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Tuesday, March 20th 2018

Today's Reviews

Gaming PC

Marvell Introduces New NVMe Switch and SSD Controllers

Marvell, a leader in storage, networking and connectivity semiconductor solutions, today announced that it is launching innovative NVM Express (NVMe)-based chipset solutions that will accelerate the time to market for application-optimized data center SSD implementations. These new, highly-versatile building blocks can optimally address current and emerging workload storage requirements, spanning capacity, latency, performance, power and cost, to enable tailored SSD solutions for specific cloud and enterprise workloads.

The proliferation of cloud services and new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, is driving various workloads in the data center. These evolving and expanding workloads can have differing storage requirements that emerging SSD form factors are targeted to address. Marvell has developed innovative NVMe chipsets capable of powering the larger Enterprise Data Storage Form Factors (EDSFF), Next Generation Small Form Factors (NGSFF) and various customized form factors, providing the ability to increase storage capacity, performance and overall workload efficiencies.

Xilinx Unveils Their Revolutionary Adaptive Compute Acceleration Platform

Xilinx, Inc., the leader in adaptive and intelligent computing, today announced a new breakthrough product category called adaptive compute acceleration platform (ACAP) that goes far beyond the capabilities of an FPGA. An ACAP is a highly integrated multi-core heterogeneous compute platform that can be changed at the hardware level to adapt to the needs of a wide range of applications and workloads. An ACAP's adaptability, which can be done dynamically during operation, delivers levels of performance and performance per-watt that is unmatched by CPUs or GPUs.

An ACAP is ideally suited to accelerate a broad set of applications in the emerging era of big data and artificial intelligence. These include: video transcoding, database, data compression, search, AI inference, genomics, machine vision, computational storage and network acceleration. Software and hardware developers will be able to design ACAP-based products for end point, edge and cloud applications. The first ACAP product family, codenamed "Everest," will be developed in TSMC 7nm process technology and will tape out later this year.

CTL Announces Three New Chromebooks

CTL, an Oregon-based company specializing in comprehensive personalized learning solutions, announced the release of three new models in a refresh of their best-selling NL-series Chromebooks all designed for use in K12 education. The CTL Chromebook NL7, the CTL Chromebook NL7T-360, and the CTL Chromebook NL7TW-360 each provide a variety of benefits to schools looking to invest in Chromebook Deployments.

All three education NL-series Chromebook models by CTL feature a rugged design including an IP41 drop rating, water resistant keyboards, and reinforced ports, hinges, and power plug. The NL series, which is CTL's premium line of Education Chromebook, also includes a tuck away handle for easy carrying, especially useful for carrying from class to class. This series also includes 32GB of storage and a DC-in USB-C Cable.

Jabra Launches the Elite 65e Noise-Cancelling Wireless Earbuds

Audio and communications technology specialist Jabra announced today that it has expanded its Elite franchise, a family of headphones and earbuds engineered for superior sound to provide the best combined voice and music experience, with the Jabra Elite 65e. These neckband wireless earbuds are engineered for best-in-class wireless calls and music. They feature Jabra's leading Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) solution, providing two levels of noise cancellation and challenging existing products in the market.

Standing on a noisy train platform? Walking through a busy downtown street? Cancel out disruptive background sound with Jabra's unrivaled total noise cancellation solution - with optimized engineering for both active and passive noise cancellation. The Jabra Elite 65e also offers incredible conversation quality with three-microphone technology (two outer microphones used for optimizing transmitted audio and one microphone in the mic box) that creates a noise-blocking zone, ensuring your voice is conveyed with crystal-clear clarity.

Lite-On to Unveil Powerful New NVRAM Hybrid Solid-State Drive at OCP 2018

LITE-ON Storage, an established leader in the rapidly expanding solid-state drive (SSD) industry, said today it will demonstrate its latest enterprise drives, the NVRAM Hybrid SSD, during the OCP U.S. Summit 2018, kicking off here today.

The new LITE-ON NVRAM Hybrid drive, slated for release this spring, is a compact high-density drive with multi-namespaces. One of the namespaces can be dedicated to NVRAM drive and the other namespace to boot drive, fully utilizing the NAND portion of the drive. This drive has a dual-use feature such that it can serve as boot drive for server with the SSD namespace and as cache with the NVRAM part of the drive, resulting in reduced overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with a better utilization rate.

"Customers tell us they need the most technologically advanced SSDs in their enterprises, but those storage solutions must also make financial sense," said Darlo Perez, Managing Director, LITE-ON Storage Group. "Our new NVRAM Hybrid SSD is capable of meeting today's demanding and time-sensitive data center requirements while maximizing TCO."

