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Microsoft

Lenovo Denies Claims It Plotted With Microsoft To Block Linux Installs (theregister.co.uk) 180

Reader kruug writes: Several users noted certain new Lenovo machines' SSDs are locked in a RAID mode, with AHCI removed from the BIOS. Windows is able to see the SSD while in RAID mode due to a proprietary driver, but the SSD is hidden from Linux installations -- for which such a driver is unavailable. Speaking to The Register today, a Lenovo spokesperson claimed the Chinese giant "does not intentionally block customers using other operating systems on its devices and is fully committed to providing Linux certifications and installation guidance on a wide range of products."
Complaints on Lenovo's forums suggest that users have been unable to install GNU/Linux operating systems on models from the Yoga 900S to the Ideapad 710S, with one 19-page thread going into detail about the BIOS issue and users' attempts to work around it.

Hardware

Samsung's 960 Pro and 960 Evo SSDs Marry Crazy-Fast Speeds With Roomy Capacity (pcworld.com) 38

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung is following up its NVMe successes from 2015 with some fresh blazing-fast M.2 SSDs for storage geeks. The company just announced the Samsung 960 Pro and 960 Evo during this year's Samsung SSD Global Summit. As with 2015's 950 Pro NVMe SSDs, the new 960 series marries stacked V-NAND density with the Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe) specification. They also use a 4-lane PCIe 3.0 interface, just like the 950 Pro. The 960 Evo and Pro will roll out in October with prices starting at $130 and $330, respectively. The 960 Evo will be available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities, while the Pro offers 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB versions. The Evo utilizes cheaper and more tightly packed TLC (triple-level cell) NAND, while the Pro sports speedier MLC (multi-level cell) NAND. That 2TB maximum is double the top capacity Samsung offered with the 950 Pro in 2015, and in another age would've earned the moniker "jaw dropping" for packing that much storage into an M.2 SSD. But this is the age of the 1TB SDXC card, so maybe sheer capacity increases aren't as impressive as they used to be. Seagate also announced a 2TB M.2 storage option for enterprises in July.BetaNews has more details.
Microsoft

Microsoft Signature PC Requirements Now Blocks Linux Installation: Reports 467

Reader sombragris writes: According to a well-documented forum thread, the Signature PC program by Microsoft now requires to lock down PCs. This user found out that his Lenovo Yoga 900 ISK2 UltraBook has the SSD in a proprietary RAID mode which Linux does not understand and the BIOS is also locked down so it could not be turned off. When he complained that he was unable to install Linux, the answer he got was: "This system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft."
Even worse, as the original poster said, "[t]he Yoga 900 ISK2 at Best Buy is not labeled as a Signature Edition PC, but apparently it is one, and Lenovo's agreement with Microsoft includes making sure Linux can't be installed." As some commenter said: "If you buy a computer with this level of lockdown you should be told."

There is also a report on ZDNet which looks very understanding towards Lenovo, but the fact remains: the SSD is locked down in a proprietary RAID mode that cannot be turned off.
Android

Run Android 6.0 Marshmallow on Your PC With Android-x86 6.0 (softpedia.com) 90

This week saw the first stable release of Android-x86 6.0 (marshmallow-x86) -- and a new version of Remix OS for PC, a PC-optimized version of Android. Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: Android-x86 6.0 has been in the works since early this year, and it received a total of two RC (Release Candidate) builds during its entire development cycle, one in June and another in August. After joining the Remix OS team, Chih-Wei Huang now has all the reasons to update and improve its Android-x86 system for the latest Android releases. Therefore, as you might have guessed already, Android-x86 6.0 is the first stable version of the project to be based on Google's Linux kernel-based Android 6.0 Marshmallow mobile operating system, and includes the most recent AOSP (Android Open Source Project) security updates too.

Under the hood, Android-x86 6.0 is using the long-term supported Linux 4.4.20 kernel with an updated graphics stack based on Mesa 12.0.2 3D Graphics Library, and offers support for Samsung's F2FS file system for SSD drives, better Wi-Fi support after resume and suspend, and initial HDMI audio support.

