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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 Says Its Upcoming Gen12 GPUs Will Feature Biggest Architecture Change In A Decade

Intel is slowly realizing plans to "one up" its GPU game starting from first 10 nm Ice Lake CPUs that feature Gen11 graphics, equipping users of integrated GPUs with much more performance than they previously got. Fortunately, Intel doesn't plan to stop there. Thanks to the recent pull request found on GitLab Mesa repository, we can now expect to receive biggest GPU performance bump in over a decade with the arrival of Gen12 based GPUs, found on next generation Tiger Lake processors.

In this merge request, Francisco Jerez, member of Intel's open source Linux graphics team, stated the following: "Gen12 is planned to include one of the most in-depth reworks of the Intel EU ISA since the original i965. The encoding of almost every instruction field, hardware opcode and register type needs to be updated in this merge request. But probably the most invasive change is the removal of the register scoreboard logic from the hardware, which means that the EU will no longer guarantee data coherency between register reads and writes, and will require the compiler to synchronize dependent instructions anytime there is a potential data hazard..."

Din's Legacy Released

Soldak Entertainment today announced Din's Legacy has been released. Din's Legacy is an action RPG with mutating characters, set in a dynamic, evolving, fantasy world for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

During the Orc Schism, the entire Orc race was violently split into Dark Orcs, Zombielords, and the Mutated. The Mutated are tainted with Orc blood, a zombie parasite, and necromancer magic. This makes people seriously mistrust and even fear them. The fact that they slowly mutate over time makes it even worse. Who is going to trust you when you grow horns overnight?

Battle Heresy from Within - Heretek is Out Now

Kasedo Games and Bulwark Studios are pleased to announce that Heretek, the expansion to the critically acclaimed Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus, is now available for Windows PC, Mac & Linux, priced at $9.99, €9.99, £6.99.

Exposing the dark underbelly of the Adeptus Mechanicus faction like never before, in Heretek, players must uncover what has brought civil unrest to The Caestus Metalican while also battling the fearsome Necrons on Silva Tenebris.

ARM Revokes Huawei's Chip IP Licence

As the trade war between the US and China continues to unfold, we are seeing major US companies ban or stop providing service to China's technology giant Huawei. Now, it looks like the trade war has crossed the ocean and reached the UK. This time, UK based ARM Holdings, the provider of mobile chip IP for nearly all smartphones and tablets, has revoked the license it has given Huawei.

According to the BBC, ARM Holdings employees were instructed to suspend all interactions with Huawei, and to send a note informing Huawei that "due to an unfortunate situation, they were not allowed to provide support, deliver technology (whether software, code, or other updates), engage in technical discussions, or otherwise discuss technical matters with Huawei, HiSilicon or any of the other named entities." The news came from an internal ARM document the BBC has obtained.

Intel Releases ModernFW as Open Source, minimal Firmware Replacement

Today Intel announced ModernFW - an experimental approach to building a minimum viable platform firmware for machines such as cloud server platforms. The reason for this software is that, while traditional PC Firmware has evolved over time and retained its backward compatibility, it has become very big and often inefficient.

So to meet the requirements of new platforms that need to be built quickly and adapted easily, Intel decided to offer a new software package that will help with that. The new firmware package targets x86_64 from ISA standpoint and Linux kernel based OSes.

SUSE Linux Among First Operating Systems to Natively Support Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory

SUSE today announced support for Intel Optane DC persistent memory with SAP HANA . Running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, SAP HANA users can now take advantage of high-capacity Intel Optane DC persistent memory in the data center. Users can optimize their workloads by moving and maintaining larger amounts of data closer to the processor and minimizing the higher latency of fetching data from system storage during maintenance. Support for Intel Optane DC persistent memory, currently available in beta from multiple cloud service providers and hardware vendors, is another way SUSE is helping customers transform their IT infrastructures to reduce costs, deliver higher performance and compete more efficiently.

"Persistent memory technology will spark new applications for data access and storage," said Thomas Di Giacomo, SUSE CTO. "By offering a fully supported solution built on Intel Optane DC persistent memory, businesses can take greater advantage of the performance of SAP HANA. SUSE continues to partner with companies like SAP and Intel to serve customers worldwide who are looking to fuel growth by transforming their IT infrastructure. It is their needs that drive the direction of our innovation."

