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Intel Released "Coffee Lake" Knowing it Was Vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown

By the time Intel launched its 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" desktop processor family (September 25, 2017, with October 5 availability), the company was fully aware that the product it is releasing was vulnerable to the three vulnerabilities plaguing its processors today, the two more publicized of which, are "Spectre" and "Meltdown." Google Project Zero teams published their findings on three key vulnerabilities, Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715); and Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) in mid-2017, shared with hardware manufacturers under embargo; well before Intel launched "Coffee Lake." Their findings were made public on January 3, 2018.

Intel's engineers would have had sufficient time to understand the severity of the vulnerability, as "Coffee Lake" is essentially the same micro-architecture as "Kaby Lake" and "Skylake." As one security researcher puts it, this could affect Intel's liability when 8th generation Core processor customers decide on a class-action lawsuit. As if that wasn't worse, "Skylake" and later micro-architectures could require micro-code updates in addition to OS kernel patches to work around the vulnerabilities. The three micro-architectures are expected to face a performance-hit, despite Intel extracting colorful statements from its main cloud-computing customers that performance isn't affected "in the real-world." The company was also well aware of Spectre and Meltdown before its CEO dumped $22 million in company stock and options (while investors and the SEC were unaware of the vulnerabilities).

Intel Issues Updates to Protect Systems From Security Exploits

Intel has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems -- including personal computers and servers -- that render those systems immune from both exploits (referred to as "Spectre" and "Meltdown") reported by Google Project Zero. Intel and its partners have made significant progress in deploying updates as both software patches and firmware updates.

Intel has already issued updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years. In addition, many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services.

Google, ARM, Microsoft Issue Statements Regarding Discovered Security Flaws

After Intel and AMD's differing statements on the same issue, now is the time for Google, ARM, and Microsoft to release statements regarding the recently discovered (and still in the spotlight) security flaws that impact almost all Intel CPUs from the last decade. Google is the company that originally alerted Intel to the existence of the security vulnerabilities, and mentioned some reservations regarding AMD and ARM's immunity as well. Microsoft, as the maker of the world's most recognized and widely-used OS, has also issued a statement. The ARM statement follows, with both Google and Microsoft's statements transcribed after the break.

ARM
This method requires malware running locally and could result in data being accessed from privileged memory. Our Cortex-M processors, which are pervasive in low-power, connected IoT devices, are not impacted.

Intel Aware of CPU Flaws Before CEO Brian Krzanich Planned $24M Stock Sale

The news and details on Intel's most recent chip flaw have been coming in almost faster than news outlets can put them out, and it just seems that the company is going through a phase where news are seldom good. New information has come to light that paint Intel CEO's Brian Krzanich's sale of $24M worth of stocks in November 24th in a negative spotlight, euphemisms be allowed. We (meaning, this editor) previously dismissed the share sale as a pre-planned event that didn't show any kind of shady wrongdoing in the face of news breaking out regarding Intel's VM security flaw. However, it seems as if it pays off to be negative rather than positive in the world at large, and the skeptic in me is saying "serves you right".

Intel Shares Down, AMD and NVIDIA Up Following VT Flaw Surface

Intel's stock pricing has taken a 6.19% dip at time of writing, in a regress that analysts say has everything to do with the reported VT flaw in Intel's central processing units. The flaw, which Intel has been silently firefighting and which we've covered extensively here on TPU, is a hardware-level vulnerability which has the potential to allow unauthorized memory access between two virtual machines (VMs) running on a physical machine, due to Intel's flawed implementation of its hardware-level virtualization instruction sets. Kernel patches are already being deployed that mitigate the issue; however, these should incur in performance losses for Intel processors, and are being deployed in an apparent "spray and pray" method that also affects performance in AMD-based machines, which are expected to be immune to the Intel flaw.

G.SKILL Releases New Sniper X DDR4 Memory Series

G.SKILL International Enterprise Co., Ltd., the world's leading manufacturer of extreme performance memory and gaming peripherals, is releasing the new Sniper X series DDR4 memory that features 3 different camouflage designs and available in speeds up to DDR4-3600MHz. This new family of high performance memory kits is perfect for memory upgrades or for building PC gaming rigs and custom system builds.

