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AMD CEO Lisa Su Talks About 3rd Gen Ryzen Boost Issue in Q3 Earnings Call

AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su in response to a question, spoke about 3rd generation Ryzen processor boost issue. Dr. Su was responding to a question by Mitch Steves of RBC Capital on whether she had comments on "the software side" of 3rd gen Ryzen, and articles in the press still popping up about them despite AMD's fix. This was interpreted by the AMD CEO as a question specific to the Precision Boost controversy surrounding 3rd gen Ryzen chips, in which processors would seldom/never hit the advertised maximum boost frequency. AMD tried to address this by issuing updates to its processor microcode under AGESA Combo 1.0.0.3 ABBA, distributed through motherboard BIOS updates. The new microcode is supposed to increase the maximum turbo clock-speeds for "the vast majority" of users.

In her response, Dr. Su began by stating that the company is pleased with the sales of these processors. She then mentioned that AMD is working with its motherboard partners and ODM partners to "improve the optimization of the maximum boost frequency." She notes that the issue has been "largely addressed over the last couple of weeks" (referring to 1.0.0.3 ABBA). She goes on to state that AMD sees its response to the boost issues as more of an "optimization," rather than a "major update," possibly trying to allay investor fears that AMD is firefighting a costly problem with its products. "We're going to continue to improve the platform," she adds, possibly referencing the upcoming AGESA 1.0.0.4 Patch B microcode that's beginning to ship out by motherboard vendors. The earnings call can be accessed here. The specific question can be found at 47:00.

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.

NVIDIA Issues Warning to Upgrade Drivers Due to Security Patches

NVIDIA has found a total of five security vulnerabilities with its Windows drivers for GeForce, Quadro and Tesla lineup of graphics cards. These new security risks are labeled as very dangerous and have the potential to cause local code execution, denial of service, or escalation of privileges, unless the system is updated. Users are advised to update their Windows drivers as soon as possible in order to stay secure and avoid all of these vulnerabilities, so be sure to check your drivers for latest version. Exploits are only accessible on Windows based OSes, starting from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

However, one fact that's reassuring is that in order to exploit a system, attacker must have local access to the machine that is running NVIDIA GPU, as remote exploit can not happen. Bellow are the tables provided by NVIDIA that show type of exploit along with rating it carries and which driver versions are affected. There are no mitigations for this exploit, as driver update is the only available solution to secure the system.

Microsoft's Biannual Major Windows 10 Update Cycle to Slow Down

Microsoft has reportedly restructured the way it adds major features to Windows 10 over time. The company currently has a biannual (twice a year) cadence in updating Windows 10 version. A major update in this context refers to a multi-gigabyte update package that changes the operating system's version, its key system files, and makes significant changes to the user interface. The most recent of these was the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (1903).

With its new update cadence, Microsoft plans to distribute a major update in one half of an year, and a "minor" update in the other half. This "minor" update, or "point update," is much lighter in download size, but is still fairly bigger than a monthly "Patch Tuesday" update, and adds features and UI changes. The "major" annual update brings with it under-the-hood changes to the OS, such as updates to its kernel, scheduler, APIs, driver models, etc. The next version of Windows, which is expected to be Windows 10 version 1909, will be a lightweight update if you're already on 1903, but a "heavy" update if you're still on 1809. Its successor, Windows 10 version 2003 (March 2020), will be a "heavy" update regardless of which version you're on.

Hitman 2 to Get DirectX 12 Renderer Through a Patch Later Today

IO Interactive announced that "Hitman 2" will receive a new DirectX 12 renderer through a patch scheduled for later today. The game launched with only DirectX 11 support unlike the 2016 reboot of the franchise that was one of the posterboys of DirectX 12, and let you choose between the two APIs. The DirectX 12 renderer is expected to be better optimized for multi-core CPUs. Hitman 2 is published by WB Games, which likely emphasized on getting all of the base game out instead of the piecemeal episodic approach of the 2016 "Hitman," making IOI focus on content over technical advancements. The DirectX 12 renderer is now being retrofitted through a 1.8-gigabyte patch. Besides DirectX 12, the March 2019 update (v2.20) includes a new location, Hantu Port (Singapore), which will unlock as a DLC, with Sniper Assassin missions. The DirectX 12 renderer can be enabled through the Advanced Settings in the game's launcher.
The change-log follows.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider RTX Patch Now Available: RTX and DLSS Enabled

A new patch has become available for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which updated the game to the latest graphical technologies in the form of RTX and DLSS. The PC port of the game has been handed by developer Nixxes, which partnered with NVIDIA to work on adding ray-tracing enabled shadows to the game (there's a thematic coherence there if I've ever seen one).

