Posted on Thursday, December 14 2017 @ 01:56:36 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Here's something interesting from Microsoft, the company just published a free preview version of its Quantum Development Kit. This includes Q#, a new programming language that can be used in conjunction with what is described as a quantum computing simulator. Full details over here.
The Quantum Development Kit, which Microsoft first announced at its Ignite conference in September, is designed for developers who are eager to learn how to program on quantum computers whether or not they are experts in the field of quantum physics.
It’s deeply integrated into Visual Studio, Microsoft’s suite of developer tools, so aspects of it will be familiar to people who are already developing applications in other programming languages. And it’s designed to work with a local quantum simulator, also released as part of the kit, that can simulate around 30 logical qubits of quantum computing power using a typical laptop computer. That will allow developers to debug quantum code and test programs on small instances right on their own computers.
For larger-scale quantum challenges, Microsoft also is offering an Azure-based simulator that can simulate more than 40 logical qubits of computing power.
Posted on Wednesday, December 13 2017 @ 11:17:12 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Yesterday was the monthly dose of Patch Tuesday updates. This time, Microsoft rolled out updates for 32 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, Edge, and Internet Explorer. The Register has a nice summary over here.
Leading this month's Patch Tuesday charge is CVE-2017-11927, a bug in Windows that can be exploited by an attacker to snatch a victim's NTLM hash, which could be cracked offline to reveal their password. A mark would have to be tricked into clicking on a link to a malicious website, SMB share, or UNC path, which would trigger exploitation via the little-used ITS protocol, a format used for serving compiled HTML help (CHM) files.
"In theory, you shouldn’t be able to access remote content using ITS outside of the Local Machine Zone thanks to a 2005 update," explained Dustin Childs from Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative.
"It appears that has been circumvented by this bug, as it allows attackers who trick users into browsing to a malicious website or to malicious SMB destinations to leak info."
As always, you should apply these updates as soon as possible.
Posted on Wednesday, December 13 2017 @ 11:10:43 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
The Register noticed that Intel is taking measures to prevent downgrades of the Management Engine that is found in the chip giant's processors. This is a controversial feature because it's basically a hidden layer and operating system that runs on the processor, users can't see what it does and it's recently been proven that it can be exploited.
Anyway, starting with Management Engine version 12, Intel implemented a feature that can disable rollbacks. At the moment, the feature is disabled by default but Intel recommends customers to enable it and may soon turn it on by default.
A recent confidential Intel Technical Advisory posted to GitHub stated that starting with ME version 12, the chip's Security Version Number (SVN), which gets incremented with updates to prevent rollbacks, "will be saved permanently in Field Programmable Fuses (FPFs) as a means to mitigate physically downgrading Intel ME [firmware] to a lower SVN."
FPFs, once set, become read-only memory (ROM) and cannot be easily altered. And the presence of this immutable value provides Intel's security measures with a way to validate firmware versions in order to avoid a version rollback.
Posted on Wednesday, December 13 2017 @ 10:49:12 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
As I covered numerous times this year, Toshiba was forced to spin off and sell its prized flash memory unit due to losses incurred by other business units. The Japanese firm operates a flash memory joint venture with SanDisk, which is now owned by Western Digital, and the latter wasn't happy that it lost the bidding round. This resulted in legal proceedings as WD tried to make a case that the spin off and sale of Toshiba Memory violated the joint-venture agreement between the two companies.
Today news hits the wire that Toshiba and WD resolved the dispute and have entered into a global settlement agreement. The deal is positive for both companies, it removes the uncertainty of lengthy legal battles and it ensures WD isn't cut off from future NAND memory supply. Both companies also strengthened their joint venture, the new alliance will be extended to December 31, 2019 and WD will participate in future rounds of investments in the state-of-the-art Fab 6 at Yokkaichi. This plant will produce the latest generation of BiCS 3D flash memory.
Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) ("Toshiba"), Toshiba Memory Corporation ("TMC") and Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC) ("Western Digital") have entered into a global settlement agreement to resolve their ongoing disputes in litigation and arbitration, strengthen and extend their relationship, and enhance the mutual commitment to their ongoing flash memory collaboration.
As part of this agreement, TMC and Western Digital will participate jointly in future rounds of investment in Fab 6, the state-of-the-art memory fabrication facility now under construction at Yokkaichi, including the upcoming investment round announced by Toshiba in October 2017. Fab 6 will be entirely devoted to the mass production of BiCS FLASH™, the next-generation of 3D flash memory, starting next year. TMC and Western Digital similarly intend to enter into definitive agreements in due course under which Western Digital will participate in the new flash wafer fabrication facility which will be constructed in Iwate, Japan.
