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The Final Bottom Line

We have written thousands of "The Bottom Lines" over the last couple of decades, but this is truly the last one. What I wrote in my "Goodbye HardOCP - Hello Intel" statement is not a cruel April Fool's Day joke. Tomorrow is my first day working for Intel...promise. I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all you guys. The simple fact is that without YOU, there would not be 20 years of HardOCP history to sit around and reminisce about, but make no mistake it is the readers that made HardOCP what it is. We have long tried to gauge what you wanted to read about, and how you wanted that delivered, then we tried our best to fulfill that desire. During the last 20 years, there is no doubt that there were times that we stumbled along the way, but I always tried to learn from our shortcomings to make us better on the other side. And again, it was the readers that held our feet to the fire and made us get better at producing content that you wanted to read. The readers made HardOCP what it was. Many thanks to a long list of editors and hardware enthusiast that I have worked with here at HardOCP. While I am not going to list them all, Brent Justice, Paul Johnson, Dan Dobrowloski, and Cliff Murphy (our backend admin) have been with me the longest and truly made HardOCP better. Many thanks gentlemen! While HardOCP will no longer be publishing, the HardForum will still be going strong. I will still be part of that community and you will see me active there, so I will not be hard to find. You will also be seeing me all over the country very soon, hopefully close to your backyard, and if you get the chance, please swing by so we can talk Intel tech. If you want to keep tabs on what is going on with me, give my Twitter account a follow @KyleBennett. Ongoing Discussion
Posted by Kyle March 31, 2019 8:23 PM (CDT)

The DHS Issues Medical Advisory for Medtronic Cardiac Devices

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a cybersecurity warning that documents vulnerabilities in the Medtronic Conexus Radio Frequency Telemetry Protocol. Medtronic makes cardio-defibrillators that are planted into a patient's chest and can be read and programmed by trained medical personnel. This allows the devices to communicate with home monitoring devices and Carelink programmers found at doctor's offices. These vulnerabilities require a low level of skill to exploit as the proprietary Conexus telemetry protocol utilized within this ecosystem does not implement authentication or authorization. An attacker can inject, replay, modify, and/or intercept data within the telemetry communication. This communication protocol provides the ability to read and write memory values to affected implanted cardiac devices; therefore, an attacker could exploit this communication protocol to change memory in the implanted cardiac device. Because the devices also lack encryption, attackers can listen to communications, including the transmission of sensitive data. Medtronics is working on developing updates to fix the vulnerabilities.

"It is possible with this attack to cause harm to a patient, either by erasing the firmware that is giving necessary therapy to the patient's heart, or by directly invoking shock related commands on the defibrillator," he said. "Since this protocol is unauthenticated, the ICD cannot discern if communications its receiving are coming from a trusted Medtronic device, or an attacker." A successful attacker could erase or reprogram the defibrillator's firmware, and run any command on the device.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 4:05 PM (CDT)

Irdeto Launches Denuvo Anti Cheat

Denuvo's DRM software is extensively used throughout the AAA gaming industry, but it's also been the focus of several recent controversies. Some have accused it of degrading performance in the games that implement it, while others claim it barely puts a dent in the piracy of more popular titles. But at GDC 2019, Irdeto, the company behind Denuvo, officially launched an "Anti-Cheat solution to protect against cheating in video games and esports." They claim it combines game agnostic machine learning algorithms with "the latest hardware security features offered by Intel and AMD" for maximum effectiveness. All that sounds relatively hardware intensive to me, but Denuvo claims their technology has "no impact on the gameplay experience and its non-intrusive reporting methodology ensures the developer's workflow is never impacted." Denuvo didn't mention any specific customers in the press release or their product datasheets, but they did publish a cheesy video ahead of the launch, which you can see below:

Unlike other products, Denuvo Anti-Cheat operates on the binary, not the source code and integrates directly into the product build process. It also does not interfere with debuggers, instrumentation tools, or profilers and it does not require APIs or SDKs. This means fewer tools for the build engineers to manage and for developers to install.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 12:03 PM (CDT)

AMD Confirms Stadia Will Run on Intel CPUs

As one of the world's most pervasive cloud service providers, Google is in a better position to launch a successful game streaming platform than almost anyone. The hardware they choose to use for the launch of their "Stadia" streaming service will undoubtedly influence future game streaming efforts, hence AMD's stock price shot through the roof when Google announced they were using AMD GPUs. However, PCGamesN writer Dave James noticed that Google was conspicuously silent when it came to Stadia's CPUs. They were happy to share clock speeds, cache numbers and the fact that they're using "custom" x86 chips, but they refused to confirm the vendor of the platform's CPU. Eventually, AMD reached out and said that "the Stadia platform is using custom AMD Radeon datacentre GPUs, not AMD CPUs." Barring any surprise announcements from VIA, that more or less confirms that Stadia will run on some sort of Intel CPU platform, but just why Google refused to mention Chipzilla by name remains a mystery. The author suggested that Intel might not want to associate themself with what might be a "doomed" venture. Maybe Google plans to switch to EPYC CPUs or an unannounced Intel server platform sometime in the future, or maybe they just don't think it's particularly relevant. Whatever the reason may be, I also find the omission to be curious, and look forward to seeing what happens with Stadia's hardware in the future.

