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Microsoft Thinks “Spectre” and “Meltdown” Will Impact The Server Market

January 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft warned us last week that software fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities could “significantly” impact the performance of some systems.

In a blog post, Microsoft’s Terry Myerson said that, while the firm has yet to carry out extensive benchmarks, it has already found that the patches will bring with them a performance impact.

For those using Windows 10 on a newer 2016-era PC with Skylake, Kabylake or newer, Microsoft’s early benchmarks show single-digit slowdowns, which means users are unlikely to notice much of a difference. Those running the OS on older silicon, however, such as 2015-era PCs with Haswell or older, can expect to see more “significant slowdowns”, which means most likely will notice a decrease in system performance.

For the majority of Microsoft customers – those running Windows 7 or Windows 8 – the firm “expects most users to notice a decrease in system performance.”

It’s even worse news for Windows Server customers, so much so that Microsoft is advising that users “evaluate the risk of untrusted code for each Windows Server instance, and balance the security versus performance tradeoff for your environment.”

Myerson adds: “Windows Server on any silicon, especially in any IO-intensive application, shows a more significant performance impact when you enable the mitigations to isolate untrusted code within a Windows Server instance.”

Microsoft’s statement suggests that slowdowns could be more substantial than Intel previously indicated.

Last week, the chipmaker said that these patches would not create any issues with computer slowdown. However, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich backtracked during his CES keynote on Monday, claiming that the impact will be “workload dependent”.

“We believe the performance impact of these updates is highly workload dependent,” Krzanich said.

“We expect some may have a larger impact than others, so we’ll continue working with the industry to minimize the impact on those workloads over time.

Intel has said that it will patch “90 per cent” of affected processors made in the past five years by the end of this week, with the remaining 10 per cent to see fixes by the end of the month.


Intel Finally Shows Core-I Processor With AMD Inside

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s project with rival AMD has yielded five news slices of silicon, with the chip makers revealing the new Core H-series processors that come packing AMD’s Vega M graphics processors.

The chips feature Intel Core i7 and Core i5 CPUs capable of hitting speeds of 4.2GHz and 3.8GHz respectively. Despite being dubbed Kaby Lake-G, with the ‘G’ standing for graphics, the CPUs are eighth-generation chips rather than silicon-based around the seven-gen Kaby Lake architecture.

These CPUs are complemented with AMD’s Vega M GH and Vega M GL GPUs, the former being more powerful than the latter, and have 4GB of second-generation high bandwidth memory (HBM2) to draw upon.

The Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge on the chips is claimed to be the key to getting the CPU and GPU to play nice, as well as reduce the footprint of the silicon to one that smaller than having a standard CPU paired with a discrete graphics card.

The five chips are as follows, starting with the most powerful: Core i7-8809G, Core i7-8709G, Core i7-8706G, Core i7-8705G, and Core i5-8305G.

At CES 2018, touted benchmarks show the chips keeping pace with a computer using a Core i7-7700HQ and Nvidia’s Max-Q version of its mid-range GeForce 1080 GPU.

In both dedicated benchmarking tools and demanding games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the Intel-AMD love-child outpaced the more traditional CPU and GPU setup, though it’s worth noting that the test favours the new eighth-generation architecture and the Core i7-7700HQ is based on last generation Intel tech so it’s perhaps not the fairest comparison.

Nevertheless, for a 2-in-1 chip to out even keep up with a traditional CPU and GPU setup is impressive.

But what will these chips be used for we hear you cry? Well, they’re to be plonked in Dell and HP laptops and 2-in-one devices, slated to be revealed at CES.

And Intel took the covers off its “most powerful” NUC (next unit compute) compact computer to date, which makes uses of the new Kaby Lake-G chips to have a machine that sits in a person’s hand but can still power virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

So basically, these new chips are paving the way for more compact laptops, desktops, and all-in-one PCs that have more graphical grunt than one would expect but don’t hoover up power or cough out heat like more traditional dedicated GPUs.

