

Cryptocurrency Mining is Fading in China

According to a report by the Commercial Times, the Chinese mining craze is starting to fade away. A halt on Bitcoin trading in the country certainly didn't help things, and the falling prices of alternative cryptocoins means miners are struggling to make a profit. According to the report, many miners are quitting the business, and used hardware is flooding the market.

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Many mining machines have been available on second-hand trading websites in China priced less than a quarter of those of brand new machines, the report said.

Discussion

AdoredTV Goes Over the GPU War

Scottish Youtuber Jim Parker of AdoredTV posted another history lesson, this time on the "GPU War" that AMD and Nvidia have been fighting for years. In in he outlines AMD's rise to dominance over Nvidia with the 4000 and 5000 series cards, and how Nvidia clawed marketshare back over the next few years. Jim seems to think Nvidia has "won" the GPU war, and that AMD has a long way to go before achieving parity, even if their next generation cards are faster than their Nvidia counterparts. Whether you agree or not, the video is worth a look:

The history behind Nvidia's graphics victory.

Discussion

Der8auer Delids 9900k and Investigates TIM

Der8auer noticed that his 9900k was running hotter than it should, especially when compared to an 8700k with inferior TIM. While the extra two cores definitely account for some of the heat, der8auer delidded a 9900k and took some measurements. As it turns out, the 9900k's die is significantly taller than the 8700k. As the CPU sits at the bottom of the silicon "stack", there's more material for that heat to go through. Sanding some of that material off resulted in a significant temperature decrease under load. The full video is worth checking out, which you can see below:

Discussion

Ubuntu 18.10 "Cosmic Cuttlefish" Has Been Released and More Linux News

The latest version of Ubuntu 18.10 "Cosmic Cuttlefish" has been released. Along with the new version of Linux, Canonical has released statistics from users that opted in to complete a survey when installing 18.04 LTS. Phoronix has a list of some of the highlights that users should look forward to in the 18.10 release. AMD Radeon gamers should also be excited about better SteamVR support and overall performance from the improvements in Linux 4.19 and Mesa 18.3-dev in the current version of Ubuntu 18.10. The Intel i9 9900K review features 15 processors from AMD and Intel under Ubuntu 18.10. Don't forget the AMD Dual EPYC 7601 benchmark blowout against some of the finest Intel Xeon processors on Ubuntu 18.10 server.

If gaming under Linux is part of your plans, don't forget the latest versions of Proton and DXVK for Steam Play. Feral Interactive has announced new Linux ports of games such as Life is Strange 2, Total War: Three Kingdoms and XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. DXVK has implemented Stream Output to fix compatibility issues with some Linux ports such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The latest NVIDIA 410.66 Linux x64 (AMD64/EM64T) Display Driver can be found here. Developer Ethan Lee has announced that he is working on Proton in partnership with Codeweavers. Here is his portfolio of work. There is a new version of elementary OS 5 Juno out which of course is Linux based.

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Overall, Ubuntu 18.10 "Cosmic Cuttlefish" is quite a modest six-month upgrade for being the first past the Ubuntu 18.04 cycle. Exciting me the most, of course, is simply the package upgrades with riding Linux 4.18 + Mesa 18.2 for a much better Linux gaming experience and having moved on now to GCC8. What didn't get achieved for the Ubuntu 18.10 cycle is the long-awaited data viewer to the Ubuntu software/hardware survey introduced in 18.04 LTS... As of writing there's still no public means of being able to view the statistics on these opt-in Ubuntu survey installations. Additionally, the plans for better Android phone integration with the Ubuntu 18.10 desktop by means of bundling GS Connect also didn't happen as planned for the Ubuntu 18.10 cycle.

Discussion

AMD Addresses 9900k Controversy and Outlines Benchmarking Practices

In response to the recent controversy surrounding the 9900k benchmarks by Principled Technologies, AMD passed out some slides outlining problems with those benchmarks, as well as general "best benchmarking practices". Aside from the numerous issues with the first round of testing, AMD also noted issues with Principled Technologies 2nd, updated round of testing. According to AMD, the Multicore Enhancement auto-overclocking setting was still unclear, the memory timings were still "suspect," and testing methodology specifics and other relevant system configuration settings still weren't addressed. In addition to the criticism, AMD outlined good, general benchmarking practices. AMD says that reviewers should make sure to sanitize the OS before running benchmarks, make sure the CPUs are running at their stock, warrantied specifications, and run repeatable, consistent benchmarks at least five times, among other things. Check out the full slides by clicking the images below:

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Never stop asking: "does this config, test, and result make sense to me as a consumer?"