A switch to AMD's EPYC processors has been mooted as a potential future step for Stadia, and Google's Phil Harrison told us himself that "we're just talking about Gen 1 at the moment, but there will be iterations on that technology over time," so there is some potential for a changing of the processor guard either before or after launch. Whatever the truth of the matter is I still find it beyond strange that no-one involved is talking about the Intel CPUs being used for Google Stadia, even if they're not necessarily doing anything that special with regards the innovative streaming service. Certainly the multi-GPU features on offer with the Radeon graphics cards warranted mention, but just a note on the specs slide alone could have still done good things for Intel.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 11:20 AM (CDT)

Ransomware Encourages Victims to Subscribe to PewDiePie

PewDiePie's battle with Bollywood star T-Series has pushed some of his more enthusiastic fans to extremes. A group of hackers used printers to promote their favorite YouTuber last year, and more recently, they hacked their way into Smart TVs, Chromecasts, and Google Home devices. Now, recent reports claim that new strains of ransomware are encouraging users to subscribe to PewDiePie. The "PewDiePie ransomware" released last year didn't even bother to save encryption keys, which means whatever user data it targeted was gone for good, while a new strain that popped up this January runs in Java to make detection more difficult. However, instead of asking for a ransom, the later program simply offers a link to PewDiePie's subscription page. It claims that public keys will be released if PewDiePie hits 100 million subscribers before T-Series, while the user's data will never see the light of day again if T-Series hits that mark first. ZDNet says the software was "put together as a joke," but still managed to infect a few users, and that the code is now publicly available on GitHub. Thanks to AceGoober for the tip, and check out a demonstration of the ransomware below:

Both ransomware strains show the level of idiocy the competition for YouTube's top spot has reached. While T-Series fans have remained mostly quiet most of this time, a portion of PewDiePie's fans appears to have lost their minds and engaged in media stunts bordering on criminal behavior... The message itself has become a meme, and not in a good way.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 9:26 AM (CDT)

Nvidia Releases "Creator Ready" RTX Drivers

Earlier this week, Nvidia rolled out a set of "creator ready" drivers that are compatible with consumer GPUs, but optimized for professional applications. This level of support is typically reserved for drivers that only work with pricey Quadro GPUs, but Nvidia says they've conducted "exhaustive multi-app testing" in programs like Adobe Premiere and After Effects. Support for this driver goes all the way back to Pascal cards, and extends to Nvidia's more affordable offerings like the GTX 1050 and the more recent 1660. Perhaps even more interestingly, Nvidia claims they've worked with a number of software vendors to leverage the raytracing and machine-learning muscle their RTX cards offer. Autodesk Arnold and Unreal Engine 4, for example, now support RTX accelerated rendering, and Redcine-X Pro seemingly uses Turing's updated video processing block to decode 8K video without taxing the CPU. Meanwhile, Lightroom uses "an extensively trained convolutional neural network to provide state-of-the-art image enhancing for RAW photographs." While I haven't tested Lightroom's new features myself, in my experience, neural networks can perform small miracles when processing images. Nvidia also claims the new driver features significant performance improvements in Photoshop, Premiere, Blender Cycles, and Cinema 4D.

"Creators are constantly faced with tight deadlines and depend on having the latest hardware and creative tools to complete their projects on time, without compromising quality," said Eric Bourque, senior software development manager at Autodesk. "We're excited that NVIDIA is introducing a Creator Ready Driver program because it will bring Arnold users an even higher level of support, helping them bring their creative visions to life faster and more efficiently." The first Creator Ready Driver is now available from NVIDIA.com or GeForce Experience. From GeForce Experience, you can switch between Game Ready and Creator Ready Drivers at any time by clicking the menu (three vertical dots in the top right corner). Creator Ready Drivers are supported for Turing-based GeForce RTX, GTX and TITAN GPUs, Volta-based TITAN V, Pascal-based GeForce GTX and TITAN GPUs, and all modern Quadro GPUs.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 8:57 AM (CDT)

Monster Hunter: World to Receive a 40GB High Resolution Texture Pack DLC

Capcom has announced Monster Hunter: World will receive a 40GB High Resolution Texture Pack DLC. The High Resolution Texture Pack will require 8GB of graphics memory (VRAM) and is free. Earlier this month, Capcom acknowledged that the PC is the 2nd most popular platform for Monster Hunter: World. Capcom's spokesperson was happy that the PC version of the game had broadened its appeal to users in Europe. Capcom has more expansions and content coming for the action game.

