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EA Publisher Sale on Origin and Amazon with Discounts Up to 75%

Electronic Arts is currently running a big sale on Origin and Amazon that you simply cannot miss out on. There's an excellent selection of titles that includes Battlefield 1, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Titanfall 2, and many others. The good news is that the discounts also extend to several DLCs and game bundles. It's worth taking a look even if you're not a big fan of Origin. The EA Publisher Sale runs through until Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 10 am Pacific time. As is the custom, we've highlighted some of the more interesting offers.

The In Win D-Frame Mini Makes a Comeback

In Win originally released their D-Frame Mini open-air chassis back in 2014. Despite it becoming one of the most popular cases among PC enthusiasts, the Taiwanese case manufacturer only produced a limited number of units at the time. If you missed out on purchasing the D-Frame Mini four years ago, now's your opportunity to make your dream come true. The rereleased D-Frame Mini is the exact same model that we reviewed back then except for two minor changes. The case was available in orange, red, and black colors. In Win has added three more colors to the mix: blue, green, and white. The brand also reduced the price significantly from $350 all the way down to $199. The D-Frame Mini is available at Amazon starting right now.

US Lawmakers to Pull Up Intel, ARM, Microsoft, and Amazon for Spectre Secrecy

In the wake of reports surrounding the secrecy and selective disclosure of information related to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities leading up to the eventual January 3 public release, US lawmakers are unhappy with leading tech firms Intel, Microsoft, ARM, Apple, and Amazon. The five companies, among a few unnamed others, are being pulled up by a house committee over allegations of selective access of vital information that caught many American companies off guard on the January 3rd. Barring a few tech giants, thousands of American companies were unaware, and hence unprepared for Meltdown and Spectre until January 3, and are now spending vast resources to overhaul their IT infrastructure at breakneck pace.

In letters such as this one, addressed to CEOs of big tech firms, lawmakers criticized the secrecy and selective disclosure of information to safeguard IT infrastructure, which has left thousands of American companies out in the lurch, having to spend vast amounts of money securing their infrastructure. "While we acknowledge that critical vulnerabilities such as these create challenging trade-offs between disclosure and secrecy, as premature disclosure may give malicious actors time to exploit the vulnerabilities before mitigations are developed and deployed, we believe that this situation has shown the need for additional scrutiny regarding multi-party coordinated vulnerability disclosures," they write.

Intel's Patch for Meltdown, Spectre "Complete and Utter Garbage:" Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, the most popular datacenter operating system, proclaimed Intel's patches for the recent Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities "complete and utter garbage." Torvalds continues to work on the innermost code of Linux, and has been closely associated with kernel patches that are supposed to work in conjunction with updated CPU microcode to mitigate the two vulnerabilities that threaten to severely compromise security of data-centers and cloud-computing service providers.

Torvalds, in a heated public chain-mail with David Woodhouse, an Amazon engineer based out of the UK, called Intel's fix "insane" and questioned its intent behind making the patch "toggle-able" (any admin can disable the patch to a seemingly cataclysmic vulnerability, which can bring down a Fortune 500 company). Torvalds also takes issue with redundant fixes to vulnerabilities already patched by Google Project Zero "retpoline" technique. Later down in the thread, Woodhouse admits that there's no good reason for Intel's patches to be an "opt-in." Intel commented on this exchange with a vanilla-flavored potato: "We take the feedback of industry partners seriously. We are actively engaging with the Linux community, including Linus, as we seek to work together on solutions."

ASUS Announces Innovative Blue Cave AC2600 Wi-Fi Router

ASUS today announced Blue Cave, a stunningly designed high-performance AC2600 Wi-Fi router based on Intel's connected home technology that's built to meet the demanding needs of modern smart homes. Winner of a 2017 Computex Best Choice Golden Award, Blue Cave is an easy-to-use, innovatively designed router with stylish good looks and family-friendly features. It's built to cope easily with the increasingly complex and bandwidth-heavy demands of smart home networks, offering superb multi-device performance powered by the Intel Home Wi-Fi chipset, comprehensive commercial-grade security with ASUS AiProtection, and out-of-the-box IoT integration with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT.

