Last week an alleged slide leak purporting to show AMD’s desktop roadmap appeared and it was quickly picked up by most tech sites. Not us of course, since we knew it was rubbish and we’ve got a couple of inboxes littered with similar fakes.
The slide indicated that AMD was about to ditch big-core FX processors, something that has been rumoured for a couple of years. This is not the case. AMD will not pull the plug on FX products in 2015.
AMD Manager of APU/CPU Product Reviews James Prior told Gamers Nexus that the slide was fake and that FX parts aren’t going anywhere. The actual AMD roadmap doesn’t even cover 2015. Prior said it was “rare” to see roadmaps that go more than a year into the future.
That is odd, because we got three such roadmaps over the weekend. One of them is an AMD ARM consumer roadmap 2014-2016. Sounds legit. Perhaps we should publish it just to see how many clickbait loving news editors would fall for it?
Anyway you can submit your fake roadmaps any day of the week, including Sunday. We accept death threats only on weekdays, 9AM to 6PM. Nick Farrell’s astral initiation rituals are available every weekend. Bring your own chicken (BYOC).
The company’s policies for shutting off sales to retailers and shipping licenses to OEMS (original equipment manufacturers) are posted on its site, which was recently updated to show that Windows 7′s “retail end of sales” date was Oct. 30.
The next deadline, marked as “End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled,” will be Oct. 30, 2014, less than a year away.
Microsoft’s practice, first defined in 2010, is to stop selling an older operating system in retail one year after the launch of its successor, and halt delivery of the previous Windows edition to OEMs two years after a new version launches. The company shipped Windows 8, Windows 7′s replacement, in October 2012.
As recently as late September, the last timeComputerworld cited the online resource, Microsoft had not filled in the deadlines for Windows 7. At the time, Computerworld said that the end-of-October dates were the most likely.
A check of Microsoft’s own online store showed that the company has pulled Windows 7 from those virtual shelves.
In practical terms, the end-of-retail-sales date has been an artificial and largely meaningless deadline, as online retailers have continued to sell packaged copies, sometimes for years, by restocking through distributors which squirreled away older editions.
Today, for example, Amazon.com had a plentiful supply of various versions of Windows 7 available to ship, as did technology specialist Newegg.com. The former also listed copies of Windows Vista and even Windows XP for sale through partners.
Microsoft also makes a special exception for retail sales, telling customers that between the first and second end-of-sale deadlines they can purchase Windows 7 from computer makers. “When the retail software product reaches its end of sales date, it can still be purchased through OEMs (the company that made your PC) until it reaches the end of sales date for PCs with Windows preinstalled,” the company’s website stated.
The firmer deadline is the second, the one for offering licenses to OEMs. According to Microsoft, it “will continue to allow OEMs to sell PCs preinstalled with the previous version for up to two years after the launch date of the new version” (emphasis added).
After that date, Microsoft shuts off the spigot, more or less, although OEMs, especially smaller “white box” builders, can and often do stockpile licenses prior to the cut-off.
But officially, the major PC vendors — like Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo — will discontinue most Windows 7 PC sales in October 2014, making Windows 8 and its follow-ups, including Windows 8.1, the default.
Even then, however, there are ways to circumvent the shut-down. Windows 8 Pro, the more expensive of the two public editions, includes “downgrade” rights that allow PC owners to legally install an older OS. OEMs and system builders can also use downgrade rights to sell a Windows 8- or Windows 8.1-licensed system, but factory-downgrade it to Windows 7 Professional before it ships.
Enterprises with volume license agreements are not at risk of losing access to Windows 7, as they are granted downgrade rights as part of those agreements. In other words, while Microsoft may try to stymie Windows 7 sales, the 2009 operating system will long remain a standard.
As of the end of November, approximately 46.6% of all personal computers ran Windows 7, according to Web measurement vendor Net Applications, a number that represented 51.3% of all the systems running Windows.
Software king of the world Microsoft is preparing to fix more than eight flaws in Windows, Office and Internet explorer tomorrow. The patches will fix an unspecified number of vulnerabilities in their flagship products. Three of the updates, affecting Windows and Internet Explorer, are rated critical.