The real test will be exactly how computer makers put these chips to work and ensure they get the most power and efficiency out of them, but we’re grateful to see a little bit of innovation creep back into Intel’s chip line up, which until now has just being tick-tocking along without much aplomb.


Will Intel Going To Court Over The “Meltdown” And “Spectre” Fiasco

January 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel is facing multiple class-action lawsuits over the ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ vulnerabilities affecting all of its x64-64x processors from the last decade.

The chip design flaws, which affect everything from iOS and macOS to Linux and Windows, could lead to hackers extracting important protected information such as passwords and encryption keys from programmes and operating systems if exploited.

Although reports claim the flaws have not yet been exploited, The Guardian reports that Intel has, perhaps unsurprisingly, quickly been whacked by a handful of class-action lawsuits, with three separate suits having been filed by plaintiffs in California, Oregon and Indiana.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation from the chip giant, citing the security vulnerability as well as Intel’s failure to disclose it in a timely fashion. 

They also cite the alleged computer slowdown that will be caused by the fixes needed to address the security concerns, although Intel disputes that this will be the case.

“Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time,” it said in a statement earlier this week.

“While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that impact.”

Lawyer Bill Doyle of Doyle APC, who is representing plaintiffs Steven Garcia and Anthony Stachowiak who filed suit in the northern district of California, said: “The security vulnerability revealed by these reports suggests that this may be one of the largest security flaws ever facing the American public.

“It is imperative that Intel acts swiftly to fix the problem and ensure consumers are fully compensated for all losses suffered as a result of their actions.”

More lawsuits are expected to follow, and it’s expected that most big cloud service providers, such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, will likely seek some form of compensation from Intel.


Intel Said To Release Patch This Week For Security Flaw

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems — including personal computers and servers — that render those systems immune to the”Spectre” and “Meltdown.”

Intel paid hundreds of millions of dollars to recall its Pentium processors after the 1994 discovery of the “FDIV bug” that revealed rare but real calculation errors. Meltdown and Spectre are proving damaging to Intel’s brand, sending the company’s stock down more than 5 percent.

This time though Chipzilla and its chums claim to have made significant progress in deploying updates as both software patches and firmware updates. Besides when you are talking 15 years of chips being affected there was never going to be any way Intel would have done a recall.

Intel has already issued updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years. Also, many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services

The question is whether this update will transform PCs into shadows of their former selves and make them as slow as asthmatic ants with a heavy load of shopping

Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time. While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that effect.

Others are not so certain and want to see some benchmarks before declaring Intel safe. Intel said it continues to work with its partners and others to address these issues, and Intel appreciates their support and assistance. Intel encourages computer users worldwide to use the automatic update functions of their operating systems and other computer software to ensure their systems are up-to-date.

System updates are made available by system manufacturers, operating system providers and others.

Initially, AMD told users its chips were not subject to the same sort of attacks as Intel’s chips, but the company has since updated its stance to say its chips are only affected by some of the announced hacks, and these could be fixed with a simple software update. Engineers at Google originally detected the flaw and wrote in a blog post it could affect Intel, AMD, and ARM chips.  Apple has confirmed all its Mac systems and iOS devices are affected.

The Fruity cargo-cult said it had released mitigations to defend against Meltdown in iOS 11.2, macOS 10.13.2, and tvOS 11.2. It will release mitigations in Safari to defend against the Spectre bug “in the coming days.”

The Tame Apple Press has been doing its best to claim that Apple is less affected than anyone else because no one had been hacked using the exploit.  One magazine even wrote the whole thing off as just a “scare.”


Do Retro Games Resonate With Gamers

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

Almost half of all gamers in Europe like to go back and play games from their youth.

The latest data comes from ISFE and Ipsos Connect’s GameTrack consumer survey, and is based on a question posed by

The results also show that 41% of consumers are eager to go back and experience games that they missed first time around.

The figures confirm the motivation behind the success of retro gaming products such as the NES and SNES Mini consoles, plus the popularity of remakes such as last year’s Crash Bandicoot.

