Intel Kernel Security: Meltdown, Spectre, Kaiser – What you need to know!

Meltdown! Kaiser! Spectre! How bad are these security threats? How much will they slowdown YOUR PC? We’ve got more info on these issues, and links to press releases and industry analysis. Buckle up folks! 2018 is off to a rocky start for the entire computing industry!

Intel press release acknowledging the issue.
Google press release detailing affected products
AMD press release explaining why AMD CPU’s aren’t affected the same way.

ARM official response to exploit on mobile processors.
Continue reading “Intel Kernel Security: Meltdown, Spectre, Kaiser – What you need to know!”

Intel Kernel Security Flaw: You might lose up to 30% performance…

A terrible start for 2018 and Intel. A security flaw was discovered in Intel hardware, and the fix could be VERY costly. Depending on what processor is in your computer, you might see performance losses anywhere from 5% to 30%. Yikes. And yes, even you Mac users will be affected. Here’s the scoop on Intel’s Kernel Security flaw. Pretty sure my next PC build will be an AMD…

*** UPDATE ***

Intel press release acknowledging the issue.
Google press release detailing affected products
AMD press release explaining why AMD CPU’s aren’t affected the same way.

ARM official response to exploit on mobile processors.

Continue reading “Intel Kernel Security Flaw: You might lose up to 30% performance…”

Uber Goes Electric, AMD Beats Intel, and Origami Kids Clothes – Top Tech News

Uber is under investigation for spying on Lyft drivers, but they’re also mandating all drivers go electric by 2020. AMD is gaining on Intel FAR faster than analysts thought, and as a father of a toddler, I’m VERY interested in kids clothes that unfold like origami. My favorite tech stories for the first week of September 2017!

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After defeating Net Neutrality, Verizon buys Intel Media Cloud TV services

Verizon-logoThey do move quickly over at Big Red don’t they.

After an appellate court ruled that the FCC didn’t have the authority to enforce net neutrality on data networks, Verizon is announcing plans to buy Intel Media. Intel Media is the wing of Intel working on next generation cloud, TV, and multimedia services. Following their recent acquisition of Edgecast content delivery networks and upLynk’s video encoding technology, it seems pretty clear that Verizon is aggressively working towards expanding their offerings in IPTV, cloud, and streaming services.

Now they also have a pass from the judicial system allowing them to legally prioritize their own services while degrading their competitor’s services. The free market works.

Full Intel PR below.

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Redditor Explains What Thunderbolt Is (And Isn’t)

thunderbolt cable port logoI’ve been asked about what Thunderbolt is before, but Redditor Coptician wrote up a terrific explanation of what this tech can do.

Let’s start with the technical aspect of Thunderbolt – what it is and most of all: what it isn’t.

Thunderbolt as people probably know is part Displayport. It has a Displayport signal as part of the base of Thunderbolt, which means you can send audio and video to one or two devices (if one device support sending the Displayport signal from it to another device, which almost no monitors right now do!). The other base part if PCI-Express.

PCI-Express is one of the base layers of computers. Looking at a desktop, it’s the thing you use to add any expansion cards to a computer. In current computers (at least for Intel) PCI-E is a near-direct path from the expansion card to the processor, to such an extent that what processor you have decides how many PCI-E ‘lanes’ (like lanes on a road) you have. This is no longer dependent on motherboards.
PCI-E can be used for almost anything. There are PCI-E cards for USB (3.0), for Firewire, for Ethernet, for graphics cards (most famously), for audio cards, capture cards, and many many other things. It’s the most-used way to expand a computer’s functions on a low level.
To make a quick comparison to USB: USB doesn’t have direct access to the CPU. USB exists on a much higher level (this is a bad thing for expansion devices, usually) than PCI-E, which also means it has less access to lower-level functions and parts. USB has to talk to Windows or OS X to even get anything done. You can make mostly everything you can with PCI-E with USB these days, but you’ll get slower, more processor and memory dependent results. There’s not a single graphics card for USB that’s intended for gaming, mostly due to USB’s extremely high latency compared to PCI-E.

Back to Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt feels a lot like USB to most people right now – you hook up your Firewire-converter to it, or an Ethernet connector. Maybe like me you have a nice external hard drive hooked up to it. Those things feel a lot like USB, and since Thunderbolt is so much more expensive, it feels useless.

Well, here’s some examples of why it isn’t.

This is the Sonnet Echo Express III. What it does is allow you to hook up to your Macbook three (!) PCI-Express cards. These can be audio interfacing cards, they can be capture cards or specialized editing cards. You can even put a limited set of full on graphics cards in there, though this one’s not ideal for it yet. With USB, you’d have high latency and CPU usage, and you’re sharing all your USB bandwidth between those devices, but with PCI-E, you get much more and much more stable bandwidth.