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 391.24 WHQL Drivers

NVIDIA today released GeForce 391.24 WHQL software. The drivers add more optimization for "Sea of Thieves," and two new NVIDIA Freestyle post-fx filters - "Old Film" and "Tilt-Shift." The drivers address issues related to VR headsets from both HTC and Oculus, in which the headset would stop working after several application launches or resumption of system from hibernation. A bug that prevented Freestyle from being enabled on games that support it, is fixed. MPC-HC no longer stutters in the first couple of seconds of the video playback. A driver TDR error with Mozilla Firefox was fixed. A rare bug that caused stuttering on "Rise of Tomb Raider" when opening the in-game menu on GTX 1060, was fixed. Grab the drivers from the link below.

The change-log follows.

Raijintek Intros the ZOFOS EVO Chassis

Raijintek's latest release the ZOFOS EVO is a case which has been designed to be practical; featuring the latest sound insulation, magnetic covers and the option for either a fully enclosed or windowed case. This full tower case supports up to EE-ATX motherboards, 470mm GPUs and up to three 360mm radiators for a comprehensive gaming system.

QNAP Rolls Out TS-x73 Series NAS with Quad-core AMD R-Series CPUs

QNAP Systems, Inc. today launched the cost-effective high-performance 4-bay (TS-473), 6-bay (TS-673), and 8-bay (TS-873) TS-x73 series NAS featuring an AMD RX-421ND quad-core CPU with Turbo Core up to 3.4GHz and two PCIe slots for installing a QNAP QM2 card, wireless network card or a graphics card to extend NAS functionalities. The TS-x73 series provides small and medium businesses with an ideal NAS solution to build a private cloud for applications including high-speed data transfer, backup/recovery, virtualization, media playback and graphics display.

The TS-x73 NAS series presents a budget-friendly solution by allowing users to add more value to their NAS based on their individual needs. Through the two PCIe slots, users can install a QNAP QM2 card to add SSD caching/10GbE connectivity for boosted performance; a wireless card with WirelessAP Station app to turn the NAS into a wireless access point; or even an PCIe bus-powered graphics card to enable 4K transcoding and HDMI output for a greater media multimedia experience," said Jason Hsu, Product Manager of QNAP.

TechPowerUp and Be Quiet! Win to Build Giveaway: The Winners

TechPowerUp and Be Quiet! brought you a chance to pick up either a Dark Base 700 case, or Straight Power 11 750W PSU, or both. Our Giveaway has ended, and we've picked three lucky winners from hundreds of entries. Dark Base 700 is among the quietest mid-towers in the market, and our review has shown that its acoustic dampening can significantly quieten the many noisy components your high-end build may have. The Straight Power 11 750W is its perfect match, with a design focus on low noise, without compromising on safe and clean power for your build. Without further ado, the winners:
  • Srdjan from Madison, USA - wins both a Be Quiet! Dark Base 700 case and a Straight Power 11 750W PSU
  • Mylous from Las Vegas, USA - wins a Be Quiet! Dark Base 700 case
  • Christopher from Highland, USA - wins a Be Quiet! Straight Power 11 750W PSU
A huge congrats to you three! TechPowerUp and Be Quiet! will return with more such interesting giveaways.

CTS-Labs Releases Masterkey Exploit Proof-of-Concept Video

CTS-Labs, the cyber security research firm that claims to have unearthed severe security vulnerabilities with AMD "Zen" CPU architecture, posted its first proof-of-concept demo video. This video deals with the "Masterkey" class of exploits, specifically Masterkey-1. The Masterkey class makes for 3 of the 13 vulnerabilities the firm discovered. As a quick refresher, Masterkey is an exploit of the Secure Boot feature, specifically getting around the feature's system integrity check on AMD "Zen" powered systems, by using a specially programmed system BIOS. Any privileged program (even from within Windows), can flash your system BIOS, and get around Secure Boot in the following system reboot (or even brick your system by writing a non-bootable BIOS image). The BIOS can then tinker with the ring -3 (minus 3) software running on Secure Processor, and survive reboots or OS re-installs. It would also be undetectable by traditional antivirus programs that can't have ring -3 access while running on top of an operating system.

In the video, we're shown a somewhat step-by-step process of infecting a TYAN-made server motherboard with a modified BIOS that has the Masterkey exploit. The demo BIOS by CTS, which has ARM Cortex A5-compatible code for the Secure Processor, makes it flicker its status code between "1337" and "7331" during POST, and go on to boot the OS as if nothing happened. It can be made to do anything once you've reached that far. CTS-Labs claims that it has a more elaborate shell code for Secure Processor that probably does more insidious things, but it won't be showing that to the public in this video. The objective of this demo appears to be to establish a proof-of-concept.
The video follows.

TerraMaster Releases First 5-Bay D5 Thunderbolt 3 RAID Storage Device

Recently, TerraMaster officially released the latest generation of its thunderbolt product, the D5 Thunderbolt 3. This product adopts the latest Thunderbolt 3 technology, with a transmission rate of up to 40 Gbps. It supports the hardware RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 and other data backup technologies, which greatly improves file transfer efficiency and data security. Moreover, it is a medium specifically designed for photographers, video editors, and other media workers, to provide them with a large capacity, ultra-fast 5-bay RAID storage device.