All supported versions of Windows, including the recently-released 8.1, are affected by at least one critical vulnerability. The one bulletin that affects IE fixed a critical vulnerability in all versions of the browser, including the new IE 11. Three other Windows bulletins are rated Important. Two other bulletins, both rated important, affect all supported versions of Microsoft Office.
Microsoft will also release their other usual monthly updates, including a new version of the Malicious Software Removal Tool and a large number of non-security updates. Curiously while many thought it likely that Redmond will be fixing a zero day bug in Windows and Office. The vulnerability is being used in zero-day attacks specifically against Office. The Patch Tuesday updates this month will not address this vulnerability.
Redmond said that only some Office users are being attacked, not users of the other products who are not running an affected version of Office.
“Each time a new version of [a supported browser] is released, we begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version,” Google said in a post to the Google Apps blog.
Google regularly warns customers when it has dropped a version of IE from the support list, so the announcement was not really suprising. In September 2012, Google said the same of IE8, and in 2011, of IE7, as Microsoft readied new versions.
Microsoft launched IE11 last month for Windows 8.1 as part of that free update to Windows 8. While it has yet to ship IE11 for Windows 7, it will likely do so this month, based on the release three weeks ago of a blocking toolkit for the browser.
“Google’s test plans have been adjusted to now stop all testing and engineering work related to Internet Explorer 9,” the company said today.
As is its practice, Google will also begin warning users of Gmail and other services that it has dropped IE9 through messages urging them to upgrade.
Google’s policy is to support only the current version of a browser, and its immediate predecessor. Its ditch-IE9 move was the first by a major online service provider.
Older, unsupported browsers can still be used to connect to Google Apps and other of its services, but some features may be off-limits or limited, and at some point the apps may stop working entirely in IE9.
On a support page dedicated to its browser support policy, for example, Google noted that its Calendar app displays in read-only mode under IE8. In the same document, Google encouraged users that rely on older versions of IE to “consider a dual browser strategy.”
The end-of-support plan for Google Apps will not disrupt access to Google’s search site via older browsers, including IE9.
Google does not have a corresponding policy for operating systems. In fact, Google recently poked at Microsoft when it said it would continue to support Windows XP with its own Chrome browser for at least a year after Microsoft stops patching IE8 on the aged OS this coming April.
Microsoft launched IE9 in March 2011. The browser runs on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft will continue to support IE9 on those platforms until 2017 and 2020, respectively.
The Windows 8.1 launch didn’t get much attention, which probably has something to do with the fact that it’s basically Windows 8 done right. However, users of AMD APUs could have a good reason to celebrate.
According to AMD’s senior marketing manager Clarice Simmons, Windows 8.1 is a lot better than Windows 8 when it comes to harnessing the potential of AMD silicon. Writing in her blog, Simmons said the new OS could deliver performance gains of up to 9.5 percent on some PCs based on AMD APUs.
However, her numbers are for the A10-6800K and the 9.5 percent gain only applies to machines with an outdated video driver. With the same driver, the difference is actually 3.5 percent, which still isn’t bad but it’s not nearly as good as 9.5 percent.
“Our work with Microsoft includes development on the essential operating system “plumbing” that enables Windows to directly leverage AMD technology in order to run more efficiently. The two companies also cooperate on the development and tuning of the latest AMD video drivers,”wrote Simmons.
“Of course AMD’s fast CPU and GPU cores contribute to high performance, but having software that is optimized to take advantage of the AMD hardware architecture is a significant advantage. Tuning our device drivers to simultaneously suit AMD hardware, software applications, and Windows 8.1 makes systems more streamlined.”
Simmons also pointed out that AMD Wireless Display works better on Windows 8.1, due to better architectural implementation and support for Miracast, better ecosystem support and new solutions that enable the OS to tap low latency display encode paths available in Radeons.
Georg Lukas has penned a detailed post claiming that Google is using what he calls ‘horribly broken’ RC4 and MD5 as the default cipher on all SSL connections of Android devices.
He said that both both are extremely insecure as they are both broken and can be easily compromised, but what is odd is that Android used to use a pretty strong DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA ciphers till Android version 2.2.1. During the release of Android 2.3.4 when RC4 and MD5 were elevated as the default cipher and they are still being used on latest Android versions.