The parties will strengthen their flash memory collaboration by extending the terms of their joint ventures. Flash Alliance will be extended to December 31, 2029 and Flash Forward to December 31, 2027. Flash Partners was previously extended to December 31, 2029.
The parties' agreement to resolve all outstanding disputes ensures that all parties are aligned on Toshiba's sale of TMC to K.K. Pangea, a special purpose acquisition company formed and controlled by a consortium led by Bain Capital Private Equity, LP ("Bain Capital"). The parties have agreed on mutual protections for their assets and confidential information in connection with the sale of TMC, and on collaborating to ensure the future success of TMC as a public company following an eventual IPO.
Commenting on the agreement reached today, Dr. Yasuo Naruke, Senior Executive Vice President of Toshiba Corporation and President and CEO of TMC said: "We are very pleased to have reached this outcome, which clearly benefits all involved. With the concerns about litigation and arbitration removed, we look forward to renewing our collaboration with Western Digital, and accelerating TMC's growth to meet growing global demand for flash memory. Toshiba also remains on track to complete our transaction with the consortium led by Bain Capital by the end of March 2018. This will ensure that TMC has the resources it needs to continue to innovate and deliver for a fast-growing flash memory market, particularly in areas driven forward by advances in AI and IoT."
Western Digital Chief Executive Officer Steve Milligan stated: "Western Digital's core priorities have always been to protect the JVs and ensure their success and longevity, guarantee long-term access to NAND supply, protect our interests in the JVs, and create long-term value for our stakeholders. We are very pleased that these agreements accomplish these critical goals, allow Toshiba to achieve its objectives, and also enable us to continue delivering on the power of our platform. I want to thank the hardworking teams at Western Digital and TMC for the dedication they have exhibited over the past several months, operating the JVs without interruption, and we look forward to building upon the success of our 17 year partnership."
Yuji Sugimoto, Managing Director, Head of Japan for Bain Capital said: “Bain Capital is pleased that Toshiba and Western Digital have resolved all outstanding legal disputes. The settlement represents the best possible outcome for all parties, clearing the way for the Bain Capital-led consortium to complete its acquisition of TMC as planned. We look forward to supporting TMC to achieve its strategic objectives while enhancing these important JVs with Western Digital.”
As part of the global settlement agreement, Toshiba, TMC and Western Digital have agreed to withdraw all pending litigation and arbitration actions.
Posted on Wednesday, December 13 2017 @ 10:36:55 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Earlier this year, HP laptops were in the news as security researchers discovered a keylogger in the audio driver of over two dozen models of HP laptops and tablets. Now the company is hit by almost exactly the same news as security researcher Michael Myng discovered keylogging code in the driver software of Synatics touchpads.
This piece of software is used by dozens of HP laptops. The keylogger is not activated by default but starts logging every keystroke after a single registry change:
The keylogger was apparently included for debugging during development and is disabled by default. However, a user or software with administrative privileges could activate the keylogger by making a registry change—potentially remotely using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) or PowerShell scripts. Once turned on, it captures keystrokes and generates a trace log file.
Posted on Wednesday, December 13 2017 @ 10:22:18 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Mini PC maker Shuttle goes RGB LED with the introduction of the SZ270R9. This is a new compact barebone computer with an Intel Z270 based motherboard, it supports Intel LGA1151 processors and has room for video cards as large as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. The chassis offers two special features; first up the front is illuminated by RGB LEDs and then there's also a Turbo button. This button is used to adjust the CPU multiplier of Intel K-series processors, it works in conjunction with the Shuttle OC-Tool. The barebone is sold or 375EUR (excl. VAT).
The Barebone with the name SZ270R9 that is presented here leaves a lasting impression. This Mini-PC clearly finds it hard to keep a low profile. It is colourful, bright and appeals to gamers and hardware enthusiasts who, rather than wanting to blend into the background, prefer the limelight.
- RGB LEDs and CPU multiplier can be configured with software
- Space for six drives (4x HDD/SSD, 2x NVMe)
Technically identical on the inside to the SZ270R8, which was presented in the last quarter, the SZ270R9 has visual differences that are instantly apparent. It has an RGB LED front panel, which can be controlled via BIOS and management software and can be infinitely adjusted and thus adapted to suit individual tastes. Colours, effects and the brightness level can be modified and defined for the two operating modes of the Mini-PC.
On the top edge of the front panel there is a "Turbo" button. This can be configured by software so that when the button is pushed the multiplier of Intel K-series processors is changed and additional computing power can thus be called up by overclocking.
