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OpenBSD Turns Off Hyper-Threading to Combat Intel CPU Security Issues

Lead developer for OpenBSD Mark Kettenis has announced that OpenBSD will no longer enable Hyper-Threading on Intel processors by default. This move is intended to mitigate security exploits from the Spectre ecosystem as well as TLB and cache timing attacks, because important processor resources are no longer shared between threads. Their suspicion is that some of the unreleased (or yet unknown) attacks can be stopped using this approach.

This move is supported by the fact that most newer motherboards no longer provide an option to disable Hyper-Threading via BIOS. OpenBSD users who still want to use Hyper-Threading can manually enable support for it using the sysctl hw.smt. The developers are also looking into expanding this feature to other CPUs from other vendors, should they be affected, too.

CRYORIG Announces Frostbit M.2 Cooler and C7 RGB for Computex 2018

Ahead of Computex 2018 CRYORIG announces new M.2 cooler Frostbit and RGB enhanced C7 RGB CPU Cooler. CRYORIG's Frostbit is not only the industry first aftermarket M.2 NVMe SSD cooler with dual heatpipes, it allows full adjustment of the Secondary Heatpipe and large volume Heatsink. The C7 RGB is based on CRYORIG's award winning ITX cooler C7, with a 12v RGB lighting enhanced 92 mm fan. Both products will be shown at CRYORIG's Computex booth at Nangang Exhibition Hall I0527.

EK Releases Limited Edition Supremacy Edge Water Blocks

What is the most recognized CPU water block shape on the market? Which is the most sold CPU water block on the market? That's right! The EK-Supremacy EVO! This is the moment when we pay respect to the most successful water block on the market up to this day. The EK-Supremacy Edge is a special Limited Edition package made to celebrate the success of the EK-Supremacy EVO CPU water block. It features a low polygon structure covering the front face of the block, symbolizing our never-ending pursuit to bring the best possible liquid cooling experience to our customers all around the world.

Only a 100 pieces are made of each model and color combination which makes these water blocks a rare collector's item! Each block is delivered in a custom designed box which just adds more flavor to the whole experience.

Cooler Master Announces Its First Addressable RGB AIO Liquid CPU Coolers

Cooler Master, a global leader in manufacturing CPU coolers, computer components and peripherals, introduces its first addressable RGB all-in-one (AIO) liquid CPU coolers. The MasterLiquid ML240R RGB and MasterLiquid ML120R RGB are certified compatible with ASUS, MSI and ASRock motherboards and feature addressable RGB LEDs on both the fans and water block.

16.7 Million Color Customizing with Software or Wired Controller
The MasterLiquid ML240R RGB and MasterLiquid ML120R RGB feature a newly designed pump with 12 addressable RGB LEDs on the water block and eight addressable RGB LEDs on each fan, capable of 16.7million color options. Users can easily customize each LED, individually, through the addressable RGB software from ASUS, MSI and ASRock motherboards, or with Cooler Master's upcoming MasterPlus+ software for complete ambient control.

The Ncore V1 is the World's First Naked Die Cooling Waterblock for LGA1151 CPUs

The world's first waterblock designed for naked die cooling throws years of conventional wisdom out of the window. It features six unique patentable features including its "in-frame" mounting mechanism. The man behind NUDEcnc, Arek Tobiszewski has started this Kickstarter campaign in order to get a professional CNC machine, which will enable this inventor to deliver Ncore and other cool projects to the audience. He has been brave enough to send the Ncore for a review to Kyle Bennett from HardOcp; Linus tech tips; buildzoid, and Techlipton. Some of the reviews are already up, and are very promising.

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.