IBM Expands Strategic Partnership with Samsung to Include 7nm Chip Manufacturing

IBM today announced an agreement with Samsung to manufacture 7-nanometer (nm) microprocessors for IBM Power Systems , IBM Z and LinuxONE , high-performance computing (HPC) systems, and cloud offerings. The agreement combines Samsung's industry-leading semiconductor manufacturing with IBM's high-performance CPU designs. This combination is being designed to drive unmatched systems performance, including acceleration, memory and I/O bandwidth, encryption and compression speed, as well as system scaling. It positions IBM and Samsung as strategic partners leading the new era of high-performance computing specifically designed for AI.

"At IBM, our first priority is our clients," said John Acocella, Vice President of Enterprise Systems and Technology Development for IBM Systems. "IBM selected Samsung to build our next generation of microprocessors because they share our level of commitment to the performance, reliability, security, and innovation that will position our clients for continued success on the next generation of IBM hardware."

Basemark GPU 1.1 Update Released, Adds DirectX 12 Support

Today Basemark releases version 1.1 of its multi-platform graphics hardware evaluation tool Basemark GPU. Basemark GPU has been made available for free to download and use for personal users. Additionally, Basemark has provided professional versions for Benchmark Development Program members, corporate and commercial users.

Basemark GPU 1.1 Benchmark offers unparalleled, objective comparisons between Vulkan, OpenGL, OpenGL ES and now DirectX 12 for graphics performance analysis across both mobile and desktop platforms. Our desktop Linux version of Basemark GPU 1.1 will be available in the next few days utilizing the easily installable universal Flatpak delivery format.

Basemark GPU is available for download now.

Linux Won't Boot on New MacBook Air: Apple's T2 Security Chip Prevents It

The new MacBook Air with Retina display is overall a nice upgrade from the old versions of these laptops. There's one caveat, though: the new T2 chip that manages Touch ID's Secure Enclave, APFS storage encryption or UEFI Secure Boot validation will make it impossible to boot with a Linux distribution. Apple's T2 documentation (PDF) explicitly covers how the support for booting Linux is not available: the Microsoft Corporation UEFI CA 2011 certificate used also by Linux distributions isn't trusted at this moment, so the T2 chip will make it impossible to boot from Linux distributions. Only Windows is allowed to boot via Boot Camp at the moment.

Apple's Secure Boot support page shows how the new 'Startup Security Utility' can be used to disable Secure Boot, but some people have tried to boot Linux through this method and even with that change it's impossible to boot Linux. The problem extends to the rest of machines including the T2 Security Chip, like the Mac mini, the iMac Pro or the MacBook Pro 2018, for example. Apple hasn't made any comments on the issue.

AMD Zen 2 GNU Compiler Patch Published, Exposes New Instruction Sets

With a November deadline for feature freeze fast approaching, GNU toolchain developers are now adding the last feature additions to GCC 9.0 (GNU Compiler Collection). Ahead of that deadline, AMD has released their first basic patch adding the "znver2" target and therefore Zen 2 support to GCC. While the patch uses the same cost tables and scheduler data as Znver1, it does feature three new instructions that will be available to AMD's next-gen CPUs which include; Cache Line Write Back (CLWB), Read Processor ID (RDPID), and Write Back and Do Not Invalidate Cache (WBNOINVD).

These three instructions are the only ones that have been found thus far by digging through the current code. Taking into account this is the first patch it can be considered a jumping off point, making sure that the GCC 9.1 stable update, which comes out in 2019, has support for Zen 2. Further optimizations and instructions may be implemented in the future. This is likely since AMD has yet to update the scheduler cost tables and by extension means they may not want to reveal everything about Zen 2 just yet. You could say AMD is for now playing it safe, at least until their 7nm EPYC 2 processors launch in 2019.

Two Months After Proton Over 2,500 Windows Games Work On Linux Through Steam Play

Proton is a new tool released by Valve Software that has been integrated with Steam Play to make playing Windows games on Linux as simple as hitting the Play button within Steam. Underneath the hood, Proton comprises other popular tools like Wine and DXVK among others that a gamer would otherwise have to install and maintain themselves. This greatly eases the burden for users to switch to Linux without having to learn the underlying systems or losing access to a large part of their library of games. Proton is still in its infancy so support is inconsistent, but regularly improving and the list of supported Windows games is growing each day.

