OS X

The Behind-the-Scenes Changes Found In MacOS High Sierra (arstechnica.com) 205

Apple officially announced macOS High Sierra at WWDC 2017 earlier this month. While the new OS doesn't feature a ton of user-visible improvements and is ultimately shaping up to be a low-key release, it does feature several behind-the-scenes changes that could help make it the most stable macOS update in years. Andrew Cunningham from Ars Technica has "browsed the dev docs and talked with Apple to get some more details of the update's foundational changes." Here are some excerpts from three key areas of the report: APFS
Like iOS 10.3, High Sierra will convert your boot drive to APFS when you first install it -- this will be true for all Macs that run High Sierra, regardless of whether they're equipped with an SSD, a spinning HDD, or a Fusion Drive setup. In the current beta installer, you're given an option to uncheck the APFS box (checked by default) before you start the install process, though that doesn't necessarily guarantee that it will survive in the final version. It's also not clear at this point if there are edge cases -- third-party SSDs, for instance -- that won't automatically be converted. But assuming that most people stick with the defaults and that most people don't crack their Macs open, most Mac users who do the upgrade are going to get the new filesystem.

HEVC and HEIF
All High Sierra Macs will pick up support for HEVC, but only very recent models will support any kind of hardware acceleration. This is important because playing HEVC streams, especially at high resolutions and bitrates, is a pretty hardware-intensive operation. HEVC playback can consume most of a CPU's processor cycles, and especially on slower dual-core laptop processors, smooth playback may be impossible altogether. Dedicated HEVC encode and decode blocks in CPUs and GPUs can handle the heavy lifting more efficiently, freeing up your CPU and greatly reducing power consumption, but HEVC's newness means that dedicated hardware isn't especially prevalent yet.

Metal 2
While both macOS and iOS still nominally support open, third-party APIs like OpenGL and OpenCL, it's clear that the company sees Metal as the way forward for graphics and GPU compute on its platforms. Apple's OpenGL support in macOS and iOS hasn't changed at all in years, and there are absolutely no signs that Apple plans to support Vulkan. But the API will enable some improvements for end users, too. People with newer GPUs should expect to benefit from some performance improvements, not just in games but in macOS itself; Apple says the entire WindowServer is now using Metal, which should improve the fluidity and consistency of transitions and animations within macOS; this can be a problem on Macs when you're pushing multiple monitors or using higher Retina scaling modes on, especially if you're using integrated graphics. Metal 2 is also the go-to API for supporting VR on macOS, something Apple is pushing in a big way with its newer iMacs and its native support for external Thunderbolt 3 GPU enclosures. Apple says that every device that supports Metal should support at least some of Metal 2's new features, but the implication there is that some older GPUs won't be able to do everything the newer ones can do.

Data Storage

SSD Drives Vulnerable To Rowhammer-Like Attacks That Corrupt User Data (bleepingcomputer.com) 93

An anonymous reader writes: NAND flash memory chips, the building blocks of solid-state drives (SSDs), include what could be called "programming vulnerabilities" that can be exploited to alter stored data or shorten the SSD's lifespan. According to research published earlier this year, the programming logic powering of MLC NAND flash memory chips (the tech used for the latest generation of SSDs), is vulnerable to at least two types of attacks.

The first is called "program interference," and takes place when an attacker manages to write data with a certain pattern to a target's SSD. Writing this data repeatedly and at high speeds causes errors in the SSD, which then corrupts data stored on nearby cells. This attack is similar to the infamous Rowhammer attack on RAM chips.

The second attack is called "read disturb" and in this scenario, an attacker's exploit code causes the SSD to perform a large number of read operations in a very short time, which causes a phenomenon of "read disturb errors," that alters the SSD ability to read data from nearby cells, even long after the attack stops.

