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A Reminder from AMD: Our Processors Aren't Affected by New "SPOILER" Vulnerability

AMD has published a support article confirming its chips should be immune to "SPOILER," a new CPU vulnerability outlined by computer scientists at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Lubeck. As explained in their paper, SPOILER takes advantage of "a weakness in the address speculation of Intel’s proprietary implementation of the memory subsystem." This makes it easier for memory attacks such as "Rowhammer" to be carried out, but evidently, only Intel users need worry.

We are aware of the report of a new security exploit called SPOILER which can gain access to partial address information during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because of our unique processor architecture. The SPOILER exploit can gain access to partial address information above address bit 11 during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because AMD processors do not use partial address matches above address bit 11 when resolving load conflicts.

Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 4:40 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Proves the Critics Right: We're Heading toward a Chrome-Only Web

Chrome’s total dominance of the web is becoming more of a reality by each passing day, and Microsoft, whose Edge browser will soon be powered by Chromium, has become a clear contributor to that dark future: the company has released a new version of Skype for Web, but despite legitimate improvements such as HD video calling and recording, the service will not work on non-Chromium browsers such as Firefox and Safari. Users have managed to sidestep this by changing their user agent, which suggests laziness on Microsoft’s part, or something worse.

There's perhaps also some irony in that the Skype app is built with a framework designed to foster cross-platform development, between devices, desktop, and the Web. For those who can use the Web app, it looks extremely similar to the desktop apps, which also look very similar to the mobile apps. That's because it's built using ReactXP, Microsoft's layer on top of Facebook's React and React Native frameworks. These let you use Web technology to build applications not just for the Web but also the desktop and smartphone platforms.

Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 3:45 PM (CDT)

Parents Blame Elementary School's Cell Tower after 4th Student Diagnosed with Cancer

"It just seems like coincidence is no longer a reason for all this illness": four students at California’s Weston Elementary have been diagnosed with cancer in the last three years, and San Joaquin County parents are now convinced the cause is a cell phone tower located in its schoolyard. While the district’s tests have shown "the tower is safe and meets federal regulations," many are fighting to get it removed.

"I wouldn’t send my kids there at all, it absolutely is dangerous," said Eric Windheim, an electromagnetic radiation specialist. "Children are still developing and their cells are still being divided. It’s the worst possible time in their life to be exposed." He says it’s not just a cell tower, it also transmits wireless frequencies. "Instead of only going 300 yards like regular Wi-Fi, Y-Max can go 30 miles," he said.

Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 10:00 AM (CDT)

Google Pay Equity Analysis Results in $9.7 Million in Adjustments

In 2018, Google included 91% of Google employees in its annual pay equity analysis that covers all job groups that meet minimum n-count thresholds for statistical analysis. Google's annual compensation planning process includes modeling algorithmically each employee's compensation based on work-related inputs like the market rate for their job, their location, level and performance rating. This allows the company to equally compensate employees equitably across gender and racial lines. Any significant discrepancies are handled with a pay raise as compensation. Google made $9.7 million in adjustments to 10,677 Google employees after the 2018 analysis. The main group that was flagged to receive adjustments were men in the Level 4 Software Engineer career. Google said men received less discretionary funds than women in that career path. 49% of total dollars spent on adjustments went to new hires. Google's next goal is to create a leveling equity analysis to assess how employees are leveled when they are hired and improve how they level. The Washington Post says Google is embroiled in a lawsuit that alleges the tech giant discriminates against women.

Our pay equity analysis ensures that compensation is fair for employees in the same job, at the same level, location and performance. But we know that's only part of the story. Because leveling, performance ratings, and promotion impact pay, this year, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of these processes to make sure the outcomes are fair and equitable for all employees.

