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.
MojoKid writes: Dell's XPS 13 is a very popular ultrabook not only because it's built with carbon fiber and machined aluminum but also because it manages to cram a 13.3-inch IPS display into a 11-inch notebook frame, thanks to Dell's fantastic Infinity Edge design that minimizes display bezel. Dell first brought out the machine back with Intel's Broadwell platform introduction but has since updated it with Intel Skylake CPUs. However, today Dell announced that they refreshed the machine again with Intel's 7th Gen Kaby Lake Core Series processors to improve performance and bolster battery life. Base systems come equipped with an Intel Core i3-7100U processor, while mid-range systems can be optioned with a Core i5-7200U and those who need more power can opt for a Core i7-7500U humming along at up to 3.5GHz. Starting weight remains at 2.7 pounds for non-touch display models, while selecting a touch panel will weigh in at 2.9 pounds. You can also choose from 1920x1080 FHD or UltraSharp 3200x1800 resolution Infinity Edge displays. Powering those displays is Intel's HD Graphics 620 IGP. The XPS 13 can be configured with up to 16GB of 1866MHz LPDDR3 memory and up to a 1TB PCIe SSD. Base systems come with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SATA drive. The refreshed XPS 13 is also now available in Rose Gold and will be available starting October 4th, with the Rose Gold Edition ringing in at $1,499.
MojoKid writes: Intel just launched a new family of low cost NVMe PCI Express Solid State drives called the SSD 600P series. The company claims the drives are "designed to deliver PCIe performance at near-SATA prices". To date, most NVMe PCIe solid state drives are roughly 1.5 – 3x the cost per gigabyte of SATA based drives, due to the inherent performance benefits and likely the added cost of NVMe controllers. Leveraging 3D TLC NAND manufactured in concert with Micron allows Intel to price the 600P aggressively. The 512GB Intel SSD 600P tested here at HotHardware is already available at street prices below $.40 per gigabyte (roughly $179), which is only slightly higher than most same capacity SATA drives and close to half the price of the average NVMe drive. The Intel SSD 600P will initially be offered in four capacities, 128GB up to 1TB. All of the drives conform to the same M.2 (2280) 80mm gumstick form factor, but performance varies depending on the capacity. The 128GB drive can offer up to 770MB/s reads and 450MB/s writes, while the 1TB drive peaks at 1.8GB/s reads with 560MB/s writes. The 600P drives performed relatively well overall in the benchmarks. When queue depths were cranked up or there were sustained, long sequential transfers, performance dropped off but that's not as common in mainstream consumer workloads, where lower queue depths and random small file transfers are more typical.
MojoKid writes: There was quite a stir caused recently when it was determined that Microsoft would only be fully supporting Intel's Kaby Lake and AMD's Zen next-generation processor microarchitectures with Windows 10. It's easy to dismiss the decision as pure marketing move, but there's more to consider and a distinction to be made between support and compatibility. The decision means future updates and optimizations that take advantage of the latest architectural enhancements in these new processors won't be made for older OS versions. Both of these microarchitectures have new features that require significant updates to Windows 10 to optimally function. Kaby Lake has updates to Intel's Speed Shift technology that make it possible to change power states more quickly than Skylake, for example. Then there's Intel's Turbo Boost 3.0, which is only baked natively into Windows 10 Redstone 1. For an operating system to optimally support AMD's Zen-based processors, major updates are likely necessary as well. Zen has fine-grained clock gating with multi-level regions throughout the chip, in addition to newer Simultaneous Multi-Threading technology for AMD chips. To properly leverage the tech in Zen, Microsoft will likely have to make updates to the Windows kernel and system scheduler, which is more involved than a driver update. Of course, older versions of Windows and alternative operating systems will still install and run on Kaby Lake and Zen. They are X86 processors, after all.
Deathspawner writes: Intel's Basis has just sent an email to customers who own a Basis Peak smartwatch with some bad news: it's being recalled. In mid-June, Basis admitted that its flagship (and only) smartwatch had the chance to overheat, and then asked them to wait for a firmware update. Ultimately, a firmware update couldn't have been issued that wouldn't have compromised the user experience, and as such, the company is asking for every single Basis Peak to be returned for a full refund — it will even handle the shipping.
Deathspawner writes: At the ongoing SIGGRAPH 2016 conference, held in Anaheim, California, NVIDIA had a bevy of announcements to make, including a big one: Pascal-based Quadro professional workstation cards are en route. Similar to the latest TITAN X which was announced last week, the new top-end Quadro P6000 is based on the same GP102 architecture, but contains 256 more cores. This makes the P6000 an effective 12 TFLOPs (FP32) graphics card. Also announced was the 8.9 TFLOPs Quadro P5000, as well as updates to the company's Iray render (for VR), its DGX-1 deep-learning machine, and also its mental ray plugin for Autodesk Maya users.
Deathspawner writes: At a special artificial intelligence gathering at Stanford University on Thursday, NVIDIA's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveiled the world's fastest graphics card: the second-generation GeForce TITAN X. Based on the company's latest Pascal architecture, the new top-end card features 3,584 CUDA cores clocked at 1.53GHz, 12GB of GDDR5X, and is spec'd at 11 TFLOPs, which is at least 2 TFLOPs higher than the company's recently released GTX 1080. Jen-Hsun also touted for the first time a metric called TOPS (INT8), a deep-learning inferencing instruction. The new GTX TITAN X officially hits 44 TOPS. NVIDIA has said that its second-gen TITAN X will retail for $1,200, and will become available on August 2.