Intel

Windows 10 Haters: Try Linux On Kaby Lake Chips With Dell's New XPS 13 (pcworld.com) 232

Attention Linux enthusiasts. Your OS of your choice can finally work on laptops with Intel's Kaby Lake chips. Dell is releasing three new models of slick XPS 13 Developer Edition that will be available with Ubuntu OS and 7th Generation Core processors in the U.S. and Canada starting on Oct. 10, reports PCWorld. From the article:Prices for XPS 13 DE will start at $949. Dell also announced the XPS 13 model with Kaby Lake and Windows 10, which will ship on Oct. 4 starting at $799. Dell didn't share details on what version of Ubuntu desktop OS will be preloaded. It officially supports Ubuntu 14.04 in existing laptops, but could pre-load version 16.04 on the new XPS 13 DE. Dell has remained committed to Linux while major PC vendors shift to Windows 10 on PCs. Intel made a major commitment to supporting Windows 10 with its new Kaby Lake chips but hasn't talked much about Linux support. XPS 13 DE is perhaps the sexiest and thinnest Linux laptop available, with an edge-to-edge screen being a stand-out feature. It is the latest in Dell's Project Sputnik line of laptops, and it is targeted at computer enthusiasts who want a Windows or Mac alternative. A knock against Linux is that the OS has lagged behind Windows on driver development and on supporting the latest technologies like USB-C ports, 4K screens, and Thunderbolt. Project Sputnik started four years ago as an effort between Dell and the open-source community to bridge that gap, and since then, the resulting laptops have achieved cult status among Linux enthusiasts. A Dell XPS 13 with a Core i5 chip will have a full HD screen, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Another configuration will have a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen, Core i5, and a 256GB SSD. A fully loaded model will have a Core i7 chip, a 512GB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen.
HP

HP Builds One Desktop PC Around a Speaker, Another Modular PC In Slices (arstechnica.com) 78

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: HP has announced today two new desktop PCs: HP Elite Slice and Pavilion Wave. The HP Elite Slice is a modular machine, with USB Type-C for power and I/O. The base unit contains all the core guts of the PC -- up to a 35W Core i7-6700T processor, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 512GB NVMe storage, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and several ports. The top cover of the main unit is modular, while the bottom of the unit contains a special connector that can allow for additional modules to be stacked. HP has an audio module that includes speakers and a microphone array, and an optical drive module. It should be available later this month, starting at $699. The Pavilion Wave on the other hand combines a PC and a speaker in a 10.3 inch tall triangular box. As for specs, it features a 35W processor, up to an i7 processor, up to 16GB RAM, with up to 1TB SSD or 2TB HDD. An AMD R9 M470 is optional. In addition to the speaker, the Wave features a microphone array for Cortana support.
Windows

Acer Unveils Slim Windows 10 Notebooks, Convertible Chromebook, Curved Screen Laptop (zdnet.com) 46

Ahead of this week's IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, Acer has unveiled a range of notebook computers. The company has a new 13-inch Chromebook R 13 laptop, which it says can also be used as a tablet. There's a new line of Windows 10 Swift notebooks and Spin convertible laptops that are powered by Intel's just unveiled seventh generation Core processors. The Chromebook R13 sports a screen resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, and is powered by a MediaTek quad-core processor coupled with 4GB of RAM. It also houses a USB Type-C, USB 3.0, and HDMI ports. It offers as much as 12-hour of battery life. ZDNet adds:The 14-inch Spin 7 features an aluminium unibody design and is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor, with up to 8GB RAM, and 256 GB solid state disk storage. It weighs 1.2 kg (2.6 pounds) with a width of 10.98mm (0.43 inches). It also includes two USB 3.1 Type-C ports. The Spin 7 goes on sale in the US and Europe in October, with prices starting at $1,199 and 1,299 euro respectively. Heading up Acer's ultra-slim lineup is the aluminium construction, black and gold Swift 7. It features a 13.3-inch full-HD IPS display and Intel 7th generation i5 processor, with a 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM. It boasts fast wireless and dual USB 3.1 Type-C ports. Acer is promising nine hours of battery life for the device, which weighs 1.1kg (2.48 pounds) and has a height of 9.98mm (0.39 inches), making it the slimmest in the Swift series. It will be available in the US and Europe in October from $999 and 1,299 euro respectively.
Data Storage

Intel Launches Flurry of 3D NAND-Based SSDs For Consumer and Enterprise Markets (hothardware.com) 145