Scythe Bundles New Ninja 5 CPU Cooler with Two Silent Kaze Flex 120 PWM Fans

Japanese cooling expert Scythe launches the 5th Generation of its legendary Ninja CPU Cooler Series. Scythe bundles the Ninja 5 with two Kaze Flex 120 PWM fans with the goal to offer a significantly more silent solution without compromising the high performance that users expect from the Ninja Series. This goal has been achieved by mounting the two fans using the Push/Push principle and setting the fan rotation limit to only 800 rpm. Outstanding RAM compatibility is assured even when used with LGA 2066 Mainboards with 8 RAM-Slots thanks to a new heatsink optimization. In addition to that, Ninja 5 is equipped with the third generation of the Hyper Precision Mounting System (H.P.M.S.) which further simplifies the installation procedure and supports all the major AMD and Intel sockets.

Confessions of a Crypto Miner: CPU Mining

Welcome back to "Confessions of a Crypto Miner," my column about a crypto miner from 2013 trying to get caught up with the latest standards. I'm presently mining and reporting to you from a dual-GTX 1080 based rig mining zCash.
Today we are going to take a look at mining again - using the CPU in particular. CPU mining is the original form of mining cryptocoins.

Microsoft Pushes New Software-Based Spectre, Meltdown Mitigation Patches

The Spectre/Meltdown road is long and pocked with lawsuits and security holes as it is, and Microsoft is one of the players that's trying to put the asphalt back to tip-top, Autobahn-worth shape. The company has already improved users' security to the Meltdown and Spectre exploits on its OS side; however, hardware patches, and specifically BIOS-editing ones are much harder to deploy and distribute by the PC chain. That may be one of the reasons why Microsoft is now again stepping up with software-based mitigations for Intel-based systems, specifically.

The new updates introduce a software-based CPU microcode revision update, and work at the OS-level to plug some security holes on your Intel processors that might otherwise remain unpatched. The reasons for them remaining unpatched can be many: either Intel taking even more time to deploy patches to the still vulnerable systems; your OEMs not deploying the Intel CPU microcode revisions via a BIOS update; or the good old "I forgot I could do it" user story. Of course, being software based means these Microsoft patches will have to be reapplied should users format their Windows system. The update can for now only be manually downloaded and installed, and can only be applied to version 1709 (Fall Creators Update) and Windows Server version 1709 (Server Core), but that's definitely better than the alternative of forcing less knowledgeable users to try and find their way through BIOS updates. Of course, that is assuming OEMs will ever push BIOS updates to their products.

Alphacool Launches the Aurora XPX RGB Frame for Their Eisblock XPX CPU Coolers

The Alphacool XPX RGB frame is intended for users of the Eisblock XPX CPU cooler who are looking for the perfect lighting for their cooler. The RGB frame simply slides over the Eisblock XPX cooler and is then connected to the RGB controller. With an impressive 15 RGB LEDs evenly distributed over the XPX Eisblock CPU cooler, perfect lighting is guaranteed. The RGB controller lets you change not only the colors, but also add color effects like gradients, blinking, slow color changes, and much more. Many controllers also include a dimmer function. The Alphacool XPX RGB frame leaves nothing to be desired.

Updated Firmware Available for 6th, 7th and 8th Generation Intel Core Processors

Intel today shared in a blog post that they are deploying microcode solutions that have been developed and validated over the last several weeks. These updates aim to patch security vulnerabilities recently found in Intel processors, and will be distributed, mostly, via OEM firmware updates - users who want to have their system hardened against Spectre and Meltdown exploits will have to ensure that their system manufacturer of choice makes these microcode updates available. If they don't do it in a timely fashion, users have no choice but to be vocal about that issue - Intel has now done its part in this matter.

This is the second wave of Intel's patches to mitigate the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, after the first, hasty patch sent users on towards unstable, crashing systems and the inevitable update rollback. Security had already been reinstated, of sorts, for Intel's Skylake processors, but left users of any other affected Intel CPU family out in the cold. Here's hoping this is the one update that actually sticks after thorough testing and validation.