In appearance, the D5 Thunderbolt 3 inherits the style of the previous TerraMaster storage series products by using a rugged, aluminium-alloy integrated housing. This is paired with a high-efficiency heat-control system, built in with intelligent temperature-controlled fans. With the Thunderbolt 3 dual interface and DisplayPort interface, you can connect 5 Thunderbolt 3 devices or display devices simultaneously. DisplayPort users can also connect it to the external 4K @ 60Hz high-resolution screens.
Monday, March 19th 2018

Today's Reviews

Graphics Cards
Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530

Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530

The Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530 has amazing tracking performance because it uses the best-in-class PixArt PMW3360 sensor. With a price of $50, it is also more affordable than most competitors, even including fantastic software with great RGB customization options.
BitFenix Enso

BitFenix Enso

The BitFenix Enso is the classic wolf in sheep's clothing. It may look like an ordinary 70-80 USD chassis out there when turned off, but as soon as the addressable RGB lights turn on, it becomes apparent how much more the Enso offers while keeping the price enticingly low.

AMD Trims Prices of Current-gen Ryzen Processors

AMD on Monday, announced price-cuts across a bulk of its Ryzen 3-series, Ryzen 5-series, Ryzen 7-series, and Ryzen Threadripper processor models, based on first-generation "Zen" architecture, probably in preparation of its possible-April 19 launch of its 2nd generation Ryzen "Pinnacle Ridge" processors. The decision to trim prices of Threadripper SKUs indicates that AMD is either stepping up the heat on Intel's Core X family, or that one can expect a brisk roll-out of 12 nm "Pinnacle Ridge" silicon-based 2nd Generation Threadripper SKUs, even if not on April 19. The latest roadmaps put 2nd Gen Threadripper launch to the second half of 2018.

Intel "Hades Canyon" NUC Motherboard Pictured

Intel launched its "Hades Canyon" NUC way back in January 2018, but in the run up to its availability slated for Spring (very soon); the company shared a picture of its motherboard. The non-rectangular board is curved to the shape of the chassis, and is designed to utilize every square cm of precious PCB real-estate. The board has components soldered on both sides. The top side has the various slots (memory and M.2), ports, and headers; while the bottom side has the main Core i7-8709G MCM, the chipset, and some VRM components powering the two. Intel made sure some of the rear I/O ports utilize cutouts in the PCB, so they don't add a precious few millimeters. The NUC's main cooling system, inspired by gaming notebooks, takes up most of the bottom side of the chassis, making contact with the MCM, the PCH, and VRM.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.3.3 Beta Drivers

AMD today released the latest version Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition. Version 18.3.3 beta is the third release for this month, and features a major API update, in addition to game optimization. The drivers introduce support for the Vulkan 1.1 API. In addition, the drivers provide optimization for "Sea of Thieves," and "A Way Out." An intermittent stuttering issue was fixed with "Forza Motorsport 7." A system hang seen on "Star Wars Battlefront 2," on multi-GPU systems, was fixed. Also fixed are flickering and objects disappearing from the scene, with "Final Fantasy XV."
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.3.3 Beta

The change-log follows.

Twitter Reportedly Looking Into Banning Cryptocurrency-Related Ads as Well

After Google has actually announced a change to their financial services-related ad policies that will ban all cryptocurrency-related ads that run through its advertising platform, reports now place Twitter as the next major service to follow suit. According to Sky News, the banning will affect the majority of ads relating to cryptocurrency products, services, and advice, cutting it diagonally and indiscriminately if services are actually legit or fakes. The publication says the decision comes "amid looming regulatory intervention in the sector."

Sky's sources say this ban will enter into effect within the next two weeks. If so, this is now the third major servie (after Facebook and Google) to ban all crypto-related content form its advertisements. That regulatory intervention is looming on the sector is putting it mildly; and it's high time that happened. The cryptocurrency market really is "being chilled", to quote Mike Lempres, chief legal and risk officer at Coinbase. And it's coming from all sides: regulatory bodies, general services, John Oliver shows, mainstream media, and even investors' own risk-assessment. It was bound to happen - the frenzy was getting quite old, really - and is an expected development. Let's hope this is just the beginning of a renewal of sorts for the cryptocurrency and blockchain world.

Cyan to Celebrate 25th Anniversary of Myst Series With Updated Versions

The Myst series of videogames - or should that read "experiences?" - is likely one of the more recognizable names in the gaming industry. All of the Myst games were renowned for bringing players' imaginations inside virtual worlds through ambience, pacing, and interesting storylines steeped in mystery.

Now, Cyan, the original Myst games developer, has said that they intend to do something special as the Myst series completes its 25th anniversary. The idea is that players should be able to experience the same mystery and awe as when the games were first launched - though that may prove increasingly hard as the games' graphical engines age more and more. Expectations just aren't what they used to be. The plan is to releases updated versions for all Myst games this year - and look to round up the package with a limited, collector's physical edition that wraps the entire package. That is all of Myst for this year - but maybe there will be some new adventures post-2018.