However, the majority of gamers disagree that classic games are better than modern titles (only 22% agreed with the statement), while 45% are of the belief that realistic graphics are an important part of a great game.

The survey also specifically spoke to users of recent retro products, including the NES and SNES Mini, Crash Bandicoot, the Sega Forever project and more. It’s unsurprising that these consumers are more enthusiastic about going back and experiencing classic games (66% like to revisit games from their youth, while 67% like to play older games that they missed). 49% of these consumers also admit that nostalgia is one of the key reasons behind why it buys the games and consoles that they do.

41% of retro gamers are also of the belief that older games are better than current ones, with just 23% disagreeing with that statement (the rest neither agree or disagree). However, a number do find themselves disappointed with their trips down memory lane, with 38% stating that classic games are never as good as they remember.

The question (which combines online sampling with over-the-phone and face-to-face surveys) was posed to gamers from the UK, Spain, France and Germany. In terms of individual territories, French gamers are narrowly the more nostalgic consumer, although the results are relatively consistent across each market.

You can find out more information about the GameTrack survey here.

Hacker Exploit The Nintendo Switch

January 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

A homebrew kit could be the key to getting more games onto the Nintendo Switch, as hackers have figured out how to crack the console through its Nvidia chipset.

Nintendo consoles are notoriously locked-down in order to keep software and game development limited to Nintendo’s in-house or approved third-party developers; homebrew games have not been welcome even though Nintendo has been more supportive of indy titles.

But at the 34C3 hacking conference in Germany, hackers Derrek, Naehrwert and Plutoo demonstrated how they had managed to crack into the kernel of the Switch thanks to the use of a Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is well documented and has easily accessible debugging and diagnostic tools.

Through some hard work, as reported by, the hackers got past the Switch’s security layers on the Tegra X1’s System Memory Management Unit (SMMU).

This essentially allowed the hackers to have higher privileges on the Switch than Nintendo allows, which would provide the means to run non-Nintendo approved software on the hybrid console.

While the hackers are keeping their kernel exploits under wraps, likely to prevent others from stealing it or for the effective backdoor to be slammed shut by Nvidia or Nintendo, they are planning to release a homebrew kit to allow for extra software to be run on the Switch.

This is good news for people bored of gaming gems like Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But it’s worth noting the exploit and subsequent homebrew will only work on Switch consoles running firmware version 3.0.0.

The use of ‘off-the-shelf’ components like the Tegra X1 is one way to fuel the rise of such hobby hacking, as there’s often a lot of information on how such hardware works; this is in direct contrast to some of the custom chipsets the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One X have, though we doubt that prevents curious hackers from poking them with a metaphorical stick.


Spotify Being Sued for Nearly $2B Over Copyright Infringement

January 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Music streaming company Spotify is bing sued by Wixen Music Publishing Inc. Allegations include using thousands of songs, including those of Tom Petty, Neil Young and the Doors, without a license and compensation to the music publisher.

Wixen, an exclusive licensee of songs such as “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty, “Light My Fire” by the Doors, “(Girl We Got a) Good Thing” by Weezer and works of singers such as Stevie Nicks, is seeking damages worth at least $1.6 billion along with injunctive relief.

Spotify failed to get a direct or a compulsory license from Wixen that would allow it to reproduce and distribute the songs, Wixen said in the lawsuit, filed in a California federal court.

Wixen also alleged that Spotify outsourced its work to a third party, licensing and royalty services provider the Harry Fox Agency, which was “ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses”.

Spotify declined to comment.

In May, the Stockholm, Sweden-based company agreed to pay more than $43 million to settle a proposed class action alleging it failed to pay royalties for some of the songs it makes available to users.

Spotify, which is planning a stock market listing this year, has grown around 20 percent in value to at least $19 billion in the past few months.


Germany Implements New Online Hate Speech Law

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

In Germany, social media companies were hoping to avoid the fireworks marking the start of the new year.