"Combining years of ASUS experience in wireless innovation and Intel's connected home technology, Blue Cave delivers ultrafast Wi-Fi speeds throughout the home," said Tenlong Deng, General Manager, ASUS Networking and Wireless Devices Business Unit. "Not only powerful, its eye-catching design with no external antennas blends perfectly with any décor."

Jabra Launches Third-Generation True Wireless Earbuds

At CES 2018, Jabra today unveiled the Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t, the company's third generation of true wireless earbuds, built for a consistently stable wireless connection and up to 15 hours of battery life (with cradle). In launching the Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t, Jabra has reinvented a set of true wireless earbuds, incorporating its knowledge about usage, comfort and design from the first true wireless innovation. The new earbuds have a distinct focus on the voice experience, delivering superior audio quality for calls and music without wires. The products come in two versions: one for daily on-the-go use and an 'Active' version, made for training and sport.

Building on the success of the Jabra Elite Sport - the best-selling, most technically advanced true wireless sports earbuds - the new devices are engineered to deliver an even better voice and music experience, and come with new design and color choices.

HP Unveils the Narrow Bezel HP t310 G2 All-in-One Zero Client

HP announced its first narrow bezel HP t310 G2 All-in-One Zero Client with seamless visuals, improved ergonomics and maximum data security. Powered by Teradici and compatible with VMware and Amazon virtual workspace environments, the HP t310 G2 AiO Zero Client allows customers to take their work to new heights with the design and performance they want, and the security they need.

With a virtually borderless full HD display, customers can enjoy an impressive visual experience with one or more monitors to create a seamless and aesthetically beautiful workspace. The comfort designed stand can be adjusted up, down, tilted, swiveled or rotated to support landscape and portrait mode, so customers can customize their workspace to meet their unique needs.

Dear Intel, If a Glaring Exploit Affects Intel CPUs and Not AMD, It's a Flaw

Intel tried desperately in a press note late Wednesday to brush aside allegations that the recent hardware security-vulnerability are a "bug" or a "flaw," and that the media is exaggerating the issue, notwithstanding the facts that the vulnerability only affects Intel x86 processors and not AMD x86 processors (despite the attempt to make it appear in the press-release as if the vulnerability is widespread among other CPU vendors such as AMD and ARM by simply throwing their brand names into the text); notwithstanding the fact that Intel, Linux kernel lead developers with questionable intentions, and other OS vendors such as Microsoft are keeping their correspondence under embargoes and their Linux kernel update mechanism is less than transparent; notwithstanding the fact that Intel shares are on a slump at the expense of AMD and NVIDIA shares, and CEO Brian Kraznich sold a lot of Intel stock while Intel was secretly firefighting this issue.

The exploits, titled "Meltdown," is rather glaring to be a simple vulnerability, and is described by the people who discovered it, as a bug. Apparently, it lets software running on one virtual machine (VM) access data of another VM, which hits at the very foundations of cloud-computing (integrity and security of virtual machines), and keeps customers wanting cost-effective cloud services at bay. It critically affects the very business models of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Alibaba, some of the world's largest cloud computing providers; and strikes at the economics of choosing Intel processors over AMD, in cloud-computing data centers, since the software patches that mitigate the vulnerability, if implemented ethically, significantly reduce performance of machines running Intel processors and not machines running AMD processors (that don't require the patch in the first place). You can read Intel's goalpost-shifting masterpiece after the break.