MojoKid writes: Intel launched a handful of new SSD products today that cover a broad spectrum of applications and employ 3D NAND technology. The SSD 600p Series is offered in four capacities ranging from 128GB, to 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. The drivers are targeted at consumer desktops and notebooks and are available in the M.2 form-factor. The entry-level 128GB model offers sequential reads and writes of up to 770 MB/sec and 450 MB/sec respectively. At higher densities, the multi-channel 1TB model offers sequential reads and writes that jump to 1,800 MB/sec and 560 MB/sec respectively. The 128GB SSD 600p weighs in at $69, while the 1TB model is priced at $359, or about .36 cents per GiB. For the data center, Intel has also introduced the DC P3520 and DC S3520 Series SSDs in 2.5-inch and PCIe half-height card form-factors. Available in 450GB to 2TB capacities, the range-topping 2TB model offers random reads/writes of 1,700 MB/sec and 1,350 MB/sec respectively. Finally, Intel launched the SSD E 6000p (PCIe M.2) and SSD E 5420s Series (SATA). The former supports Core vPro processors and is targeted at point-of-sale systems and digital signage. The latter is aimed at helping customers ease the transition from HDDs to SSDs in IoT applications.
Data Storage

Seagate Reveals 'World's Largest' 60TB SSD (zdnet.com) 162

An anonymous reader writes: While Samsung has the world's largest commercially available SSD coming in at 15.36TB, Seagate officially has the world's largest SSD for the enterprise. ZDNet reports: "[While Samsung's PM1633a has a 2.5-inch form factor,] Seagate's 60TB Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) SSD on the other hand opts for the familiar HDD 3.5-inch form factor. The company says that its drive has "twice the density and four times the capacity" of Samsung's PM1633a, and is capable of holding up to 400 million photos or 12,000 movies. Seagate thinks the 3.5-inch form factor will be useful for managing changing storage requirements in data centers since it removes the need to support separate form factors for hot and cold data. The company says it could also scale up capacity to 100TB in the same form factor. Seagate says the 60TB SSD is currently only a 'demonstration technology' though it could release the product commercially as early as next year. It hasn't revealed the price of the unit but says it will offer 'the lowest cost per gigabyte for flash available today.'"
China

Xiaomi Launches Mi Notebook Air Windows 10 Laptop Featuring 1080p Display, Starts at $520 (engadget.com) 88

Speaking of Chinese electronics giants, Xiaomi on Wednesday announced it is entering the PC market. The company, which is often referred to as "Apple of China", announced its first-ever laptop line, the Mi Notebook Air, running on Windows 10. It comes in two sizes -- 13.3-inch and 12.5-inch -- with both models featuring a slim body, a 1080p display, a backlit keyboard, a USB Type-Charging port. The Notebook Air starts at roughly $520 and goes all the way up to $750. Starting with the smaller of two, the 12.5-inch model is only 12.9mm thick and weighs 1.07kg. It packs in Intel Core M3 CPU with no dedicated GPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD. It is priced at $520. The 13.3-inch model, which is 14.8mm thick and weighs 1.28kg, packs in Intel Core i5-6200U Skylake-U processor, an Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, 256GB of SSD. It is powered by a 40Wh battery, which according to company's claim can last for up to 9.5 hours on a single charge, but can be charged from 0 to 50 percent in half an hour using the bundled USB-C charger. It is priced at $750. No word on when -- and if -- the laptop will be available outside China.
Intel

Samsung Starts Mass Producing New 512GB NVMe SSD That's Smaller Than a Stamp (pcworld.com) 75

An anonymous reader writes from a report via PCWorld: Samsung announced late Monday night that it has begun mass producing a new SSD that is tinier than a postage stamp. PCWorld reports: "The PM971-NVMe fits up to 512GB of NAND flash, a controller, and RAM into a single BGA chip measuring 20mm x 16mm x 1.5mm and weighing just one gram, the company said. Samsung says the PM971-NVMe will hit 1.5GBps read speeds and 800MBps write speeds. The PM971-NVMe is built using 20nm NAND chips and includes 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM as a cache. The NAND is triple-level cell but uses a portion as a write butter. The drive will come in 512GB, 256GB and 128GB capacities." While on the topic of hardware, Intel unveiled its Broadwell-E family, which consists of an "Extreme Edition" Core i7 chipset that has 10 cores and 20 threads.
Portables (Apple)

ASUS' ZenBook 3 Is Thinner, Lighter and Faster Than the MacBook (engadget.com) 209