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X & Ryzen 5 2600 Review Popped Up Ahead of Time

Not sure whether intentional or an error, SiSoftware posted a review of the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600 processors on their website. The creators of the popular Sandra benchmark suite has taken down the review for the meantime. Luckily, our good old buddies at VideoCardz have ninja reflexes and downloaded the graphs before SiSoftware removed them. In their review, SiSoftware pitched the upcoming Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600 processors against AMD's previous Ryzen 7 1700X processor and Intel's Core i7-6700K Skylake processor.

The SiSoftware team evaluated CPU performance using a plethora of synthetic benchmarks. Unfortunately, they didn't evaluate gaming performance. Nevertheless, their review gave us a taste of what we can expect from the Ryzen 2000 series. The Ryzen 2000 series (or Zen+) officially supports DDR4 frequencies up to 2933 MHz which should help improve its performance. Similar to its predecessor, Zen+ processors possess the most cores and threads. Therefore, performance improvements depend hugely on IPC and clock speeds. While we're on the subject of clock speeds, Ryzen 2000 series' base clock is 9% higher while the Turbo/Boost/XFR frequency is 11% higher when compared to previous Ryzen chips. In terms of CPU performance, we can expect at least a 10% improvement in CPU-heavy benchmarks. All of this comes at a cost though. The TDP for Zen+ (105W) is 11% higher than the first-generation Ryzen processors (95W). Beefy cooling solutions are highly recommended especially if you plan to overclock these CPUs. Although Zen+ based processors' L1, L2, and L3 caches suffered no changes, latencies should show some improvement. AMD may launch the Ryzen 2000 series on April 19, so we won't have to wait long to get our hands on the new processors.

Microsoft Releases DirectX Raytracing - NVIDIA Volta-based RTX Adds Real-Time Capability

Microsoft today announced an extension to its DirectX 12 API with DirectX Raytracing, which provides components designed to make real-time ray-tracing easier to implement, and uses Compute Shaders under the hood, for wide graphics card compatibility. NVIDIA feels that their "Volta" graphics architecture, has enough computational power on tap, to make real-time ray-tracing available to the masses. The company has hence collaborated with Microsoft to develop the NVIDIA RTX technology, as an interoperative part of the DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API, along with a few turnkey effects, which will be made available through the company's next-generation GameWorks SDK program, under GameWorks Ray Tracing, as a ray-tracing denoiser module for the API.

Real-time ray-tracing has for long been regarded as a silver-bullet to get lifelike lighting, reflections, and shadows right. Ray-tracing is already big in the real-estate industry, for showcasing photorealistic interactive renderings of property under development, but has stayed away from gaming, that tends to be more intense, with larger scenes, more objects, and rapid camera movements. Movies with big production budgets use pre-rendered ray-tracing farms to render each frame. Movies have, hence, used ray-traced visual-effects for years now, since it's not interactive content, and its studios are willing to spend vast amounts of time and money to painstakingly render each frame using hundreds of rays per pixel.

Nimbus Data Launches Their 100TB ExaDrive DC100 SSD

Nimbus Data, a pioneer in flash memory solutions, today announced the ExaDrive DC100, the largest capacity (100 terabytes) solid state drive (SSD) ever produced. Featuring more than 3x the capacity of the closest competitor, the ExaDrive DC100 also draws 85% less power per terabyte (TB). These innovations reduce total cost of ownership per terabyte by 42% compared to competing enterprise SSDs, helping accelerate flash memory adoption in both cloud infrastructure and edge computing.

"As flash memory prices decline, capacity, energy efficiency, and density will become the critical drivers of cost reduction and competitive advantage," stated Thomas Isakovich, CEO and founder of Nimbus Data. "The ExaDrive DC100 meets these challenges for both data center and edge applications, offering unmatched capacity in an ultra-low power design."

HTC Vive Announces Price of Vive Pro HMD at $799 and Reduces Vive Price to $499

HTC Vive today announced that the HTC Vive Pro Head Mounted Display (HMD) will be available for $799 with global pre-orders starting now. The company also announced a $100 price reduction for the current Vive full kit, bringing it down to $499 across the globe. All Vive Pro HMDs purchased by June 3rd, which will begin shipping on April 5th, will come with a free six-month trial to Viveport Subscription, where consumers can choose up to 5 titles per month from the more than 400 titles available.

"With the Vive Pro we are delivering the best quality display and visual experience to the most discerning VR enthusiasts. Our goal has always been to offer the most premium VR platform available and to drive adoption for VR," said Daniel O'Brien, HTC Vive General Manager, US. "By lowering the price of the current Vive, we are making VR more accessible while expanding the potential market for developers. Whether you're a VR enthusiast or new to the platform, there's never been a better time to join the most complete VR platform available."

Razer Announces Partnership with Team Queso

Razer, the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, and Spanish Team Queso, the first mobile-only esports team, today announced a new strategic partnership. The two-year deal will see Team Queso using the Razer Phone in their competitive games, as well as other Razer peripherals and equipment. The Razer Phone, the world's first smartphone designed for gaming, is the perfect handset for high-level mobile esports. The 120hz display, its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 8GB of RAM give players the smoothest, lag-free gaming experience, essential for competitive mobile esports.