DTS Announces First Wireless Speakers to Support Works with Amazon Alexa

DTS, a global leader in high-definition audio solutions and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation, is pleased to announce the first DTS Play-Fi-enabled wireless speakers to support the Works with Amazon Alexa functionality. Initial products supported include the Pioneer Elite Smart Speaker F4, Onkyo Smart Speaker P3 and the Phorus PS10. Additional DTS Play-Fi-enabled products, including the Klipsch Stream wireless multi-room audio lineup, as well as McIntosh Laboratories, MartinLogan and THIEL Audio, will add the capability by the end of Q1 2018.

Available via a Works with Amazon Alexa over-the-air firmware update, consumers can now control audio playback on select DTS Play-Fi products from another room using an Amazon Echo, Dot or Show. This functionality allows users to verbally ask Alexa to play a song in a specific room, groups of rooms or the whole house, adjust volume, skip the track forward, mute, pause and stop the music.

Intel Secretly Firefighting a Major CPU Bug Affecting Datacenters?

There are ominous signs that Intel may be secretly fixing a major security vulnerability affecting its processors, which threatens to severely damage its brand equity among datacenter and cloud-computing customers. The vulnerability lets users of a virtual machine (VM) access data of another VM on the same physical machine (a memory leak). Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are among the big three cloud providers affected by this vulnerability, and Intel is reportedly in embargoed communications with engineers from the three, to release a software patch that fixes the bug. Trouble is, the patch inflicts an unavoidable performance penalty ranging between 30-35%, impacting the economics of using Intel processors versus AMD ones.

Signs of Intel secretly fixing the bug surfaced with rapid changes to the Linux kernel without proper public-visibility of the documentation. The bulk of the changes involve "kernel page table isolation," a feature that prevents VMs from reading each other's data, but at performance costs. Developers note that these changes are being introduced "very fast" by Linux kernel update standards, and even being backported to older kernel versions (something that's extremely rare). Since this is a hardware vulnerability, Linux isn't the only vulnerable software platform. Microsoft has been working on a Windows kernel patch for this issue since November 2017. AMD x86 processors (such as Opteron, Ryzen, EPYC, etc.,) are immune to this vulnerability.

Amazon's Lumberyard Game Engine Receives Beta 1.12 Update, 400+ Updates

Amazon might soon be caught in the crossfire between Crytek and Cloud Imperium Games over alleged unlawful usage of Crytek's intellectual property - and CryEngine - in the making of Kickstarter stars Squadron 42 and Star Citizen. However, that isn't stopping the company from further updating and increase ease of use of its game engine, which it licenses for free to would-be game developers - nor should it.

Software solutions such as SpeedTree 8, EMotionFX, and ScriptCanvas look to make sure that developers have access to a multitude of tools that allows them to populate their worlds with believable environments, characters, and scripting events, with the least amount of work and repetition possible. Cloud Gems is Amazon's Lumberyard cloud-connected features, which allows developers to build cloud-connected systems in their games, such as voice recognition, or even procedural voice generation for thousands of NPCs in an MMO - through the power of the Cloud. Starter Game is a way for would-be users of Lumberyard to acquaint themselves with the engines' capabilities, offering 500+ free assets and systems for those training wheels-required sessions. Read up on some of the new Lumberyard Beta 1.12 capabilities after the break, and feel free to follow the source links to download the engine - and maybe tinker with it.

Google Uses the Nuclear Option Against Amazon, Pulls YouTube from Fire TV

Google Tuesday announced that it is discontinuing YouTube on Amazon's home entertainment platforms Fire TV and Echo Show. YouTube is the world's most popular on-demand video service, and continues to be the largest video sharing site. In a statement, Google said that the decision to pull YouTube from Amazon platforms was in reciprocity to Amazon continuing to hamper sales of Google devices, and preventing Amazon Prime Video from working on Google Chromecast. "Amazon doesn't carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn't make (its) Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of (our sister company) Nest's latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV," Google said.