On Jan. 1, the country began enforcing strict rules that could see platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube being fined up to €5 million (about $6 million) if they don’t remove posts containing hate speech within 24 hours of receiving a complaint, BBC reported Monday.

The new hate speech rules, passed last June, require companies to maintain an “effective and transparent procedure for dealing with complaints” that users can access readily at any time. Upon receiving a complaint, social media companies have to remove or block “obviously illegal content” within 24 hours, although they have up to a week when dealing with “complex cases.”

Social media companies haven’t been viewed too favorably in many countries due to the massive volume of hate content on their platforms. To fight that, Facebook in June said it removes 66,000 posts every week, saying it wants to do better but admitting the task is not easy. Last month, Twitter escalated its fight against hate, enforcing an updated policy that bans users from promoting violence and hate in their usernames and bios, and threatening to remove accounts if users tweeted hate speech, symbols, and images.

German isn’t the only country that wants social media companies to do more about hate speech. While the European Union acknowledged Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft for being better at the job, it said it managed to block twice the volume of hate content at a faster rate than those companies did in the beginning of the year.

“We’re committed to being part of the solution to illegal hate speech and extremist content online — around the world, and in Germany, working within its new legal framework,” a YouTube spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement. “We’ll continue to invest heavily in teams and technology to allow us to go further and faster in removing content that breaks our rules or German law, and by working with government, law enforcement, civil society groups and other companies.”

Chrome Browser To Begin Ad BlockingIn February

January 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google said that it will start blocking ads in its Chrome browser on Feb. 15.

Websites that want to avoid the Chrome hammer can either shed several broad categories of online ads or pay a consortium of advertisers, advertising trade associations and technology companies, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, to become “certified.”

“Starting on February 15, in line with the Coalition’s guidelines, Chrome will remove all ads from sites that have a ‘failing’ status,” Google said on its website, referring to the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA), a group that’s promised to scour the web of the most annoying advertisements.

Chrome’s ad-blocking timeline matches what Google said six months ago, when it confirmed that it would launch the controversial effort in early 2018. At the middle of February, most users will be running Chrome 64, now slated to release the week of Jan. 21-26. The current version of the browser is Chrome 63.

On the desktop, Chrome will block four types of advertisements (out of six considered), while on mobile – iOS and Android – the browser will bar eight kinds of ads (out of a dozen scrutinized): These categories were identified by the CBA and its consumer panel as the least acceptable.

The four ad classes to get the ax on the desktop include pop-ups, ones that automatically play video and audio, “prestitial” ads accompanied by a countdown clock, and those dubbed “large sticky ads,” which blanket more than 30% of the screen and remain in place no matter how furiously the user scrolls.

Rather than block those ad types on all sites – as most ad-blocking browser add-ons do – Chrome will take a different tack.

The browser will rely on a whitelist generated by the the CBA. Site publishers will be able to start the certification process, and thus secure a spot on the list, next month, when more details will be made available. Certified websites must meet certain standards, the most important being a low ratio of unacceptable ad types.

In the first two months of the project – the start date will be revealed in January, the CBA said – disreputable ads must not account for more than 7.5% of all page views on a certified site. The cutoff falls after that, so that after six months, ads can comprise just 2.5% of a site’s page views. In effect, the CBA will let certified sites ease into the blockade, with a smaller quota of “bad” ads over time.

Sites that do not “volunteer” to become certified by the CBA, or are judged by the organization to be non-compliant – effectively all sites but those on the whitelist – will have ads in the banned categories blocked. Even a single objectionable ad will trigger a block by Chrome.

Although the CBA revealed some specifics about the standards, the whitelist and how sites can contest the ad blocking decision, much of the program remains a black box. It was unclear, for instance, how often sites would be re-evaluated for violations, or how long it might take to appeal a ruling.

Nor is there information about fees.

Brendan McCormick, a spokesman for the CBA, said that payments would be required from most sites that seek certification. Although he stressed that there is much “to be worked out” between now and the January launch of the program, McCormick confirmed what AdAge reported Tuesday. Quoting an unnamed coalition spokesperson, the publication said that the CBA would charge the largest publishers up to $5,000 using a sliding scale. Some “very small publishers” may be certified at no charge.

