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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.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X Accidentally Listed on Amazon

Amazon Germany accidentally listed the upcoming AMD Ryzen 5 2600X six-core processor. According to the listing availability of the chip is scheduled for 19th April. The chip is priced at 248.93€ including taxes, which is in line with the launch SEP prices we saw in the leaked AMD press-deck posted earlier this month. The listing also mentions a handful specifications, such as the chip being based on 12 nm silicon fabrication process, and featuring clock speeds of 3.60 GHz, with 4.25 GHz turbo. Unlike with some of the higher end first-generation Ryzen retail packages, AMD will be including cooling solutions with all models of the 2nd generation Ryzen series. The Ryzen 5 2600X will include a Wraith Spire cooler, characterized by its RGB LED ring, and having a design focus on low-noise operation.

CTS Labs Posts Some Clarifications on AMD "Zen" Vulnerabilities

CTS-Labs the research group behind the AMD "Zen" CPU vulnerabilities, posted an addendum to its public-release of the whitepaper, in an attempt to dispel some of the criticism in their presentation in the absence of technical details (which they shared with AMD and other big tech firms). In their clarification whitepaper, quoted below, they get into slightly more technical details on each of the four vulnerability classes.

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Rears Its Head On Geekbench

As we grow ever closer to the launch of AMD's 2000-series, details and scores are expected to be revealed in increasingly faster fashion. Today, some Geekbench benchmarks (reportedly) of an AMD 2700X CPU have appeared, shedding some light on the expected performance - and performance improvement - of the new AMD top-of-the-line CPU.

The Ryzen 7 2700X CPU that has been tested achieved scores of 4746 single core and 24772 multi-core, which show some interesting improvements over the original flagship Ryzen 7 1800X. The official Geekbench baseline scores for AMD's 1800X are 4249 and 21978, respectively, for single and multicore benchmarks. This means that the new 2700X, which is expected to carry an increased 100 MHz base (3.7 GHz vs 3.6 GHz) and 350 MHz higher boost (4.35 GHz vs 4.0 GHz) over the 1800X, is pulling some additional performance from some micro-architecture refinements, and not just from the added clockspeed. The mobo used, an ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard, is a X370-series chipset motherboard, so while it supports the new AMD CPUs, it might not fully support all their SenseMI Gen 2 improvements. From what can be gleaned, the Ryzen 7 2700X ran at its default base frequency of 3.7GHz, and the accompanying 16GB memory ran at 2.4GHz.

CTS Labs Sent AMD and Other Companies a Research Package with Proof-of-Concept Code

CTS Labs, the Israel-based IT security research company behind Tuesday's explosive AMD Ryzen security vulnerabilities report, responded to questions posed by TechPowerUp. One of the biggest of these, which is also on the minds of skeptics, is the ominous lack of proof-of-concept code or binaries being part of their initial public report (in contrast to the Meltdown/Spectre reports that went into technical details about the exploit). CTS Labs stated to TechPowerUp that it has sent AMD, along with other big tech companies a "complete research package," which includes "full technical write-ups about the vulnerabilities," "functional proof-of-concept exploit code," and "instructions on how to reproduce each vulnerability." It stated that besides AMD, the research package was sent to Microsoft, HP, Dell, Symantec, FireEye, and Cisco Systems, to help them develop patches and mitigation.

An unwritten yet generally accepted practice in the IT security industry upon discovery of such vulnerabilities, is for researchers to give companies in question at least 90 days to design a software patch, harden infrastructure, or implement other mitigation. 90 days is in stark contrast to the 24 hours AMD got from CTS Labs. CTS Labs confirmed to TechPowerUp that it indeed shared its research package with AMD (and the other companies) just 24 hours prior to making its report public, but urged those disgruntled with this decision to look at the situation objectively. "If you look at the situation in the following way: right now the public knows about the vulnerabilities and their implications, AMD is fully informed and developing patches, and major security companies are also informed and working on mitigation."

13 Major Vulnerabilities Discovered in AMD Zen Architecture, Including Backdoors

Security researchers with Israel-based CTS-Labs, have discovered a thirteen security vulnerabilities for systems based on AMD Zen processors. The thirteen new exploits are broadly classified into four groups based on the similarity in function of the processor that they exploit: "Ryzenfall," "Masterkey," "Fallout," and "Chimera."