As if preventing Prime Video from working on Chromecast doesn't amount to "selectively blocking customer access to an open website," a hypocritical Amazon retorted "Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website." Google has, in its statement, left the door open for a possible agreement between the two. "We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon," Google stated. This could likely see Google devices such as Chromecast and Google Home return to Amazon, and the availability of Prime Video on Chromecast and other Google Cast platforms. If it gets any worse from here on, Google has another, more destructive weapon in its arsenal against Amazon - Search results.

Intel Collaborates with Amazon to Build $250 DeepLens AI Camera

Today, Amazon Web Services announced DeepLens, its first fully programmable, deep learning-enabled wireless video camera designed for developers. It was revealed during AWS CEO Andy Jassy's keynote at its annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. AWS and Intel collaborated on the DeepLens camera to provide builders of all skill levels with the optimal tools needed to design and create artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning products.

AI and machine learning are poised to power a new generation of smart industries, including smart homes, smart retail, smart industrial and many others, making lives easier through intelligent interactions with devices. This collaboration reinforces Intel's commitment to providing developers with tools to create AI and machine learning products, and follows the recent introduction of the Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit, which provides a complete audio front-end solution for far-field voice control and makes it easier for third-party developers to accelerate the design of consumer products integrating Alexa Voice Service.

Activision and Bungie Bring Amazon Alexa Skill to Destiny 2

Bungie and Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI), announced the introduction of the Destiny 2 Ghost Skill for Alexa, giving players of one of the best-selling video games of 2017 to date the first-ever Alexa voice integration in a live game experience. Revealed on stage by Tom Taylor, senior vice president, Amazon Alexa and Byron Beede, Activision's senior vice president of Product Management for Destiny at the AWS re:Invent 2017 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Destiny 2 Ghost Skill, voiced by the in-game Ghost's voice actor Nolan North, is available now for Alexa customers to enable, free of charge, through the Alexa app.

The Destiny 2 Ghost Skill serves as a premier companion for Destiny 2 players, creating brand-new ways to interact with the game, players can say, "Alexa, ask Ghost to…" with a variety of utterances - from "…tell me which friends are online," to asking "…what should I do next?" giving recommendations for what to play next based on players' real-time current progress, to "…call for back up," which offers an easy way to interact with friends in their clan to enhance the social experience of Destiny 2, to "… equip my Raid loadout," equipping players' favorite weapons and armor for a number of different gameplay activities, to learning more about the world and characters of Destiny 2 with a request like, "…tell me who are the Red Legion?"

TPCAST Wireless VR Adapter Up for Preorder at $299

TPCAST, the first to market a wireless Virtual Reality (VR) solution for Head-Mounted Display (HMD) announces the launch of its Consumer Edition Wireless VR Adapter supporting the HTC VIVE. The TPCAST adapter will be available for pre-order through the primary web and retail stores throughout the US and Canada.

The TPCAST wireless adapter is a breakthrough in the field of VR, solving one of the most significant physical obstacles - the cumbersome wiring between the PC and the headset. The wireless adapter is a small device attached to the top of the Vive HMD replacing the cables connecting the PC video and USB to the headset. The adapter provides users an immersive VR experience including full-range motion capabilities without any impact on video quality and resolution. The adapter works perfectly with graphics intensive applications and with user extreme movement, without adding delay or affecting the experience quality. The Adapter includes a battery that powers the HMD, allowing up to 5 hours of operation.

Intel Xeon Scalable Processors Supercharge Amazon Web Services

Intel Xeon Scalable processors are deployed by today's cloud service providers to deliver disruptive performance efficiency across a diverse range of cloud workloads. Today, Intel announced Amazon Web Services' (AWS) public cloud customers can now harness the workload-optimized performance that the Intel Xeon Scalable platform delivers in Amazon's latest cloud instance. Available now, the Amazon EC2 C5 instances are AWS' latest generation, most powerful compute-optimized instances with the best price-to-compute performance.