Unique Camouflage Design
Sniper X is designed with a militaristic camouflage top bar to compliment any gaming system with offerings in three distinct patterns: Classic Camo, Urban Camo, and Digital Camo. Classic Camo is inspired by the classic jungle green camouflage design, while Urban Camo is styled to blend into a concrete jungle combat setting with multiple shades of gray. And developed to match the ASUS TUF Gaming series motherboard, the Digital Camo features yellow stylistic highlights for a modern warfare look. All three variations are paired with minimalistic aluminum heat spreaders that further optimizes cooling performance under heavy computing load, so you won't miss out on the next firefight!

AMD Struggles to Be Excluded from Unwarranted Intel VT Flaw Kernel Patches

Intel is secretly firefighting a major hardware security vulnerability affecting its entire x86 processor lineup. The hardware-level vulnerability allows unauthorized memory access between two virtual machines (VMs) running on a physical machine, due to Intel's flawed implementation of its hardware-level virtualization instruction sets. OS kernel-level software patches to mitigate this vulnerability, come at huge performance costs that strike at the very economics of choosing Intel processors in large-scale datacenters and cloud-computing providers, over processors from AMD. Ryzen, Opteron, and EPYC processors are inherently immune to this vulnerability, yet the kernel patches seem to impact performance of both AMD and Intel processors.

Close inspection of kernel patches reveal code that forces machines running all x86 processors, Intel or AMD, to be patched, regardless of the fact that AMD processors are immune. Older commits to the Linux kernel git, which should feature the line "if (c->x86_vendor != X86_VENDOR_AMD)" (condition that the processor should be flagged "X86_BUG_CPU_INSECURE" only if it's not an AMD processor), have been replaced with the line "/* Assume for now that ALL x86 CPUs are insecure */" with no further accepted commits in the past 10 days. This shows that AMD's requests are being turned down by Kernel developers. Their intentions are questionable in the wake of proof that AMD processors are immune, given that patched software inflicts performance penalties on both Intel and AMD processors creating a crony "level playing field," even if the latter doesn't warrant a patch. Ideally, AMD should push to be excluded from this patch, and offer to demonstrate the invulnerability of its processors to Intel's mess.

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.

The Laceli AI Compute Stick is Here to Compete Against Intel's Movidius

Gyrfalcon Technology Inc, an emerging AI chip maker in Silicon Valley, CA, launches its Laceli AI Compute Stick after Intel Movidius announced its deep learning Neural Compute Stick in July of last year. With the company's first ultra-low power, high performance AI processor Lightspeeur 2801S, the Laceli AI Compute Stick runs a 2.8 TOPS performance within 0.3 Watt of power, which is 90 times more efficient than the Movidius USB Stick (0.1 TOPS within 1 Watt of power.)

Lightspeeur is based on Gyrfalcon Technology Inc's APiM architecture, which uses memory as the AI processing unit. This eliminates the huge data movement that results in high power consumption. The architecture features true, on-chip parallelism, in situ computing, and eliminates memory bottlenecks. It has roughly 28,000 parallel computing cores and does not require external memory for AI inference.

Intel Core i7-8809G "Kaby Lake + Vega" MCM Specs Leaked Again, Indicate Dual IGP

Intel revealed specifications of its upcoming "Kaby Lake + AMD Vega" multi-chip module, the Core i7-8809G, on its website. A number of these specs were already sniffed out by Futuremark SystemInfo, but the website sheds light on a key feature - dual integrated graphics. The specs sheet confirms that the chip combines a 4-core/8-thread "Kaby Lake" CPU die with an AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics die. The CPU is clocked at 3.10 GHz, and SystemInfo (from the older story) confirmed that its Turbo Boost frequency is up to 3.90 GHz. The L3 cache amount is maxed out a 8 MB. The reference memory clock is set at dual-channel DDR4-2400. What's more, the CPU component features an unlocked base-clock multiplier.

Things get interesting with the way Intel describes its integrated graphics solution. It mentions both the star-attraction, the AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH, and the Intel HD Graphics 630 located on the "Kaby Lake" CPU die. This indicates that Intel could deploy a mixed multi-GPU solution that's transparent to software, balancing graphics loads between the HD 630 and RX Vega M GH, depending on the load and thermal conditions. Speaking of which, Intel has rated the TDP of the MCM at 100W, with a rider stating "target package TDP," since there's no scientifically-correct way of measuring TDP on a multi-chip module. Intel could build performance-segment NUCs with this chip, in addition to selling them to mini-PC manufacturers.

