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Thermaltake and Mayhems Fighting Over "Pastel" Trademark in the UK

This is still a developing story, however it has matured enough to where we feel confident about discussing it. It kicked off last week when the proprietor of Mayhem Solutions Ltd, better known simply as Mayhems, shared information regarding Thermaltake introducing their own Pastel-branded coolants to be used in the PC DIY water cooling sector. Mayhems has had a trademark registered for this in the UK since 2015, and let Thermaltake know via email to try to reach an amenable solution. Indeed, EKWB and Alphacool had both used the Pastel trademark with Mayhems' permission in the past, some of which also came via using the Mayhems Pastel base under their respective brand names. After word from Thermaltake's legal team, first trying to defend the use of Pastel as a generic term, and then saying that they would work on a compromise, Mayhems told us they have not heard back from the company in over a week since the last correspondence, and are forced to take legal action to prevent Thermaltake P1000 pastel coolants to be sold in the UK.

We wanted to have due diligence in our reporting, and contacted Thermaltake ourselves for a statement. After receiving word that they will send us one, we too have not heard back from the company since. We respect Thermaltake's decision, and are always willing to update this post if they do send us one, but in the meantime we went further. Indeed, a careful look at the trademark (screenshots seen below) confirms Mayhem's legal stance on this matter. However, it is not easy to enforce a trademark in the court. It would be all the more harder to do so when there can be an argument made about the use of the term pastel, which no doubt Thermaltake would argue is not necessarily tied to the coolant, but more as the general term to showcase the various colors and the opaque-nature of said coolants. More on this story past the break, including quotes from retailers we spoke to.

ID-Cooling Releases AURAFLOW X 240 Budget RGB AIO Water Cooler

ID-COOLING a cooling solution provider focusing on thermal dissipation and fan technology research and production for over 10 years, announced AURAFLOW X 240 AIO water cooler, featuring the newly developed powerful pump and 12V RGB lighting on both the pump and fans at the same time synchronizing with motherboard RGB control.

AURAFLOW X 240 is equipped with the newly developed powerful pump which has the flow rate reaching up to 106L/H, lift range 1.3m H2O. The pump block has a micro-fin copper base to ensure the best cooling performance. Power connector is 3pin with a 3pin to Molex adapter to help ensure 12V constant input to ensure maximum cooling performance. It also comes with a standard 12V RGB connector.

US Bans Exports to Chinese DRAM Maker Fujian Jinhua Citing National Security Interests

The United States government, via the Department of Commerce, has banned all exports from national companies to China-based Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuits Ltd. The ban, citing "significant risk of becoming involved in activities that are contrary to the national security interests of the United States", demands that a license is required for "all exports, re-exports, and transfers of commodities, software and technology (...) to Jinhua." It then adds that these license applications will be reviewed - always - with a presumption of denial.

Intel 9th Gen LGA1151 Processors Support Up to 128GB of Memory

Intel's 6-core "Coffee Lake" die was essentially a "Kaby Lake" die with two extra cores, and no physical changes to other components, such as iGPU or uncore. With its new 8-core "Coffee Lake" Refresh silicon, Intel has turned its attention to not just increasing the core-count, but also improving the processor's integrated memory controller, in addition to hardware fixes to certain security vulnerabilities. The 128-bit wide (dual-channel) integrated memory controller now supports up to 128 GB of memory. Intel's current DDR4-capable mainstream desktop processors only support up to 64 GB, as do rival AMD's Ryzen socket AM4 processors.

Support for up to 128 GB explains the emergence of off-spec memory standards such as ASUS' Double Capacity (DC) DIMMs. Samsung is ready with a JEDEC-compliant 32 GB dual-rank UDIMM memory module for client platforms. Introduction of 32 GB UDIMMs also comes amidst reports of DRAM pricing cool-off through 2019, which could make 32 GB dual-channel memory kits consisting of two 16 GB UDIMMs more affordable. The increase in maximum memory amount could also indicate Intel's seriousness to introduce 3D Xpoint-based Optane Persistent Memory modules as alternatives to DRAM-based main memory, with higher capacities compensating for worse latencies and data-rates compared to DRAM.

Core i7-8700K Now at $400 as Intel CPU Prices Continue to Boil

Intel's mainstream-desktop flagship Core i7-8700K processor is now retailing north of USD $400, a departure from its launch price of $359, which erodes its competitiveness to the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, which can be had for as low as $319. Prices of 8th generation Core processors remain on the boil across the board as reports emerge of the industry facing supply shortages from Intel. In its defense, Intel claims that the shortage is triggered by a spike in demand, and not a drop in supply.