In fact, this project has announced that it has now over 2,500 Windows games (2,663 at the time of writing) that work on Linux with Proton and Steam Play. Beyond those supported "whitelisted" games, there are several others that although not-whitelisted are supported and "play just as well as on Windows". Some examples are "No Man's Sky", "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt", "Wolfenstein: The New Order" or "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim". Any user can contribute and report about the titles in his game library thanks to ProtonDB.

AMD Vega 20 Possible Performance Spotted in Final Fantasy XV Benchmark

It would appear AMD's 7nm Vega 20 has been benchmarked in Final Fantasy XV. While the details are scarce, what we do know is the hardware device ID 66AF:C1 can be linked to Vega 20 via the Linux patches back in April. Now considering AMD has not confirmed any 7nm Vega graphics cards for consumers, It is more likely this version is an engineering sample for the new Radeon Instinct or Pro series cards.

Microsoft Joins the Open Invention Network, Adds 60,000 Patents To Protect Linux and Open Source

Steve Ballmer once said 'Linux is a cancer'. Times have changed a lot, and since Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft, Linux and Open Source have become really important for Redmond's company. Azure is based on Linux, for example, and this OS dominates the cloud platform with about half of Azure VMs being Linux ones). Running Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, SuSE or Fedora is also possible natively under Windows 10 through Windows Subsystem for Linux.

The company has made big strategic acquisitions, and Microsoft recently acquired Github, but that approach to Linux and Open Source goes further with the new announcement. Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), a consortium that defines itself as a "shared defensive patent pool with the mission to protect Linux". With that move, Microsoft is bringing 60,000 patents to OIN that will be available royalty-free to anyone who joins the OIN community.

Linux Community Hit by the Blight of Social Justice Warfare, A Great Purge is Coming

Through the 1990s, Microsoft had become a super-corporation threatening to monopolize all of computing. A band of talented developers got together with lawyers that could fish out loopholes in proprietary licenses, and with some generosity from big software, Linux grew from a scrappy Unix-like OS kernel to the preeminent operating system for enterprises at first, and handheld consumer electronics later. Today it's most popular operating system on the planet. Like every big organization, the Linux Foundation is hit by employee-activism.

Employee-activism is the new unionism. Whereas trade-unions of the old fought for tangible bread-and-butter issues affecting blue-collar folk of the early Industrial era, today's employee-activist is an intellectual predator seeking to maximize their organizational footprint on the backs of other people echoing their political ideas, often through blatant insubordination and disregard for the chain of command. Survival of the fittest has changed to "survival of the loudest." From forcing Linus Torvalds to apologize for speaking his mind in public, to coming up with a new Code of Conduct document, social-justice activism within the Linux Foundation threatens to devolve the culture of meritocracy to a toxic "safe space" prioritizing inclusion of identity rather than skill, as HardOCP comments. A major blow-back from the meritocrats is taking shape.

AMD Implements xGMI for "Vega 20" as Competition to NVLink

xGMI (inter-chip global memory interconnect) is a cable-capable version of AMD's Infinity Fabric interconnect. A line of code in the latest version of AMDGPU Linux drivers reveals that "Vega 20" will support xGMI. This line tells the driver to check the state of xGMI link. A practical implementation of this could be inter-card high-bandwidth bridge connectivity that would otherwise saturate the PCI-Express host bus; similar to NVIDIA's usage of the new NVLink bridge for Quadro and Tesla products based on its "Volta" and "Turing" GPU architectures.

By no means should xGMI and NVLink implementations be interpreted as a coming back of multi-GPU to the gaming space. There are still no takers for DirectX 12 multi-GPU, and fewer AAA games support SLI or CrossFire. Even at higher resolutions/refresh-rates, existing SLI/CrossFire physical-layer standards have sufficient bandwidth for multi-GPU. The upcoming GeForce RTX 2000 graphics cards feature a new multi-GPU connector that's physically NVLink, but this is probably an attempt by NVIDIA to discard the legacy SLI bus and minimize redundant interfaces on its silicon. The TU102 and TU104 chips are implemented in the enterprise segment with the Quadro RTX family. The main application of xGMI/NVLink is to make multi-GPU hardware setups abstract to deep-learning software, so hardware can scale in the background with memory access spanning multiple GPUs. "Vega 20" will be launched in Radeon Pro and Radeon Instinct avatars late-2018.