Intel Xeon Scalable processors are highly agile, high-performance compute engines that allow public cloud environments to seamlessly transition among general purpose compute, high-performance computing (HPC) and AI/deep learning compute. This agility provides public cloud users a wide range of options for their target workloads. Intel Xeon Scalable processors are uniquely architected for today's evolving cloud data center infrastructure, offering energy efficiency and system-level performance that average 1.65x higher performance over the prior generation Xeon processors.

Amazon Registers Three New Domains Related to Cryptocurrency

Reports are coming in that Amazon registered three new domains on Tuesday. Normally, this wouldn't raise any eyebrows at all. However, the domain names are quite unique as they're related to cryptocurrency apparently. The domains are amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, and amazoncryptocurrencies.com. According to the registration information taken from the Whois database, all three are registered to Amazon Technologies, Inc., which we all know is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc.

At the moment of this article, we're not sure what is the reasoning behind Amazon's move. Speculations are saying that maybe the tech giant is finally getting into the cryptocurrency business. Or perhaps it's simply a marketing strategy to protect the Amazon brand similar to when the company registered amazonbitcoin.com back in 2013, which redirects users to the Amazon front page. Some are considering it an indication that Amazon might start accepting cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin despite Amazon Pay's VP Patrick Gauthier telling CNBC last month that there were no immediate plans to accept cryptocurrency.

Acer Notebooks Among First to Feature Core "Coffee Lake" Processors

PC major Acer will be among the first manufacturers to deploy Intel's 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" processors on its products. The company's Swift 3 notebook, which is already open to pre-orders on Amazon, has one of its CPU options as Intel Core i5-8250U, as discovered by LaptopMedia, in an article. It goes on to describe the i5-8250U as a quad-core chip clocked at 1.60 GHz with up to 3.40 GHz boost, with 6 MB of L3 cache. This is particularly big for the ultra-slim notebook segment as the i5-8250U is among the first quad-core "ultra low power" ("U" suffix) SKUs based on a high performance core, by Intel. The listing doesn't reveal when the notebook will ship.

RMA Fraud on Amazon Targeting AMD Ryzen Buyers

Amazon inventory of AMD's Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 processors seem to be suffering from RMA fraud, if several reddit reports and a general article from WCCFtech are to be believed. The RMA fraud appears to consist of a scheme in which an unknown party has been buying up quantities of Ryzen 7 or 5 series CPUs, and RMAing them back to Amazon with a fake CPU inside. The fake CPU appears to be an older Intel-based LGA packaged model, ironically.

The RMA gets by because the heatspreader is relabeled with an authentic looking AMD Ryzen label, which is presumably enough to fool a very PC-knowledge limited Amazon RMA check-in employee. This means the product gets sold again as an open-box item, as usually happens with RMAs.

Intel Unveils Powerful Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

Intel today launched its new Intel Xeon Scalable processors, providing businesses with breakthrough performance to handle compute-hungry tasks including real-time analytics, virtualized infrastructure and high-performance computing. Today's launch marks the greatest set of data center and network processor advancements in a decade.

"Data center and network infrastructure is undergoing massive transformations to support emerging use cases like precision medicine, artificial intelligence and agile network services paving the path to 5G," said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Data Center Group. "Intel Xeon Scalable processors represent the biggest data center advancement in a decade."

Ethereum Mining Wipes Out Radeon Inventory, AMD Stock Rallies

AMD Radeon graphics cards have always been too good at GPGPU for their own good. The new Ethereum block-chain compute network, with the Ethereum crypto-currency, works really really good with AMD Radeon Graphics CoreNext architecture-based GPUs (that's every AMD GPU since Radeon HD 7000 series). As a result, not only have Ethereum prospectors bought out nearly all inventory of AMD Radeon graphics cards from the market, but also forced an inflation of used AMD Radeon graphics cards on online tech-forums, and used-goods stores on eBay and Amazon. Some of these used cards are priced higher than even launch-prices.

