GN #SomethingPositive Drives $7000 to Charities
This is discussed primarily in the video segment. GN’s “#SomethingPositive” charity drive brought over $7000 to charities, with over $4000 of those donations coming from our phenomenal community. GN kicked things off with a $1270 donation to the Eden Reforestation Project, followed by Bitwit Kyle’s $1000 donation, with both of us then outdone by Paul’s Hardware and his l33t donation of $1337. The community, though, outdid all three of us combined, driving the remainder to various charities that inspired the community members.
Some of the charities included:
Eden Reforestation Projects, EFF, Doctors Without Borders, Water.org, PKD Foundation to fight kidney disease, Lungevity, Norsk Luftambulanse, Oncological Foundations [various], food to a homeless shelter, Sick Kids VS, Brain Injury Association of America, Black Dog Institute, Books for Keeps, and more
AMD Clarifies: Vega 56 Price Will Not Go Down
AMD reached-out to media to clarify its short-lived Vega 56 promotion advertised to media prior to the 1660 Ti review embargo lift, which ran-out nearly instantly upon starting. The company wrote the following:
“Radeon RX Vega 56 has been heavily promoted since the holidays and into the new year as partners have been eager to make RX Vega 56 and it's [sic] forward looking 8GB of HBM2 available for more gamers. To clarify, the current Radeon RX Vega 56 promotion is not a price drop. Additionally, the RX Vega 56 graphics card will continue to be offered as part of AMD’s Raise the Game: Fully Loaded bundle with three of this year’s blockbuster titles.”
DRAM Oversupply: PC, Server DRAM to See Sharp Declines
In its latest market analysis, DRAMeXchange states that the continued oversupply in the DRAM market will lead to price declines in server DRAM by as much as 30%, and a potential 20% decline for PC DRAM, for 1Q19. Additionally, the oversupply is expected to perpetuate through the second half of 2019, at least.
DRAMeXchange states that the oversupply and weak demand are still affecting the market, and will continue to do so in 2Q19, where the PC DRAM market could see an additional 15% QoQ reduction in price. Meanwhile, the price declines are not expected to moderate for server DRAM until at least 3Q19, as selling off excessive inventories becomes vital.
By the end of 2019, we could see YoY price drops of 50% or more.
A Malicious Vulnerability Hiding in WinRAR For 14 Years
WinRAR, the popular file compression utility, recently announced they’ve patched a vulnerability that’s existed for some 14 years, potentially putting WinRAR’s 500 million users at risk.
The potential attack vector was discovered by Check Point Software, and long story short, WinRAR’s support of the outdated ACE archive format was to blame. By giving an ACE file a .rar extension, code execution can be gained by allowing winRAR to extract malicious code to computer’s startup folder, that will then run automatically on a reboot.
WinRAR issued the following statement via their website.
“Nadav Grossman from Check Point Software Technologies informed us
about a security vulnerability in UNACEV2.DLL library. Aforementioned vulnerability makes possible to create files in arbitrary folders inside or outside of destination folder when unpacking ACE archives.
WinRAR used this third party library to unpack ACE archives. UNACEV2.DLL had not been updated since 2005 and we do not have access to its source code. So we decided to drop ACE archive format support to protect security of WinRAR users.
We are thankful to Check Point Software Technologies for reporting this issue.”
Allstate Acquires iCracked, Right to Repair Acquires an Ally
Allstate insurance announced in a surprising move, that it has acquired iCracked, one of the largest independent smartphone repair companies in the US. Purchased through Allstate’s SqaureTrade subsidiary, iCracked will now join SqaureTrade, which offers extended protection plans and technical support.
This acquisition will presumably allow SqaureTrade to extend its services by allowing customers to use iCracked, who offer on-demand and on-site repair services. More importantly, however, is what the right to repair movement stands to gain from acquiring an ally in the fourth largest US insurance provider.
Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org, told Motherboard that “Allstate has been very helpful to us,” and that Allstate has been helpful behind the scenes in states like New Hampshire, where right to repair legislature like HB 462 is being proposed.
iFixit, long standing proponents of right to repair, spoke to Motherboard as well, approving of the partnership between iCracked and Allstate.
“iCracked has been a major supporter of right to repair, and we really appreciate their valuable contribution to the fight for freedom. I’m optimistic that this partnership will elevate the visibility of the work that we’re doing together.”
2019 is set to be a busy year for right to repair, with 15 bills being proposed in 15 states this year. Allstate might be what the right to repair needs to combat the massive lobbying power and political influence of companies opposing independent repair. Repair.org and iFixit recently started hosting live town halls on YouTube in an effort to educate consumers on the benefits of right to repair.