Team Queso competes in multiple different disciplines, including Clash Royale, Vainglory, Arena of Valor and Hearthstone, and number among their ranks some of the best national, continental and global players. Founded in 2017, with high profile teams and players from around the world, Team Queso are the current ESWC Paris Clan Wars champions, as well as strong favorites for the Vainglory8 League and a team to watch with Arena of Valor.

ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Motherboard Packaging Teased

Leaks surrounding motherboards based on AMD's upcoming X470 chipset, which will accompany its first-wave of Ryzen 2000-series "Pinnacle Ridge" processors, are on the rise. We now see a fairly clear picture of the retail packaging of ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) Crosshair VII Hero, specifically its "WiFi" sub-variant that includes a WLAN card. This board surfaced on benchmark database listings. There's no product image on the box, but the logos make things pretty cut and dry - AMD X470 chipset, socket AM4, support for NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire; ASUS Aura Sync RGB LED management, and an unchanged Ryzen logo. We have confirmation of ASUS readying at least two ROG motherboards based on the X470 so far - the Crosshair VII Hero, and the Strix X470-F. It remains to be seen if the chipset also gets the company's coveted ROG "Extreme" treatment.

Intel Board Elects New Director and Extends Andy Bryant's Term as Chairman till 2019

Intel Corporation today announced that Risa Lavizzo-Mourey was elected to Intel's board of directors. Her election marks the fifth new independent director added to Intel's board since the beginning of 2016. The board also voted unanimously to extend Andy Bryant's term as Intel chairman in order to ensure board continuity and a smooth integration for new directors. Bryant became Intel chairman in May 2012 and will stand for re-election at the company's 2018 annual stockholders' meeting. If elected, he will continue to serve as chairman until the conclusion of the company's 2019 annual stockholders' meeting.

"Risa knows how to lead a large organization tackling complex issues, and brings extensive public-company board experience. I look forward to her fresh insights and perspective," said Intel Chairman Andy Bryant. "We've worked to make sure the board has the right skills and backgrounds to be strong stewards in our dynamic industry. I'm honored to continue serving alongside them, as Intel transforms to create more value for our customers and our owners."

Toshiba Adds New Lineup of Data Center SSDs Featuring 64-layer BiCS Flash

Toshiba Memory America, Inc. (TMA), the U.S.-based subsidiary of Toshiba Memory Corporation, has enhanced its portfolio of solid-state drives (SSDs) for the data center with a new, 3D flash memory-based lineup of PCI Express NVMe and SATA SSDs in multiple form factors. The new CD5, XD5 and HK6-DC SSDs enable infrastructure managers to address performance and workload demands by offering robust performance and reliability with lower operating power for read-intensive applications such as NoSQL databases, big data analytics and streaming media.

"Demand for flash storage in data centers continues to grow rapidly - with capacity shipped into the enterprise expected to increase at a 58 percent CAGR through 2021," said Jeff Janukowicz, IDC Research Vice President for Solid State Drives and Enabling Technologies. "In order for hyperscale, virtualization, automation/orchestration and software-defined storage applications to thrive, cloud data centers must meet specific workload requirements. Toshiba's latest data center SSDs are designed to help customers address these demanding environments and realize the most value from their flash storage."

Display Stocks Tank as Apple's Secret Display R&D and Manufacturing Facility Surfaces

Stocks of prominent display panel manufacturers such as LG Display, Sharp, and Samsung, tanked 4.4 percent on Monday, as reports emerged of Apple secretly developing its own screens and manufacturing them, for the first time. Apple has a secret Silicon Valley facility hiding in plain sight, located in Santa Clara. This facility is where cutting-edge research and development into micro-LED display panels is underway, along with small-scale manufacturing, just enough for Apple to rapidly prototype products under development, with new displays, before its display suppliers even have access to the technology.

Bloomberg comments that the facility is part of Apple's ambitious plan to bring development of key components of its products in-house. It also enables Apple to keep all new intellectual property obtained during the development to itself, so its suppliers can't bring IP they hold to their pricing negotiations with the company. Its R&D focus currently appears to be micro-LED technology, which will enable smaller and more pixel-dense screens, particularly for the Apple Watch.

QNAP Ships its First 3-bay TS-328 RAID 5 NAS

QNAP Systems, Inc. today rolled out the TS-328, the first quad-core 3-bay NAS that allows for building a RAID 5 array using only three drives. Compared with 2-bay NAS that only allow for building RAID 1 arrays, the TS-328 provides the choice of RAID 5 and can optimize available space while providing high data protection. The TS-328 provides feature-rich multimedia applications and video transcoding capabilities, and is an ideal solution for home users to centrally store, backup and manage files and data.

