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Hacker Finds Hidden "God Mode" on Old x86 CPUs

At this week’s Black Hat conference, security researcher Christopher Domas demonstrated a so-called "God Mode" affecting certain x86 CPUs -- namely, VIA’s C3 Nehemiah chips, an off-brand "military-grade" processor made in 2003. To achieve root access and the innermost ring, all the user needs to do is enter the command ".byte 0x0f, 0x3f" in Linux. Domas believes the same backdoors exist on other chipsets.

The backdoor completely breaks the protection-ring model of operating-system security, in which the OS kernel runs in ring 0, device drivers run in rings 1 and 2, and user applications and interfaces ("userland") run in ring 3, furthest from the kernel and with the least privileges. To put it simply, Domas' God Mode takes you from the outermost to the innermost ring in four bytes. "We have direct ring 3 to ring 0 hardware privilege escalation," Domas said. "This has never been done."

Posted by Megalith August 12, 2018 10:35 AM (CDT)

Baltimore to Pay Consultant $176,800 to Help Police Department Maintain Lotus Notes

Since 1996, the Baltimore Police Department has been using Lotus Notes to track criminal investigations, check arrest data, log ballistic test results, and identify "troubled officers." Despite being outdated and buggy, in that users are finding it increasingly harder to match, verify, or search for information, city officials have approved plans to keep the system running by paying big bucks to a single consultant.

"It’s intriguing to me that we’d be investing so much into Lotus Notes when we know it’s an outdated system and we know through the technology study that we need to update Lotus Notes, along with a bunch of other systems," he said. "I'll be asking the Baltimore Police Department, ‘Why we are still with Lotus Notes? And when will we make an investment in a new, 21st century system?’"

Posted by Megalith August 11, 2018 1:30 PM (CDT)

Nvidia to Livestream CEO Jensen Huang's Keynote Presentation at SIGGRAPH 2018

Nvidia is going to livestream CEO Jensen Huang's presentation on the center stage at SIGGRAPH 2018. This event will occur at 4 p.m. PT on Monday, Aug. 13. Even if the new Nvidia GPUs aren't revealed; there are plenty of interesting talks by Nvidia employees going on during the conference.

This year, NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang will take the stage at the show in Vancouver, Canada, to share how AI, real-time ray tracing and VR are transforming the computer graphics industry. His talk will begin at 4pm PT on Monday, Aug. 13, at the Vancouver Convention Center, unofficially kicking off the show's five-day immersion into the latest innovations in CG, animation, VR, games, mixed reality and emerging technologies.

Posted by cageymaru August 10, 2018 7:27 PM (CDT)

This Week in Computer Hardware 478: Featuring Kyle Bennett and Patrick Norton

This Week in Computer Hardware 478: Magic Leap of Faith starring our very own Kyle Bennett and Patrick Norton was recorded live yesterday and now you can watch the condensed, edited version on YouTube. Get ready to be blown away with news on Threadripper, Nvidia release schedules, China and Magic Leap discussions.
Ongoing Discussion
Posted by cageymaru August 10, 2018 6:22 PM (CDT)

#QuakeCon2018 Keynote with DOOM Eternal Gameplay Reveal

This year's QuakeCon 2018 Keynote starts at 11am CDT. Until then you can unmute the stream below and fully enjoy the Bethesda soundtracks. If you enjoyed the DOOM soundtrack, I highly suggest giving DOOM: Behind the Music a watch. It is an hour of Mick Gordon talking about everything that went into building the soundtrack. Highly informative and entertaining. This news post also marks the first time that my wife has ever contributed actual content to HardOCP. She just texted me to let me know this event was happening. Thanks Suzi! Update to the live stream. Rage 2 gameplay starts here; DOOM Eternal gameplay starts here. Discussion
Posted by Kyle August 10, 2018 10:39 AM (CDT)

AMD Talks 2nd Gen Threadripper CPUs

If nothing else, AMD marketing gets kudos for stepping it up a level in the last couple of years.

Key updates on the new 2nd Gen Ryzen Threadripper processor line-up, featuring four new processor models, available in 2018, all built on 12nm "Zen+" core architecture and tailored to the needs of creators and gamers.

Posted by Kyle August 07, 2018 9:14 AM (CDT)

Competition Heats up in the Global Gaming Notebook Market

Asustek and MSI have previously dominated the global gaming notebook sector, but that is changing according to Digitimes. First tier notebook makers such as HP, Dell, Acer and Lenovo have unveiled new gaming notebooks that are directly competing with the offerings from MSI and Asustek. Lenovo has been successful enough to capture 30% of the Chinese market. Even second tier manufacturers such as Razer and Gigabyte have developed new notebooks that compete favorably.