"The stylised, illuminated X also confidently demonstrates the enormous system power outside the chassis," says Tom Seiffert, Head of Marketing & PR at Shuttle Computer Handels GmbH. "It quickly becomes apparent that the SZ270R9 is a real winner."
The SZ270R9 relies on the tried-and-tested Intel Z270 chipset and therefore provides support for many current Intel processors for the LGA1151 socket and 64 GB of DDR4 memory. It has one slot with PCI Express x16 3.0 and one slot with PCI Express x4 3.0. For additional cards there are three M.2 slots, which can accommodate WLAN modules or drives, for example.
As with the models featuring the R8 design, the new R9 design also provides room for four 3.5" hard disks and two NVMe or Optane SSDs. Thanks to RAID support, the drives can be switched to mode 0, 1, 5 or 10.
The network connections are also present in redundant form on the back because this Mini-PC boasts 2x Gigabit Ethernet.
Its 500 Watt power supply unit, which does of course also enable full expansion, for instance with an Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, has 80 PLUS Silver certification indicating a high level of efficiency.
Accessories that are optionally available include a 2.5" HDD/SSD drive holder (PHD3), serial interface (H-RS232) and WLAN/Bluetooth module (WLN-M).
The recommended retail price from Shuttle for the SZ270R9 is EUR 375.00 (excluding VAT).
Posted on Wednesday, December 13 2017 @ 10:16:09 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Corsair reveals world's first 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4 SODIMM memory kit that runs at 4000MHz. It runs at 1.35V and uses CL19-23-23-45 timings.
The kit is sold via the firm's webshop for $594.99.
CORSAIR®, a world leader in PC components high-performance gaming hardware and enthusiast memory, today announced the launch of the new CORSAIR VENGEANCE SODIMM DDR4 4,000MHz 32GB (4x8GB) kit, the world’s fastest DDR4 SODIMM DDR4 memory kit.
While PC enthusiasts might be more familiar with SODIMM memory from laptops or all-in-one PCs, CORSAIR VENGEANCE SODIMM DDR4 4x8GB 4,000MHz is designed to power the latest small-form-factor systems running Intel’s high-end-desktop X299 motherboard platform. Motherboards such as the ASRock X299E-ITX are able to fit all the power and performance of Intel’s high-end motherboard chipset into a tiny Mini-ITX form factor but have, until now, been limited on memory frequency and bandwidth. With CORSAIR VENGEANCE SODIMM DDR4 4x8GB 4,000MHz, PC builders and enthusiasts can now pack 32GB of high-frequency quad-channel 4,000MHz DDR4 alongside Intel’s Core i9™ processors, for up to 36 threads of processing power and massive memory bandwidth, in Mini-ITX small-form-factor PCs.
Not just any memory can run at 4,000MHz, and CORSAIR hand-sorts and extensively bins Samsung B-die ICs to create a kit that runs stable, even at its highest speed. Super-tight CL19-23-23-45 timings at 1.35V push performance even further and accessing these blistering speeds is easy, thanks to XMP 2.0 making enabling this record-setting performance as easy as a single BIOS setting.
Combining the benefits of a small-form-factor system with high-capacity and high-frequency memory, CORSAIR VENGEANCE SODIMM DDR4 4x8GB 4,000MHz sets a new standard for DDR4 SODIMM performance.
Posted on Tuesday, December 12 2017 @ 18:08:54 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
As expected, here's the Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 17.12.1 driver from AMD. You can download this release via this page. This is the yearly feature update driver, the biggest changes include Radeon Overlay and the AMD Link mobile app.
You also get a bunch of other new features, some bug fixes, and some minor performance optimizations. Dutch tech site Hardware.info tested the driver with the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 video card and found it improves performance by up to 11 percent versus the 17.11.2 driver release. The site performed six tests, four benchmarks showed 3-4 percent gains, one test had a 7 percent gain as the result and then there was also the 11 percent outlier. Adrenalin provides nice evolutionary performance gains, but it's definitely not the mythical Vega performance driver that some folks are still hoping for.
Added new Connect tab which houses new social engagement features.
Added new Gallery tab for Radeon ReLive recording file management, video trimming, and social platform sharing functionality.
Added new Accounts tab to connect ReLive content and upload sharing to social platforms
Added new Resource Center tab highlighting informative guides and instructions for Radeon Software features.
Added new Performance Monitoring tab.
Added three UI themes for Radeon Settings customization.
Added new AMD Link tab to connect Radeon Settings to the AMD Link mobile application.
Added new Overlay feature (default ALT+R) allowing management of certain Radeon Settings features while in-game or on desktop such as Radeon ReLive, Radeon FreeSync, Radeon Chill, Frame Rate Target Control, Display Color, and Performance Monitoring.