30% of QNAP NAS users prefer using RAID 5 arrays to benefit from optimized storage capacity, higher performance, and data protection. QNAP's first 3-bay NAS allows entry-level users to build a RAID 5 array on their NAS for a more cost-effective private cloud storage solution. The TS-328 also supports snapshots, allowing for users to quickly recover data in the event of accidental deletion/modification or ransomware attack.

HyperX Expands FURY DDR4 and Impact DDR4 Product Lines

HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., today announced the addition of higher frequency memory modules to the HyperX FURY DDR4 DIMM and HyperX Impact DDR4 SODIMM product lines. FURY DDR4 DIMMs and Impact DDR4 SODIMMs both offer automatic Plug N Play overclocking functionality. FURY DDR4 is now available up to 3466 MHz and Impact DDR4 is now available up to 3200 MHz. Both product lines are available as single modules and as various kits configurations from 8 GB to 64 GB.

HyperX FURY DDR4 is a cost-efficient high-performance upgrade for Intel and AMD's latest platforms for faster video editing, 3D rendering, gaming and AI processing. It features Plug N Play which enables automatic memory overclocking at standard DDR4 1.2V settings. The new FURY DDR4 additions are available in black, red and white low-profile heat spreader colour options that feature the stylish signature FURY asymmetrical heat spreader design with black PCB.

Thermaltake New TT RGB PLUS Ecosystem with TT AI Voice Control

Thermaltake, a leading brand in chassis, power supply units and cooling markets, is thrilled to launch TT RGB PLUS Ecosystem along with TT AI Voice Control, synchronizing all your gaming station color theme with your voice. TT RGB PLUS Ecosystem is the intelligent lighting system for PCs that combines the most advanced addressable LED lighting with TT AI Voice Control and the patented TT RGB PLUS Software.

TT RGB PLUS ecosystem provides unlimited possibilities for color play, light synchronization for games, music, CPU temperatures and other TT RGB PLUS products: Riing Plus LED RGB Radiator Fan Series, Pacific W4 Plus CPU Waterblock, Pacific V-GTX 1080Ti Plus Transparent GPU Waterblock Series, Pacific PR22-D5 Plus Reservoir/Pump Combo, Pacific RL360 Plus RGB Radiator and Pacific Lumi Plus LED Strips.

ASUS AMD X470 Motherboard Layout Drawings and Specs Sheets Leaked

Hot on the heels of last week's possible ASUS ROG Strix X470 motherboard leak, the board layout drawings of at least three upcoming ASUS AMD X470 chipset motherboard models were leaked to the web. These drawings are typically part of the motherboards' user manuals. From these, we can make out that ASUS is using an identical PCB design for two products - the ROG Strix X470-F Gaming, and the Prime X470-PRO. The two have their I/O headers and ports at identical locations. ASUS will probably differentiate the two with different color schemes, heatsink designs, and a few ROG-exclusive software features on the Strix X470-F.

The third model is the TUF X470-PLUS Gaming. This product could be positioned a notch below the other two, it lacks one of the three PCI-Express x16 (electrical x4) slots, and uses Realtek-made gigabit Ethernet controllers, instead of Intel-made ones on the other two. The specs sheets of the Prime X470-PRO, which also appear to be sourced from the manuals, go into details of these specifications, most of which will be common with those of the ROG Strix X470-F. The specs sheet seems to suggest that the company's 2nd generation Ryzen "Pinnacle Ridge" processors support higher memory clocks.
The specs sheets follow.

EU Plans to Add 3% Tax On Tech Giants' Revenue Based on Customers' Location

"Treat equally that which is equal, treat differently that which is different" seems to be the motto of the new EU proposal for increased taxation on tech giants. The proposal, which will be presented just this Wednesday (March 21st), could lead to increased taxation to tech giants that do business with EU customers by as much (or as little, depending on your point of view) as 3% of their gross revenue (the value still isn't final, but should stay within 1% and 5%). It isn't clear how the customer location business will be defined, but it seems that the EU believes its citizens provide increased revenues for companies than other citizens in other parts of the less developed world do.

This move specifically aims to capture real growth and value of digital-first companies, such as Facebook and Amazon. These are types of companies that the EU feels aren't being taxed proportionally (meaning, they currently provide less than they should to public coffers) to the true value they derive from the region. As most EU matters, any tax proposal will need the unanimous approval of all 28 current members before turning into law, so one country alone could block it.

ASMedia Remains AMD Chipset & USB Partner, Increases Revenues By 44.7%

ASMedia Technology, a tech company that's best known for designing high speed controllers (most recently, USB 3.1 Gen2, and AMD's X370 chipset), has posted tremendous increases in revenue and profits. The Taiwanese company distributed cash dividends per share in the order of $0.21 in late 2017, after achieving revenues of roughly $102 million, up 44.7% YoY (Year over Year).

