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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.

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

BioWare Warns Hostile Replies Make Developers Less Likely to Engage

BioWare appears to be fed up with the pessimism surrounding Anthem and the antics of its players: in a lengthy post on r/AnthemTheGame offering insight on the company’s lack of communication, community manager Jesse Anderson admitted that many developers have made a conscious decision not to engage fans and answer their questions due to their increasing negativity, which has hit "an all-time high." Some believe BioWare deserves all the hate they can get for releasing a subpar product, while others are blaming gamers for being "entitled."

"Why would a dev team member take time away from working on the next update to post when they know it’s likely to be met with hostile replies, or they get flamed because [they] can’t answer other questions that players are asking? I don’t mind posting here when things aren’t so nice, but that’s because it’s my job. For the devs it isn’t their job, and I’d like to ask that people remember that when replying to them. When some people say ‘be nice or the devs will stop posting’ it’s 100% true."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 12:15 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.

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

A "Server Misconfiguration" Was Behind the Facebook Outage

Facebook and Instagram were down for about 14 hours earlier this week, and earlier reports suggested that the underlying cause was a BGP routing issue. As time went on without an official explanation, many started to suspect that the outage was related to an attack on the platform. But yesterday, Facebook tweeted that the trouble was a "result of a server configuration change." There's still no mention of the incident in Facebook's official newsroom, and some news outlets are starting to criticize the timeliness of Facebook's response and explanation. One security analyst told the BBC that "Facebook's motto always used to be 'move fast and break things'. That's fine when you're an innovative start-up, but when billions of people are using your site every month it's not a good way to run the business."

Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services. We've now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering. We're very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone's patience.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2 Supports DX12 on Windows 7

The AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2 driver has been released and it is optimized for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 and Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. AMD Radeon VII owners should see a 4% performance uplift in Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm when compared to the 19.2.3 driver. This driver brings DirectX 12 to Windows 7 for supported game titles. AMD supports more Vulkan extensions in this driver. Fixed issues include: Radeon ReLive for VR may sometimes fail to install during Radeon Software installation. Fan curve may fail to switch to manual mode after the manual toggle is switched when fan curve is still set to default behavior. Changes made in Radeon WattMan settings via Radeon Overlay may sometimes not save or take effect once Radeon Overlay is closed.

Known issues include: Rainbow Six Siege may experience intermittent corruption or flickering on some game textures during gameplay. DOTA2 VR may experience stutter on some HMD devices when using the Vulkan API. Mouse cursors may disappear or move out of the boundary of the top of a display on AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics. Performance metrics overlay and Radeon WattMan gauges may experience inaccurate fluctuating readings on AMD Radeon VII.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 14, 2019 8:41 PM (CDT)

Study Claims 39% of Counter-Strike Servers are Infected With Malware

In spite of the battle royale craze and a more modern sequel, the original Counter-Strike is still a massively popular game. The FPS had nearly 15,000 concurrent players at the time of this writing, and there are still thousands of registered 3rd party servers. However, a recent study from Dr. Web clams that 1,951 CS 1.6 servers, which represents about 39% of the servers they analyzed, are infected with malware. The trojan propagates itself through vulnerabilities within the official Counter Strike client, and is used to promote other CS servers. Unlike previously reported incidents, this exploit requires no conformation on the user's end, and Dr. Web says they "have informed Valve about these and other vulnerabilities of the game, but as of now, there is no data on when the vulnerabilities will be fixed."

Many owners of popular game servers also raise money from players by selling various privileges such as protection against bans, access to weapons, etc. Some server owners advertise themselves independently, while others purchase server promotion services from contractors. Having paid for a service, customers often remain oblivious as to how exactly their servers are advertised. As it turned out, the developer nicknamed, "Belonard", resorted to illegal means of promotion. His server infected the devices of players with a Trojan and used their accounts to promote other game servers. The owner of the malicious server uses the vulnerabilities of the game client and a newly written Trojan as a technical foundation for their business. The Trojan is to infect players' devices and download malware to secure the Trojan in the system and distribute it to devices of other players. For that, they exploit Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerabilities, two of which have been found in the official game client and four in the pirated one. Once set up in the system, Trojan.Belonard replaces the list of available game servers in the game client and creates proxies on the infected computer to spread the Trojan. As a rule, proxy servers show a lower ping, so other players will see them at the top of the list. By selecting one of them, a player gets redirected to a malicious server where their computer become infected with Trojan.Belonard.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 11:36 AM (CDT)

Facebook is Under Criminal Investigation for Data Sharing Practices

Facebook's news coverage hasn't been particularly positive over the past few months, but they had a particularly bad day yesterday. Following a widespread outage that lasted over 14 hours, and likely cost the company millions in advertising revenue, the New York Times released a report claiming that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Facebook over their data sharing practices. According to their sources, two major handset manufacturers have already been subpoenaed. At this point, Facebook's public image seems to be in "it couldn't possibly get any worse" territory, hence their stock price barely budged in response to the incident and the story, and is still significantly up since to the beginning of March.

"It's already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Dept of Justice. As we've said, we're cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We've provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we'll continue to do so."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 10:00 AM (CDT)

Gaming Display Prices are Dropping

As anyone who recently built or updated a PC probably noticed, memory and GPU prices were conspicuously high throughout most of 2018 and late 2017. But, as we've said before, memory prices are dropping like a rock, while GPU prices are starting to level out thanks to the crypto mining bust. According to a recent report, another important component for any PC is expected to get cheaper throughout 2019. Digitimes claims that competition among "gaming monitor" manufacturers is starting to "heat up" as more Chinese LCD manufacturers enter the market. TV-size panel production is expected to grow as well, and OLED TVs in particular could get significantly cheaper as more OLED factories come online.