The company raised its capex by $1 billion YoY to increase its manufacturing output, and has even outsourced manufacturing of non-processor components such as chipsets, to other semiconductor foundries such as TSMC. Prices of other popular SKUs are also on the rise. The Core i5-8400, which launched at $184, is now hovering $225, which is supposed to be the launch price of the i5-8600 (non-K). The i5-8600K is fast approaching the $300-mark. Prices of AMD Ryzen processors remain not just stable, but also a touch lower than their launch prices.

ASUS Intros VP248QGL-P Low-cost FreeSync Monitor

ASUS today introduced the VP248QGL-P, a cost-effective 24-inch gaming-grade monitor with AMD FreeSync technology support. If you can get past the TN-film panel with 1080p resolution, you'll also find that it features response times as low as 1 ms, and up to 75 Hz refresh-rates. Viewing angles are 170°/160° (H/V). Among its feature-set is ASUS Splendid display management software, blue light filtering, and ASUS GamePlus, which is a collection of game genre-specific display presets. Display inputs include one each of DisplayPort 1.2a, HDMI 1.4a, and D-Sub. Stereo speakers and 3.5 mm-jack make for the rest of it. Expect a sub-$175 price.

Taiwan ODMs Pulling Back Production from Mainland in Wake of US Import Tariffs

You could see more "Made in Taiwan" and lesser "Made in China" on the shelves of your friendly neighborhood Microcenter, as major Taiwanese original device manufacturers (ODMs) are considering moving manufacturing back from Mainland China to Taiwan. ODMs are contract manufacturers of PC hardware, which take designs from [mostly western] electronics companies, and turn them into marketable product.

Among the first such ODMs is Quanta Computer, which manufactures some components in Shanghai, with server assembly either in Fremont, California; or just outside Cologne, Germany. The move is triggered by harsh import tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration on imports of electronics goods from China (PRC), running up to 25 percent, as part of the ongoing trade-war between the world's top-two economies. Tech stocks are rattled at the prospect of cheap hardware imports getting significantly pricier for American consumers.

PC Hardware to Get Pricier Stateside as 25% Import Tariffs Take Effect Late-August

The ongoing US-China trade-war is going to jack up prices of PC hardware and other electronics products made in China (PRC). This will also affect prices of products made by American companies that are manufactured in China. A new tranche of goods and services prescribes a 25 percent import tariff on "electronic integrated circuits: processors and controllers," "electronic integrated circuits: memories," "electronic integrated circuits: amplifiers," "electronic integrated circuits: other," which about covers all PC hardware. This tariff takes effect on August 23, 2018.

A component costing $100 at a US port, could be inflated to $125 before Federal and State taxes are applied, not to mention costs of the rest of the supply-chain, leading up to your retailer and their margins. Not all PC hardware is made in China. Goods imported from Taiwan (ROC), South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia (the other known countries where PC hardware is manufactured), remains unchanged. China remains America's biggest source of electronics imports.
Many Thanks to Flyordie for the tip.

US: The Tax Man Cometh After Online Sales Tax Following Supreme Court's Decision

A Supreme Court decision last Thursday may be just what the doctor ordered for states' ability to collect taxes on online sales from a much wider variety of businesses. The decision, passed with 5-4 votes from the Justices involved, overrules previous understandings regarding the physical presence rule: essentially, that a business was only forced to collect sales tax and send it to the State it's operating if it had some sort of physical presence (be it warehouses or some such) in that particular state. If not, taxes were still due - but shoppers had to take the initiative of delivering their taxable amount to the state. That, naturally, very rarely happened, which led to reported billion dollar losses in tax revenue for a variety of US states.

Now, states have essentially been given the green light to pass laws requiring out-of-state sellers to collect the state's sales tax from customers and send it to the state. More than a dozen states have already adopted such laws even ahead of the court's decision, confident in the decision's direction, said state tax policy expert Joseph Crosby.

A Very Real Intelligence Race: The White House Hosts 38 Tech Companies on AI

The White House today is hosting executives from 38 companies for a grueling, embattled day of trying to move through the as of yet murky waters of AI development. The meeting, which includes representatives from Microsoft, Intel, Google, Amazon, Pfizer, and Ford, among others, aims to gather thoughts and ideas on how to supercharge AI development in a sustainable, safe, and cost-effective way.