While ASMedia is one of the implied companies in the latest AMD nightmare (the suspiciously timed and apparently interest-driven CTS flaw disclosure), AMD is keeping with ASMedia for its X470 chipset design and production. Which was to be expected - even if AMD wanted to change partners or develop the chipset in-house, AMD's Ryzen 2000 series and the accompanying motherboards' release is impending. The company is expected to continue its strong growth on continued shipment of USB 3.1 controllers, adding USB 3.2 controllers to its portfolio, and increased profits derived from the development of AMD's X470 chipset.

ASRock Intros J5005-ITX Motherboard

While most Intel "Gemini Lake" SoC desktop motherboards are based on the cheaper Celeron J4005, a rare few, such as the ASRock J5005-ITX, implement the pricier Pentium Silver J5005 chip. What sets the J5005 apart from the J4005 is its quad-core "Goldmont Plus" CPU, and faster UHD Graphics 605 iGPU with higher clocks; which make the chip around 1.5 times pricier. Designed for machines with internal PSUs, the board draws power from a 24-pin ATX connector. A simple 2-phase VRM powers the 10W TDP SoC, and an aluminium heatsink keeps it cool.

The SoC is flanked by two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, supporting up to 8 GB of memory. Expansion slots include a PCI-Express x1, and an M.2 E-key slot meant for WLAN cards. Display outputs include HDMI 2.0, D-Sub, and DVI. Four USB 3.0 ports (two on the rear panel, two by headers), gigabit Ethernet, and 8-channel HD audio, make for the rest of it. The board appears to be targeted at HTPC builders, as the UHD Graphics 605 appears sufficient for 4K UHD entertainment (10-bit HEVC encode/decode hardware acceleration). Given the $160 price of the SoC itself, we expect this board to be priced in the $200-250 range.

GIGABYTE Intros RX 580 Gaming Box

GIGABYTE today rolled out the RX 580 Gaming Box, an external graphics enclosure with a factory-fitted graphics card. The company's Gaming Box line of external graphics enclosures made their debut with Aorus-branded boxes based on GeForce GTX 1070 graphics cards. The company later launched an Aorus-branded GTX 1080 Gaming Box. The new RX 580 Gaming Box (model: GV-RX580IXEB-8GD) encloses a Radeon RX 580 8 GB graphics card, with its core clocked at reference clocks of 1257 MHz core and 1340 MHz boost, out of the box, although a software-toggled "OC Mode" spools up the boost clock to 1355 MHz. The memory is untouched, at 8.00 GHz (GDDR5-effective).

The enclosure takes in a Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps) connection, with which it drives not just the graphics card, but also a 3-port USB 3.0 hub. A fourth (orange) USB 3.1 port lacks any data connection, but is a Quick Charge 3-compliant USB port, for charging your devices. Powering the enclosure is a 450W internal PSU with over 90% efficiency. GIGABYTE claims this meets 80 Plus Gold efficiency standards, although is not certified with the 80 Plus logo. Display outputs from the graphics card include three DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.0. The enclosure features mesh side windows, and an RGB LED strip controlled with GIGABYTE RGB Fusion software. The company didn't reveal pricing.
Sunday, March 18th 2018

Viceroy Research and CTS-Labs Make Their Positions Known on "AMD Flaws"

In separate interviews with Vice Motherboard, Viceroy Research, the AMD stock short-seller that posted an obituary of AMD, and CTS-Labs, which claims AMD "Zen" architecture is infested with glaring security vulnerabilities; crystallized their financial positions on "AMD Flaws." CTS-Labs and Viceroy Research each went on record to state that they have no financial relationship with each other. "Viceroy [Research] is not a client of CTS[-Labs], and CTS[-Labs] did not send its research to Viceroy [Research]," said Yaron Luk, co-founder of CTS-Labs, but confirmed that his company's business-model involves sharing their cyber-security research with stock research firms (like Viceroy Research), which probably use the information to short tech stocks (a highly unethical though not yet illegal practice). "We are a for-profit company that gets paid for its research by a variety of research clients," Luk stated.

It's becoming increasingly clear that entities other than AMD had access to CTS-Labs' work, at least the report, if not the "research package," greater than 24 hours before public disclosure (i.e. before even AMD could see it), and one such entity, referred to as an "anonymous tipster" in the Motherboard report, "shared" the information with Viceroy Research, which quickly bought itself a shorting position against the AMD stock, and posted a 25-page doomsaying report to accelerate the fall of AMD stock (which isn't quite happening at the time of writing this post). Viceroy Research is brazen about its position on the matter. "We haven't hidden the fact that we short the stock," said Fraser Perring, founder of Viceroy. Cybersecurity guru Arrigo Triulzi, who is associated with Facebook, without taking names, tweeted an ominous warning that short-selling fueled security research "is going to end in tears. Hopefully due to lost money, and not because naive researchers go to prison." Does this foretell new regulation by the SEC that renders Viceroy's position into a black-hole for their money? The SEC has taken a great interest in the behavior of tech corporations and investors around cyber-security research.
Friday, March 16th 2018

Today's Reviews

Gaming PC
Upcoming Hardware Launches 2018

Upcoming Hardware Launches 2018

This article serves as a continuously updated summary of currently known leaks and official announcements regarding upcoming hardware releases in 2018 and beyond. We, among others, cover and keep track of AMD Zen+ and Zen 2, NVIDIA Turing, and NVIDIA Ampere.
Nitro Concepts Series S300 Gaming Chair

Nitro Concepts Series S300 Gaming Chair

The Nitro Concepts S300 is an affordable, very comfortable chair with quite a lot of features for its price. It is available in eight different color combinations to cover all tastes, and its dimensions are ideal for larger users.