Microsoft

Microsoft Unveils the Surface Laptop, a Traditional Notebook That Is 'Better' Than MacBook Pro (engadget.com) 247

On the sidelines of Windows 10 S and affordable Chromebook-like laptops announcements, Microsoft also announced the newest addition to its Surface computing lineup. Dubbed the Surface Laptop, the laptop starts at $999, and is for everyone, the company claims, though the focus is on students and professionals. From a report: The Surface Laptop includes a 13.5-inch PixelSense display (Microsoft's branding for its unique screen technology) and a keyboard draped in Alcantara, a smooth cloth-like material. It's powered by Intel's most recent Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, and it can pack in an SSD up to 1TB (that's notably integrated directly onto the motherboard). Performance-wise, Microsoft's Surface head, Panos Panay, claims the Laptop is 50 percent faster than the Core i7 MacBook Air while also being lighter. (Editor's note: Panos added that the Surface Laptop also outpaces the MacBook Pro on performance.) You can also expect up to 14.5 hours of battery life, thanks to Windows 10 S's battery savings and more efficient hardware. One thing you won't see on the Surface Laptop: Speaker holes or grills. Microsoft managed to fit the speakers behind the keys, which Panay claims delivers a more enveloping sound. Microsoft says it has also improved the standby time -- so much so that "you could go away on spring break and still have the same battery life when you returned."
Data Storage

Intel Launches Optane Memory That Makes Standard Hard Drives Perform Like SSDs (hothardware.com) 145

MojoKid writes: Intel has officially launched its Optane Memory line of Solid State Drives today, lifting embargo on performance benchmark results as well. Optane Memory is designed to accelerate the storage subsystem on compatible machines, to improve transfer speeds, and reduce latency. It is among the first products to leverage 3D XPoint memory technology that was co-developed by Intel and Micron, offering many of the same properties as NAND flash memory, but with higher endurance and certain performance characteristics that are similar to DRAM. The SSD can be paired to the boot drive in a system, regardless of the capacity or drive type, though Optane Memory will most commonly be linked to slower hard drives. Optane Memory is used as a high-speed repository, as usage patterns on the hard drive are monitored and the most frequently accessed bits of data are copied from the boot drive to the Optane SSD. Since the SSD is used as a cache, it is not presented to the end-user as a separate volume and works transparently in the background. Paired with an inexpensive SATA hard drive, general system performance is more in line with an NVMe SSD. In benchmark testing, Intel Optane Memory delivers a dramatic lift in overall system performance. Boot times, application load time, file searches, and overall system responsiveness are improved significantly. Setting up Intel Optane Memory is also quick and easy with "set it and forget it" type of solution. Optane Memory modules will hit retail this week in 16GB and 32GB capacities, at $44 and $77, respectively.
Cloud

Leaked Document Sheds Light On Microsoft's Chromebook Rival (windowscentral.com) 91

Microsoft has announced plans to host an event next month where it is expected to unveil Windows 10 Cloud operating system. Microsoft will be positioning the new OS as a competitor to Chrome OS, according to several reports. Windows Central has obtained an internal document which sheds light on the kind of devices that will be running Windows 10 Cloud. The hardware requirement that Microsoft has set for third-party OEMs is as follows: 1. Quad-core (Celeron or better) processor.
2. 4GB of RAM.
3. 32GB of storage (64GB for 64-bit). 4. A battery larger than 40 WHr.
5. Fast eMMC or solid state drive (SSD) for storage technology.
6. Pen and touch (optional).
The report adds that Microsoft wants these laptops to offer over 10-hour of battery life, and the "cold boot" should not take longer than 20 seconds.
IOS

Apple is Upgrading Millions of iOS Devices To a New Modern File System Today (theverge.com) 191