However, China's panel makers including BOE Technology, CPC-Panda LCD Technology and China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) have recently stepped into the gaming panel sector, encouraged by government policy support and high profits generated by such products. The growing competition has sent gaming monitor panel prices falling sharply, with models with refresh rates of 144Hz and below being hit hardest, indicated the sources. Prices of 144Hz and below gaming panels fell 10% on average in 2018 and has dropped another 5% so far in 2019, as most China-based suppliers are focusing on this segment, said the sources, noting that the prices of 144Hz models will continue to fall in the second quarter.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 8:47 AM (CDT)

Facebook Outage Caused by BGP Routing Error

NETSCOUT has released a statement to BleepingComputer that the Facebook and Instagram outages were caused by a BGP routing error.

"'At approximately 12:52PM EST on March 13th, 2019, it appears that an accidental BGP routing leak from a European ISP to a major transit ISP, which was then propagated onwards to some peers and/or downstreams of the transit ISP in question, resulted in perceptible disruption of access to some well-known Internet properties for a short interval. While not malicious in nature, such events can prove disruptive on a widespread basis. It is very important that all network operators implement BGP peering best current practices (BCPs), including prefix-lists, max-prefixes, 'peer-locking' via AS-PATH filters, RPKI Origin Validation (RFC6811), and other techniques incorporated into the industry Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) detailed at .' -Roland Dobbins, NETSCOUT Principal Engineer"

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 5:30 PM (CDT)

Facebook and Instagram Are down

Facebook and Instagram are reportedly down. This probably means that your personal information will have to wait until both services are back up before it is harvested (sarcasm.) Facebook acknowledged the connection troubles on Twitter since it couldn't announce it on its own social media platform. Maybe this is part of Mark Zuckerberg's plan to shift Facebook to a "privacy-focused" platform?

We're aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 2:31 PM (CDT)

Facebook Acquires Interconnect IP Provider Sonics

Hot on the heels of Nvidia's Mellanox acquisition, EE Times reports that Facebook has acquired Sonics, a Silicon Valley-based IP provider that specializes in on-chip networking and power management. The report initially came from sources claiming "key Sonics executive members are now working for Facebook," but Facebook contacted EE Times shortly after the article went live and confirmed the acquisition. They said "we're rapidly developing new VR and AR products and deepening our technology expertise in silicon is an important step for our 10-year roadmap. We're excited to welcome the remarkable Sonics team and technology to AR/VR at Facebook." However, what's particularly interesting is what Facebook could do with the newly acquired company outside of standalone AR/VR headsets. The publication asked the social media giant if they intended to use Sonic's IP for datacenter chips, and Facebook said "It's too early to rule out anything. But our initial focus will be VR and AR." While that's certainly far from a confirmation, it's not a denial either, and the technology I see on an archived version of Sonic's website and their YouTube Channel seemingly lends itself to high performance datacenter chips. In other words, this could be evidence that Facebook is following in the footsteps of Amazon, and working on their own datacenter hardware to reduce their reliance on 3rd parties.

"It would indicate to me that Facebook is indeed working on its own multicore, and probably heterogeneous, processor," Krewell said. Of course, that's what all the cool cloud players are apparently doing these days, he added. Mike Demler, senior analyst at the Linley Group, however, is the only one who suggested, "Yes, Facebook designs ASICs for its data centers, but they also may develop chips for Oculus VR headsets." Surprising to Krewell, though, is that Facebook bought the company rather than just licensing the technology. Linley has another theory. "If the Facebook team decided to use Sonics IP, and Sonics was running out of money, Facebook could have stepped in to ensure the continuity of its design project." He said this would be similar to what happened in the case of Intel's NetSpeed acquisition deal last year.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 13, 2019 12:51 PM (CDT)

TSMC's Profits are Expected to Decline

The Taiwanese news outlet Digitimes seems to have many sources in the chipmaking industry, and according to their cited "market observers," Taiwain Semiconductor is expected to post their first annual profit drop in 8 years. For reference, both Nvidia and AMD manufacture their latest GPUs on TSMC's 12nm and 7nm processes, respectively, but the introduction of more 7nm products from both companies this year allegedly won't be enough to sustain growth. The report claims that "disappointing" sales of new iPhones and a "cutback in orders placed by GPU firm Nvidia" will more than offset a "ramp-up in orders for 7nm chips from HiSilicon, Qualcomm and AMD."

TSMC already described 2019 as "a slow year" for its operations and also the overall semiconductor market, citing macroeconomic uncertainty, and disappointing high-end smartphone sales that have led to inventory pile-ups in the supply chain. The use of substandard photoresist chemicals that disrupted its 12/16nm chip production at Fab 14B earlier this year is set to have a further impact on the foundry's performance this year. The photoresist material incident has prompted TSMC to cut its revenue estimate for the first quarter to NT$7-7.1 billion from NT$7.3-7.4 billion. The impact will also reduce TSMC's gross margin by 2.6pp, operating margin by 3.2pp, and EPS by NT$0.42, the foundry disclosed previously. TSMC said the wafers scrapped will be made up in the second quarter. But the incident is expected to reduce its gross margin by 0.2pp, operating margin by 0.2pp, and EPS by NT$0.08 in all of 2019.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 12, 2019 10:20 AM (CDT)