ASUS ROG X470 Motherboard Shows Up Out of Nowhere

The folks at VideoCardz received a picture of a soon-to-be-released ASUS X470 motherboard from an unnamed sender. Judging by the motherboard's aesthetics and design, we suspect that it belongs to the Strix Series. Although there are no signs of the Strix branding on the motherboard, the rear I/O cover and the 8+2 phase VRM resemble the ones used on the ASUS ROG Strix X370-F Gaming motherboard. Initially, the "Republic" marking threw us off as ASUS isn't known for placing the Republic of Gamers branding on their previous Strix motherboards. The "Hybrid" marking remains a mystery though. The Chinese characters 玩家 that are located beside one of the memory slots literally translates to "Players", which certainly suggests that this will be a gaming-oriented motherboard. As of the time of this article, there are five confirmed X470 motherboards from ASUS: Prime X470-Pro, ROG Strix X470-F Gaming, ROG Strix X470-I Gaming, ROG Crosshair VII Hero, ROG Crosshair VII Hero (WI-FI), and TUF X470-Plus Gaming.

AMD Throws EPYC Jab at Intel Xeon Products on Cloudfest

Cloudfest is a summit of sorts, a running line of conferences and announcements that focus on the cloud side of computing. With the increasing market value and demand of cloud services and providers, it's no surprise that industry behemoths are in attendance. AMD is one such, and it took the opportunity to throw a slight jab at Intel. Making the best it can from its long-coming favorable position in the server market, AMD put up a banner with an EPYC pun, touting its 3.3x performance per dollar advantage versus the Xeon competition... and then some. Just take a look at the image for yourself. It's all in good sport... Right?

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Goes Mobile

After being crowned as Steam's third best-selling game ever, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) is on its way to conquer the mobile world. Developed by LightSpeed & Quantum Studio and published by Chinese tech giant Tencent, PUBG Mobile has been soft launched in Canada. The game is now available for download at the Google Play Store. PUBG Mobile stays true to the PC version. It was developed on the Unreal Engine 4 and supports features that include 7.1 surround sound and in-game voice chat. For the time being, only the original Erangel map is in the mobile version. The minimum requirements consist of a smartphone with Android 5.1.1 and 2 GB of RAM. Although there is no mention of a minimum processor requirement, the developer states that the game is supported on more than 500 Android devices.

ASRock Releases a Teaser of Their Upcoming Phantom Gaming Graphics Cards Series

ASRock was rumored to enter the graphics card market as per a report by DigiTimes. The motherboard and soon-to-be graphics card manufacturer just released a teaser on their Japan Twitter account that confirms this rumor. The mysterious graphics card in the video belongs to their Phantom Gaming Series. Although the exact model wasn't revealed, DigiTimes's article stated that it's probably an AMD Radeon-based card. From what can be seen from the 30-second long video, the graphics card features a dual-slot design with a black and white theme. The graphics card apparently relies on two fans to provide active cooling and a single 8-pin PCIe connector for power.

The Crew 2 Set for June 29 Release

Today, Ubisoft announced that The Crew 2, the newest iteration in the revolutionary open world driving franchise The Crew, will launch on June 29th, 2018, for PlayStation4 computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices and Windows PC. In addition, The Crew 2 has been enhanced with additional features for PS4 Pro systems.

Developed by Ubisoft Ivory Tower, a studio based in Lyon, France, The Crew 2 will let players experience the thrill of American motorsports inside a fully redesigned USA. The game's playground pushes physical boundaries to let driving and open world fans test their skills, solo or with friends, in nonstop competition and exploration. From coast to coast, drivers will explore America and compete to become the greatest motorsports champion, by collecting a wide variety of exotic cars, bikes, boats and planes, and dominating the motorsports scene on the land, on the water and in the air. Players will find challenges and inspiration among four different motorsports families: street racing, off-road, pro racing and freestyle, and will be given a broad set of options among a wide selection of vehicle types.

CTS-Labs Responds to a TechPowerUp Technical Questionnaire

Yesterday, we had a very productive phone call with CTS-Labs, the firm behind the "AMD Flaws" critical security vulnerabilities exposé of the "Zen" microarchitecture. Our questions focus on the practicality of exploiting these vulnerabilities, and should provide more insight to the skepticism centered on needing admin privileges, flashing BIOS ROMs, and other localized hacks that would render any machine, not just "Zen" powered, vulnerable. Feel free to follow up with questions in the comments section, if we can help explain something.
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