Discussion

Micron Buys Itself Out of Flash Partnership With Intel

Micron is officially ending their flash partnership by buying Intel's share of IM Flash for $2.5 billion. Micron is shelling out $1.5 billion in cash for the acquisition, and is taking on another $1 billion in debt. The company says it can start the acquisition process in early 2019, and that it could take 6 to 12 months to close the deal. Micron and Intel jointly developed 3D Flash and 3D Xpoint as part of the agreement, and going forward, they have plans for sharing that technology.

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In July 2018, Micron and Intel agreed to conclude their joint development of 3D XPoint technology after the completion of the second-generation node, which is expected to occur in the second half of Fiscal 2019. The two companies will independently drive their own future technology roadmaps. Micron is currently collaborating with ecosystem partners to introduce 3D XPoint products in late calendar 2019, with revenue ramp starting in calendar 2020. Joint manufacture of 3D XPoint memory will continue at the IM Flash facility in Lehi, Utah until the transaction is closed. Based on prior agreements, Micron will sell 3D XPoint memory wafers to Intel for up to a year after close. At the close of the transaction, IM Flash will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Micron, and all IM Flash employees will become part of the Micron team focused on supporting technology development and manufacturing efforts in Lehi.

Discussion

China to Launch an Artificial Moon

Local, state-owned newspapers in Chengdu, China announced a plan to launch an artificial moon above the city in 2020. The satellite would reflect sunlight to an area between 10 and 80 kilometers in diameter, and shine 8 times brighter than Earth's own moon. The plan is to at least partially replace street lights with artificial moonlight, which could save a substantial amount of electricity and provide illumination during blackouts. China is trying to bring their space program up to par with the U.S. and Russia, and this is definitely a step in that direction.

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The paper added that testing the illumination satellite started years ago and all the technology and design had been finalized. The man-made moon has a highly reflective coating to reflect light from the sun with solar panel-like wings whose angles can be adjusted to realize "precise lighting." The 14,300-square-meter city of Chengdu would be the primal focus of the light from the man-made moon, and astronomers throughout China and overseas should be able to spot the glowing star at night. But no further specifications of the spacecraft, or its launch date, were available. Chengdu officials expect the city to reel in more tourists when the artificial moon is up and shining.

Discussion

Thursday October 18, 2018

Epson Pushing Firmware Upgrades That Disable Third-Party Ink Usage

Epson has been accused by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) of issuing firmware upgrades that disable the ability for Epson printers to use 3rd party ink supplies. Many consumers used 3rd party sources for their ink to save money and conveniences such as upgrades to a continuous ink supply. After a printer has been upgraded with the newest firmware, the customer loses the ability to use 3rd party ink cartridges and supplies. The EFF letter addresses the complaints from Epson customers that they weren't informed that the firmware upgrade would disable 3rd party ink solutions. Also Epson printer owners say that they purchased the printer because it allowed for 3rd party ink supplies to be used.

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It is not clear that customers were informed when buying an Epson printer that their ability to use third-party ink options could or would be later disabled. Moreover, it does not appear that Epson informed customers when it sent the firmware update that it would disable third-party alternatives to Epson cartridges. Epson's conduct may therefore be misleading or deceptive within the meaning of the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act.

Discussion

Federal Agents Can Access Deleted Data from Car Infotainment Systems

Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are now adding car infotainment systems to search warrants to seek evidence in criminal cases. When you connect your phone to a car's entertainment system, it stores all of your data and never erases it. Even if you have it reset, the memory inside the unit continues to stores your data as it just deletes references to the information. Vehicle forensics companies such as Berla specialize in dumping the entirety of the data stored in the memory of the vehicle's infotainment system.

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Because mobile devices typically hook up to in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems, a whole host of information might be available, the agent wrote. That included passwords, "voice profiles and other biometric identifiers," contacts, call logs, GPS locations and Web histories. "I know that even after a previously connected mobile device is removed, much historical live and deleted data may remain within the digital storage capabilities of the IVI system," Pitney wrote. "I also know that live and deleted data recovered from IVI systems may show evidence of current or ongoing, future and past criminal activity."

Discussion

The Evolution of the Windows Kernel

Hari Pulapaka of the Windows Kernel Team at Microsoft has explained the evolution of the Windows kernel and how it can scale from an ATM machine to a pre-release Windows DataCenter class machine with 896 cores supporting 1792 logical processors and 2TB of RAM. The discussion starts its focus on Windows refactoring for a DLL, statistics such as how many lines of code are in the kernel, and then transitions to the Windows scheduler and the design principles implemented to scale past 64 logical processors.

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Windows 10 brought us another innovation in the scheduler space with CPU Sets. CPU Sets allow a process to partition the system such that its process can take over a group of processors and not allow any other process or system to run their threads on those processors. Windows Kernel even steers Interrupts from devices away from the processors that are part of your CPU set. This ensures that even devices cannot target their code on the processors which have been partitioned off by CPU sets for your app or process. Think of this as a low-tech Virtual Machine.