As Asustek and MSI are facing increasing competition pressure from both the first- and second-tier rivals and future newcomers, it is crucial for them to work out effective ways to beat rivals in the entry-level models that see the largest shipment volumes, industry sources indicated.

Posted by cageymaru August 06, 2018 11:16 AM (CDT)

The Worst CPUs Ever Made

ExtremeTech has assembled a list of the worst CPUs ever -- that is, processors that were not only poorly positioned or slower than expected, but fundamentally broken. These include Intel’s Itanium, which was meant to replace x86 but ultimately limped along due to incompatibilities, AMD’s power-hungry Bulldozer, which failed to meet performance expectations, and Sony’s Cell Broadband Engine, which was only "phenomenally good in theory."

Plenty of people will bring up the Pentium FDIV bug here, but the reason we didn’t include it is simple: Despite being an enormous marketing failure for Intel and a huge expense, the actual bug was tiny. It impacted no one who wasn’t already doing scientific computing and the scale and scope of the problem in technical terms was never estimated to be much of anything.

Posted by Megalith August 04, 2018 4:00 PM (CDT)

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Official Launch Video Leaks Out

I know many of you love your phablets and are looking forward to the new more powerful Galaxy Note 9. I've got good news for you and it's the fact that many of the previous leaks of specs seem to be confirmed in the official launch video that just leaked out. You're going to have up to 1tb of storage, a more powerful processor, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a longer life battery, and a snazzy yellow stylus to doodle with. Check out the leaked trailer and drool.
Posted by Montu August 03, 2018 8:40 AM (CDT)

"Why We Need the Power of Intel’s Next-Gen Eight-Core CPUs"

"From a gaming perspective, do we really need octo-core processors with insanely high clocks?" Eurogamer believes so, and not only for more obvious reasons such as overhead and running games on high-refresh displays: next-gen consoles are expected to get huge CPU upgrades, which will reset the baseline.

Most console ports can easily run at higher than 60fps on PC, even factoring in the oppressive overhead introduced by Windows, but with next-gen likely to feature Ryzen and possibly two quad-core modules for eight cores in total, games will inevitably become much more complex and the PC versions will see system requirements rise significantly for the top-end experience.

Posted by Megalith July 29, 2018 11:25 AM (CDT)

PCs With Cannon Lake CPUs Won't be on Sale Until the Very End of 2019

In yesterdays conference call Intel confirmed that Cannon Lake will be out just in time for the 2019 holidays. We already knew they had delayed mass production until 2019, but waiting till the end of next year is huge. As a result Intel is hoping 14nm chips like Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake will tide their client market over for the next 16 to 18 months. I'm sure those chips will be fine performers, however, AMD is releasing 7nm chips next Spring and that's bound to capture some good PR. Good luck Intel.

So, this isn’t another delay as such, just a confirmation of exactly when in 2019 the launch will happen – but it’s kind of a disappointment seeing as the timeframe sounds pretty much as late as it can be (with consumer PCs launching by December).

Posted by Montu July 27, 2018 2:05 PM (CDT)

Intel to Use Integrated GPU to Detect Malware Attacks

Intel has come up with two new efforts to combat malware. The first is called Accelerated Memory Scanning and it will use the integrated GPU of its CPU's to scan memory for malware. Scanning intensity will be adjusted based upon GPU load and can even be turned off if playing a game. An Intel driver runs in Ring 3 and can even be expanded to Ring 0. Microsoft has endorsed this technology and it's going to be added to Windows Defender. The second effort is call Advanced Platform Telemetry and is a cloud-based machine learning system that monitors telemetry from the system. Intel claims this will increase accuracy of detecting advanced threats. Cisco is going to be the first partner to utilize this technology. With both of these efforts and the redesign of new CPU's to combat Meltdown and Spectre it appears Intel is taking security seriously. That's good news for all of us.

Intel is planning to combine the above-mentioned security solutions under the umbrella of Intel Security Essentials toolkit. It will also include AES-NI and SGX instructions. The former is tasked with accelerated encryption, while the latter is used by applications to set aside private regions of code and data. The company’s firmware protection technology is going to be part of Intel Security Essentials as well. The kit will be supported by Core, Xeon and Atom processors.

Posted by Montu July 26, 2018 2:35 PM (CDT)