Deathspawner writes: Sony's PS4 Pro hasn't even been available for a week yet, but it's already flying off the shelves, helping to boost overall PS4 sales after a few months of tepid action. With its 4K and HDR capabilities, the allure of the Pro is high, but what about performance other than gaming? Techgagedecided to find out, and discovered what most were expecting: that the Pro isn't that much faster outside of the improved gaming performance (or quality). The Pro includes a 1TB model of the same hard drive, so no gains there are seen, although the boosted CPU speed does seem to make improvements in load times in some rarer cases. What can really make a difference is upgrading the console to an SSD, which the site also explored.
Deathspawner writes: Sony's latest and greatest PlayStation 4 has just hit store shelves. Called Pro, Sony is targeting this particular model squarely at 4K and HDR televisions, although those with 1080p displays can still see some benefits. All told, the Pro sports a 31% faster CPU and 227% faster GPU, and as of the launch, most games will be targeting 4K resolution in lieu of increased detail of framerates. So far, reception to the console has been good, with Ars Technica saying that it will make games look crisper, especially when using PS VR. Techgage, meanwhile, believes the console leaves a lot to be desired — at least right now. One thing seems to be generally agreed-upon, though: the PS4 Pro is an ideal choice for those who don't own the original, or those who own PS VR, as both performance and fidelity can be improved significantly there.
MojoKid writes: It has been rumored for months that Microsoft would be unveiling a new Windows 10-powered all-in-one flagship but today Microsoft's ever-exuberant Panos Pay unveiled the Microsoft Surface Studio officially at the company's Windows 10 event in New York. The forged aluminum Surface Studio is an all-in-one that features a 28-inch PixelSense touch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and 192 pixels per inch over a 4500x3000 resolution. According to Panay, this is the thinnest LCD display ever built at just 1.3mm thick. The machines will be powered by Intel 6th Gen (Skylake) Core i7 or Core i5 processors, up to 32GB of memory, 1 or 2TB hybrid drives (SSD and HDD) and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M or GTX 965M GPU. For connectivity, you'll find four USB 3.0 ports on the back, GbE, mini DisplayPort and a Secure Digital slot. The Surface Studio has a trick up its sleeve as well and the display can collapse down, bringing it closer to your desk, with a 20-degree drafting angle, employing its zero-gravity hinge. According to Panay, this design "Turns your desk into a studio." The display can then interact with the Surface Dial, which is a radial input accessory that incorporates haptic feedback. When placed on the display, a radial menu pops out around the device, allowing you to adjust things like ink color or line thickness. It can also be used as a standalone media control device, allowing you to adjust the volume, brightness, or flip through pages in a document. Surface Dial also works with the Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, while the Surface Studio supports Surface Pen input. Microsoft Surface Studio Starts at $2,999 and is available for pre-order today and is expected to ship in limited quantities during the 2016 holiday season.
MojoKid writes: As we quickly approach the November 8th elections, email leaks from the Clinton camp continue to loom over the presidential candidate. The latest data dump from WikiLeaks shines a light on emails between Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, and Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg. In one email exchange, dated June 6th, 2015, Sandberg expresses her desire for Clinton to become president, writing to Podesta, "And I still want HRC to win badly. I am still here to help as I can." While that was a private exchange, Sandberg also made her zest for seeing Clinton as the 45th President of the United States publicly known in a Facebook post on July 28th of this year. None of that is too shocking when you think about it. Sandberg has every right to endorse whichever candidate she wants for president. However, a later exchange between Sandberg and Podesta showed that Mark Zuckerberg was looking to get in on the action a bit, and perhaps curry favor with Podesta and the Clinton camp in shaping public policy. Donald Trump has long claimed that Clinton is too cozy with big businesses, and one cannot dismiss the fact that Facebook has a global user base of 1.7 billion users. When you toss in the fact that Facebook came under fire earlier this year for allegedly suppressing conservative news outlets in the Trending News bar, questions begin to arise about Facebook's impartiality in the political race.
MojoKid writes: Whether you use Linux at home or manage a Linux server, you should waste no time in making sure your OS is completely up-to-date. An exploit called "Dirty COW" has now been revealed, and while it's not the most dangerous one ever released, the fact that it's been around for nine years is causing alarm throughout the Linux community. Dirty COW might sound like an awfully bizarre name for an exploit, but it's named as such because the Linux function it affects is "copy-on-write." COW happens when more than one system call references the same data. To optimize the amount of space that data uses, pointers are used (as with data deduplication). If one call needs to modify the data, that's when the data is copied entirely. As a privilege escalation exploit, code execution could happen after this bug is exploited. Imagine, for example, if someone gains access to a system via SQL injection, but lands as a normal user. With this exploit, the equivalent of root access could be gained, at which point the OS is at the mercy of its attacker.