DirectX 12 Makes Windows 7 Debut With Latest World of Warcraft Patch

In what is likely to create a good deal of controversy along with a few cheers, Blizzard will be adding DirectX 12 support to World of Warcraft on Windows 7 thanks to a bit of effort from Microsoft. You might be wondering how that is possible? Well after seeing massive performance gains in WoW when Blizzard released their DirectX 12 update for Windows 10 in late 2018, resulted in the company wanting to bring those performance improvements to gamers still holding out on Windows 7. To facilitate this, they began talking with Microsoft who after getting a great deal of feedback from Blizzard decided to act on it. To achieve this Microsoft decided to port the user mode D3D12 runtime to Windows 7, which will unblock developers, thereby allows them to take advantage of the latest improvements that the DirectX 12 API offers while still giving full support to customers on older operating systems.

For now, World of Warcraft is the first game to run in DirectX 12 on Windows 7 with the latest 8.1.5 patch. However, they will not be the last as more developers are working on porting DirectX 12 games to Windows 7 with more announcements to follow. Microsoft, of course, has taken it upon themselves to remind everyone that the best possible performance with DirectX 12 will still be had on Windows 10 due to numerous OS optimizations. How true this is remains to be seen, but for many curmudgeons still holding out on Windows 7, this will likely be seen as a form of vindication for sticking with the now venerable OS.

Fallout 76 Patch Adds FOV & DOF Sliders, Improves Camp Placements and Construction

After what seemed to be a series of never ending bad news concerning Bethesda's latest game, Fallout 76 received a major patch today that aims to improve the gaming experience in more ways than one. For PC users, a welcome addition comes in the form of the much-needed FOV (field of view) slider that has already helped tackle some complaints as seen online after launch. This comes along with a depth of field slider to allow further customization of the in-game view, which should also have a graphics performance effect depending on your hardware and DOF setting.

More importantly, Bethesda Game Studios has finally conceded that their current C.A.M.P system was far too broken. In particular, users were noticing their camp was lost entirely in between online sessions if someone else occupied the same space/location. This meant that a lot of resources were suddenly lost, and brought the online, multiplayer-only aspect of the game to be more similar to, say, State of Decay wherein players had to treat individual game sessions as possibly not having a point of resumption anymore. It added unnecessary frustration on top of what is frankly a bad video game by all records, and this is before we even get to the various bugs and monetary mishaps the game has seen since. Today's patch is a positive step, however, and hopefully this is one of many, many more that are needed before the game gets any real traction on the PC or console platforms alike. A full list of changes can be seen in the source linked in the full post.

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.

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.

ASRock Outs Newer BIOS Updates to Correct Reboot Issues Post Security Patches

ASRock was just informed by Intel that they disclosed the reboot issue on the former microcode released earlier. To fix the security vulnerability (SA-00088), ASRock is still waiting for Intel's further support and we're committed to work closely with them to develop and update new BIOS for our 8/9/100/200/Z370/X99/X299 motherboard series. To mitigate this issue promptly and constructively, we will keep our customers posted on our official website, please refer to this page. For Intel's official announcement, please refer to this page.

ASRock is aware that the current Intel microcode version might be defected by security vulnerabilities. We recommend users update their systems by flashing the latest BIOS once the revision microcode is released from Intel. To mitigate this issue promptly and constructively, please refer to below links for more info and stayed tuned.
DOWNLOAD: Latest ASRock BIOS Updates

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."

Intel Announces Root Cause of Meltdown, Spectre Patch Reboot Issue Identified

Intel has finally come around towards reporting on the state of the reboot issues that have been plaguing Intel systems ever since the company started rolling out patches to customers. These patches, which aimed to mitigate security vulnerabilities present in Intel's chips, ended up causing a whole slew of other problems for Intel CPU deployment managers. As a result of Intel's investigation, the company has ascertained that there were, in fact, problems with the patch implementation, and is now changing its guidelines: where before users were encouraged to apply any issued updates as soon as possible, the company now states that "OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors and end users stop deployment of current versions, as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior." A full transcription of the Intel press release follows.

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.

Latest Need for Speed Payback Update Accelerates Progression System

Following the launch of Need for Speed Payback, we've been working on addressing feedback by making changes to the progression system and other aspects of the game. These range from decreasing the amount of time for parts to refresh within the tune-up shops to the way events, bait crates and roaming racers work. Players in Ranked Speedlists will also notice an increased amount of parts being paid out. Win the Speedlist and you're guaranteed a new part, while simply participating means you get more chances of receiving an item of your own. We've already pushed a number of these updates live and will continue to listen to our players to make Need for Speed Payback the best experience possible.

Soon players will see a client-side patch going live and will benefit from a range of updates including improved game performance, multiple fixes to improve stability and tune-up shops stocking a higher quality selection of parts.

AMD Community Update: BIOS Updates, Patches, Performance Improvements

Yesterday, we covered how Ryzen's performance has seen a needed lift-up through an upcoming update to Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation. Performance improvements of up to 30% do wonders in bringing up the 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 1800X's performance up to speed with its svelter gaming enemy, the 4-core, 8-thread i/ 7700K. And through a community update, AMD has now shed some light on the ongoing crusade for adapting an entire ecosystem to its Ryzen line of processors architecture features. Case in point: BIOS updates and game patches,

AMD Sends Required Patches for Vega Support in Linux

AMD has recently sent out around a hundred patches, which amount to over 40 thousand lines of code, so as to allow developers to integrate support for its upcoming Vega GPU architecture under Linux. The new code is essential towards baking support for Vega under Linux, considering the many changes this architecture entails over AMD's current-generation Polaris 10 (soon to be rebranded, if sources are correct, to the new RX 500 series.) Also of note is the existence of seven different device IDs for Vega-based products, though this really can't be extrapolated to the amount of SKUs under the Vega banner. For now, that really is just a number.