AMD Ryzen 2000-series "Pinnacle Ridge" CPUs Get Soldered IHS

AMD's second-generation Ryzen 2000-series "Pinnacle Ridge" processors, which succeed the company's first Ryzen "Summit Ridge," reportedly feature soldered integrated heatspreaders (IHS), according AMD spokesperson "AMD_Robert" on Reddit. This would make the chips different from the Ryzen 2000G-series "Raven Ridge" APUs launched earlier this week, which come with a thermal paste between the IHS and the die. Soldered heatspreaders are generally known to have better heat transfer between the IHS and die, when compared to packages with thermal pastes between the two; and are more expensive to manufacture. They remove the need to "de-lid" the processor (remove the IHS). Ryzen 2000-series processors are expected to debut in April 2018.

It's a Web Mining Odyssey, Part 3: YouTube Falls to Injected Mining Code

Web mining's advent was the opening of a veritable Pandora's box when it comes to users' peace of mind while surfing the internet. What started with The Pirate Bay's implementation and ended up with a full-on browser war against these injected, unauthorized hijacks of users' electricity and computing resources has now taken to one of the world's most known and visited websites: YouTube.

Users of YouTube started getting heads-up that something might be wrong due to their antivirus protection kicking off some cryptocurrency mining warnings that seemed to only pop up when users were visiting YouTube. These warnings kept popping up even after a web browser change, and then, on Friday, researchers from TrendMicro touched upon the issue, saying that YouTube's web mining injections had led to a more than three-fold spike in the total number of cryptocurrency web mining warnings. Luckily, the web mining exploit wasn't deployed across the entire world: Trend Micro researchers said that the attackers behind the ads were abusing Google's DoubleClick ad platform to display them to YouTube visitors in select countries, including Japan, France, Taiwan, Italy, and Spain.

Microsoft Issues Update to Rollback Intel Spectre, Meltdown Problematic Patches

Multiple reports pegged some issues on Intel's rapid-fire, microcode and software response towards addressing the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, with Intel themselves coming forward, admitting to the problems' existence, and urging users not to perform said updates. However, Intel's press release wasn't very clear on whether or not users would be able to rollback changes in order to recover their machines' stability. Microsoft has taken the matter into its own hands, via an out of band update for Windows, KB4078130, that specifically disables only the mitigation against CVE-2017-5715 - "Branch target injection vulnerability."

In Microsoft's testing, this particular update is the one that the company has found to be associated the most with stability issues on host machines, and their out of band update seems to mitigate these completely. Microsoft is also adding the possibility for users to either disable or enable the troublesome mitigation themselves, manually, via registry changes. Microsoft seems to have taken the job of cleaning house on themselves, after Intel's apparent hasty move to restore security to systems based on their CPUs.

Intel Processors to Have "In-silicon" Fixes to Meltdown and Spectre This Year

Intel, which benefited from the post-Q4 public-disclosure of Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in its latest results, is hoping to mitigate its fallout on Q1-2018. The company, along with several other CPU designers, such as AMD and ARM, are firefighting the two devastating security vulnerabilities through OS kernel patches and CPU micro-code updates; which come at a slight expense of performance. In a bid to unnerve investors, company CEO Brian Krzanich announced that Intel is working on "in-silicon" fixes to Meltdown and Spectre.

An "in-silicon" fix would entail a major CPU micro-architecture design that's inherently immune to the two vulnerabilities and yet offers the benefits of modern branch-prediction and speculative execution. Krzanich says processors with in-silicon fixes to the two vulnerabilities will be released to market by the end of 2018.

BSODs from Meltdown and Spectre Firmware Updates Are Spreading Like the Plague

Have you ever taken your car to the mechanic shop to fix one thing but end up breaking another? Well, that's how Intel CPU owners are feeling right now. Intel previously confirmed that their Meltdown and Spectre firmware updates are causing irritating reboots on systems with Broadwell and Haswell processors. After analyzing the latest customer reports, they are acknowledging that the updates are also causing BSODs on the Kaby Lake, Skylake, Ivy Bridge, and Sandy Bridge platforms. This shouldn't come as a shocker considering how both the Meltdown and Spectre exploits affect Intel processors over the past 20 years. The possibility of all platforms suffering from the same side effects is extremely high. Fear not, though, as Intel is already working on an updated microcode to fix the constant system reboots. Motherboard vendors should have the beta microcode for validation by next week. Expect a new BIOS revision for your motherboard soon.

