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AMD Ryzen 5000 Series CPUs with Zen 3 Cores Could be Vulnerable to Spectre-Like Exploit

AMD Ryzen 5000 series of processors feature the new Zen 3 core design, which uses many techniques to deliver the best possible performance. One of those techniques is called Predictive Store Forwarding (PSF). According to AMD, "PSF is a hardware-based micro-architectural optimization designed to improve the performance of code execution by predicting dependencies between loads and stores." That means that PSF is another "prediction" feature put in a microprocessor that could be exploited. Just like Spectre, the feature could be exploited and it could result in a vulnerability in the new processors. Speculative execution has been a part of much bigger problems in CPU microarchitecture design, showing that each design choice has its flaws.

AMD's CPU architects have discovered that the software that relies upon isolation aka "sandboxing", is highly at risk. PSF predictions can sometimes miss, and it is exactly these applications that are at risk. It is reported that a mispredicted dependency between load and store can lead to a vulnerability similar to Spectre v4. So what a solution to it would be? You could simply turn it off and be safe. Phoronix conducted a suite of tests on Linux and concluded that turning the feature off is taking between half a percent to one percent hit, which is very low. You can see more of that testing here, and read AMD's whitepaper describing PSF.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 Owners are Applying Custom GPU vBIOS with Higher TGP Presets

With NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 30-series lineup of GPUs, laptop manufacturers are offered a wide variety of GPU SKUs that internally differ simply by having different Total Graphics Power (TGP), which in turn results in different clock speeds and thus different performance. ASUS uses NVIDIA's variant of GeForce RTX 3080 mobile GPU inside the company's ROG Zephyrus Duo (GX551QS) with a TGP of 115 Watts, and Dynamic Boost technology that can ramp up the card to 130 Watts. However, this doesn't represent the maximum for RTX 3080 mobile graphics card. The maximum TGP for RTX 3080 mobile goes up to 150 Watts, which is a big improvement that lets the GPU reach higher frequencies and more performance.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you manually applied vBIOS that allows the card to use more power? Well, Baidu forum users are reporting a successful experiment of transforming their 115 W RTX 3080 to 150 W TGP card. Using GPU vBIOS from MSI Leopard G76, which features a 150 W power limit, and applying it to the ROG's Zephyrus Duo power-limited RTX 3080 cards is giving results. Users have successfully used this vBIOS to squeeze out more performance from their laptops. As seen on the 3D Mark Time Spy rank list, the entries are now dominated solely by modified laptops. Performance improvement is, of course, present and it reaches up to a 20% increase.

Arm China Goes Rogue, Ex-CEO Blocking the Business

Arm Ltd., owned by Softbank, has a division specially tailored for China, called Arm China. That division used to operate in Shenzen and it cooperated with Chinese customers. Today in a surprising turn of events, we have information that UK-based Arm Ltd. accuses Arm China ex-CEO of blocking its business, as the Chinese division goes rogue. The Arm China division used to have Mr. Allen Wu as its CEO, who was fired back in June. However, Mr. Wu has refused to cooperate and refused to step down from his position, remaining in control of the business without the consent of UK-based headquarters.

The situation has escalated to a point where Mr. Wu is "propagating false information and creating a culture of fear and confusion among Arm China employees," says Arm in a statement for Bloomberg. "Allen's focus on his own self-preservation has also put China semiconductor innovation at risk as he has attempted to block the critical communication and support our China partners require from Arm for ongoing and future chip designs." It is also said that Mr. Wu has refused to hold an event meant to connect Chinese chipmakers to Arm Ltd. He has hired personal security so no Arm Ltd. representatives can get to him. It is a waiting game to see how well Arm Ltd. can manage this situation, so we have to wait and see.

NVIDIA Dismisses Investor Claims of $1 billion Wrongdoing in Company Finance Reporting Amidst Crypto Boom

NVIDIA has (not surprisingly) dismissed allegations that it had misled investors in regard to demand towards its GeForce graphics products circa 2017. The original allegation claimed that NVIDIA has wrongfully misrepresented GeForce division sales to investors by including crypto-focused sales on its bottom line. This, investors claim, painted a safer investment opportunity on NVIDIA stock than it actually was - the volatility of the crypto market and associated unpredictability in NVIDIA GeForce products' demand being the sore point for investors. Demand of GeForce products for gaming is considered to be less risk-averse and less elastic than crypto-focused sales.

NVIDIA says that investors cherry-picked corporate statements while ignoring others that, according to NVIDIA, showed transparency. The ammended class suit, which was amended in May 2020 from its original 2017 entry date, accuses Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang and Jeff Fisher, head of gaming, claiming they knew the rise in GeForce GPU sales was linked to the crypto mining boom and wasn't going to last in the long-term. NVIDIA says that executives didn't lie when they described crypto sales as a "small portion" of their revenue (which was disclosed at $6.9 billion for the year 2017). Another contention point from NVIDIA is that executives in the company (and the company itself) had no way of knowing ecactly what purpoze its sold GPUs were being put to.

Huawei Moves 14 nm Silicon Orders from TSMC to SMIC

Huawei's subsidiary, HiSilicon, which designs the processors used in Huawei's smartphones and telecommunications equipment, has reportedly moved its silicon orders from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), according to DigiTimes. Why Huawei decided to do is move all of the 14 nm orders from Taiwanese foundry to China's largest silicon manufacturing fab, is to give itself peace of mind if the plan of the US Government goes through to stop TSMC from supplying Huawei. At least for the mid-tier chips built using 14 nm node, Huawei would gain some peace as a Chinese fab is a safer choice given the current political situation.

When it comes to the high-end SoCs built on 7 nm, and 5 nm in the future, it is is still uncertain how will Huawei behave in this situation, meaning that if US cuts off TSMC's supply to Huawei, they will be forced to use SMIC's 7 nm-class N+1 node instead of anything from TSMC. Another option would be Samsung, but it is a question will Huawei put itself in risk to be dependant on another foreign company. The lack of 14 nm orders from Huawei will not be reflecting much on TSMC, because whenever someone decides to cut orders, another company takes up the manufacturing capactiy. For example, when Huawei cut its 5 nm orders, Apple absorbed by ordering more capacity. When Huawei also cut 7 nm orders, AMD and other big customers decided to order more, making the situation feel like there is a real fight for TSMC's capacity.
Silicon Wafer

NVIDIA's GeForce 376.33 WHQL Drivers Fix Multiple Kernel Faults; Update ASAP

If you're one of those people who doesn't regularly update their graphics card drivers, and you're rocking an NVIDIA graphics card, you really should update your drivers to the latest WHQL version, 376.33. The release notes and a security bulletin issued by the company point towards the fixing of multiple detected kernel layer (nvlddmkm.sys) vulnerabilities in NVIDIA's previous driver releases, which could "Lead to a Denial of Service, Escalation of Privileges, or Both".

In total, there are seven reported vulnerabilities as having been fixed, with NVIDIA acknowledging contributions in the issues' detection from engineers with Google Project Zero and Cisco Talos.
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