Discussion

Red Dead Redemption 2 Launch Trailer Released

Ahead of a console launch later this month, Rockstar uploaded a launch trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2. While recent reports suggest that the game isn't coming to PC, PCGamer seems to think a PC port is just a matter of time. GTA V sold well on the PC, so it's hard to believe Rockstar would leave such a huge market untapped forever. Check out the trailer below:

Red Dead Redemption 2, an epic tale of life in America at the dawn of the modern age, arrives for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 26th. Pre-order now to get the War Horse and Outlaw Survival Kit, or select the Special Edition or Ultimate Edition to receive additional bonuses and exclusive content. And starting at midnight on October 18, pre-loading for digital pre-orders on both the PlayStation Store or Xbox Store will be unlocked worldwide for all available territories. All digital pre-orders also receive bonus GTA$ for GTA Online.

Discussion

Macs Could Jump to ARM in 2020

TSMC is already making all of Apple's 7nm iPhone chips, and a new report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that TSMC will remain their sole supplier in 2019 and 2020. That isn't a huge surprise, as TSMC, Samsung, and Intel are the only bleeding edge foundries left. Intel is suffering from production issues and typically doesn't open their foundries to other customers, and Samsung is Apple's biggest competitor. However, the analyst also suggests that ARM-based processors could power Macs in 2020 or 2021. ARM Mac rumors are nothing new, but TSMC's newfound fabrication edge could bring that possibility closer to reality.

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We also expect that Mac models will adopt Apple's in-house-designed processor starting 2020 or 2021, which will create four advantages for Apple: (1) Apple could control everything about the Mac's design and production and be rid of negative impacts from Intel's processor shipment schedule changes. (2) Better profits thanks to lower processor cost. (3) Mac market share gain if Apple lowers the price. (4) It could differentiate Mac from peers' products. Kuo also suggests Apple will recruit TSMC to manufacture chips for its upcoming Apple Car starting in 2023 to 2025. We believe that Apple Car's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) will support either Level 4 (high automation) or Level 5 (full automation). Only TSMC's 3/5 nm process can meet Level 4 and Level 5 chip requirements.

Discussion

Facebook Accused of Inflating Ad-Watching Metrics by 900% to Deceive Advertisers

A new lawsuit accuses Facebook of inflating ad-watching metrics by up to 900%. Facebook allegedly knew for over a year that its average-viewership numbers were wrong and simply remained quiet. Facebook then leveraged these lies to sell premium video advertising on its platform because advertisers thought the ads were being viewed for longer periods of time by Facebook users. The advertisers had initially filed an lawsuit in 2016, but Facebook documents released through the court process shined new light on the grievances. Of course Facebook released a statement downplaying the validity of the lawsuit "Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false," the company said in a statement. "We told our customers about the error when we discovered it -- and updated our help center to explain the issue."

Facebook knew by January 2015 that its video-ad metrics had problems, and understood the nature of the issue within a few months, but sat on that information for more than a year, the plaintiffs claimed in an amended complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oakland. "Even once it was decided to take action on the metrics, Facebook did not promptly fix its calculation or disclose that the calculation was wrong," the filing alleged. "Instead, it continued reporting miscalculated viewership metrics for another several months, as it developed a 'no PR' strategy to avoid drawing attention to the error. That "unethical, unscrupulous" behavior by Facebook constituted fraud because it was "likely to deceive" advertisers, the filing alleged.

Discussion

AMD Launches RX 580 2048SP for Chinese Market

AMD launched a cut down version of the RX 580 with only 2048 stream processors instead of 2304. Curiously, it has the exact same core configuration, base clock, and memory bandwidth as the RX 570. The only thing separating the RX 580 2048SP from the 570 a 40Mhz boost clock bump. According to Extremetech, its only bound for the Chinese market now.

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It's not unheard of for manufacturers to make subdivisions like this, as mentioned above. Back when Nvidia launched its Tesla line of GPUs (GT200, not its line of HPC accelerators and add-in boards), it quickly realized it had miscalculated. The GTX 280 and GTX 260 both got substantial price cuts just weeks after launch once AMD's HD 4870 and HD 4850 proved to be faster and far better priced. In addition, Nvidia introduced a "GeForce 260 Core 216" edition of the GeForce GTX 260 (the original flavor had just 192 cores). And AMD has been down this road before with Polaris. Last year, it permitted OEMs to sell RX 560 cards with just 892 cores, as opposed to the 1,024 standard. AMD's justification for this has been that offering more flexible solutions helps OEMs sell more graphics cards to their customers at specific price points. Sure. That's the reason companies subdivide markets in the first place. If the only GPUs you sold were priced at $100 and $1,000, you'd wind up missing an awful lot of buyers.

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