Intel Releases CPU Benchmarks with Meltdown and Spectre Mitigations

It's safe to say that there's one thing that you don't mess around with, and that's performance. Enthusiasts don't spend hundreds of dollars on a processor to watch it underperform. Given the complicated nature of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, Microsoft's so-called mitigations were bound to have an impact on processor performance. The million dollar question was: Just how much? The initial estimate was somewhere around 30%, but Intel, being optimistic as usual, expected the performance impact to be insignificant for the average user. They recently provided some preliminary benchmark results that looked quite convincing too. Well, let's take a look at their findings, shall we?

Intel measured the mitgations' impact on CPU performance using their 6th, 7th, and 8th Generation Intel Core processors but, more specifically, the i7-6700K, i7-7920HQ, i7-8650U, and i7-8700K. The preferred operating system used in the majority of the benchmarks was Windows 10, however, Windows 7 also made a brief appearance. Intel chose four key benchmarks for their testing. SYSmark 2014 SE evaluated CPU performance on an enterprise level simulating office productivity, data and financial analysis, and media creation. PC Mark 10, on the other hand, tested performance in real-world usage employing different workloads like web browsing, video conferencing, application start-up time, spreadsheets, writing, and digital content creation. 3DMark Sky Diver assessed CPU performance in a DirectX 11 gaming scenario. Lastly, WebXPRT 2015 measured system performance using six HTML5- and JavaScript-based workloads which include photo enhancement, organize album, stock option pricing, local notes, sales graphs, and explore DNA sequencing.

Samsung Optimizes Exynos 9810 for AI Applications and Richer Multimedia Content

Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, today announced the launch of its latest premium application processor (AP), the Exynos 9 Series 9810. The Exynos 9810, built on Samsung's second-generation 10-nanometer (nm) FinFET process, brings the next level of performance to smartphones and smart devices with its powerful third-generation custom CPU, faster gigabit LTE modem and sophisticated image processing with deep learning-based software. In recognition of its innovation and technological advancements, Samsung's Exynos 9 Series 9810 has been selected as a CES 2018 Innovation Awards HONOREE in the Embedded Technologies product category and will be displayed at the event, which runs January 9-12, 2018, in Las Vegas, USA.

"The Exynos 9 Series 9810 is our most innovative mobile processor yet, with our third-generation custom CPU, ultra-fast gigabit LTE modem and, deep learning-enhanced image processing," said Ben Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics. "The Exynos 9810 will be a key catalyst for innovation in smart platforms such as smartphones, personal computing and automotive for the coming AI era."

AMD Updates on AMD Processor Security Status

There has been recent press coverage regarding a potential security issue related to modern microprocessors and speculative execution. Information security is a priority at AMD, and our security architects follow the technology ecosystem closely for new threats. It is important to understand how the speculative execution vulnerability described in the research relates to AMD products, but please keep in mind the following:
  • The research described was performed in a controlled, dedicated lab environment by a highly knowledgeable team with detailed, non-public information about the processors targeted.
  • The described threat has not been seen in the public domain.

