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 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: 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: 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.
MojoKid writes: One common gripe in the twenty-first century is that nothing is built to last anymore. Even complex, expensive computers seem to have a relatively short shelf-life nowadays. However, one computer in a small auto repair shop in Gdansk, Poland has survived for the last twenty-five years against all odds. The computer in question here is a Commodore C64 that has been balancing driveshafts non-stop for a quarter of a century. The C64C looks like it would fit right in with a scene from Fallout 4 and has even survived a nasty flood. This Commodore 64 contains a few homemade aspects, however. The old computer uses a sinusoidal waveform generator and piezo vibration sensor in order to measure changes in pressure, acceleration, temperature, strain or force by converting them to an electrical charge. The C64C interprets these signals to help balance the driveshafts in vehicles.
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: Politicians are not the only ones mudslinging this season. Huawei's Matebook and Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 have teamed up to continue to try and humiliate the iPad Pro and its various shortcomings. In Huawei's latest commercial, the iPad Pro is being pushed out of the cool kid's table. The advertisement battle all started when Apple released its initial iPad Pro commercial. The iPad Pro ad is titled "What's a computer?" and starts with "Just when you think you know what a computer is, you see a keyboard that can just get out of the way...and a screen you can touch and even write on." The commercial ends with the statement, "Imagine what your computer to do, if it was an iPad Pro." The implication in this ad is that the addition of the keyboard makes the iPad Pro a "computer." Of course Microsoft could not resist poking fun at Apple in their own Surface Pro 4 commercial, suggesting that it is a real computer while the iPad Pro is a wannabe. Huawei's own commercial plays on the Microsoft's ad. All three devices are side-by-side at a party with a piñata. The Matebook says "Hey, congrats on that keyboard" and then the iPad Pro responds, "who are you?" The Matebook runs off a list of its various features and tells the Surface Pro 4, "I think we are going to get along great." The Surface Pro 4 then replied, "welcome to the party." Huawei's ad of course implies that the Matebook is not only better than the iPad Pro, but is on par with the Surface Pro 4. The Matebook starts at $649 USD and is currently available from Windows, Amazon, and Newegg.
MojoKid writes: For the first time, Amazon's Alexa voice service is headed to a tablet. It's one of the standout features of Amazon's new Fire HD 8, a budget slate built to offer users all-day battery life, faster performance, double the onboard storage of previous versions Fire HD tablets and for a low $90 price tag. The Fire HD 8 tablet's 8-inch HD (1280x800) IPS display is driven by a quad-core 1.3GHz processor and 1.5GB of RAM and a capacious 4,750 mAh battery that is claimed to deliver up to 12 hours of mixed use battery life. In addition, Alexa voice services works on the Fire HD 8 just as it does on other supported products, only here the voice assistant is conjured up by long pressing the home button. You can then task Alexa with reading the news, giving weather reports, playing songs, and so forth. The new Fire HD 8 32GB model is available to pre-order now for $90 with special offers or $105 without.