TSMC Details Financial Impact from Chemical Contamination
A few weeks ago, news broke that TSMC was dealing with production problems at their Fab 14 in Southern Taiwan, and that the disruption in wafer production was due to a bad batch of photoresist chemicals. At the time, details were scarce, but TSMC was potentially facing thousands of scrapped wafers. Now, however, TSMC has detailed the financial impact of the disruption of those production lines.
TSMC will lower their 1Q19 guidance, as the photoresist incident is expected to cost TSMC as much $550 million in revenue for Q1. Additionally, gross margins will see a 2.6% reduction, as well as a 3.6% drop in operating margins. The wafers lost in the first quarter will be made up in 2Q19.
TSMC stated that a batch of photoresist chemicals from an unnamed supplier contained an abnormally treated component, resulting in the creation of a foreign polymer, creating an adverse affect on 12nm and 16nm wafers. The anomaly was discovered when the wafers deviated from normal yield.
TSMC also stated that “it has maintained constant communication with affected customers and has worked out replacement and delivery schedules with each of them.”
Intel Acquires 100 Engineers for Discrete GPU Team
In a move to flesh out their continued foray into GPUs, Intel has bought Ineda Systems (which works on autonomous vehicle products) for an undisclosed all-cash deal. According to The Times of India, Intel is less interested in Ineda’s products, and more so in their engineers. According to their sources, The Times of India reports that Intel will recruit around 100 engineers to join its graphics team.
Intel issued the following statement, via TomsHardware.
"Intel acquired engineering resources from Ineda Systems, a silicon and platform services provider based in Hyderabad. This transaction provides Intel with an experienced SOC (system on chip) team to help build a world-class discrete GPU business."
Intel has been an a tear lately, buying or acquiring talent and skill sets. The engineers will be in good company with the likes of Raja Koduri, Jim Keller, and Chris Hook just to name a few. Intel plans to rollout discrete graphics cards from its Xe Graphics brand for both gaming and data center in 2020.
NZXT H500 Overwatch Edition
NZXT has collaborated with Blizzard to offer another game-themed chassis, this time for fans of Overwatch. The NZXT H500 Overwatch Edition follows similarly gaming themed cases, such as the PUBG-themed H700 and the Fallout-themed H700 from the CRFT series.
The H500 Overwatch edition is a mid-tower case that is, to be clear, not part of NZXT’s CRFT line. The case retains everything from the vanilla H500, while incorporating an orange cable management bar, and two Overwatch logos -- one of which glows.
The NZXT H500 Overwatch Edition will sell for $150, and can be pre ordered via NZXT’s website.
Intel Pentium Gold G5620: 14nm ++ Leads to 4 GHz Pentium
European retailers are listing new Pentium and Celeron chips, and among them is Intel’s first 4 GHz Pentium, the Pentium Gold G5620.
Other SKUS include the Pentium Gold G5420, the Pentium Gold G5420T, the Pentium Gold G5600T, the Celeron G4950, the Celeron G4930, and the Celeron G4930T. As Anandtech points out, the primary selling point of this chips is the higher clock speeds and single core IPC.
What architecture the new processors are based on is anyone’s guess, but Coffee Lake or Coffee Lake Refresh would be desirable, as it contains in-silicon mitigations for Spectre and Meltdown. However, as Anandtech notes again, these fixes aren’t necessarily faster, just more convenient.
Both Futureport and ISO-Datentechnik, Finish and Danish retailers, respectively, are listing the chips as being available in March, with no word on pricing.
Overclockers UK Offers A $46,000 PC
Overclockers UK are offering their ultra-premium Orion-X2 PC, which is built and overclocked by former world record overclocker turned system builder, Ian “8Pack” Parry.
The Orion X2 comes housed in the Phanteks Enthoo Elite chassis, and contains twin systems. The primary system offers the Intel I9-7980XE, 2x (or 3x) water cooled NVIDIA RTX Titans, and 128GB of DDR4-3200MHz RAM. The secondary system offers either the Intel i9-9900K or the i7-9700K, combined with a water cooled RTX Titan or 2080 Ti.
For motherboards, the primary system uses the X299 Asus Rampage VI Extreme Omega Edition E-ATX, while the secondary system uses an Asus ROG Strix Z390I Gaming Mini-ITX. Both of the builds are powered by an “8pack” edition of Super Flower’s Leadex 2KW PSU.
The Orion X2 is cooled by three independent water loops featuring a slew of radiators, fans, pump, reservoirs, and acrylic flow plates. The system is configurable up to about $46,000.
Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Video: Josh Svoboda, Andrew Coleman
Host: Steve Burke