Fields such as agriculture, healthcare and transportation are being spearheaded as areas of interest (military applications, obviously, are being discussed elsewhere). The Washington Post quotes Michael Kratsios, deputy chief technology officer at the White House, as saying in a recent interview that "Whether you're a farmer in Iowa, an energy producer in Texas, a drug manufacturer in Boston, you are going to be using these techniques to drive your business going forward."

New "BranchScope" Side-channel CPU Vulnerability Threatens Modern Processors

In the age of cyber-security vulnerabilities being named by their discoverers, much like incoming tropical storms, the latest, which exploits speculative execution of modern processors, is named "BranchScope," discovered by academics from four US universities, Dmitry Evtyushkin, Ryan Riley, Nael Abu-Ghazaleh, and Dmitry Ponomarev. The vulnerability has been successfully tested on Intel "Sandy Bridge," "Haswell," and "Skylake" micro-architectures, and remains to be tested on AMD processors. It bears similarities to "Spectre" variant 2, in that it is an exploit of the branch prediction features of modern CPUs.

BranchScope differs from Spectre variant 2, in that while the latter exploits the branch target buffer, BranchScope goes after the directional branch predictor, a component that decides which speculative operations to execute. By misdirecting it, attackers can make the CPU read and spit out data from the memory previously inaccessible. The worst part? You don't need administrative privileges to run the exploit, it can be run from the user-space. Unlike CTS-Labs, the people behind the BranchScope discovery appear to have alerted hardware manufacturers significantly in advance, before publishing their paper (all of it, including technicals). They will present their work at the 23rd ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS 2018), later today.

US-Gov Looking into National Security Implications of Broadcom-Qualcomm Merger

The United States Government is closely examining national security implications of a potential Broadcom-Qualcomm merger. Broadcom is a Singapore-based company, while Qualcomm is American. An empowered national security panel called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which has the legal power to stop mergers between American and foreign companies, and acquisitions of American companies by foreign entities; is said to be examining specifics of Qualcomm's high-technology and intellectual property falling into the hands of Broadcom, as the two companies close in on a crucial Qualcomm board meet scheduled for March, in which Broadcom has exercised its shareholding to plant 6 favorable board members among the 11-member Qualcomm board, which all but guarantees a vote in favor of the merger - a classic hostile takeover.

"Not so fast," believes Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the US Senate, who urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to have the CFIUS examine the Broadcom-Qualcomm deal. In its unprecedented pre-deal discussions within the otherwise opaque committee, a consensus emerged that Broadcom's decision to relocate its headquarters to the US was insufficient to circumvent a CFIUS review. "I urge CFIUS to promptly review Broadcom's proposed acquisition of control of Qualcomm's board, and to act prior to the March 6 Qualcomm meeting to address any national security concerns that may be identified," Senator Cornyn wrote to Secretary Mnuchin. It looks like Broadcom's decision to tamper with Qualcomm's board is set to spectacularly backfire.

Oculus Rift, Touch VR on Sale: Grab Yours While it Lasts

One of the hottest pieces of tech in the last few years, Oculus' Rift and Touch VR add-on, have entered a sale of sorts, which bring the pricing on these pieces of kit down to more humane, tenable values. If you are living over in the Great Britain side of the pond, you can grab your Rift+ Oculus Touch VR kit for a reasonable (for the tech) £399, for a limited time only. Scan.uk has you covered. On the other side of the pond (that means you, US), you can grab the same kit for an even more reasonable $399 (Newegg pricing at time of writing.)

These deals are being touted as limited to supply, and of a short duration. So if you think the hardware is at a point you're comfortable with, and that the platform and software ecosystem have matured enough for you to take the plunge, now might be the best time in a while to do so.

Foxconn Eyeing US for $10 billion Investment; Looking After Toshiba Deal

Taiwan-based Foxconn, one of Apple's main suppliers, is looking to expand its operations in the US to the tune of $10 billion. The company is still deciding which state will get the greatest solo investment, in the form of a $7 billion display factory (worth mentioning here is that Foxconn's display manufacturing has seen a recent buff by the acquisition of Sharp.) Reportedly, investments are being considered in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and/or Texas. There was no given timeframe for the construction's start or finish, but a final decision should be made public in July. Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou also vowed to press on with a bid for Toshiba Corp.'s semiconductor business, although the Japanese company has already selected a preferred buyer in the form of a Japanese and US joint venture. Such a deal could cost $27 billion and introduce Foxconn (and, likely but indirectly, China) into the memory chip business.
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