“A lot has not been finalized,” McCormick told Computerworld. “There’s still much to be worked out. The essential part is to make this affordable [to site publishers].” He declined to say whether fees would be one-time only, or assessed annually.

Evaluations and certifications will begin in January, McCormick said, but he would not specify a timetable.

POE-USBC Appears To Be Coming To Fruition

January 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

As many manufacturers including Apple, Google, and Samsung standardise on USB Type-C (USB-C) with the new Power Delivery (PD) protocol, CoolGear and PoE Texas have joined forces to combine USB-C with PD and Power Over Ethernet.

In early 2018, PoE Texas will launch the POE-USBC-Kit and the AT-USBC-Kit which will allow USB-C PD over Ethernet.

While USB Type-C Power has ten times the power capacity of earlier USB protocols, USB-C powers modern electronics with the ability to charge a phone in 15 minutes or simultaneously charge a laptop and power an external monitor.  Unfortunately, finding a USB-C charger compatible with a variety of devices has proven consistently challenging for consumers. CoolGear developed the CG-DCPD21W, a sleek, cost-effective USB-C PD device with the broadest possible compatibility.

PoE lowers the cost of adopting USB-C by eliminating the need for new electrical infrastructure. Unlike USB-C, which can transmit power less than ten feet (three meters) and is uncommon in buildings and homes, Ethernet can transmit power and data 328 feet (100 meters) and is nearly ubiquitous in modern construction.

PoE Texas has created an AT-USBC-Kit – a custom 802.3af/PoE+ splitter that supports 25 watts PoE+ (both active and passive).

It is 24 Volt Passive for those who want to control both the Power Supplying Equipment (PSE) and the Powered Device (PD). The POE-USBC-Kit uses the 24 volt PoE standard at up to 25 watts.

It is based around uPoE (IEEE 802.3bt) which is likely to be the new standard in 2018. PoE Texas has developed 60 watt PoE PSEs with upcoming designs for 60 watt PoE splitters to support full capacity USB-C PD.


Was Intel’s Cannon Lake A 7th Generation Processor

January 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel hasn’t announced its 10nm processors, despite us expecting them before the end of 2017. While there is a good indication that we shall see 10nm from Intel in 2018, it means that Chipzilla is two years behind with 10nm.

In August 2015, Intel announced its second generation 14nm process based on a processor codenamed Skylake. This was a tick from the 22nm Broadwell architecture. Broadwell itself was the tock (the new architecture) from Skylake.

Skylake arrived in August 2015 as the Gen 6 Intel or 6000 series. The original plan was to follow up with the 7th generation in 10nm and give it the codename Cannon Lake.

Obviously, 10nm didn’t ship in the following year as mass production was too much for it and even in the last days of December of 2017 Intel has yet to ship any 10nm parts. it could not even announce the Core Y, the easiest and smallest to make the 10nm core. There is some hope that this might happen in early 2018.

Instead of having Cannon Lake as 10nm being the Gen 7, Intel replaced the second generation of 14nm with another optimization known as Kaby Lake. While Kaby Lake did well in both mobile and desktop, it was only a minimal optimization of the 14nm predecessor.

Intel’s agony didn’t stop there. In October 2017 it introduced the second refinement of the 14nm process codenamed Coffee Lake and called it the Gen 8.

The most significant change was squeezing in more cores and L3, which affected the performance of the multithreaded applications but again, it didn’t help Intel get to 10nm. However, these processors did a good job fighting against AMD’s Ryzen series, despite being somewhat elderly tech.

The Tick Tock strategy today looks like Tick – Tock – Refresh – Refresh – and pray for the new Tick in 2018. Until early March 2017 and the Ryzen introduction, Intel was fighting itself. Of course, it didn’t delay its roadmap voluntarily, it had yield-related problems with its 10nm as we described a month ago.