Posted by cageymaru March 05, 2019 10:55 AM (CST)

Fox Spins Off Alien Isolation's Cutscenes as a Digital Series

Following up on their promise to release more Alien spin offs, 20th Century Fox just announced a digital series based on the cutscenes from Alien: Isolation. The IGN press release says that "the goal was to offer new depth to a story that many gamers would have already experienced in 2014's release, and also tell the story in a newly accessible way for those who haven't," and mentions that some newly rendered scenes that weren't part of the original game will be in the series. Check out the trailer below:

The official summary for the Alien: Isolation series reads: "Fifteen years have passed since the deep-space freighter Nostromo disappeared with all hands. And for fifteen years, Amanda Ripley has scoured the known universe for information about her mother, Ellen Ripley, the Nostromo's warrant officer. When representatives from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation approach Amanda with news that the Nostromo's flight recorder has finally been found and brought to the space station Sevastopol, Amanda joins the Company's expedition to the remote outpost. But when Amanda reaches the station, she walks into a living nightmare: Sevastopol's inhabitants have been terrorized, hunted, and brought to the brink of annihilation. Now she and a band of unprepared - and perhaps untrustworthy - survivors will have to confront the same diabolical species that changed her mother's fate forever."

Posted by alphaatlas February 28, 2019 9:18 AM (CST)

"Forgettable, Repetitive": Early Reviews Aren't Kind on Anthem

Game journalists who are knee-deep in Anthem ahead of Friday’s official release have been giving out early impressions over the weekend, but unfortunately for BioWare, much of the reception seems negative. PC Gamer called the story "forgettable" and gameplay "repetitive," the latter of which has been echoed by other reviewers: Giant Bomb claims there is at least one portion of the campaign that forces players to "spend hours completing in-game challenges" before they can progress. There is also a "Quickplay" bug that lets brand-new players skip straight to the final boss fight.

Unlike Dragon Age and Mass Effect, which both have clever twists on familiar genres and establish emotional stakes early in the story, Anthem doesn't create that same sense of purpose or understanding. So even though I'm trying to immerse myself in this world by reading all the bits of lore and conversing with every character I can, the whole thing feels superfluous. And while Anthem's combat is a lot of fun in the moment-to-moment action, the actual mission objectives are boring and repetitive.

Posted by Megalith February 17, 2019 6:20 PM (CST)

AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su Says EPYC Will "Double the Performance Per Socket"

AMD president and CEO Dr. Lisa Su has joined the CNBC "Squawk on the Street" team for an exclusive interview where she discusses the recent AMD financial report and the company's guidance for 2019. Make sure you pay attention to her comments on EPYC performance doubling per socket beginning at the 7:36 mark of the video.

During the interview, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su said, "And we made some big bets. We bet on 7 nm and we bet on a new innovation around how we put these chips together. And our second-generation EPYC Jim; we're doing to double the performance per socket. Double the performance per socket. And when you have that kind of inflection point in performance it has to translate into better results. And that's what we're focused on executing. So that's the play in servers."

Posted by cageymaru January 30, 2019 11:25 AM (CST)

An Analysis of GDDR6 and HBM2 Technologies

Frank Ferro, senior director of product management at Rambus, discusses the differences in GDDR6 and HBM2 memory technologies; with a focus on the type of applications that each would be best suited for. Around the 8:54 mark he discusses how to combine older process nodes with 7nm process nodes and chiplets. Thanks to TheRetiredEngineer for the links.

Tech Talk: Frank Ferro, senior director of product management at Rambus, talks with Semiconductor Engineering about memory bottlenecks and why both GDDR6 and high-bandwidth memory are gaining steam and for which markets.

Posted by cageymaru January 21, 2019 10:48 AM (CST)

China Approves 84 New Games

The Chinese government halted all new game approvals last year, which pummeled the stock prices of Chinese developers like Tencent while making international developers hoping to enter the Chinese market anxious. After releasing a small initial batch approved games late last year, the Chinese government recently approved 84 more. Some media outlets are painting this as a positive development, as the time between approvals suggests the government is picking up the pace, but an expert speaking to the Financial Times notes that the recently approved games "are not hardcore games," which are seemingly more difficult to approve. Big titles from Tencent still haven't made the list, and I don't see any AAA games from international developers either. Mobile apps aside, I think the Chinese gaming market is going to be a tough one to enter for the foreseeable future, which could have some unintended consequences.