Apple today began rolling out iOS 10.3, the latest point update to its mobile operating system. iOS 10.3 brings with it several new features, chief among which is a new file system -- called the Apple File System (APFS). From a report: It's a file system that was originally announced at WWDC last year, and it's designed with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV in mind. Apple has been using its 31-year-old Hierarchical File System (HFS) for iOS devices so far. It was originally designed for Macs with floppy or hard disks, and not for modern mobile devices with solid state storage. Even its successor, HFS+, still doesn't address the needs of these mobile devices enough. Apple's new APFS is designed to scale across these new types of devices and take advantage of flash or SSD storage. It's also engineered with encryption as a primary feature, and even supports features like snapshots so restoring files on a Mac or even an iOS device might get a lot easier in the future.
Data Storage

With Optane Memory, Intel Claims To Make Hard Drives Faster Than SSDs (pcworld.com) 109

SSDs are generally faster than hard drives. However, they are also usually more expensive. Intel wants to change that with its new Optane Memory lineup, which it claims is faster and better performing than SSDs while not requiring customers to break their banks. From a report on PCWorld: Announced Monday morning, these first consumer Optane-based devices will be available April 24 in two M.2 trims: A 16GB model for $44 and a 32GB Optane Memory device for $77. Both are rated for crazy-fast read speeds of 1.2GBps and writes of 280MBps. [...] When the price of a 128GB SATA SSD is roughly $50 to $60 today, you may rightly wonder why Optane Memory would be worth the bother. Intel says most consumers just don't want to give up the capacity for their photos and videos. PC configurations with a hard drive and an SSD, while standard for higher-end PC users, isn't popular for the newbies. Think of the times you've had friends or family fill up the boot drive with cat pictures, but the secondary drive is nearly empty. Intel Optane Memory would give that mainstream user the same or better performance as an SSD, with the capacity advantage of the 1TB or 2TB drive they're used to. Intel claims Optane Memory performance is as good or better than an SSD's, offering better latency by magnitudes and the ability to peak at much lower queue depths.
Intel

Intel Unveils Optane SSD DC P4800X Drive That Can Act As Cache Or Storage (hothardware.com) 63

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Intel unveiled its first SSD product that will leverage 3D Xpoint memory technology, the new Optane SSD DC P4800X. The Intel SSD DC P4800X resembles some of Intel's previous enterprise storage products, but this product is all new, from its controller to its 3D Xpoint storage media that was co-developed with Micron. The drive's sequential throughput isn't impressive versus other high-end, enterprise NVMe storage products, but the Intel Optane SSD DX P4800X shines at very low queue depths with high random 4kB IO throughput, where NAND flash-based storage products tend to falter. The drive's endurance is also exceptionally high, rated for 30 drive writes per day or 12.3 Petabytes Written. Intel provided some performance data comparing its SSD SC P3700 NAND drive to the Optane SSD DC P4800X in a few different scenarios. This test shows read IO latency with the drive under load, and not only is the P4800X's read IO latency significantly lower, but it is very consistent regardless of load. With a 70/30 mixed read write workload, the Optane SSD DC P4800X also offers between 5 and 8x better performance versus standard NVMe drives. The 375GB Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X add-in-card will be priced at $1520, which is roughly three times the cost per gigabyte of Intel's high-end SSD DC P3700. In the short term, expect Intel Optane solid state drives to command a premium. As availability ramps up, however, prices will likely come down.
Data Storage

Laptop SSD Capacity To Remain Flat As NAND Flash Dearth Causes Prices To Rise (computerworld.com) 167

Lucas123 writes from a report via Computerworld: Laptop manufacturers aren't likely to offer higher capacity standard SSDs in their machines this year as a shortage of NAND flash is pushing prices higher this year. At the same time, nearly half of all laptops shipped this year will have SSDs versus HDDs, according to a new report from DRAMeXchange. The contract prices for multi-level cell (MLC) SSDs supplied to the PC manufacturing industry for those laptops are projected to go up by 12% to 16% compared with the final quarter of 2016; prices of triple-level cell (TLC) SSDs are expected to rise by 10% to 16% sequentially. "The tight NAND flash supply and sharp price hikes for SSDs will likely discourage PC-[manufacturers] from raising storage capacity," said Alan Chen, a senior research manager of DRAMeXchange. "Therefore, the storage specifications for mainstream PC [...] SSDs are expected to remain in the 128GB and 256GB [range]."
Businesses