Valve Apparently Working on Compatibility Tools Allowing Windows Games to be Played on Linux

Keen-eyed Linux and Valve uses have noticed what could seemingly be a big reveal and shake-up to games' compatibility with the Linux platform. If you're a die-hard Linux fan, or even if you're just a curious dabbler in that operating system, you know that there aren't many concerted efforts of bringing game experiences to that operating system. A good port requires many more hours than game developers are willing to put into it - let alone compiling a native implementation of their game for that OS.

However, Valve, being the most important digital games distributor through their Steam platform, know there's an untapped source of income in that part of the market. And if developers won't do it themselves, then Valve seem to be willing to take the matter into their own hands. This speculation arises from Steam's GUI files, which when looked at with SteamDB's Steam Tracker, include a hidden section with unused text related to an (as of yet) unannounced Steam Play system, which "(...) will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems."

Swedish Firm EQT Acquires SuSE from Microsoft-funded Previous Owners

Swedish company EQT, which invests heavily in tech stocks, and even owns tech IP, closed a deal with Micro Focus to acquire SuSE, lock stock and barrel. Over the past 15 years, SuSE changed many owners. In 2004, the Nuremberg-based Linux distributor was acquired by Novell. In 2010, Novell was swallowed by Attachmate, with funding from Microsoft. In 2014, ten years since its original foreign acquisition, Micro Focus acquired Attachmate and spun off SuSE as a separate division within the company. EQT purchased this division from Micro Focus in a deal valued at USD $2.5 billion.

Recognizable by its quirky chameleon mascot, SuSE's biggest product is SuSE Linux, a commercial distribution of Linux for enterprises, which integrates certain proprietary software and drivers, with a business-model similar to that of RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux). There's also a GNU-friendly, community-maintained free distribution of SuSE called OpenSuSE, which is made entirely of free and open-source software. The acquisition of SuSE is big, not just because of its valuation, but also because certain EU-based businesses and governments use it in their vital IT infrastructure. The EQT acquisition keeps SuSE within the EU.

Compulab MintBox mini 2 Up for Pre-order

Compulab put up the MintBox mini 2, a compact, passively cooled desktop powered by Linux Mint, up for pre-order at US $299 for the base variant with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage; and $349 for 8 GB RAM and 120 GB storage (better value). The two can be ordered from Compulab's Amazon web-store, and will start shipping from August. The two feature the latest stable version of Linux Mint 19 "Tara," and 5 percent of your monies spent buying these are donated to the Linux Mint project.

The super-compact MintBox mini 2 is powered by Intel Celeron J3455 SoCs, mated to either 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM; and either 64 GB or 120 GB of SSD storage. You get two each of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, a microSDXC slot, two 1 GbE interfaces, 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1 WLAN, serial COM (through a unique connector, with an optional dongle that converts it to RS232), and display outputs that include HDMI and mini-DisplayPort.

Synology Releases Virtual Machine Manager Pro

Synology Inc. announced the official release of Virtual Machine Manager Pro to cater to professional users with services suitable to their needs. VMM Pro enables Synology NAS to run multiple virtual machines like Windows, Linux, Virtual DSM. It assists users to integrate and manage multiple Synology NAS via its virtualized cluster, flexibly distributes hardware resources, migrates virtual machines between hosts without any interruption, and conducts regular snapshots and replications to back up virtual machines, for the ultimate goal of building a efficient and safe virtualization environment.

Synology is dedicated to making powerful yet intuitive solutions for users. "Virtual Machine Manager has garnered wide acclaims with its latest version, and more than 130,000 Synology NAS have downloaded and installed it over the course of one year. This clearly shows how this product has been endorsed worldwide, which is very motivating to our development team. With the extremely flexible cluster in Virtual Machine Manager Pro, we are able to help IT personnel to easily build a professional and efficient virtualization environment on NAS servers. As this application improves your work efficiency, it protects critical virtual machines, as well." said Chen Feng Wang, Product Manager of virtualization at Synology.