MojoKid writes: Are our ever more powerful, compact and thin smartphones putting us at risk? Or are we just more sensitized to events like smartphones blowing up since Samsung's nasty Galaxy Note 7 debacle? Regardless, it's beginning to look a lot like the latest smartphone feature trend is spontaneous combustion. While taking a surfing lesson, Australian Mat Jones put his brand-new iPhone 7 underneath some clothing on the seat of his car, safe and sound. Or, so he thought. Upon returning to his vehicle, it was filled with smoke and the source was undeniably his iPhone 7. Not only was the phone destroyed, but his car was torched as well. All smartphones using Lithium-ion batteries have the capability of exploding or catching fire, due to their internal chemical makeup, but under normal circumstances and operating conditions this should never be an issue. Extreme heat can be one contributor to a catastrophic event like this, but that seems an unlikely cause as temperatures are moderate right now at the South Coast of Australia — about 20C (68F) on average. The iPhone 7 in question was also not charging at the time as well. Apple is reportedly working with Jones to determine root cause of the explosion.
MojoKid writes: Which is more expensive to own, a Windows PC or a Mac? Conventional wisdom says Macs typically cost more than comparable Windows PCs, but if you look beyond the initial price and also factor in time and money spent maintaining each system, do things change? IBM's VP of Workplace as a Service Fletcher Previn came to the conclusion that Macs are by far the better buy after analyzing post-sales costs. While speaking at the Jampf Nation User Conference this week, Previn broke it down like this. The initial cost of purchasing a Mac system runs anywhere from $117 to $454 more than a similarly configured Windows PC, but over a four-year span that follows, IBM saves between $273 (MacBook Pro 13 versus Lenovo T460) up to a whopping $543 (MacBook Pro 13 versus Lenovo X1 Yoga) on Mac maintenance costs.
MojoKid writes: There is a reported flaw present in processors based on Intel's Haswell microarchitecture that could allow attackers to effectively sidestep security roadblocks and install malware onto systems. The method works on most operating systems, including Windows 10, and unless a fix is issued it could lead to more prominent malware attacks. Security researchers developed a bypass for Intel's Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) technology present on Haswell processors and demonstrated the technique at the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture in Taipei, Taiwan, this week. ASLR is a built-in defense against against a common form of attack that attempts to install malware by exploiting vulnerabilities in an OS or program. It was discovered that by exploiting a flaw in the part of a Haswell CPU known as the branch predictor, they could load a small application that identifies the memory addresses where specific parts of code are loaded. Armed with that information, traditional memory-based malware techniques are once again effective, allow attackers to mess with a system as if ASLR was disabled.
MojoKid writes: Samsung announced its latest, consumer-class NVMe M.2 based SSD 960 Pro solid state drive a few weeks back but today marks the official launch of the product. Samsung's new drive is an absolute beast with peak transfer speeds in the 3.5GB/s range and ultra-high endurance ratings too. The Samsung SSD 960 PRO NVMe M.2 series tested here will be offered in three capacities: 512GB, 1TB, and a beefy 2TB. All of the drives have the same M.2 (2280) "gumstick" form factor and offer peak read bandwidth of 3.5GB/s with 2.1GB/s writes, while their max IOPS ratings vary at higher queue depths, as do endurance ratings, which start at 400TBW (Terabytes Written) and scale to 1200TBW for the 2TB drive. At about $.63 — $.65 per GiB, they aren't the cheapest NVMe drives on the market (the 512GB drive drops in at $329) but the new SSD 960 Pro is definitely the fastest consumer SSD currently as benchmark testing clearly proves out.
MojoKid writes: Most folks love the creativity behind taking old-school computer equipment, like floppy drives and other devices that emanate audible tones, and harnessing their internal bits generate musical bliss in full geekery. In this particular case, it's not just floppy drives that were used, but some hard drives and even a scanner or two. The "Floppotron," as its creator calls it, is comprised of 64 floppy drives, 8 hard disks and 2 scanners, to be exact. The result is downright wonderful as this old school computer hardware band shreds through Metallica's heavy metal classic, Enter Sandman.
MojoKid writes: Apparently Apple has been working on some unique upgrades to its MacBook line and not just underneath the hood. One of the bigger feature upgrades could actually be in the keyboard. As previously rumored, the new MacBook Pro is likely to sport a secondary touchscreen display at the top of the keyboard. It will sit in place of where the Function keys used to reside and display different graphics and icons, depending on the program that's up and running. However, according to an anonymous reddit user named "Foxconninsider," Apple's also planning to launch a new version of its Magic Keyboard, one that takes advantage of E-Ink technology. Similar technology was developed by a start-up company named Sonder, the same company Apple is in the process of acquiring. The tipster describes is each key having its own E Ink display. That means individual keys and/or entire rows can change based on whatever app is loaded. In any event, we should know more soon—Apple's expected to announce new MacBook products later this month.
