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PCIe SSDs Will Overtake SATA in 2019

A recent report from Digitimes claims that PCIe SSDs could finally overtake SATA SSD shipments in 2019. Unit prices for 512GB PCIe SSDs have supposedly fallen 11% sequentially, down to a price of $55 in Q1 2019, while SATA SSD prices only dropped 9%. The price gap between the different SSDs was around 30% in 2018, and according to the publication's market sources, that gap is only going to shrink as time goes on. Meanwhile, thanks to the rapidly falling prices of NAND flash memory chips, total SSD shipments are expected to rise dramatically. Digitimes expects shipments to increase "20-25%" in 2019, while a separate report claims that changes in enterprise market shipments could be even more dramatic. Relatively low prices for high performance drives with capacities of up to 16TB are apparently tempting many companies away from HDDs. Meanwhile, laptop makers are starting to ship lower-cost devices with SSDs by default, and according to PCPartPicker's latest charts, retail prices for standalone consumer drives have been dropping as well. Overall, it looks like 2019 will be a great year for anyone who's looking for more speedy storage, but the big flash manufacturer's efforts to slow production could stop the tumbling prices by 2020.

Falling average selling prices for consumer Gen 3.0x2 PCIe SSDs fitted in notebooks will accelerate the adoption of such SSDs by OEMs. This, coupled with demand for ever-higher storage capacity and speed to support cloud computing, 5G and autonomous driving applications, will further stimulate market demand for PCIe SSDs and inspire brand vendors to gear up production of such lucrative storage devices and related chips, the sources indicated. For instance, Taiwan-based IC designers Silicon Motion Technology, Phison Electronics, and Silicon Integrated Systems are racing to roll out enhanced version of PCI SSD controller chips, while major brand vendors such as Kingston Technology, Adata Technology, Transcend Information, Seagate and Micron have also listed PCIe SSDs as their mainstream product lines.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 10:17 AM (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)

MSI Expected to Overtake Samsung in the Curved Monitor Market

A recent report from Digitimes claims that MSI could soon steal the title of "world's largest supplier of curved gaming monitors" from Samsung in 2019. While flat monitors have dominated "gaming monitor" sales in the past, MSI claims that curved monitors accounted for about 60% of all gaming monitor shipments in 2018, and could rise to 66.7% in 2019. The gaming hardware market is still growing, even as the PC market continues to shrink as a whole, so its not surprising to see the big manufacturers increase their focus on their enthusiast and "gaming" lineups.

The company's motherboard business is currently facing issues including CPU shortages and decreasing demand. Despite Intel having already promised to ease the tight supply by the end of the second quarter, MSI still expects overall motherboard shipments to shrink by over 10% in 2019. MSI shipped around six million motherboards in 2018 and is expected to maintain a similar volume in 2019. Meanwhile, MSI is expected to finish digesting its graphics card inventory in the second quarter and begin promoting Nvidia's new cards to help increase its sales. MSI is expected to deliver around four million graphics cards in 2019, about the same level as in the past couple of years.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)

Halo Insider Program: Sign Up for Early Access to Halo: The Master Chief Collection

While there is still no release date in sight, 343 Industries has announced an early-access program that should not only make the wait for Halo: The Master Chief Collection easier but improve the much-anticipated PC port in the process. Eager Spartans can visit the Halo Waypoint site to sign up for the "Halo Insider Program," which queues them for beta testing on console and PC.

The Halo Insider Program is the new way Halo fans and community members can partner with 343 Industries to improve our games, products, and services. As a Halo Insider, you’ll have the opportunity to regularly provide feedback and insights that help shape and inform current franchise initiatives and the future of Halo. You will also be given exclusive opportunities to participate in public flights of in-progress Halo game releases and provide feedback to the development teams.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 5:35 PM (CDT)

Valve Addresses Review Bombing on Steam by Removing Them from Review Scores

To mitigate the effects of review bombing, Valve announced Friday it has a built a tool that would identify and alert the moderation team of any game with "anomalous review activity." After a case of review bombing is confirmed, the reviews submitted under this time period would then be removed from the review score calculation. Gamers can opt out of this change, however, and "off-topic review bombs" will remain on the site for anyone curious enough to read them.

Once our team has identified that the anomalous activity is an off-topic review bomb, we'll mark the time period it encompasses and notify the developer. The reviews within that time period will then be removed from the Review Score calculation. As before, the reviews themselves are left untouched - if you want to dig into them to see if they're relevant to you, you'll still be able to do so. To help you do that, we've made it clear when you're looking at a store page where we've removed some reviews by default, and we've further improved the UI around anomalous review periods.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 9:30 AM (CDT)

Valve Doesn't Sound Too Happy about the Epic Store Copying Steam Data

Could a lawsuit be brewing? A spokesperson with Valve has told Bleeping Computer the company is "looking into what information the Epic launcher collects from Steam" following allegations the software was stealing users’ information without their express permission. Engineers with Epic have admitted some of the scrapped data could be sent to the company's servers.

