MojoKid writes: Microsoft may have discontinued its Lumia family of smartphones, but that doesn't mean that the company has given up on handsets altogether. A new patent filing reveals that Microsoft could still have a few more tricks up its sleeve; in this case, a folding smartphone. If such a design were to make it to production, it would likely adopt Surface branding, joining the likes of the flexible and convertible Surface Pro, Surface Book and Surface Studio. Entitled "Mobile Computing Device Having A Flexible Hinge Structure", the patent shows a smartphone with a side-mounted hinge that opens up to reveal an uninterrupted, large display surface more fitting for tablet duty. And just like patent filings leaked the Surface Studio months before its official unveil, this could be a precursor to a future Microsoft product. Of course, there are no guarantees when it comes to patent filings, as Microsoft has patented many design innovations without acting on them with a shipping product.
MojoKid writes: When Microsoft first launched Windows 10, it was generally well-received but also came saddled with a number of privacy concerns. It has taken quite a while for Microsoft to respond to these concerns in a meaningful way, but the company is finally proving that it's taking things seriously by detailing some enhanced privacy features coming to a future Windows 10 build. Microsoft is launching what it calls a (web-based) privacy dashboard, which lets you configure anything and everything about information that might be sent to back to the mother ship. You can turn all tracking off, or pick and choose, if certain criteria don't concern you too much, like location or health activity, for example. Also, for fresh installs, you'll be given more specific privacy options so that you can feel confident from the get-go about the information you're sending Redmond's way. If you do decide to send any information Microsoft's way, the company promises that it won't use your information for the sake of targeted advertising.
MojoKid writes: AMD lifted the veil on its next generation GPU architecture, code named Vega this morning. One of the underlying forces behind Vega's design is that conventional GPU architectures have not been scaling well for diverse data types. Gaming and graphics workloads have shown steady progress, but today GPUs are used for much more than just graphics. In addition, the compute capability of GPUs may have been increasing at a good pace, but memory capacity has not kept up. Vega aims to improve both compute performance and addressable memory capacity, however, through some new technologies not available on any previous-gen architecture. First, is that Vega has the most scalable GPU memory architecture built to date with 512TB of address space. It also has a new geometry pipeline tuned for more performance and better efficiency with over 2X peak throughput per clock, a new Compute Unit design, and a revamped pixel engine. The pixel engine features a new Draw Stream Binning Rasterizer, which reportedly improves performance and saves power. All told, Vega should offer significant improvements in terms of performance and efficiency when products based on the architecture begin shipping in a few months.
MojoKid writes: AMD is announcing a new series of Radeon-branded products today, targeted at machine intelligence and deep learning enterprise applications, called Radeon Instinct. As its name suggests, the new Radeon Instinct line of products are comprised of GPU-based solutions for deep learning, inference and training. The new GPUs are also complemented by a free, open-source library and framework for GPU accelerators, dubbed MIOpen. MIOpen is architected for high-performance machine intelligence applications and is optimized for the deep learning frameworks in AMD's ROCm software suite. The first products in the lineup consist of the Radeon Instinct MI6, the MI8, and the MI25. The 150W Radeon Instinct MI6 accelerator is powered by a Polaris-based GPU, packs 16GB of memory (224GB/s peak bandwidth), and will offer up to 5.7 TFLOPS of peak FP16 performance. Next up in the stack is the Fiji-based Radeon Instinct MI8. Like the Radeon R9 Nano, the Radeon Instinct MI8 features 4GB of High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) with peak bandwidth of 512GB/s. The MI8 will offer up to 8.2 TFLOPS of peak FP16 compute performance, with a board power that typical falls below 175W. The Radeon Instinct MI25 accelerator will leverage AMD's next-generation Vega GPU architecture and has a board power of approximately 300W. All of the Radeon Instinct accelerators are passively cooled but when installed into a server chassis you can bet there will be plenty of air flow. Like the recently released Radeon Pro WX series of professional graphics cards for workstations, Radeon Instinct accelerators will be built by AMD. All of the Radeon Instinct cards will also support AMD MultiGPU (MxGPU) hardware virtualization technology.
MojoKid writes: Intel is laying out its roadmap to advance artificial intelligence performance across the board. Nervana Systems, a company that Intel acquired just a few months ago, will play a pivotal role in the company's efforts to make waves in an industry dominated by GPU-based solutions. Intel's Nervana chips incorporate technology (which involves a fully-optimized software and hardware stack) that is specially tasked with reducing the amount of time required to train deep learning models. Nervana hardware will initially be available as an add-in card that plugs into a PCIe slot, which is the quickest way for Intel to get this technology to customers. The first Nervana silicon, codenamed Lake Crest, will make its way to select Intel customers in H1 2017. Intel is also talking about Knights Mill, which is the next generation of the Xeon Phi processor family. The company claims that Knights Mill will deliver a 4x increase in deep learning performance compared to existing Xeon Phi processors and the combined solution with Nervana will offer orders of magnitude gains in deep learning performance.