MojoKid writes: LG introduced the V20 back in early September as one of the first phones to hit the market with the Android 7.0 Nougat OS. Nougat offers a refined version of Android Doze sleep modes, the In Apps global search function and native split screen mode, but as reviews of the LG V20 are just hitting the web, it's apparent LG delivered something unique with the V20 beyond just Nougat. In addition to its replaceable 3200 mAh battery, the LG V20's HiFi Quad DAC is not just a gimmick and actually makes an appreciable difference in audio fidelity when coupled with good source material and quality headphones. Also, the V20's camera array, which is comprised of two wide angle cameras (front and rear-facing) and a third rear facing 16MP shooter with OIS, competes with the likes of Samsung's and Apple's latest offerings while offering unique shot modes like multi-shot composition with all three cameras combined. The V20 is also well-built, with tolerances and materials that are far superior to what LG offered in the not so well received G5. Performance-wise, with a Snapdragon 820 chip, 4GB of RAM and a relatively clean Android Nougat installation, the V20 also scores in the top tier of current Android flagship handsets. One of the few shortcomings of the V20 may be price, as early announcements from carriers like AT&T place the phone at around the $800 mark currently, though that does include a pair of high-end Bang and Olufsen earbuds to go with it.
MojoKid writes: In June last year, Intel announced a $16.7B acquisition of chip designer Altera, a Silicon Valley bellwether known for producing FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays). Intel has already disclosed that it has plans to integrate FPGAs into Xeon processors, which will leverage Altera technology. Those processors are due to arrive later this year and they should allow Intel to build more specialized, configurable chips for accelerating different workloads. FPGAs feature an array of logic gates that can be programmed to perform a myriad of tasks, and they can be re-programmed on the fly, as new workloads emerge or compute demands and algorithms change. The flexibility inherent to FPGAs is also at the core of Microsoft's Project Catapult, which is a code-name for the technology behind Microsoft's hyperscale acceleration fabric for networking, security, cloud services and artificial intelligence. An FPGA can be programmed to accelerate the algorithms associated with the specialized workloads and data sets of each specific application. At first, FPGAs were used to accelerate Bing's Indexserve engine. Over 1600 servers were initially outfitted with FPGAs that were connected via a secondary network. The FPGAs were programmed to accelerate specific search-related algorithms and it resulted in major improvements in latency and a 50% reduction in the number of servers required to process workloads. A new architecture that enabled configurable clouds was eventually laid out and last year Microsoft ramped-up to large-scale production with FPGAs in Bing and Azure. Microsoft now also plans to employ Project Catapult FPGA accelerator boards in "nearly every new production server."
MojoKid writes: In early August the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the FCC had no authority to prevent states from imposing restrictions on municipal internet. This was a result of the FCC stepping in last year in an effort to "remove barriers to broadband investment and competition." However, the courts sided with the states, which said that the FCC's order impeded on state rights. In the end, this ruling clearly favored firmly entrenched big brand operators like Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and AT&T, which lobby hard to keep competition at bay. The federal ruling specifically barred municipal internet providers from offering service outside of their city limits, denying them from providing service to under-served communities. The fallout from the federal court's rejection of the FCC order to extend a lifeline to municipal internet providers has claimed another victim. The small community of Pinetops, North Carolina — population 1,300 — will soon have its gigabit internet connection shut off. Pinetops has been the recipient of Greenlight internet service, which is provided by the neighboring town of Wilson. The town of Wilson has been providing electric power to Pinetops for the past 40 years, and had already deployed fiber through the town in order to bolster its smart grid initiative. What's infuriating to the Wilson City Council and to the Pinetop residents that will lose their high-speed service, is that the connections are already in place. There's no logical reason why they should be cut off, but state laws and the lobbyists supporting those laws have deemed what Greenlight is doing illegal. Provide power to a neighboring town — sure that's OK. Provide better internet to a neighboring town — lawsuit
MojoKid writes: Samsung announced a new family of 960 EVO and 960 Pro NVMe PCI Express M.2 Solid State Drives today. Built on Samsung's 3D V-NAND technology and employing the new Samsung Polaris SSD controller, the 960 Pro is Samsung's highest performance, high endurance drive and the successor to last year's 950 Pro. The 960 EVO is the lower cost model and a follow-on to last year's Samsung 950 EVO drive. The 960 EVO is also powered by the same Samsung Polaris controller but employs more cost-efficient Samsung TLC NAND memory. Both drives arrive in standard M.2 gumstick form factors with PCI Express Gen 3 X4 interfaces and utilizing the NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) protocol for lightning-fast speeds and low latency. Specifically, the 960 Pro offers up to 3.5GB/sec and 2.1GB/sec of sequential read and write throughput respectively, with endurance rated at up to 1200TB writes per day. The 950 EVO's specs drop in at a peak 3.2GB/sec and 1.9GB/sec for reads and writes respectively, with a top-end endurance rating of 400TB written per day. The 960 Pro will come in 512GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities starting at $329, while the 950 EVO comes in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities starting at $129. Samsung will be shipping the drives in October this year.