At the ongoing Computex trade show in China, Asus unveiled the ZenBook 3 laptop. The ZenBook 3's chassis measures 11.9mm while the whole body weighs 910g. At the event, the company's executive said that ZenBook 3 is better than both MacBook Air and the 12-inch MacBook. As for the specifications, the ZenBook 3, which is crafted from aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, sports a 12.5-inch full-HD display (1920x1080 pixels), and offers up to Core i7 processor, 16GB of 2133MHz RAM, up to a 1TB PCIe Gen 3 x4 SSD, a next-gen USB Type-C port (for power and data transfer), powerful quad-speaker audio by Harman Kardon, and a fingerprint scanner. Do note that there is only one USB port on the device. The entry-level variant featuring Core i5 processor, 256GB of SSD and 4GB of RAM is priced at 999, while the top-of-the-line model will set you back by $1,999. Asus also had nice things to say about the keyboard, though Engadget's reporter was not impressed. More details here.
Data Storage

Slashdot Asks: What's Your View On Benchmark Apps? 50

There's no doubt that benchmark apps help you evaluate different aspects of a product, but do they paint a complete picture? Should we utterly rely on benchmark apps to assess the performance and quality of a product or service? Vlad Savov of The Verge makes an interesting point. He notes that DxOMark (a hugely popular benchmark app for testing a camera) rating of HTC 10's camera sensor is equal to that of Samsung's Galaxy S7, however, in real life shooting, the Galaxy S7's shooter offers a far superior result. "I've used both extensively and I can tell you that's simply not the case -- the S7 is outstanding whereas the 10 is merely good." He offers another example: If a laptop or a phone does well in a web-browsing battery benchmark, that only gives an indication that it would probably fare decently when handling bigger workloads too. But not always. My good friend Anand Shimpi, formerly of AnandTech, once articulated this very well by pointing out how the MacBook Pro had better battery life than the MacBook Air -- which was hailed as the endurance champ -- when the use changed to consistently heavy workloads. The Pro was more efficient in that scenario, but most battery tests aren't sophisticated or dynamic enough to account for that nuance. It takes a person running multiple tests, analyzing the data, and adding context and understanding to achieve the highest degree of certainty. The problem is -- more often than not -- gadget reviewers treat these values as the most important signal when judging a product, which in turn, also influences several readers' opinion. What's your take on this?
Portables (Apple)

Apple Launches MacBook 2016 With Intel Skylake Processor, Longer Battery Life 179

Apple, on Tuesday, announced a refresh for its 12-inch MacBook laptop. The 2016 MacBook comes with an Intel Skylake processor -- sixth-generation dual-core Intel Core M model, offering up to 1.3 GHz clock speed with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 3.1 GHz, faster 1866 MHz memory, and a 'rose gold' color variant. Apple assures 10 hours of wireless Web browsing time, or 11 hours of movie playback on a single charge. The new model will hit retail stores on Wednesday. It starts at $1,299 for the 256GB SSD and 8GB (up from 4GB) version, and goes all the way up to $1,599 for the top-of-the-line model which offers 512GB SSD.

A couple of points: the first-generation MacBook didn't fare well with reviewers and plenty of users alike. Second, today's announcement also hints that the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro lineups won't be getting the Intel Skylake upgrade for at least a few more months -- which is really sad, because, at present, they come equipped with almost three-year-old processor and graphics chips. No wonder, Oculus executive made fun of Apple's computers.
Data Storage

Intel's Optane SSD Compatible With NVMe; Could Boost MacBook Storage Speeds By 1000x 76

More details have emerged about Intel's Optane, a new kind of memory and SSD that utilizes 3D Xpoint. The upcoming 3D Xpoint technology, which is supposedly 10 times denser than DRAM and 1,000 times faster than flash storage, will be compatible with NVMe, a storage protocol that allows an SSD to make effective use of a high-speed PCIe. Several MacBook Pro models already support NVMe technology. Apple is often among the first companies to adopt emerging standards and technologies, which has led many to believe that the Cupertino-based company might leverage Intel's Optane solid state drives for super fast performance speeds in its next batch of laptops. Apple is expected to announce the refreshed MacBook lineup sporting Intel Skylake processor later this year.
Data Storage