MojoKid writes: It has been twenty years since the release of Diablo, and Blizzard is celebrating with some very special new content. The team is recreating the original Diablo inside Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls with its "The Darkening of Tristram" update. The Darkening of Tristram will offer a sixteen-level dungeon with the four main bosses from Diablo. The name of the bosses have not been clarified yet. There is speculation, however, that they will be the Butcher (Level 2), King Leoric (Level 3), Archbishop Lazarus (a secret lair adjacent to Level 15), and Diablo or the "Lord of Terror." The art style is reminiscent of the original game and comes with visual filters that make the game look pixelated and grainy. Frank Pearce, Blizzard's chief development officer, remarked, "we call it "glorious retrovision." He also stated that the best way to experience the update is to start the game with a fresh character, although the content will be available for all characters. The Darkening of Tristram will also appear on Diablo 3's Public Test Realm next week, though a target formal release date has not been set.
MojoKid writes: We weren't expecting to see Intel release Kaby Lake desktop SKUs until a couple months from now, but a new leak has the enthusiast community buzzing with a look at what one of those chips will offer with regards to performance compared to its immediate predecessor. The Intel Core i5-7600K, which is reportedly the top-end SKU in the Kaby Lake Core i5 family is still based on 14nm FinFET technology (or rather, 14nm Plus) and has a base frequency of 3.8GHz that can Turbo Boost to 4.2GHz. It has 6MB of L3 cache and has a rated TDP of 91W. For comparison, the Skylake-based Core i5-6600K, which the Core i5-7600K will be replacing, has a base frequency of 3.5GHz and can Turbo Boost to 3.9GHz. Like its successor, it too has 6MB of L3 cache and a TDP of 91W. On the graphics front, the new Kaby Lake processor has an integrated Intel HD 630 graphics core, which will be clocked slightly higher than the HD 530 core found in its Skylake counterpart. While operating within the same power envelope as the Core i5-6600K, the Core i5-7600K offers roughly a 7 percent to 10 percent performance advantage over its predecessor, which can mainly be attributed to the increase in clock speeds.
MojoKid writes: Consumer WiFi router products are classified by three major performance characteristics: overall throughput or bandwidth, multi-client performance, and range. Although throughput and multi-client bandwidth has scaled-up over the years, range hasn't improved quite as robustly. Even the most powerful WiFi routers, with active antennas, can still leave dead spots in large home or office installations. That's where the recent crop of mesh router technologies, that startups like Eero and Google with Google WiFi, are making significant advancements. By spreading out multiple, interconnected router access points across a WiFi network, you blanket the area with a stronger, more contiguous signal. If you need to go the distance, mesh WiFi routers are the new way to go and Netgear is now entering the fray with a 3Gbps tri-band setup called Orbi. Where the Orbi is different from recent mesh networking products is its 5GHz, 1733Mbps backhaul connection between its satellite and the base router. A combined two unit system offers a 2X2, 866Mbps, 5GHz AC connection and a 2x2, 400Mbps, 2.4GHz link. However, in between, including Gig-E wired devices that you can plug into a satellite, there's a 4x4, 5GHz dedicated backhaul link that lets client connections stretch their legs. Tested against a powerful standard AC5300 router, the Orbi mesh setup delivered consistent performance well north of 130Mbps, through multiple floors, and upwards of 300Mbps at longer distances, up to 4,000 square feet, with the Orbi satellite on the same level as the client PC.
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: 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: A recent discovery has the Linux community buzzing, and it involves a bug in systemd, an init (initialization) system used in many modern Linux distributions to bootstrap the user space and manage all processes. It would be nice to think that most every modern distro has adopted it for good reason. For others, though, it's the target of extreme ire. Whether that's justified or not, there's no denying that any discussion about systemd is bound to lead to a heated argument. Look no futher than Andrew Ayer, a developer that found a simple command that can crash many systemd-based Linux installs. The bug has since been patched, but systemd developer David Strauss claims that it was never a severe bug like Ayer claimed. Some claim that the command needs to be looped to take effect, while others claim that is trying "too hard" to prove that a bug is worse than it is. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, rated the bug at 3.5/10, with 10 being the most severe.
MojoKid writes: Oftentimes when a smartphone maker debuts a nifty new idea, its competitors find ways to implement their own version of whatever feature everyone is excited about, whether it's a premium design, a digital assistant, or something else. But spontaneous smartphone combustion? Following Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 debacle, pictures of a charred iPhone 7 are now making the rounds. A user on reddit posted several photos of the burnt iPhone 7, which he says was pre-ordered by a co-worker who never got to use the handset. Apparently the smartphone arrived that way, suggesting a serious Q&A failure in the packaging department that sent it out, or more likely that it overheated during transit and melted itself and part of the packaging. Reportedly, an account executive from Apple's Texas offices reached out for more information and set up an expedited replacement with AT&T.