Scythe Kotetsu Mark II Aims to Provide Best Price-Performance Ratio

Japanese cooling expert Scythe presents the significantly improved "Mark II" version of its Kotetsu CPU Cooler. While keeping the basic design of the predecessor, Kotetsu Mark II comes with both visual and technical improvements. One of the key advances is the offset, where the heatsink is not centered but moved to the side and the rear. This allows the CPU Cooler to increase the distance to the first PCI-Express slot, offering unchallenged compatibility to VGA card with outsized cooling solutions and avoid clearance issues with memory modules with large heatsinks at the same time. Kotetsu Mark II is able to deliver a significant performance boost compared to the first version, thanks to an optimization of the manufacturing process. Visual improvements include the new aluminum-look top-cover and nickel-plated heatpipes and base-plate. The Kotetsu Mark II is bundled with a high-quality PWM-fan from Scythe's Kaze Flex 120 PWM series. In spite of the significant improvements of performance and visuals, Kotetsu Mark II price is remaining to assure the best possible price-performance ratio.

Newegg Black Friday Deals 2017

Black Friday is indisputably the best time of the year for any computer enthusiasts because we can get new toys for cheaper prices. Whether it be computer hardware or consumer electronics, Newegg has become the preferred place for many enthusiasts. We here at TechPowerUp have put together a list of the amazing deals currently available at the online retailer. The promotions are grouped into different categories for your viewing convenience. If you've been eyeing a particular piece of hardware or gadget, come take a look at our list. Who knows? Maybe you can save yourself a few hard-earned dollars. Don't forget to come back periodically to check for new deals!

Intel to Bring Additional Assembly Online to Improve Supply of Coffee Lake CPUs

There were some rumors regarding an expected low availability of Intel's latest, 8th Gen "Coffee Lake" CPUs. Then, in a new report, those rumors were sort of confirmed by Newegg. Now, we have it straight from the blue giant themselves, as Intel has announced that they're adding another facility to their 8th Gen Coffee Lake production and certification facilities. Stock of Intel 8th Gen CPUs has been spotty, to say the least, and pricing of the lineup's unlocked CPUs (8600K and 8700K, which are the most interesting for enthusiasts) have been particularly affected. If current output isn't enough to satisfy demand, the oldest trick in the book is to simply improve output. And Intel is doing it.

While Intel has been mainly using its assembly and test facilities based in Malaysia, the company is adding a new, certified assembly to the list: one in Chengdu, China. That shouldn't send alarms ringing, however; Intel's assembly and test facilities are a part of Intel's Copy Exactly! (CE!) program. This means that in order to be certified, all facilities must have identical methodologies and process technologies across different production sites throughout the world - there should be no quantifiable difference in quality. Intel's customers will begin to receive the aforementioned processors assembled in China starting from December 15. There is no real way to know exactly how much difference the new assembly facility will make on the worldwide supply of Intel 8h Gen CPUs - but it should only improve.

MINIX Creator Andrew Tanenbaum Sends Open Letter to Intel Over MINIX Drama

We recently reported about MINIX, the hidden Unix-like OS that Intel was secretly shipping in all of their modern processors. This came as a shock to most of us and to MINIX creator Andrew Tanenbaum as well. Although Andrew wasn't completely surprised by the news, since Intel approached him couple years back asking him to make a few changes to the MINIX system. He stated in the open letter that he wasn't looking for economic remuneration, but it would have been nice if Intel had told him about their plans to distribute his operating system in their processors.

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.

Ultrafast Magnetic Reversal Leads the Way for Speedy, Energy-Efficient Memory

Researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Riverside have developed a new, ultrafast method for electrically controlling magnetism in certain metals, a breakthrough that could lead to greatly increased performance and more energy-efficient computer memory and processing technologies. The findings of the group, led by Berkeley electrical engineering and computer sciences (EECS) professor Jeffrey Bokor, are published in a pair of articles in the journals Science Advances (Vol. 3, No. 49, Nov. 3, 2017) and Applied Physics Letters (Vol. III, No. 4, July 24, 2017).

Computers use different kinds of memory technologies to store data. Long-term memory, typically a hard disk or flash drive, needs to be dense in order to store as much data as possible. But the central processing unit (CPU) - the hardware that enables computers to compute - requires its own memory for short-term storage of information while operations are executed. Random Access Memory (RAM) is one example of such short-term memory.
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