Litebook Launches A $249 Linux Laptop (zdnet.com) 157

An anonymous reader writes: It's "like a Chromebook for Linux users on a budget," reports ZDNet. The new 2.9-pound Litebook uses Intel's Celeron N3150 processor and ships with a 14.1-inch display and a 512-gigabyte hard drive with full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080). For $20 more they'll throw in a 32-gigabyte SSD to speed up your boot time. "Unlike Windows laptops, Litebooks are highly optimized, come without performance hogging bloatware, [are] designed to ensure your privacy, and are entirely free of malware and viruses," writes the company's web site. They also add that their new devices "are affordable, customizable, and are backwards compatible with Windows software."
Data Storage

Toshiba Plans To Ship a 1TB Flash Chip To Manufacturers This Spring (computerworld.com) 26

Lucas123 writes: Toshiba has begun shipping samples of its third-generation 3D NAND memory product, a chip with 64 stacked flash cells that it said will enable a 1TB chip shipping later this spring. The new flash memory product has 65% greater capacity than the previous generation technology, which used 48 layers of NAND flash cells. The chip will be used in data centers and consumer SSD products. The technology announcement comes even as suitors are eyeing buying a majority share of the company's memory business. Along with a previous report about Western Digital, Foxxcon, SK Hynix and Micron Technology have now also thrown their hats in the ring to purchase a majority share in Toshiba's memory spin-off, according to a new report in the Nikkei's Asian Review.
Databases

Breach Notification Website LeakedSource Allegedly Raided By Feds (csoonline.com) 35

Breach notification service LeakedSource may be permanently shut down after the owner of the site was raided earlier this week. "At the start of the new year, LeakedSource indexed more than 3 billion records," reports CSO Online. "Their collection is the result of information sharing between a number of sources, including those who hacked the data themselves. Access to the full archive requires a membership fee." From the report: On the OGFlip forum Thursday, a user posted vague details about the LeakedSource raid, but Salted Hash has been unable to verify the claims. The U.S. Department of Justice will not comment, refusing to confirm or deny any investigations related to LeakedSource. The operators of the notification service itself have been offline for several days, and the LeakedSource website stopped working late Tuesday evening. The message from OGF reads as follows: âoeLeakedsource is down forever and won't be coming back. Owner raided early this morning. Wasn't arrested, but all SSD's got taken, and Leakedsource servers got subpoena'd and placed under federal investigation. If somehow he recovers from this and launches LS again, then I'll be wrong. But I am not wrong. (sic)"
HP

HP Made a Laptop Slightly Thicker To Add 3 Hours of Battery Life (theverge.com) 167

When a technology company like Apple releases a new product, chances are it's going to be thinner than its predecessor -- even if may be slightly worse off for it. HP is taking a different approach with its new 15.6-inch Spectre x360 laptop, which was recently announced at CES. The machine is slightly thicker than its predecessor, and HP claims it features three hours of additional battery life. The Verge reports: The difference between the new x360 and the old x360, in terms of thickness, is minimal, from 15.9mm to 17.8mm. (For reference, the 2015 MacBook Pro was 18mm thick.) It's an increase of 1.9mm for the Spectre, but HP says it's now including a battery that's 23 percent larger in exchange. At the same time, the laptop is also getting narrower, with its body shrinking from 14.8 inches wide to 14 inches wide. Unfortunately, the claimed three hours of additional battery life aren't meant to make this laptop into some long-lasting wonder -- they're really just meant to normalize its battery life. HP will only be selling the 15.6-inch x360 with a 4K display this year, and that requires a lot more power. By increasing the laptop's battery capacity, HP is able to push the machine's battery life from the 9.5 hours it estimated for the 4K version of its 2016 model to about 12 hours and 45 minutes for this model. So it is adding three hours of battery life, but in doing so, it's merely matching the battery life of last year's 1080p model. The x360 is also being updated to include Intel's Kaby Lake processors. It includes options that max out at an i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics. It's supposed to be released February 26th, with pricing starting at $1,278 for an entry-level model.
Intel