The researchers "believe that networks that contain AMD computers are at a considerable risk," and that malware can "survive computer reboots and re-installations of the operating system, while remaining virtually undetectable by most endpoint security solutions," such as antivirus software. They also mention that in their opinion, "the basic nature of some of these vulnerabilities amounts to complete disregard of fundamental security principles. This raises concerning questions regarding security practices, auditing, and quality controls at AMD."

AMD On Track to Return to Athlon 64 Market Share Levels

Yesterday AMD held their "One Year Ryzen Anniversary" call which reiterated the company's success introducing Ryzen products and also provided insight into what's planned for 2018 and beyond.

When asked about market share status and goals, Jim Anderson, SVP and GM of Computing and Graphics at AMD, mentioned that their near-term goal is reaching levels that the company enjoyed during their early-2000s market-leadership that they had thanks to the Athlon64 processors, which were strong competitors to what Intel offered at the time. Specifically, Jim said "I don't see any reason we can't get back to historical share levels that AMD has enjoyed in the past." Back in the 2000s the company boomed on a market share above 20% for desktop and slightly below 20% for notebook, also thanks to Intel's weakness in driving technology forward.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.3.2 Beta

AMD today released Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.3.2 Beta, its second significant driver release for this month. These drivers include heavier optimization for "Final Fantasy XV." This includes up to 4 percent higher frame-rates at 1080p compared to the older 18.3.1 drivers, when tested with a Radeon RX Vega 64; and up to 7 percent higher frame-rates at the same resolution, when tested with the RX 580 8 GB. It also fixes a stuttering issue noticed in the game, when rendering scenes with heavy particle effects. Grab the drivers from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.3.2 Beta

The change-log follows.

ASUS Intros MG248QE Gaming-grade 24-inch Monitor

ASUS today rolled out the MG248QE, an entry-level 24-inch gaming monitor. This monitor misses out on the coveted Republic of Gamers (ROG) branding by ASUS, but is still targeted at gamers, albeit on a tight budget, owing to is sub-$300 pricing. Don't stop reading at Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution just yet - you get 144 Hz refresh-rate, 1 ms (GTG) response time, and support for AMD FreeSync. Many of ASUS' GamePlus features are carried over from its ROG monitor lineup, such as GameVisual game genre-specific display presets, OSD crosshairs, timers, frame-rate counters, and monitor-based bezel-compensation adjustments for multi-monitor setups.

Other vital specs of the ASUS MG248QE include a TN-film panel with 16.7 million-colors, 170°/160° (V/H) maximum viewing-angles, LED backlit illuimation with low blue-light, 350 cd/m² maximum brightness, 100000000:1 "ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio," and passive anti-ghosting that takes advantage of the panel's high refresh-rate. Display inputs include HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort 1.2a, and dual-link DVI. Since this monitor is succeeding the company's VG248QE with a slightly refreshed feature-set (FreeSync and low blue-light), we expect it to sell at a similar price-point $250-$280.

AMD Product Roadmap Slides for 2020 Leaked - "Castle Peak" TR4 and "Dali"

Continuing with its trend of leaking AMD slides, Spanish website Informatica Cero has now published some purported company slides leading up to AMD's 2020 strategy. New information concerns the appearance of a new, value-oriented mobile APU in the form of "Dali" - let's hope performance on that is slightly more predictable than the particular style of the artist whose name it follows. Dali therefore joins AMD's "Renoir" APU and "Vermeer" CPUs (both expected in the 7 nm process) for AMD's 2020 roadmap. This is an interesting product, which AMD is likely positioning for tablets and ultraportables.

Another interesting tidbit is AMD's outlook for their Threadripper line of HEDT CPUs. The company is looking towards its 7 nm rendition of these powerhouse chips, codenamed "Castle Peak", to bring them, in a literal way, to that figurative peak. AMD compares Threadripper to a Monster Truck of computing, and is apparently hoping to introduce Castle Peak as early as 2019. AMD then plans to further refine these "process inflection point" products in a new generation to come right after, in 2020 (much like the company has done now with Zen and Zen+).

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