But it seems it was neither NSA spooks nor Google’s intention to weaken Android that was the reason for the dodgy promotion of RC4 and MD5. Lucas found that it was all Oracle’s fault. Google engineers were simply implementing what Java’s Reference Implementation (RI 6) were recommending.
Lucas further said the cipher order on the vast majority of Android devices was defined by Sun in 2002 and taken over into the Android project in 2010 as an attempt to improve compatibility. Question is how soon will it take Google to fix the problem, or will its chums in the NSA say that it can’t.
The company said the new SM3267 integrated controller is expected to deliver up to 160MB/s read, and 60MB/s write speeds through a single channel; that would be a 30% to 50% performance improvement over today’s USB 3.0 flash drive technology.
Even though the USB 3.0 specification has the capability to support 4.8Gbps throughput speeds, the speed of a USB 3.0-enabled flash drive is dictated by the speed of the accessing flash devices in the drive. Today, most consumer-USB 3.0 flash drives support about 100MB/s read speeds.
We are pleased to announce that SM3267 has received design-ins from most of our current USB controller customers, including many top-tier OEMs, and we expect SM3267-based USB 3.0 flash drives will be commercially available starting in the fourth quarter of 2013,” Wallace Kou, CEO of Silicon Motion, said in a statement.
The new integrated chip will also be able to run at lower voltages, from 5 volts to 1.2 volts, enabling a 25% to 30% lower USB flash drive device temperature compared with other USB 3.0 flash controller products in the market, Silicon Motion said.
The new IC will support the vast majority of NAND flash technology, including new triple-level cell (TLC), multi-level cell (MLC), high speed Toggle, and ONFI DDR NAND manufactured by Samsung, Toshiba, SanDisk, SK Hynix, Micron and Intel.
The new chip has already passed both USB-IF compliance testing and WHCK (Windows Hardware Certification Kit) tests for Windows 7 and Windows 8.
The new IC is available in a Chip-on-Board (COB) and in a 48-pin QFN green package.
Not everyone can afford the latest GPU, and even a lot of people who can simply don’t want to. Of course, each new generation brings plenty of new features and improvements to the table, but the price tag is often the most compelling argument.
Hawaii is set to be announced tonight, although we will probably have to wait a few weeks for retail availability. Between now and mid- to late-October many vendors, disties and retailers will try to get rid of excess Tahiti stock and we’re already seeing some movement in Europe, a bit less in the US, so we’ll focus on Europe.
For example, the MSI HD 7950 Boost Twin Frozr III can be ordered for $199 in a couple of German shops. That is down from$250 roughly a month ago.
As for the HD 7970, there are a few interesting deals. The Asus HD 7970 DirectCU II Top now goes for €249, down from $349 a month ago. The HD 7970 cards from PowerColor and MSI are available for $249 as of yesterday. In case that’s not good enough, the HD 7970 GHz Edition clocked at 1050MHz is also seeing substantial cuts. The Asus ROG Matrix Platinum is widely available for $299 and less. It cost $399 a week ago. The non platinum version is even cheaper.
In any case, these are some very tempting cuts, but bear in mind that Hawaii has yet to launch and the best deals are yet to come. Until we know a bit more about Hawaii pricing, we can’t exactly recommend a venerable Tahiti card, but bargain hunters should definitely take them into consideration.
In case you’re interested, check your nearest price search engine. However, we should probably give AIBs and channel players a couple of more weeks to adjust the prices ahead of launch, as they could come up with even better deals.
The next generation of Radeons is about to launch, but so far AMD has done a rather good job at keeping the details away from prying eyes. We got some info on the new branding scheme, some vague performance claims and that’s it – very little in the way of hard tech facts.
Now AMD is shedding more light on its new GPUs. In an interview with Forbes, VP and General Manager of AMD’s Graphics Business Unit, Matt Skynner, said the chips are coming in Q4, which we already knew, but he also confirmed what we reported weeks ago. The cards should end up a bit cheaper than many people had expected.
“We’re not targeting a $999 single GPU solution like our competition because we believe not a lot of people have that $999,” he said. “We normally address what we call the ultra-enthusiast segment with a dual-GPU offering like the 7990. So this next-generation line is targeting more of the enthusiast market versus the ultra-enthusiast one.”