Windows 10 Creators Update Might Force Updates Even on Metered Connections

A wording change in the latest build of the upcoming Creators Update for Windows 10 has users on metered connections worried. In previous Microsoft Insider's builds of the Creators Update, the section of the license agreement pertaining to automatic updates said "updates will be downloaded and installed automatically, except over metered connections (where charges may apply)."

In this latest build, the wording has been changed to a more worrisome version implying updating may still happen for important updates: "We'll automatically download and install updates, except on metered connections (where charges may apply). In that case, we'll automatically download only those updates required to keep Windows running smoothly."

AMD BIOS Signature Check re-enabled with ReLive, Locks out Polaris BIOS Modders

If you are using a modded BIOS on your AMD Polaris card, and try to install AMD's excellent Crimson ReLive drivers, you might be in for a surprise. This is because AMD re-enabled their BIOS signature enforcement with these latest drivers. Basically, if you modded your card's BIOS in search of higher overclocking, more voltage or customized fan settings, the hash in your BIOS is no longer recognized by AMD the driver, since it differs from the factory values.

On detecting such a modded BIOS with an invalid checksum, the Crimson ReLive driver won't load, meaning that the system will run with the VGA fallback driver only, without 3D acceleration and Radeon Settings will not start. However, you can force your modded BIOS to load on Crimson ReLive if you're willing to jump through some hoops.

App Claims to Blunt Intel's Compiler Edge on AMD Machines

A ominously named app claims to boost certain apps performance on AMD processors. Called "Intel Compiler Patcher," this app scans your machine for apps developed using Intel C++ compilers, and patches them to work better on non-Intel CPU platforms (namely AMD). The idea (suspicion rather), is that apps developed with Intel C++ compilers give modern AMD CPUs a performance disadvantage. The following is how the developer describes the app works:
The compiler or library can make multiple versions of a piece of code, each optimized for a certain processor and instruction set, for example SSE2, SSE3, etc. The system includes a function that detects which type of CPU it is running on and chooses the optimal code path for that CPU. This is called a CPU dispatcher. However, the Intel CPU dispatcher does not only check which instruction set is supported by the CPU, it also checks the vendor ID string. If the vendor string says "GenuineIntel" then it uses the optimal code path. If the CPU is not from Intel then, in most cases, it will run the slowest possible version of the code, even if the CPU is fully compatible with a better version.
We don't have an AMD machine at hand to put our benches ourselves, and so we invite AMD CPU users from our community to post their results by using this "patcher" at their own risk.

DOWNLOAD: Intel Compiler Patcher

Microsoft to Release Nine Security Updates Next Week

With only a few more days until this month's Patch Tuesday Micrsosoft took to the web to announce that it plans to roll out no less than nine updates - two rated 'Critical' and seven rated 'Important'. The upcoming patches address vulnerabilities found in Windows, Office, Microsoft Server Software, SQL Server, .NET, and Internet Explorer.

The August updates are scheduled to be made available this Tuesday, August 12, at 10 AM PDT. For more info check out the advance notification published here.

Microsoft To Roll Out Six Security Updates Next Week

Microsoft Corp. has just announced its plans for this month's Patch Tuesday and they include the release of six updates - two rated 'Critical', three rated 'Important' and one rated 'Moderate'. The upcoming updates target vulnerabilities found in Windows operating systems, in Internet Explorer and in Microsoft Server Software.

The six patches will be made available this coming Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at about 10:00 am PDT. The bulletin advance notification for this month's releases can be found here.

Microsoft To Roll Out Seven Security Updates Next Week

The first Patch Tuesday of Summer '14 is coming up and it will see Microsoft release seven updates - two bearing a 'Critical' rating and five rated 'Important'. The incoming patches target vulnerabilities found in Windows (Vista, 7, 8/8.1, Server 2003, Server 2008 and Server 2012), Internet Explorer (6 to 11), Office (2007, 2010) and Lync (2010, 2013).

Microsoft's software updates will be made available Tuesday, June 10th at about 10:00 AM PDT. The Advance Notification for this month's patches can be found here.

Microsoft Readies Eight Patches For Next Week

May's Patch Tuesday is coming up and Microsoft is ready for it with eight new updates, two of which are rated 'Critical' while the rest are rated 'Important'. The patches will address vulnerabilities found in Windows (Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, RT, Server 2003, Server 2008 and Server 2012), Office (2007, 2010, 2013), .NET Framework and Internet Explorer.

The eight patches are set to be released next Tuesday, May 13th, at about 10:00 AM PDT, For a bit more info check out the Advance Notification published here.
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