Matrox G200 - Celebrating 20 Years of Graphics Excellence

Matrox Graphics Inc. is pleased to announce the 20-year anniversary of its Matrox G200 graphics chip. The milestone celebrates two decades of dedicated, active software development and support for multiple technology nodes across countless Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Developed for 2D, 3D, and video acceleration, the G200 powered a number of industry-first, graphics and multi-monitor-based product lines that delivered unprecedented image quality across one or more displays. Today, G200 is and remains the trusted and preeminent integrated graphics solution of choice for the majority of baseboard management controllers used in servers worldwide.

Google Might Be Preparing a Kaby Lake G-Powered Chromebook

Chromebooks are all the rage right now. As a matter of fact, Acer recently released the first convertible Chromebook and a couple of other premium models aimed at business users. Google isn't staying behind either. A device under the codename "Kidd" was recently discovered in a Chromium OS code commit. Kidd is allegedly supposed to be a Chromebook, and the first to come with a quad-core Kaby Lake G processor with AMD Radeon Vega graphics inside. The Kaby Lake G family is comprised of the Intel Core i5-8305G, i7-8705G, i7-8706G, i7-8709G, and i7-8809G. That's a total of five processors for Google to choose from. But, at the moment, it's unclear whether Kidd will employ a 65 watt model or opt for a more powerful 100 watt variant.

The latest Chrome OS update brought support for Linux applications. Therefore, users can now install Steam on their Chromebooks. While GPU acceleration isn't quite there yet, it's on the roadmap. Support for GPU acceleration should arrive later this year. Once that happens, users will finally be able to game on the Chrome OS. So, expect to see a lot more Chromebooks with Raven Ridge and Kaby Lake G processors very soon.

Canonical Launches Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS - the newest version of the most widely used Linux for workstations, cloud and IoT, is now available. "Multi-cloud operations are the new normal" said Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical and founder of Ubuntu. "Boot-time and performance-optimized images of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on every major public cloud make it the fastest and most efficient OS for cloud computing, especially for storage and compute-intensive tasks like machine learning."

Kubeflow, the Google approach to TensorFlow on Kubernetes, and a range of CI/CD tools are integrated in Canonical Kubernetes and aligned with Google GKE for on-premise and on-cloud AI development."Having an OS that is tuned for advanced workloads such as AI and ML is critical to a high velocity team" said David Aronchick, Product Manager, Cloud AI at Google. "With the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Canonical's collaborations to the Kubeflow project, Canonical has provided both a familiar and highly performant operating system that works everywhere. Whether on-premise or in the cloud, software engineers and data scientists can use tools they are already familiar with, such as Ubuntu, Kubernetes and Kubeflow, and greatly accelerate their ability to deliver value for their customers."

Feral Interactive Introduces GameMode Tool for Linux Gamers to Optimize Gaming Performance

Feral Interactive has released their free, open-source tool called GameMode to help Linux gamers squeeze every drop of gaming performance out of their systems. GameMode is basically a small daemon and library combo that instructs the processor to run in Performance Mode when a user is playing a game. GameMode along with the instructions for installation can be found at GitHub. Feral Interactive also took the opportunity to announce that Rise of the Tomb Raider, which lands on Linux later this month, will be the first Linux title to integrate GameMode. Future titles from the video game publisher will probably include GameMode as well.

Compulab Intros Mintbox Mini 2 PC based on Linux Mint

Compulab rolled out the Mintbox Mini 2, a smaller version of the Mintbox 2 the company rolled out way back in 2013. The Mintbox Mini 2 is based almost entirely on the Compulab Fitlet 2 mini-PC, but with Linux Mint with all device drivers pre-installed, and some exclusive branding. This box is based on the slightly older Intel Celeron J3455 SoC with embedded Intel HD Graphics 500 (and not the latest Celeron J4005). It's still claimed to be close to twice as fast as the AMD A4-6400T-based original. Besides the SoC, the storage specs appear to be identical - 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage, but there are improvements on some fronts - dual-band 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2 WLAN (as opposed to 802.11 b/g/n on the original), and two wired GbE interfaces instead of just one. The Mintbox Mini 2 is priced at USD $299, just $4 more than the original Mintbox Mini, but a staggering $146 higher than the Fitlet 2. This is not because of the OS, but pre-installed RAM, storage, and WLAN module.
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