Basically this means AMD is taking a more frugal approach, as it will not focus on the ultra-high-end market. Bang for buck, that’s what AMD is going for.
“It’s also extremely efficient. [Nvidia's Kepler] GK110 is nearly 30% bigger from a die size point of view. We believe we have the best performance for the die size for the enthusiast GPU,” he added.
This is very encouraging news for end-users. The Hawaii die should end up 10 to 15 percent bigger than Tahiti, yet AMD reckons it can take on much bigger GK110 products. A 30 percent smaller die means higher margins, yields and more room to come up with competitive prices. In addition, it should result in a significant improvement in performance-per-watt, which means most users won’t have to upgrade their PSUs to get a significant performance boost, especially those upgrading from 40nm products.
Windows Defender, which used to be a pretty good free security system, has slipped in quality.
An endpoint security study released this week by independent German lab AV-Test evaluated 28 antivirus products against three criteria: protection, repair and usability. Products could earn up to six points in each category for a possible total of 18 points. Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab and Symantec lead the field while the protection packages from Avast, F-Secure and GData share fourth place.
All of the software earned top scores of 15.2 points or more nearly five points higher than the overall result obtained by Microsoft’s Windows Defender or Security Essentials when used together with the Windows Firewall, reported AV-Test.
“This proves that the use of external security solutions can lead to a massive improvement when it comes to system protection.”
The best at stopping malware, as measured by the lab’s “protection” tests came from Bitdefender, F-Secure and Kaspersky. The best free programs were Avast and AVG but only made it to eighth and twelfth place respectively,” said AV-Test.
“The Windows Defender provided by Microsoft in its operating system set a very low benchmark value with a detection rate of just 79 per cent.
Microsoft’s free endpoint security software, however, did earn top marks in usability, which only five other tested products managed to equal.
Members of the open-source Fedora Linux Project are plotting a different path for the operating system. The plan is for the distribution to evolve from a general-purpose open-source operating system to a new model with core functionality and then separate specific builds for different use cases.
The move comes from the Flock conference which is also a move away from FUDcon (Fedora Users and Developer) conference that Fedora has had for the past eight years. The feeling is that FUDcon events were typically loaded with talks about things that Fedora was already doing, rather than looking forward at the strategic future of the project.
Fedora developer Matthew Miller made a call to rearchitect the Fedora Linux distribution so that it became more agile. The idea is to make Fedora modular enough to fit into different environments. Miller’s proposal is to have a series of Rings. Ring One provides the base level of core functionality and provides the foundation on which other levels can be built. Ring Two functionality would be driven by Fedora’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that will be enabled to add and build the functionality that is required for their specific use cases.
The idea is that the core of Fedora will be closely vetted. The most recent Fedora 19 release, code-named Schrödinger’s Cat, appeared potentially dead and alive in July. Fedora 20 is currently in development and it is not clear if any of the changes from Flock will be used.
Intel’s new SSD 530 series was detailed a while ago, but now it is finally official. Intel has formally announced the new drives in three form factors: mSATA, M.2 and 2.5-inch.
The drives will be available in a wide range of capacities, starting at 80GB, through 120GB, 180GB, 240GB, 360GB and 480GB for 2.5-inch drives. As for M.2 and mSATA drives, they will be available in 80GB, 120GB, 180GB and 360GB capacities.
Intel’s new 530 drives are based on 20nm MLC flash and the brains behind the brawn come from LSI, in the form of the SandForce SF-2281 controller. Although transfer speeds will vary depending on capacity, the fastest 530-series drives will deliver read speeds of up to 540MB/s and write at 490MB/s. As for random performance, they boast 41k IOPS in random read and 80k IOPS in random write.
Intel also says the 530-series is its most power efficient storage product to date, which is hardly surprising, but it is good news for notebook vendors who will use mSATA units.
As rumored earlier, AMD has now officially announced two new FX-Series CPUs based on the Piledriver CPU architecture, the FX-9590 and the FX-9370. Both announced CPUs are eight-core SKUs and a part of AMD’s Vishera series with 32nm Piledriver CPU architecture and AMD managed to bring the maximum Turbo clock speed of the FX-9590 to 5.0GHz.