Meanwhile, the successor of Ryzen should use the 12nm optimized 14nm manufacturing process from the GlobalFoundries, but it won’t bring significant leaps in performance. The successor to the original Ryzen will be an evolutionary step.

One of our industry sources once described Intel’s 10nm as Samsung’s / GlobalFoundries 7nm, which implies that the 10nm core from Intel can bring a lot of performance to the table. All Chipzilla needs is to have the 10nm Cannon Lake (desktop) and Ice Lake (notebooks) ready by the second part of 2018, and it will stand well to compete with AMD.

However, that means delays close to two years.


Will Intel Start Being More Aggressive With New Tech

December 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel CEO Brian Kzarnich has had enough of taking the safe approach and he is casting off the cardigan and bobble hat his mum insisted he wears and is going to take a few risks.

Dashing out a risky memo to Intel employees, he said that the company would be taking more risks in the future. He said that those chip things which made it shedloads of money… well they will not be Intel’s center any more.  Instead it will be more interested in data memory, FPGAs, IOT, artificial intelligence, and autonomous driving.

The Intel CEO also mentioned the company’s financial outlook and growth of recent times, with the increased focus on those same data-hungry fields that have led the company to achieve an almost 50/50 ratio in income divided by both PC and all other Intel growth areas.

Intel’s recent acquisitions of Nervana, Mobileye and Altera, just to name a few, have been some of the more evident of these, but the company has also been picking up slightly smaller companies as well.

To be fair, Intel’s consumer PC market hardly pays its way these days.

Kzarnich said that in the early 80s, he  was hired fresh out of college to be a process engineer in Intel’s New Mexico fab.  At the time, Intel made DRAM and in 1985 Andy Grove and Gordon Moore bet the company on a decision to get out of memory and switch to manufacturing microprocessors.

“I was about three months into the job when my boss walked in and said: ‘We’re not in the DRAM business anymore. We’ll shut the factory down'”. I remember calling up my father and telling him: “Well, I’ll be coming home.” Instead, I watched as Intel made a massive shift. It required downsizing, new investments, and a lot of change. Yet in December 1997-20 years ago this month, Time magazine named then Intel CEO Andy Grove its Man of the Year. “Under his leadership, Intel had transformed from embattled memory maker to the world’s leading microprocessor company and a leader of the digital revolution”, Kzarnich wrote.

He added: “Data is becoming the most valuable asset for any company. That’s why our growth strategy is centered on data: memory, FPGAs, IOT, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving. Anything that produces data, anything that requires a lot of computing, the vision is, we’re there.”

He said that within five to ten years “the world will run on Intel silicon”.

Intel was “inches away” from being a 50/50 company, meaning that half of its revenue comes from the PC and half from new growth markets. While in many of these new markets Intel is the underdog, it is an exciting challenge.

“The new normal for Intel is that we are going to take more risks. The new normal is that we will continue to make bold moves and try new things. We’ll make mistakes. Bold doesn’t always mean right or perfect. The new normal is that we’ll get good at trying new things, determining what works and moving forward”, he said.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with risky business, just so long as you don’t end up being filmed dancing in your underwear.


Sony Focuing On Its Sensor Business For Growth

December 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Corp is on track to report its highest-ever profit this year on strong sales of image sensors after years of losing ground in consumer electronics and hopes to develop the technology for use in robotics and self-driving cars as competition heats up.

The results will mark a significant turnaround for the conglomerate, once famed for leading the world in consumer gadgets such as its Walkman music player, but now finding a new focus on image sensors and gaming.

Sony  forecasts that operating profit in the year through March will more than double to 630 billion yen ($5.6 billion) compared with the year earlier and expects the chips division, most of which is made up of the image sensors business, to be the conglomerate’s biggest growth driver.

Executives say a technological breakthrough in image sensors and sea change in the company’s thinking are behind the success. The breakthrough, creating a sensor that captures more light to produce sharper images, coincided with soaring consumer demand for better smartphone cameras for sharing photos on social media.

