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QNAP Officially Releases the ZFS-based QuTS hero h5.0 NAS Software

QNAP Systems, Inc. (QNAP) today officially released the QuTS hero h5.0 operating system, the latest version of the ZFS-based NAS operating system. Including an upgraded Linux Kernel (5.10), improved security, WireGuard VPN support, snapshot instant clone, and free exFAT support, QNAP's QuTS hero NAS provides exceptional solutions for data storage/backup, virtualization, or time-sensitive collaborative media editing.

"Data security is a top priority for QNAP, and we have implemented a major system kernel update for QuTS hero to enhance NAS security and reliability," said Sam Lin, Product Manager of QNAP, adding "In QuTS hero h5.0, we have also optimized the overall performance to meet larger and complex business workloads."

Intel "Sapphire Rapids" Xeon Processors Use "Golden Cove" CPU Cores, Company Clarifies in Linux Kernel Dev E-Mail Chain

Intel's upcoming Xeon "Sapphire Rapids" processors which debut in the second half of 2021, will feature up to 80 "Golden Cove" CPU cores, and not the previously rumored "Willow Cove." This was clarified by an Intel developer in a Linux Kernel code e-mail chain. "Golden Cove" CPU cores are more advanced than the "Willow Cove" cores found in current-generation Intel products, such as the client "Tiger Lake" processors. Intel stated that "Golden Cove" introduces an IPC gain over "Willow Cove" (expressed as "ST perf"), increased AI inference performance from an updated GNI component, "network and 5G perf," which is possibly some form of network stack acceleration, and additional security features.

Over in the client segment, the 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake" processor debuts a client variant of "Golden Cove." The "Alder Lake-S" silicon features eight "Golden Cove" cores serving as the "big" performance cores, next to eight "little" low-power "Gracemont" cores. The client- and server implementations of "Golden Cove" could differ mainly in the ISA, with the client chip receiving a slightly skimmed AVX-512 and DLBoost instruction-sets, with only client-relevant instructions. The server variant, in addition being optimized for a high core-count multi-core topology; could feature a more substantial AVX-512 and DLBoost implementation relevant for HPC use-cases.

Apple M1 Processor Receives Preliminary Support in Linux Kernel

Apple's M1 custom processor has been widely adopted among the developer community. However, it is exactly this part of the M1 customer base that wants something different. For months, various developers have been helping with the adoption of the M1 processor for the Linux Kernel, which has today received preliminary support for the processor. The latest 5.13-RC1 release of the Linux Kernel is out, and it adds some basic functionality for the M1 processor. For now, it is some basic stuff like a simple bring up, however, much more has to be added. For example, the GPU support is still not done. Not even half-done. The M1 SoC is now able to boot, however, it takes a lot more work to get the full SoC working correctly.

Mr. Linus Torvalds, the Linux kernel developer, and its creator highlights that "This was - as expected - a fairly big merge window, but things seem to have proceeded fairly smoothly. Famous last words." According to one of the main activists for Linux on M1, Mr. Hector Martin, "This is just basic bring-up, but it lays a solid foundation and is probably the most challenging up-streaming step we'll have to do, at least until the GPU stuff is done." So it is still a long way before the M1 processor takes a full Linux kernel for a spin and the software becomes usable.

Linus Torvalds Upgrades to AMD Threadripper After 15 Years with Intel

Linux and Git creator Linus Torvalds revealed that he upgraded to an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X processor powered machine after 15 years of upgrading among Intel processors. This is likely his main machine from which he does pioneering work on the future of Linux and his other creations. His May 24 dated "State of the Kernel" blog post reveals that his hardware upgrade was the most exciting piece of news to share among the community.

"In fact, the biggest excitement this week for me was just that I, upgraded my main machine, and for the first time in about 15 years, my desktop isn't Intel-based. No, I didn't switch to ARM yet, but I'm now rocking an AMD Threadripper 3970x. My 'allmodconfig' test builds are now three times faster than they used to be, which doesn't matter so much right now during the calming down period, but I will most definitely notice the upgrade during the next merge window," he stated. What makes this story big is the fact that the "Zen 2" microarchitecture, and a processor with a similar multi-core architecture to AMD's EPYC enterprise processors, is now being used by the creator of the most popular enterprise operating system.

Unfixable Flaw Found in Thunderbolt Port that Unlocks any PC in Less Than 5 Minutes

Dutch researcher from the Eindhoven University of Technology has found a new vulnerability in Thunderbolt port that allows attackers with physical access to unlock any PC running Windows or Linux kernel-based OS in less than 5 minutes. The researcher of the university called Björn Ruytenberg found a method which he calls Thunderspy, which can bypass the login screen of any PC. This attack requires physical access to the device, which is, of course, dangerous on its own if left with a person of knowledge. The Thunderbolt port is a fast protocol, and part of the reason why it is so fast is that it partially allows direct access to computer memory. And anything that can access memory directly is a potential vulnerability.

The Thunderspy attack relies on just that. There is a feature built into the Thunderbolt firmware called "Security Level", which disallows access to untrusted devices or even turns off Thunderbolt port altogether. This feature would make the port be a simple USB or display output. However, the researcher has found a way to alter the firmware setting of Thunderbolt control chip in a way so it allows any device to access the PC. This procedure is done without any trace and OS can not detect that there was a change. From there, the magic happens. Using an SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) programmer with a SOP8 clip that connects the pins of the programmer device to the controller, the attacker just runs a script from there. This procedure requires around $400 worth of hardware. Intel already put some protection last year for the Thunderbolt port called Kernel Direct Memory Access Protection, but that feature isn't implemented on PCs manufactured before 2019. And even starting from 2019, not all PC manufacturers implement the feature, so there is a wide group of devices vulnerable to this unfixable attack.
Thunderspy attack

Intel 10 nm Ice Lake is Alive: Server and Desktop Support Added to the Linux Kernel

There were many rumors about Intel's 10 nm CPUs, many of them indicating that Intel will not manufacture 10 nm CPUs for desktop users, due to the 10 nm manufacturing process being in a bad shape. Those rumors were later countered by Intel, claiming that 10 nm is doing very well on improving yields and that we will see desktop CPUs based on the new node very soon.

Thanks to the Linux kernel mailing list (LKML), we now know that support for Ice Lake desktop and server CPUs has been added. A Patch titled "Add more CPU model number for Ice Lake" has many details about variants of Ice Lake with names like Ice Lake X for server Xeon CPU, Ice Lake D for Xeon D CPUs, Ice Lake L for mobile, and regular Ice Lake for desktop series of CPUs. This confirms Intel's claims that Ice Lake is on its way to desktop and server users in the near future. Possible launch date on these CPUs would be sometime in 2020, when Xe graphics cards are launched in July/August, so Intel could bundle both processors on the same 10 nm node.

Intel Submits USB4 Support to the Linux Kernel

As we are nearing the launch of USB4, which will feature Thunderbolt 3 like speeds of up to 40 Gbps, PCIe and DisplayPort support within USB-C form factor, there are already drivers showing up to support the new standard and ensure the launch and transition to the newest USB version will go smoothly.

According to the finds of Phoronix, Intel's open-source engineers have been working on a patch to support the new standard in the Linux kernel. Being based on Thunderbolt 3, the bring-up of USB4 isn't very difficult as it allows for a lot of code reuse, making things easier for kernel developers. Only 22 patches were submitted that resulted in under 4,000 lines of new code in total. For now, the support is in the stage of a pull request, so it should go mainstream very soon, most likely with the release of Linux kernel 5.5, if other features like power management are worked out soon.

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.
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