Intel's New Mini PCs Have New Chips, an Updated Design, and Thunderbolt 3 (arstechnica.com) 92

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In the last four or five years, Intel's "Next Unit of Computing" (NUC) hardware has evolved from interesting experiments to pace cars for the rest of the mini desktop business. Mini PCs represent one of the few segments of the desktop computing business that actually has growth left in it, and every year the NUC has added new features that make it work for a wider audience. This year's models, introduced alongside the rest of Intel's new "Kaby Lake" processor lineup at CES, include new processors with new integrated GPUs, but that's probably the least interesting thing about them. Thanks to the demise of Intel's "tick-tock" strategy, the processing updates are minor. Kaby Lake chips include smaller performance and architectural improvements than past generations, and the year-over-year improvements have been mild over the last few years. The big news is in all the ways you can get bytes into and out of these machines. There are two Core i3 models (NUC7i3BNK and NUC7i3BNH), two Core i5 models (NUC7i5BNK and NUC7i5BNH), and one Core i7 model (NUC7i7BNH) -- that last one is intended to replace the older dual-core Broadwell i7 NUC and not the recent quad-core "Skull Canyon" model. The Core i3 and i5 versions come in both "short" and "tall" cases, the latter of which offers space for a 2.5-inch laptop-sized SATA hard drive or SSD. The i7 version only comes in a "tall" version. Like past NUCs, all five models offer two laptop-sized DDR4 RAM slots and an M.2 slot for SATA and PCI Express SSDs (up to four lanes of PCIe 3.0 bandwidth is available). Bluetooth and 802.11ac Wi-Fi is built-in. As for the rest of the NUCs' features, Intel has drawn a line between the Core i3 model and the i5/i7 models. All of the boxes include four USB 3.0 ports (two on the front, two on the back), a headphone jack, an IR receiver, an HDMI 2.0 port, a gigabit Ethernet port, a microSD card slot, a dedicated power jack, and a new USB-C port that can be used for data or DisplayPort output (the dedicated DisplayPort is gone, and this port can't be used to power the NUCs). In the i5 and i7 models, the USB-C port is also a full-fledged Thunderbolt 3 port, the first time any of the smaller dual-core NUCs have included Thunderbolt since the old Ivy Bridge model back in 2012.
Intel

Intel Core I7-7700K Kaby Lake Review By Ars Technica: Is the Desktop CPU Dead? (arstechnica.co.uk) 240

Reader joshtops writes: Ars Technica has reviewed the much-anticipated Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake, the recently launched desktop processor from the giant chipmaker. And it's anything but a good sign for enthusiasts who were hoping to see significant improvements in performance. From the review, "The Intel Core i7-7700K is what happens when a chip company stops trying. The i7-7700K is the first desktop Intel chip in brave new post-"tick-tock" world -- which means that instead of major improvements to architecture, process, and instructions per clock (IPC), we get slightly higher clock speeds and a way to decode DRM-laden 4K streaming video. [...] If you're still rocking an older Ivy Bridge or Haswell processor and weren't convinced to upgrade to Skylake, there's little reason to upgrade to Kaby Lake. Even Sandy Bridge users may want to consider other upgrades first, such as a new SSD or graphics card. The first Sandy Bridge parts were released six years ago, in January 2011. [...] As it stands, what we have with Kaby Lake desktop is effectively Sandy Bridge polished to within an inch of its life, a once-groundbreaking CPU architecture hacked, and tweaked, and mangled into ever smaller manufacturing processes and power envelopes. Where the next major leap in desktop computing power comes from is still up for debate -- but if Kaby Lake is any indication, it won't be coming from Intel. While Ars Technica has complained about the minimal upgrades, AnandTech looks at the positive side: The Core i7-7700K sits at the top of the stack, and performs like it. A number of enthusiasts complained when they launched the Skylake Core i7-6700K with a 4.0/4.2 GHz rating, as this was below the 4.0/4.4 GHz rating of the older Core i7-4790K. At this level, 200-400 MHz has been roughly the difference of a generational IPC upgrade, so users ended up with similar performing chips and the difference was more in the overclocking. However, given the Core i7-7700K comes out of the box with a 4.2/4.5 GHz arrangement, and support for Speed Shift v2, it handily mops the floor with the Devil's Canyon part, resigning it to history.
Windows