HWiNFO Adds Support for Intel Ice Lake, Whiskey Lake, AMD 400-Series Chipset

HWiNFO v. 5.7 has brought with it a smattering of improvements and additions, as is usually the case. These are worthier of a news piece than most, however, since we're looking at quite a number of interesting developments. For one, preliminary support has been added for Intel's Whiskey Lake, an upcoming mobile design that succeed's Intel's Kaby Lake products, and should bring the fight to AMD's Ryzen Mobile offerings. Furthermore, and still on the Intel camp, support for the upcoming 10 nm Ice Lake has also been added. Íf you'll remember, Ice Lake is expected to be Intel's first foray into the 10 nm+ process in the mobile camp (given away by the U/Y product codes), after numerous delays that made the company stick with its 14 nm process through three iterations and in-process improvements. These are not the only Intel developments, however; the team behind HWiNFO has also added a new feature that reveals your Intel CPU's Turbo Boost multipliers, which the company has since removed form their ARK pages and processor specifications - an issue that generated rivers of ink.

Stepping away from the blue giant's camp, there's added support for AMD's next revision of their Ryzen processors (Pinnacle Ridge, on a 12 nm process). There's also mention of upcoming support for AMD's 400-series chipsets, which should improve platform features of the AM4 socket. This addition comes after we've seen its first appearance in the PCI-SIG Integrators List.

Wi-Fi Agile Multiband Certification to Enable Intelligent Wireless Networks

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Agile Multiband is a new certification program from Wi-Fi Alliance that enables devices to utilize Wi-Fi network resources better, and networks to adapt and balance load as network conditions change. Wi-Fi Agile Multiband devices dynamically exchange information about a network environment, enabling devices to make smarter decisions and quicker connections in home, enterprise, and managed network environments. Wi-Fi Agile Multiband delivers new capabilities that provide a better experience with both static use cases, such as streaming a high-definition movie, and mobile use cases such as Wi-Fi calling.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich Says the Company Will Take More Risks

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a memo to Intel employees that the company would be taking more risks in the future. Further, the 2013-anointed CEO said that the company will center its growth strategy on data, not just computing "(...) memory, FPGAs, IOT, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving. Anything that produces data, anything that requires a lot of computing, the vision is, we're there."

The Intel CEO also mentioned the company's financial outlook and growth of recent times, with the increased focus on those same data-hungry fields have led to company to achieve an almost 50/50 ratio in income divided by both PC and all other Intel growth areas. Intel's recent acquisitions of Nervana, Mobileye and Altera, just to name a few, have been some of the more evident of these, but the company has also been picking up slightly smaller companies as well. These all sound well and good - and we all know the consumer PC market hardly makes up for most of Intel's revenue streams, but here's hoping this means increased risks and innovation in this space as well. Unless increasing computing cores on consumer processors by two units across the product stack is an immense show of risk-taking from the company, in which case: bravo. Read on for the Intel CEO's memo in its entirety, right after the break.

G.Skill Intros Quad-channel DDR4-4000 MHz SO-DIMM Kit

G.SKILL International Enterprise Co., Ltd., the world's leading manufacturer of extreme performance memory and gaming peripherals, is announcing the world's highest performance DDR4 SO-DIMM memory running at DDR4-4000 MHz CL18-18-18-38 32 GB (4x8 GB) at 1.35V. Combining high frequency and ultra-low timing, this Ripjaws DDR4 SO-DIMM memory kit is capable of achieving the new high level of performance through rigorously hand-binned Samsung B-die DDR4 IC components.

Just two months ago, G.SKILL announced the high performance DDR4-3800MHz CL18-18-18-38 Ripjaws DDR4 SO-DIMM kit. Aiming to push memory limits to yet another level, G.SKILL strives to deliver the best memory performance possible on current systems, and this time for small form factor (SFF) PCs. With this new SO-DIMM memory kit, SFF PCs can now unlock the full potential of memory performance, as shown in the following screenshot, where this new memory kit is tested for over 6 hours on the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac mini-ITX motherboard with the Intel Core i9-7900X processor.