Every $1,000 spent on AMD Radeon hardware towards Ethereum mining is recovered within 2 months, and then as long as your hardware lasts and you're paying your power bills, you're swimming in crypto-currency that can be converted to Bitcoin and even US Dollars. One Ethereum (ETH) exchanges to USD $265 at the time of this writing. There's already $330 million worth Ethereum being traded, and that number is only going to grow as people sell USD or BTC to buy ETH and pay for entry into the Ethereum network, and use ETH as a crypto-currency.

NVIDIA to Give Away Three VR Games with GeForce GTX + Oculus Bundle

NVIDIA is giving away three VR games with bundles of Oculus Rift VR headset, Oculus Touch controller, and qualifying GeForce GTX graphics cards. Game codes to three of the hottest VR titles, "The Unspoken," "SUPERHOT VR," and "Wilson's Heart" will be given away for free when you buy bundles of the Rift VR headset, Touch controller, with GeForce GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1080, or GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards. The bundles will be sold exclusively through Amazon and Newegg.

On the special promotion pages of these stores, you can match an Oculus Rift headset and Touch controller with an applicable GeForce GTX graphics card of your choice. A typical GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB + Oculus Rift + Touch controller bundle is priced around US $850, a GTX 1070 based bundle around $980, a GTX 1080 based bundle around $1,090, and a GTX 1080 Ti based bundle around $1,300.

Samsung, Amazon Unveil Yet Another HDR Standard

And here I was thinking the whole point of having standards was to homogenize offerings for a given feature, ensuring the same minimal requirements were met by anyone (or any product) looking to carry a sticker emblazoning its capabilities. Yet here it is, another HDR standard, which Samsung and Amazon are calling HDR10+.

The HDR10+ standard looks to slightly bridge the gap between the HDR10 standard as certified by the UHD Alliance, and the Dolby Vision one, which boasted better HDR reproduction whilst carrying higher specifications to be adhered to. The greatest change in HDR10+: the adoption of Dynamic Tone Mapping, which stand upon variable dynamic metadata to help adjust brightness and contrast in real time, optimized on a frame-by-frame basis, a feature present in Dolby Vision but lacking on the UHD Alliance's HDR10, which resulted in some overly darkened bright scenes.

Microsoft Distances Itself from Intel - Announces ARM Cloud Server Platform

Microsoft is looking to reduce costs in its Azure cloud computing platforms for tasks like search, storage, machine learning and big data. And after having developed a version of Windows for servers that use ARM processors, in a joint work with Qualcomm and Cavium, Microsoft seems to also be looking forward to leave its dependency on Intel products as nothing but a memory. Microsoft's ARM server design, dubbed Project Olympus, looks to hardware innovations so as to reduce costs, boosting competitiveness and flexibility in regards to other big players in the cloud space, like Amazon and Alphabet. That the design is open source is also a boon to other businesses and Microsoft partners.


Though the design isn't "deployed into production yet (...) that is the next logical step," said Jason Zander, vice president of Microsoft's Azure cloud division. "This is a significant commitment on behalf of Microsoft. We wouldn't even bring something (...) if we didn't think this was a committed project and something that's part of our roadmap."

AMD's Ryzen Launch Processors Sold Out at Major Retailers

AMD's Ryzen launch may have been marred only by some unrealistic expectations on what is really an excellent all-around chip, which apparently prompted some knee-jerk pre-order cancelations and a stock tumble for AMD. However, it would seem AMD built-up enough momentum with its Ryzen launch so as to provoke some shortages in major retailers, despite the company announcing a million-strong launch stock for Ryzen.

All in all, Amazon and Fry's have no more stock of any Ryzen 7 processor and Newegg, which was supposed to carry boxed versions of the processor, is only selling it as part of a number of pre-built rigs. Demand has been higher than supply when it comes to Ryzen ever since AMD opened pre-orders for its prodigal child. Let's hope these are sorted out, and that AMD can feed the consumers' hunger for a long-time coming viable (as in, mesmerizingly great) alternative to Intel.
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