Dell Launches XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop With Intel Kaby Lake Chip, Starts at $1,000 (venturebeat.com) 114

Ahead of CES 2016, which officially kicks off Tuesday, Dell has announced a convertible version of its popular XPS 13 laptop. The machine is powered by a seventh-generation Kaby Lake Intel Core i chip (i5 and i7 options are available), Intel HD Graphics 615 integrated GPU, 4 to 16GB LPDDR3 RAM, a 128GB-1TB solid-state drive (SSD), a 720p webcam on the bottom of the display with support for Windows Hello, a fingerprint scanner, a 46 watt-hour battery, and a 13.3-inch touchscreen, available in QHD+ or FHD configurations. From a report on VentureBeat: The bezel is very narrow, in keeping with the XPS style. The fanless PC offers an SD card slot and two USB-C ports, and a USB-A to USB-C adapter comes in the box. The laptop is 0.32-0.54 inch thick, which is thinner than Dell's 2016 XPS. But the keyboard hasn't been squished down -- the keys have 1.3mm travel, or just a tad bit (0.1mm) more than you get on the XPS laptop -- which is impressive. The laptop weighs 2.7 pounds. The question is whether people will want the convertible option when the laptop is fine as is. The convertible XPS 13 starts at $1000, which is $200 more than the XPS 13 laptop.
Portables (Apple)

Slashdot Asks: Which Windows Laptop Could Replace a MacBook Pro? 315

Last month, Apple unveiled new MacBook Pros, featuring an OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID, and all-new form factor that shaves off roughly 3mm in thickness. There are three base versions of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel Core i5 processors and 8GB of memory (upgradable to 16GB RAM and dual-core Intel Core i7 processors) for $1,499, $1,799 and $1,999. The base model 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with Core i7 processors and 16GB of memory for $2,399 and $2,799. Of course, adapters and AppleCare support are sold separately. The new laptops are great for Apple users -- but what about Windows users? Is there a Windows laptop that matches the new MacBook Pro in terms of build quality, reliability, and performance? Jack Schofield via The Guardian attempts to help Patrick, who is looking for a PC that matches Apple's new offerings as closely as possible. "I use my Mac for all the usual surfing, watching videos, listening to music and so on," Patrick writes. "I also use Adobe Photoshop pretty heavily and video-editing software more lightly." Schofield writes: The Dell XPS 13 and 15 are the most obvious alternatives to MacBooks. Unfortunately, they are at the top of this price range. You can still get an old-model XPS 13 (9350) for $950, but that has a Core i5-6200U with only 4GB of memory. The latest 9360 version has a 2.5GHz Core i5-7200U, 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD for $1,050. If you go for a 512GB SSD at $1,150, you're only saving $420 on a new 2.0GHz MacBook Pro. HP's Spectre x360 range offers similar features to Dell's XPS range, except that all the x360 laptops have touch screens that you can rotate to enable "tent" (eg for movie viewing) or tablet operation. The cheapest model is the HP Spectre x360 13-4126na. This has a 13in screen, a Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD for $1,050. You can upgrade to an HP Spectre x360 13-4129na with better screen resolution -- 2560 x 1440 instead of 1920 x 1080 -- plus a 2.5GHz Core i7-6500U and 512GB SSD for $1,270. Again, this is not much cheaper than a 2.0GHz MacBook Pro 13. You could also look at the Lenovo ThinkPad T560, which is a robust, professional 15.6in laptop that starts at $800. Do any Slashdotters have any comparable Windows laptops in mind that could replace a new MacBook Pro?
Data Storage