I also own a Thunderbolt Display, and that has multiple different PCI-E devices built into it. A USB controller, a Firewire controller, an Ethernet controller and all the things like webcam, mic, speakers and so on. The aforementioned external hard drives are attached to the Thunderbolt Display, and then I have a Dell monitor hooked up to the hard drives. I’m powering two displays, my Ethernet, Firewire, most of my USB and two hard drives (or SSD’s, it’s full SATA so you get full speed) to one connector. USB can’t do that, even if it’s soon-to-be the ‘same speed’ as Thunderbolt.

The comparision between Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 isn’t about speed but about what you can do with them, and that’s where the comparison becomes pointless. Thunderbolt wasn’t designed as a replacement for USB, even though it can be if you want it to be, it’s designed to replace desktops. Thunderbolt is designed to make a notebook capable of truly replacing a desktop computer in terms of expandability. Thunderbolt was designed to make on-the-go high-performance audio and video devices possible. It isn’t close to cheap, I agree, and it’s not for everyone, but Thunderbolt is amazing.

The technology behind Thunderbolt sets it completely apart from USB, which was never intended to do as much as it does now, and it’s completely and totally different from it. While Thunderbolt isn’t for everyone and not everyone even has a use for it, it serves its purpose extremely well.

Go give Coptician some upvotes!

Microsoft unveils Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 in NYC

LB_8705Before I even get into this announcement, can I just say it’s starting to become a real bummer when companies release these new products at swanky events but don’t do a live stream. I digress.

At a swanky un-watchable event in NYC this morning the Redmond Surface team officially took the wraps off of the new Surface Pro 2. A substantial update to the progressive little Windows 8 tablet released in February of this year. This was a necessary release time table for Microsoft as the OG Surface came out right before a new generation of lower power processors from Intel.

LB_8749The design and dimensions remain largely unchanged from the original. There weren’t many criticisms about the form factor or build quality. One of the few exterior updates is a change to the angle of the kickstand allowing for improved lap usability.

Continue reading “Microsoft unveils Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 in NYC”

Intel to ship 14nm laptop processors by end of year – up to 30% improvement in battery life

Intel-4th-gen-haswell-chipMore news out of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel showed off an Ultrabook powered by a new “Broadwell” processor which utilizes a 14nm construction.

Known as a “die-shrink”, newer processors are refined and made smaller than their predecessors. This improves power management, which should reduce wasted electricity (also reducing wasted heat), and improve battery life. At some point however, we’ll be fighting physics as we wont be able to continue shrinking these parts forever.

While we might hit that manufacturing brick wall some day, that day is not today.

Intel recently released “Haswell” to the market, and its 22nm construction has already allowed for new tablet-like form factors for full-fledged PC’s from Sony, Lenovo, Asus, and other manufacturers.  Computers which run full versions of desktop operating systems and programs, but in form factors approaching consumer grade tablets. Intel is estimating that Broadwell based computers will see an almost 30% gain in battery life over current Haswell technology. We could be seeing Windows 8 tablets and hybrids approaching or surpassing iPad battery life by early next year.

Intel also discussed 14nm construction for their Atom line of low power chips used in phones. Those parts should be shipping in actual devices by the end of 2014.

Intel president Renée James also teased future development from the CPU developer, claiming “we have 14 nanometer working and we can see beyond that. I assure you it’s alive and well.” Exciting stuff, especially for future mobility products.

New ChromeBooks unveiled at the Intel Developer Forum sporting Haswell

chromebookPeople who track computer sales estimate that nearly a quarter of all computers sold under $300 are ChromeBooks. Google’s browser based cloud OS is eagerly chewing into the market formerly occupied by Windows based netbooks. It’s easy to see why, as ChromeOS runs smoother on lower powered hardware than stripped version of Windows.

Today at the Intel Developer Forum, new ChromeBooks took the stage featuring Intel’s newest processor architecture named Haswell. Haswell takes Intel a significant step forward in offering up powerful mobile solutions which use less power to get work done. They’re already being utilized in the new ultraportable Windows Hybrids from manufacturers Sony, Asus, and Lenovo. Now we’re set to see Haswell parts ship in Chromebooks from Acer, HP, Asus, and Toshiba.

This move should bring a performance boost to the ChromeOS ecosystem as previous ChromeBooks used more tablet-like hardware, but hopefully this increase in power wont come at the expense of battery life.

Hit the Google Chrome Blog for the full scoop!