There's No End In Sight For Data Storage Capacity (computerworld.com) 107

Lucas123 writes: Several key technologies are coming to market in the next three years that will ensure data storage will not only keep up with but exceed demand. Heat-assisted magnetic recording and bit-patterned media promise to increase hard drive capacity initially by 40% and later by 10-fold, or as Seagate's marketing proclaims: 20TB hard drives by 2020. At the same time, resistive RAM technologies, such as Intel/Micron's 3D XPoint, promise storage-class memory that's 1,000 times faster and more resilient than today's NAND flash, but it will be expensive — at first. Meanwhile, NAND flash makers have created roadmaps for 3D NAND technology that will grow to more than 100 layers in the next two to three generations, increasing performance and capacity while ultimately lowering costs to that of hard drives."Very soon flash will be cheaper than rotating media," said Siva Sivaram, executive vice president of memory at SanDisk.
Data Storage

Seagate Debuts World's Fastest NVMe SSD With 10GBps Throughput (hothardware.com) 66

MojoKid writes: Seagate has just unveiled what it is calling "the world's fastest SSD," and the performance differential between it and the next closest competitive offering is significant, if their claims are true. The SSD, which Seagate today announced is in "production-ready" form employs the NVMe protocol to help it achieve breakneck speeds. So just how fast is it? Seagate says that the new SSD is capable of 10GB/sec of throughput when used in 16-lane PCIe slots. Seagate notes that this is 4GB/sec faster than the next-fastest competing SSD solution. The company is also working on a second, lower-performing variant that works in 8-lane PCIe slots and has a throughput of 6.7GB/sec. Seagate sees the second model as a more cost-effect SSD for businesses that want a high performing SSD, but want to keep costs and power consumption under control. Seagate isn't ready yet to discuss pricing for its blazing fast SSDs, and oddly haven't disclosed a model name either, but it does say that general availability for its customers will open up during the summer.
Data Storage

Samsung Ships 15.38TB SSD With Up To 1,200MBps Performance (computerworld.com) 103

Lucas123 writes: Samsung announced it is now shipping the world's highest capacity 2.5-in SSD, the 15.38TB PM1633a. The new SSD uses a 12Gbps SAS interface and is being marketed for use in enterprise-class storage systems where IT managers can fit twice as many of the drives in a standard 19-inch, 2U rack compared to an equivalent 3.5-inch drive. The PM1633a sports random read/write speeds of up to 200,000 and 32,000 IOPS, respectively. It delivers sequential read/write speeds of up to 1,200MBps, the company said. The SSD can sustain one full drive write (15.38TB) per day, every day over its life, which Samsung claims is two to ten times more data than typical SATA SSDs based on planar MLC and TLC NAND flash technologies. The SSD is based on Samsung's 48-layer V-NAND (3D NAND) technology, which also uses 3-bit MLC flash. Also at Hot Hardware
Data Storage

Google-Backed SSD Endurance Research Shows MLC Flash As Reliable As SLC (hothardware.com) 62

MojoKid writes: Even for mainstream users, it's easy to feel the differences between using a PC that has an OS installed on a solid state drive versus a mechanical hard drive. Also, with SSD pricing where it is right now, it's also easy to justify including one in a new configuration for the speed boost. And there's obvious benefit in the enterprise and data center for both performance and durability. As you might expect, Google has chewed through a healthy pile of SSDs in its data centers over the years and the company appears to have been one of the first to deploy SSDs in production at scale. New research results Google is sharing via a joint research project now encompasses SSD use over a six year span at one of Google's data centers. Looking over the results led to some expected and unexpected findings. One of the biggest discoveries is that SLC-based SSDs are not necessarily more reliable than MLC-based drives. This is surprising, as SLC SSDs carry a price premium with the promise of higher durability (specifically in write operations) as one of their selling points. It will come as no surprise that there are trade-offs of both SSDs and mechanical drives, but ultimately, the benefits SSDs offer often far outweigh the benefits of mechanical HDDs.
Technology

CompuLab Rolls out Fanless, High-End PCs With Unique Design (phoronix.com) 101

An anonymous reader writes: Israeli PC maker CompuLab has begun shipping the Airtop PC that allows assembling high-end PC components into a completely fanless design. Phoronix's initial testing of the Airtop PC showed that it has a Core i7 5775C Broadwell processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and GeForce GTX 950 all while being fan-less thanks to the innovative design. The early results are quite positive for this uniquely designed PC but it comes at a cost premium of a fully-loaded system costing more than $2,200 USD.

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