Samsung Launches SSD 960 EVO NVMe Drive At 3GB/Sec and Under .50 Per Gigabyte (hothardware.com) 108

MojoKid writes: When Samsung announced the SSD 960 PRO and SSD 960 EVO NVMe drives a few months back, their specifications, which included transfer speeds in excess of 3.2GB/s, were among the fastest for consumer-class M.2-based Solid State Drives currently. Testing proved the SSD 960 Pro to be one of the fastest NVMe drives on the market, and like that drive, Samsung's just-launched SSD 960 EVO is packing the company's latest 5-core Polaris controller -- but it features lower cost 3rd-generation 3-bit MLC V-NAND flash memory and a newly revamped version of Samsung TurboWrite technology. Though the SSD 960 EVO family's pricing places it firmly in the mainstream segment for NVMe-based solid state drives, its performance still targets enthusiasts but with lower endurance ranging from 100-400 TBW (Terabytes Written), depending on capacity. The new Samsung SSD 960 EVO comes in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities and is still able to hit 3GB/sec in testing. Though it does trail the SSD 960 Pro in spots, it also drops in at a 15-20 percent lower price point.
Data Storage

Apple's New 15-Inch MacBook Pros Have Storage Soldered To the Logic Board (macrumors.com) 478

yoink! writes: The integration loop is complete. Apple's, admittedly very fast, PCIe storage modules are now built right into the main boards of their 15-inch, Touch Bar-equipped, Retina-screened, Thunderbolt 3-ported, MacBook Pros. A few forum posts over at MacRumors reveal the skinny on the quiet removal of the last user-upgradable component of their professional-series laptops. From the report: "MacRumors reader Jesse D. unscrewed the bottom lid on his new 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar and discovered, unlike the 13-inch model sans Touch Bar, there is no cutout in the logic board for removable flash storage. Another reader said the 13-inch model with a Touch Bar also has a non-removable SSD. Given the SSD appears to be permanently soldered to the logic board, users will be unable to upgrade the Touch Bar MacBook Pro's flash storage beyond Apple's 512GB to 2TB built-to-order options on its website at the time of purchase. In other words, the amount of flash storage you choose will be permanent for the life of the notebook."
Data Storage

Spotify Is Writing Massive Amounts of Junk Data To Storage Drives (arstechnica.com) 196

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For almost five months -- possibly longer -- the Spotify music streaming app has been assaulting users' storage devices with enough data to potentially take years off their expected lifespans. Reports of tens or in some cases hundreds of gigabytes being written in an hour aren't uncommon, and occasionally the recorded amounts are measured in terabytes. The overload happens even when Spotify is idle and isn't storing any songs locally. The behavior poses an unnecessary burden on users' storage devices, particularly solid state drives, which come with a finite amount of write capacity. Continuously writing hundreds of gigabytes of needless data to a drive every day for months or years on end has the potential to cause an SSD to die years earlier than it otherwise would. And yet, Spotify apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux have engaged in this data assault since at least the middle of June, when multiple users reported the problem in the company's official support forum. Three Ars reporters who ran Spotify on Macs and PCs had no trouble reproducing the problem reported not only in the above-mentioned Spotify forum but also on Reddit, Hacker News, and elsewhere. Typically, the app wrote from 5 to 10 GB of data in less than an hour on Ars reporters' machines, even when the app was idle. Leaving Spotify running for periods longer than a day resulted in amounts as high as 700 GB. According to comments left in the Spotify forum in the past 24 hours, the bug has been fixed in version 1.0.42, which is in the process of being rolled out.

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