Intel Unveils Industry's First FPGA Integrated with HBM - Built for Acceleration

Intel today announced the availability of the Intel Stratix 10 MX FPGA, the industry's first field programmable gate array (FPGA) with integrated High Bandwidth Memory DRAM (HBM2). By integrating the FPGA and the HBM2, Intel Stratix 10 MX FPGAs offer up to 10 times the memory bandwidth when compared with standalone DDR memory solutions1. These bandwidth capabilities make Intel Stratix 10 MX FPGAs the essential multi-function accelerators for high-performance computing (HPC), data centers, network functions virtualization (NFV), and broadcast applications that require hardware accelerators to speed-up mass data movements and stream data pipeline frameworks.

In HPC environments, the ability to compress and decompress data before or after mass data movements is paramount. HBM2-based FPGAs can compress and accelerate larger data movements compared with stand-alone FPGAs. With High Performance Data Analytics (HPDA) environments, streaming data pipeline frameworks like Apache Kafka and Apache Spark Streaming require real-time hardware acceleration. Intel Stratix 10 MX FPGAs can simultaneously read/write data and encrypt/decrypt data in real-time without burdening the host CPU resources.

Intel Core i7-8720HQ Mobile Six-core Processor Spotted in the Wild

An engineering sample of Intel's next flagship notebook processor, the Core i7-8720HQ, surfaced on Chinese tech-forums. Built in the same 1440-pin BGA package as 7th generation Core mobile processors, this chip is unique, in that it is truly "8th gen" featuring the six-core "Coffee Lake" silicon. The chip features 6 cores, 12 threads enabled by HyperThreading, and yet interestingly, only 9 MB enabled of the 12 MB L3 cache physically present on the chip. The chip is clocked at 2.40 GHz, with 3.60 GHz Turbo Boost frequency. It rivals the desktop Core i5-8600K in multi-threaded tests, making up for the lower clock speeds with HyperThreading. The chip could power the next generation of high-end gaming notebooks, when it launches some time in Q1-2018.

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.

Intel Looking to Increase Capacities of 900P SSD, According to Official Document

Intel seems to be looking to further expand its lineup of the 900P SSD, according to an official Intel document the folks at myce.com got access to. The file, a Product Change Notification (PCN), is usually used by Intel to denote revisions or new products for their manufacturing facilities. And the PCN 115990 - 00 lists increased capacities of 960 GB and 1,5 TB for their 900P SSD.

The newly listed products aren't the only things of note here, though. There have also been some label changes, and reduced voltages across the board. The retail box label will now also include the firmware version the unit ships with, which will definitely come in handy in case there is a known bad batch in these SSDs (as unlikely as that is to be).

LG gram Notebooks for 2018 to Offer Enhanced Portability

LG Electronics (LG) will introduce its latest LG gram notebooks that deliver superior portability, enhanced powerful performance and convenience features. Since the incredibly lightweight notebook line debuted in 2014, LG has consistently surprised consumers by maximizing portability without sacrificing performance. The 2018 LG gram notebooks push the boundaries of portable computing with improved mobility and durability, as well as upgraded processors and more versatility.

"The new LG gram PCs have been designed for those users who want an all-round, high performance notebook with maximum portability," said Tim Alessi, head of product marketing at LG Electronics USA. "The 2018 gram series ticks all the boxes for users who want versatile and lightweight notebooks with faster processing capabilities."

"Intel inside" Campaign Funds Cut, Might Bring Higher Pricing to End Users

Intel has decided to rollback investment - read, funding - for its "Intel inside" marketing campaign, which has been with us since 1991. The "Intel inside" campaign is one where Intel has been offering OEMs and system integrators some amount of compensation and marketing funding for their Intel-based products, and is aimed at helping OEMs and channel partners drive PC sales growth. However, if CRN's report is right, Intel is looking towards cutting funding for this program by 40% to 60%.