The freeze on new approvals had spooked companies in the world's largest gaming market, where an estimated 620 million players spent $37.9 billion last year, mostly on mobile and PC games, according to gaming market research firm Newzoo.

Posted by alphaatlas January 10, 2019 8:44 AM (CST)

AMD Launches Ryzen Mobile 3000 Series, Improves Driver Support

Ahead of CEO Lisa Su’s keynote at CES Wednesday (where she is expected to elaborate on the much-anticipated 7nm Zen 2 architecture), AMD has announced a range of new 12nm Zen+ Mobile processors under the 3000-series branding to better meet the expanding notebook market. This includes the Ryzen 7 3750H, a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor with 8 threads and a TDP of 35W. AMD has also made a policy change in its Windows driver line-up: all Radeon software updates will now support all Ryzen Mobile laptops.

Starting in Q1, any laptop with a Ryzen Mobile CPU that uses integrated graphics will be supported direct from AMD with a single driver package to cover all devices. This will, according to AMD, enable them with Day 0 driver support for the latest game titles and updates, as well as simplify the process between AMD, OEMs, and end users. This proved to be an especially rough point of friction with gamers and other power users on the first-generation parts, so it's a significant improvement in how AMD is going about driver support.

Posted by Megalith January 06, 2019 3:10 PM (CST)

An Analysis of the Z390 Socket Proves the Extra Pins Aren't Necessary

Der8auer on YouTube (Roman Hartung) has performed an in-depth analysis of the Z390 socket where he physically extracted the pins from a dead Z370 board and measured how much of an load each pin can take. After applying up to 5 amperes of power to the pin, he concluded that it can easily withstand the rigors of a daily 1.01 amperes load. Then he taped off 18 pins on an i9-9900K to simulate it running in a Z270 motherboard. This increased the load on each pin, but no adverse changes were observed in the socket or the board. He then taped off varying amounts of pins and tested the i9-9900K with up to 69 pins taped off which created a 1.92 ampere per pin load. Again, no changes were observed during testing that exceeded 6 hours. The conclusion is that the LGA-1151v2 is absolutely unnecessary.

Roman Hartung has proven very clearly that the LGA-1151v2 socket is basically completely unnecessary. The pins withstand even a very limited power supply without any problems, there is no damage to the mainboard, the socket or the processor. This also proves once more that Intel probably didn't allow compatibility with the old motherboards for sales reasons.

Posted by cageymaru January 03, 2019 2:54 PM (CST)

FCC Approves Google "Project Soli" Radar Sensor to Operate at Higher Power Levels

The FCC has approved higher radar operating levels for Soli sensors in "Project Soli"; a gesture based system that can capture touchless motion commands from users with mobility, speech and tactile impairments. Project Soli allows the previously mentioned users to operate computers, tablets, cars, wearables, phones and other devices by using gestures in a 3D space and without having to physically touch the screen. The Google technology was opposed by Facebook and others which thought it would interfere with technology such as WiGig networks and satellite. Google was able to get the feature to operate at a lesser peak power limit and subsequently tuned the device to limit the transmit duty cycle to 10 percent in any 33 millisecond interval. They won FCC approval on December 31, 2018 and the devices can even be used on aircraft. The FCC said, "there is a stronger public interest benefit in granting this waiver than in strictly applying the rule" as the devices would assist those with impairments to have a better quality of life.

Imagine an invisible button between your thumb and index fingers -- you can press it by tapping your fingers together. Or a Virtual Dial that you turn by rubbing thumb against index finger. Imagine grabbing and pulling a Virtual Slider in thin air. These are the kinds of interactions we are developing and imagining. Even though these controls are virtual, the interactions feel physical and responsive. Feedback is generated by the haptic sensation of fingers touching each other. Soli has no moving parts, it fits onto a chip and consumes little energy. It is not affected by light conditions and it works through most materials. Just imagine the possibilities...

Posted by cageymaru January 02, 2019 6:57 PM (CST)