The breakthrough, which involved reconfiguring the sensor layout and known as backside illumination, allowed Sony to grab nearly half of the market for image sensors.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to win if we did what our rivals were doing,” said Teruo Hirayama, technology chief of Sony’s chip business, recalling initial skepticism around the technology that is now used widely.

Japanese names such as Hitachi Ltd,  NEC Corp and Fujitsu Ltd,  which dominated mainstream chips through the late 1980s, have lost business to Asian rivals such as Samsung Electronics.

 Sony’s success “is really a function of having decided a long time ago to focus on that niche within semiconductors,” says Andrew Daniels, a Tokyo-based managing director at Indus Capital, an investment management firm. He declined to say whether his fund owns Sony shares.

“The process technology is very much that kind of ‘takumi-no-waza’,” he said, using a Japanese phrase for the pursuit of manufacturing perfection.

Is The New iMac Pro Worth $5K

December 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

An Apple iMac Pro with Vega graphics and 10 core Xeon CPU starts at $4,999 and if you grab one of these default settings, you will get it within a week or two. The maxed-out option costs more than double that in the US and close to three times the start sum in  Europe. 

You can choose an 18 core Xeon processor with 2.3GHz clock speed and turbo frequency to 4.3GHz and this option alone increases the price for an additional $2,400. After the original article, we just wanted to see how much the maximum setting option will cost you. 

If you pick 128GB 2666MHz DDR4,  four times the memory size from the default configuration, the price increases by another $2,400.

If you need more storage, upgrading from the default 1TB SSD to 4TB SSD will cost you $2,800. A Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16GB is additional $600. The standard configuration comes with Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB.

The Vesa mount adapter kit is just additional $79 and this is all the hardware you can upgrade from the default configuration. This gets you to $12,678.00 and if you add the Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X you will end up with a price of $13,177.98 and spend six to eight weeks waiting for your belloved machine.

In the UK the maximum option will cost you £12,428, while the EU lads who pay in Euros need to shell out more. 

The default option in the EU costs €5,499, due to our beloced MwST or VAT. The maxed out version in Germany will cost a whooping €16,156.98. 

The default configuration includes

2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor

Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz

32GB 2666MHz ECC memory, configurable up to 128GB

1TB SSD storage1

Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB HBM2 memory

10Gb Ethernet

Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

27-inch Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display


Apple Fixes A Vulnerability In HomeKit

December 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A security vulnerability has been uncovered in Apple’s connected home app, Homekit

Present in the current version of iOS 11.2, the bug, which was demonstrated to 9to5Mac, allows unauthorized control of connected smart accessories.

According to 9to5Mac’s source, the vulnerability was difficult to reproduce, and allowed unauthorized control of HomeKit-connected accessories including smart lights, thermostats, and plugs.

Although the flaw didn’t concern connected smart home products, instead it was to do with the HomeKit framework itself that helps to connect the different products from various smart device makers.

Since making Apple aware of the bug, the firm has rolled out a server-side fix that now prevents unauthorized access from occurring while limiting some functionality. Apple said an update to iOS 11.2 will be coming next week and this will restore that full functionality.

“The issue affecting HomeKit users running iOS 11.2 has been fixed. The fix temporarily disables remote access to shared users, which will be restored in a software update early next week,” Apple said in a statement to 9to5Mac.

The news of the HomeKit bug fix comes just a week after Apple issued a fix for the ‘devastating’ macOS High Sierra bug that allowed anyone to gain root access without a password.

The fix arrived as ‘Security Update 2017-001’, and is available to download from the Mac App Store, promising to plug the easy-to-exploit flaw.

In a statement, the firm said: “Security is a top priority for every Apple product, and regrettably we stumbled with this release of macOS.

“When our security engineers became aware of the issue Tuesday afternoon, we immediately began working on an update that closes the security hole.

The flaw let anyone gain admin rights on a macOS machine by typing “root” as the username in the authentication dialogue box, leaving the password fielding blank and clicking on the “unlock” button twice.


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