OEMs have been including Intel's "Intel inside" funding as part of their annual marketing budgets, and the reduction of this funding from Intel can go one of two ways: manufacturers reduce marketing budget, or keep the same budget, but pass on the increased expenses towards consumers. For companies, the second option is likelier to be true, simply because marketing plays such a prominent role in company's visibility in the usually crowded markets.

Shuttle's SZ270R9 Gaming and VR Cube Comes with Overclocking on Demand Function

Shuttle Computer Group, Inc., one of the world's leading designers of small form computers, announces a new and powerful cube-sized computer, its SZ270R9, designed for advanced home and portable gaming, along with virtual reality applications. Unlike other PCs, once set, users can overclock with the Turbo button for the quickest, most realistic action. In spite of its small size, it has an impressive expansion capability and storage capacity. With lots of interior space, the SZ270R9 supports large-format dual-slot graphics cards; users can install up to four 2.5" or 3.5" hard drives and two m.2 bays. It also supports Intel's new Optane Memory to improve data processing and system speed.

"This is the ultimate gaming PC, power packed with an external design that looks like you're ready for battle," said Robert Garcia, channel manager, Shuttle Computer Group. "And when you press the overclock button, watch out! You'll be the winner for sure."

Latest Intel Roadmap Slide Leaked, Next Core X is "Cascade Lake-X"

The latest version of Intel's desktop client-platform roadmap has been leaked to the web, which reveals timelines and names of the company's upcoming product lines. To begin with, it states that Intel will upgrade its Core X high-end desktop (HEDT) product line only in Q4-2018. The new Core X HEDT processors will be based on the "Cascade Lake-X" silicon. This is the first appearance of the "Cascade Lake" micro-architecture. Intel is probably looking to differentiate its Ringbus-based multi-core processors (eg: "Coffee Lake," "Kaby Lake") from ones that use Mesh Interconnect (eg: "Skylake-X"), so people don't compare the single-threaded / less-parallized application performance between the two blindly.

Next up, Intel is poised to launch its second wave of 6-core, 4-core, and 2-core "Coffee Lake" processors in Q1-2018, with no mentions of an 8-core mainstream-desktop processor joining the lineup any time in 2018. These processors will be accompanied by more 300-series chipsets, namely the H370 Express, B360 Express, and H310 Express. Q1-2018 also sees Intel update its low-power processor lineup, with the introduction of the new "Gemini Lake" silicon, with 4-core and 2-core SoCs under the Pentium Silver and Celeron brands.

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.

Intel, Warner Bros. Aim to Develop In-Cabin Experiences for Autonomous Cars

So much of the discussion around autonomous driving has naturally focused on the car as a mode of transportation, but as driverless cars become a reality, we must start thinking of the automobile as a new type of consumer space. In fact, we have barely scratched the surface in thinking about the way cars will be designed, the interaction among passengers, and how passengers will spend time while they are riding and not driving. In this respect, autonomous driving is today's biggest game changer, offering a new platform for innovation from in-cabin design and entertainment to life-saving safety systems.

Advancing what's possible in autonomous driving, today at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Intel announced a collaboration with entertainment company Warner Bros.* to develop in-cabin, immersive experiences in autonomous vehicle (AV) settings. Called the AV Entertainment Experience, we are creating a first-of-its-kind proof-of-concept car to demonstrate what entertainment in the vehicle could look like in the future. As a member of the Intel 100-car test fleet, the vehicle will showcase the potential for entertainment in an autonomous driving world.

MSI Releases TXE 3.0 Vulnerability Fix for Intel LGA1151 Motherboards

In order to avoid severe security vulnerabilities for the platforms, MSI motherboards now support the latest Intel Trusted Execution Engine (TXE) 3.0 for safer system protection. According to recent Intel comprehensive security review, security vulnerabilities are identified and could potentially allow attackers to gain unauthorized access to platforms features, secrets and 3rdparty secrets protected by Intel TXE. Therefore, Intel has validated and released Intel TXE 3.0 updates to address the encountered security situations.

Currently all MSI 100,200 and 300 series motherboards are supporting the newest Intel TXE 3.0 by updating to the latest BIOS and installing the latest software updates. MSI always places strong emphasis on security and anti-hack issues to makes sure all MSI motherboard users are operating under the most secure circumstances. MSI will continue to provide additional updates if necessary to ensure maximum platform security protection for users.
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