Added performance monitoring overlay to display system performance metrics in DirectX® 9, 11, 12, and Vulkan™ applications.
Added performance logging feature to save performance metrics to a file.
Further optimized for lower FPS overhead while using Radeon ReLive for recording. (RS-198)
Added support for Vulkan™ API.
Added support for Eyefinity.
Added support for borderless window region capture.
Added support for mouse button hotkeys.
Added chat and viewer count overlay for Radeon ReLive live streaming to supported platforms.
Added Chroma Key support to allow background transparency when using a webcam.
Now supports expanded social platforms.
Now supports separate microphone and audio track recording.
Radeon Chill now has expanded support for most game titles.
Added support for all GCN-based Radeon graphics products.
Added support for Vulkan™ API.
Added support Multi-GPU configurations.
Added support for Eyefinity configurations.
Added new profile functionality to save and load user defined Radeon WattMan profile configurations to local hard disk.
Frame Rate Target Control
Added support for Vulkan™ API.
Added support for HDR10 titles with Radeon FreeSync2 displays.
Added per-application Radeon FreeSync support.
OverWatch™ may experience a random or intermittent hang on some system configurations.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® Siege may experience an application hang when breaching walls with grenades or explosives.
Netflix playback in a browser or via UWP application may experience stutter.
After recording with Radeon ReLive GPU usage and clocks may remain in high states.
Assassin's Creed®: Origins may experience bright or saturated lighting in cave missions.
Mass Effect Andromeda™ may have issues enabling HDR10 on an HDR capable display.
Forza™ Horizon 3 may experience corruption on rocks or foliage during gameplay.
Halo™ Wars 2 may experience a crash on game launch.
Enabling HBCC on Radeon RX Vega in multi GPU system configurations may cause the secondary graphics card to be hidden in Radeon Settings until reboot.
Resizing the Radeon Settings window may cause the UI to restart or hang with HBCC enabled.
Upgrading Radeon Software with Radeon RX Vega series graphics products in multi GPU on X99 chipsets may cause system instability after reboot.
Radeon Settings may experience a hang when enabling AMD CrossFire with three or more graphics products.
Performance Metrics Overlay may hang if enabled when cycling display power off and on.
Trimming videos may fail to create a thumbnail if the video contains non-English characters.
3x1 display configurations may experience instability during Eyefinity creation or during gaming.
The "Reset" function in Radeon Settings for Display, ReLive, and Video may not work as intended when using Radeon Settings in certain regional languages.
Radeon WattMan may intermittently fail to load profiles for Radeon RX Vega on the global Radeon Wattman page.
Rise of the Tomb Raider™ may experience an intermittent application hang during gameplay.
A random system hang may be experienced after extended periods of use on system configurations using 12 GPU's for compute workloads.
The GPU Workload feature may cause a system hang when switching to Compute while AMD CrossFire is enabled. A workaround is to disable AMD CrossFire before switching the toggle to Compute workloads.
At the same time, AMD also rolled out the Radeon Pro Adrenalin Edition 17.12.1 driver for the Vega Frontier Edition, Radeon Pro and FirePro cards.
Posted on Tuesday, December 12 2017 @ 13:06:40 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
While Intel's will adopt cobalt for the bottom two layers of its 10nm interconnects, EE Times has a new story that offers further evidence that copper will likely remain the interconnect of choice. For many years, it was believed that alternative materials would be needed at smaller process nodes but last month IBM gave a presentation that copper would remain suitable for 5nm and below.
Now there's news from Aveni that they've discovered that alkaline-based processing chemistries could extend copper to the 3nm node, and possibly even to the end of the road for CMOS technology.
Aveni claims its back-end-of-line alkaline electroplating chemistry makes a switch from copper unnecessary because it leaves the cobalt layer untouched. “One of the problems with acidic chemistries is that they often etch through to the underlying barrier layer. With alkaline chemistry, you do not have this underlay-etching problem,” Aveni CTO Frédéric Raynal told EE Times in an advance interview.
Posted on Tuesday, December 12 2017 @ 12:53:37 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Gamers Nexus did one of the first tear downs of the new $2,999 NVIDIA TITAN V card. The site found that the card uses the GV100-400-A1 GPU and spotted that the board number is PG500. Another interesting discovery is that TITAN V features 16-phase VRM.
The VRM on this board is a 16-phase built of Fairchild MOSFETs, with voltage controllers of somewhat ambiguous specifications – some of the controllers are by Monolithic Power Systems and have no public data sheets available, making it difficult to diagnose.
The site is working on a full review so we should get detailed performance metrics from at least one source later this week.