In other words, Valve doesn't think the Epic Store client should be touching localconfig.vdf at all, and presumably would prefer it if Epic used the Steam API to gather friends lists. For Epic's part, it has not said that the entire file is uploaded, only that it parses out user IDs and uploads hashes of them, should users import Steam friends. In the future, Valve could potentially encrypt local user data to prevent the Epic client and other software from copying it.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 1:40 PM (CDT)

Valve Offers Developers Access to Its Network via Steamworks

Valve has updated the Steamworks SDK with new networking APIs. These APIs give Steam partners access to Valve's network, grants them protection from denial-of-service attacks, 100% reliable NAT traversal, and improved connectivity. Also included are tools for instantly estimating the ping between two arbitrary hosts without sending any packets and a high quality end-to-end encrypted reliable-over-UDP protocol. Valve says relaying traffic anonymizes it, protecting both gameservers and clients from denial-of-service attacks. For an attacker to disrupt gameplay, they must mount an attack large enough to overwhelm multiple data centers.

Finally, by relaying the traffic in software, we can often improve the ping time! How can a relayed route be faster than a direct route? The Internet is a packet-switched network; there is no such thing as a "direct" route. When a packet is sent "directly" to the remote host's IP address, it takes the route determined by standard IP routing protocols. This route is often not optimal! Our protocol puts the client in charge of routing decisions. The client considers each relay point-of-presence, and determines the end-to-end latency along this route. It then selects the route with the lowest latency.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 15, 2019 7:23 PM (CDT)

Google Duo Is Now Accessible from the Web

According to reports, Google Duo is now accessible on the web. By heading to the Google Duo website, users should be able to place video and phone calls within their web browser.

There's no tedious setup to get started with Duo on the web--no phone number authentication or QR code scans like with other Google products. You just need to be logged into your Google account. You can, of course, choose to answer Duo calls on your phone instead of the web (you'll get a browser notification if you're logged in).

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru February 26, 2019 1:33 PM (CST)

Valve Is Removing Steam Video Section; Retiring Non-Gaming Content

Valve’s plan for selling hit Hollywood blockbusters on a digital distribution platform meant for games didn’t turn out so well, it seems: the company has announced it is scrapping Steam’s movie catalog so it can focus primarily on gaming. The good news is that gamers won’t lose any of their previously purchased titles.

"In reviewing what Steam users actually watch, it became clear we should focus our effort on offering content that is either directly related to gaming or, is accessory content for games or software sold on Steam," Valve wrote in a blog post. "As part of this refocus, we have retired the Video section of the Steam Store menu with an expectation that video content is discovered via the associated game or software store page, or through search, user tags, recommendations, etc."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith February 24, 2019 1:40 PM (CST)

Intel Gen11 Reportedly Takes iGPU Performance to Another Level

New benchmarks suggest Intel’s latest iGPU effort (Iris Plus Graphics 940) is impressive, performing up to 132% faster than Gen9 (Skylake) and leaving both the company’s own Core i5-8250U and competing Ryzen 2700U (Vega 10) in the dust. It also compares quite favorably to the Ryzen 5 2400G (Vega 11), even managing to better it in some tests. "Aside from improvements in 3D performance, Gen11 will also bring DisplayPort 1.4a and VESA's DSC support for 5K 120 Hz output."

Intel touts up to one teraflop of 32-bit and two teraflops of 16-bit floating point performance with its Gen11 iGPU. The chipmaker's goal is to provide a decent gaming experience for its consumers. This, in the long run, can lead to more budget-friendly laptops as manufacturers wouldn't have to incorporate third-party discrete entry-level graphics cards, such as Nvidia's MX-series. As always, you should take synthetic benchmarks (and unofficial ones, at that) with a grain of salt as they are not a definite indication of real-world performance. However, you can't deny that Gen11 posts some very promising results.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith February 23, 2019 3:05 PM (CST)

EA Denies That It Demanded Takedown of Negative "Anthem" Review

YouTuber Gggmanlives claims he was blacklisted from EA’s Game Changer Network (a community partnership program enabling collaborative feedback) after he posted a negative review of Anthem. EA allegedly paid him for the review but asked him to take it down and remove the company’s watermarks after they realized it wasn’t in the game’s favor.

"I basically wasn’t allowed to say anything negative about the game if I also had the watermark in because the watermark means EA endorses it and shares it through the Game Changers network or something," Gggmanlives told VG247 via Twitter direct message. "I really don’t know what it all means. I was just told it was to be pulled down and was basically a breach of contract or something along those lines."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith February 23, 2019 11:30 AM (CST)

Intel Wants to Take You on a Graphics Odyssey

Intel's discrete GPU is still years away, but they're already trying to get the graphics community involved. Chipzilla previously made calls for graphics experts to join their team, but yesterday, Intel Graphics launched a more consumer-centric campaign. Functionally, Intel Graphics' "Odyssey" appears to be a mailing list for gaming-related promotions and giveaways right now, but TechRadar mentions that Intel will send out "invites to company-sponsored events" via the newsletter sometime in the future. As spammy as this effort may or may not seem, we've noted that Intel has totally revamped their public-facing image over the past year, and I prefer this effort to reach out to the community over the company's previous policies of keeping development close to their chest.

The Odyssey is built around a passionate community, focused on improving graphics and visual computing for everyone, from gamers to content creators. And we want voices like yours to help guide us. We're committed to listening to the community, and in return you will get closer to the inner workings of visual technology development than ever before. You'll hear the latest reports first and you'll have access to some amazing offers and exclusive giveaways. The Odyssey is about how we'll work together to build the visual computing solutions you really want. You also have the opportunity to receive the Intel Gaming Access newsletter which gives gamers a VIP pass to killer deals and freebies, preferred beta access, the latest gaming news, and more.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas February 21, 2019 9:19 AM (CST)