According to AMD, these new CPUs, including the 5.0GHz FX-9590, are an emphatic performance statement aimed at those gamers seeking ultra-high resolutions wiht AMD Eyefinity technology. Both are unlocked for easier overclocking, feature AMD Turbo Core 3.0 technology and, although not officially confirmed, should have the same 220W TDP.
Unfortunately, AMD did not announce the precise specs but since they are pretty much the FX-8350 on steroids, we are looking at 4x2MB of L2 and 8MB of L3 cache and 1866MHz DDR3 memory support. AMD only announced the Turbo clocks for both parts set at 5.0GHz for the FX-9590 and 4.7GHz for the FX-9370 but if they share that much details with the FX-8350, you can expect the base clock to be set at 4.8GHz for the FX-9590 and 4.5GHz for the FX-9370.
AMD also did not shed any light on actual retail availability or the price of the new FX-Series CPUs as these will be initially available only for system integrators.
We will surely keep an eye out for them and hopefully we will see a benchmark or two soon.
The firm admitted that it might take a while, but insisted that the benefits of its latest churn of the Windows operating system will eventually win over businesses that have been ignoring it.
Sysaid Technologies, a provider of IT Service Management (ITSM) tools, claimed that its IT Benchmark data shows that only 0.53 percent of enterprise computers running Windows are on Windows 8. The firm said that this contrasts with the uptake of Windows 7, which was installed on 11.3 percent of enterprise PCs six months after launch.
Brad Anderson, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Server and Tools division told The INQUIRER that he could not comment on the figures because he had not seen them, but said he is confident that Windows 8 eventually will be accepted.
“With Windows 8, we’ve sold over 100 million licenses and we showed how big customers like Emirates Airlines are using the tablets and Windows 8 in their environment. It offers a significant overhaul in the experience, built with touch in mind,” said Anderson, who was speaking at the Microsoft TechEd conference in New Orleans.
Anderson said that with Windows 8, Microsoft is offering consistency across its operating systems with the Modern user interface (UI), although this is one aspect of Windows 8 that has divided users.
“The interface that is in Windows 8 is also on Windows Phone and Xbox, it’s a consistent experience across all of the things that we’re building at Microsoft, and I think people are getting more comfortable with it,” he said.
Anderson said consumer power will help to drive uptake of Windows 8, as pressure from employees will galvanise IT departments into adopting the software that their users are bringing into the workplace as part of the bring your own device (BYOD) trend.
“Consumers are pushing IT to embrace technology and enable them to do things that IT would have taken a lot longer to do. I think as more Windows tablets and Windows Phones are sold around the world, that will help to push IT to embrace these things at a quicker pace,” he said.
At TechEd, Microsoft showed features that are still to come in the Windows 8.1 service pack that it will release later this year, and also showcased some devices that are likely to ship with it.
Microsoft Corp is bringing back the Windows “start” button, offering a trimmed down version among a slew of improvements aimed at winning over tablet users and placating PC customers alienated by Windows 8.
The world’s largest software company is looking to re-energize sales of its latest Windows version, which has not made the splash with computer users it was hoping for. Executives say the plan is now to update Windows periodically, rather than waiting three years or so between big releases.
Although Microsoft has sold more than 100 million Windows 8 licenses since October, broadly in line with Windows 7 three years ago, the company must tackle a dwindling PC user base and its inability to make a mark in the exploding tablet market.
Shipments of traditional PCs – the most reliable gauge of Windows’ popularity – are expected to fall almost 8 percent this year, while Microsoft’s Surface has taken less than 2 percent of the tablet market.
Windows 8 was designed to be used both on touch-screen tablets and traditional PCs. But while touch-screen users tend to like the new “tile”-based interface, many mouse and keyboard users complained that the new design was confusing.
Confirming speculation, Microsoft said the Windows 8.1 update will have a button in the bottom left corner of the screen that acts like the “start” button in previous versions of Windows. Although it will not be labeled “start”, it features the Windows logo and takes the user straight to a grid of applications.
“The work you are seeing us do here is continuing to advance the modern (interface), while really taking into account some of the things we’ve learned from people who still want to use the desktop, to make the transition easier,” Antoine Leblond, corporate vice president of the Windows unit, said in an advance briefing on the Windows 8.1 update last week.
Microsoft is only making features of the new software public on Thursday.