"We have announced Monster Hunter World Iceborne and will have more news to share in the future. Given the success of Monster Hunter World, it will be a key project for us," he said. "There is also more to come that I'm not allowed to discuss yet, if you want another interview with me on behalf of Capcom in the future."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 3:46 PM (CDT)

Facebook Employees Had Access to Millions of User Passwords Stored in Plain Text

In a new blog post entitled "Keeping Passwords Secure" Facebook VP Engineering, Security and Privacy Pedro Canahuati explains how the social media giant accidentally stored Facebook user's passwords on internal data storage systems in plain text. Pedro explains how "these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them. We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users." To keep your account safe, Facebook suggests changing your Facebook and Instagram passwords, pick strong passwords, use a password manager, and enable a security key or two-factor authentication. In recent months, Facebook has vowed to clean up its act as it has been accused of sharing user data, one click account takeover bugs, paying minors to harvest their data without parental consent, had its enterprise certificate revoked by Apple, access token hack, Cambridge Analytica, and many more fines and hacks. I would suggest picking a password so long and complex that Facebook employees would get tired from writing it down.

As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems. This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 1:17 PM (CDT)

CD Projekt Red Reiterates Plan to Release 2 Games by 2021

In post by an official CD PROJEKT Moderator on their forums, the company re-iterated its promise to "release a second AAA game by 2021." The Polish company started teasing Cyberpunk 2077 way back in 2012, and the game still doesn't have a release window, but just what else the company is working on remains a mystery. Its not clear if the studio has been secretly chipping away at this second project for some time, if its somehow derived from Cyberpunk 2077 or The Witcher (which could reduce development time), or if it's simply smaller-scope AAA release, but the developer hasn't divulged any details about it so far.

"As far as the strategy of the CD PROJEKT Capital Group for 2016-2021 is concerned, its plans to release the second AAA game by 2021 remain unchanged. We are currently focusing on the production and promotion of Cyberpunk, so we do not want to comment on further projects. Donata Poplawska"

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 11:26 AM (CDT)

Health Apps Sell User Data

A recent study from the BMJ found that many popular health apps share more data with advertisers than they probably should. The researchers analyzed 24 Android apps with scripts that simulate real world usage, and found that 19 of them shared potentially sensitive user data (PDF Warning) with 55 "unique entities." 14 of the apps transmitted the data over an unencrypted connection. The researchers stressed that the entities collecting the data not only have the ability to aggregate it with user information from other sources, but that they turn around and sell this information to other 3rd parties, which represents a huge potential privacy violation.

Sharing of user data is routine, yet far from transparent. Clinicians should be conscious of privacy risks in their own use of apps and, when recommending apps, explain the potential for loss of privacy as part of informed consent. Privacy regulation should emphasise the accountabilities of those who control and process user data. Developers should disclose all data sharing practices and allow users to choose precisely what data are shared and with whom.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 10:34 AM (CDT)

Intel Previews Processors and Graphics Software at GDC 2019

At their GDC 2019 conference, Intel confirmed that they'll launch 9th generation mobile processors in the 2nd quarter of 2019. While 9th generation H-series and Y-series "Ice Lake" parts recently showed up on the EEC website, Intel told PC World that these parts are based on 14nm Coffee Lake Silicon. The company also mentioned that one of their goals with his release is "longer battery life" for gamers and more casual users alike, and they're promoting their Wi-Fi 6 capable AX200 chip and 3D XPoint memory with the new chips Meanwhile, Intel also showed off a new software suite for their modern IGPs and (presumably) their future GPUs. The "Intel Graphics Command Center" is essentially their answer to Nvidia's GeForce Experience and AMD's Game Advisor, as it automatically scans your PC for supported games and applies the optimal settings for your current hardware. An "early access" version of the control panel is available on the Microsoft Store, and oddly enough, it says it was "released" on 11/26/2018. Unlike other app stores, the Microsoft Store doesn't log updates or list old changes, so it was presumably in some kind of closed alpha before being officially launched today.

We asked, you answered. You're tired of our 'old, boring, corporate-looking' Graphics Control Panel. We were too and we designed a completely new one from the ground up! We're incorporating the changes you - the gamers, home theater enthusiasts, professionals, and everyday tinkerers requested. Using a phased approach, we're rolling out something we're proud to share with you: introducing the Intel Graphics Command Center.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 9:54 AM (CDT)

Intel Shows Off Graphics Card Designs at GDC 2019

Intel reportedly unveiled some "early designs" of their upcoming discrete graphics cards at their GDC 2019 presentation. The graphics card in the first and 2nd slides they showed largely reassembles an Optane 905P SSD with a blower fan and a conspicuously short PCB. While the Xe's specs and performance levels are still unknown, to me, the short PCB suggests that Intel will use some kind of on-package memory with their upcoming GPU, or a relatively narrow GDDR memory bus at the very least. A shot of the back reveals a full backplate, as well as 3 DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI port. Finally, the last slide shows a card with a fan right on top of the graphics chip, which is something I haven't seen on a high-end reference card in some time.

Unfortunately, full specifications are still not yet available for Intel's upcoming graphics card. Real world performance is essentially completely unknown for now. As the year goes on, there is a good chance Intel may share some numbers given how eager the company is to make everyone aware that they have a major new product incoming.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 8:32 AM (CDT)