Industry

Warranty Void Stickers Get Slapped by FTC

By Published April 14, 2018 at 4:29 pm

This far along the line, it should be no secret that we at GamersNexus find the “Warranty Void if Removed” stickers that adorn so many devices—consoles, cellphones, laptops, etc.—ethically abhorrent. They are a thinly veiled, bullshit attack on consumers’ right to repair. These stickers are also a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act—a point we brought up in an article we wrote a while back, as well as details on the then-current right to repair climate. It would seem as though the pecuniary and questionable warranty practices of at least six companies have caught up with them, as the FTC has officially put six major companies on notice.

In the press release, the FTC expresses “concerns” about the six companies’ policies that constrict repairs to specific service providers—e.g. Apple, Microsoft, Sony, et al. While the FTC wouldn’t disclose the identity of the companies in question, the press release did mention that these companies sell and market “automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States.”

Intel Limits Meltdown/Spectre for Older CPUs

By Published April 08, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Intel has slowly been deploying mitigations for Spectre/Meltdown for recent platforms. In the most recent microcode revision guidance, Intel has indicated it will not deploy any microcode mitigations for the recently disclosed flaws for older processor platforms. Intel cited the following reasons:

This week's hardware news recap follows GTC 2018, where we had a host of nVidia and GPU-adjacent news to discuss. That's all recapped heavily in the video portion, as most of it was off-the-top reporting just after the show ended. For the rest, we talk 4K 144Hz displays, 3DMark's raytracing demo, AMD's Radeon Rays, the RX Vega 56 Red Devil card, and CTS Labs updates.

As for this week, we're back to lots of CPU testing, as we've been doing for the past few weeks now. We're also working on some secret projects that we'll more fully reveal soon. For the immediate future, we'll be at PAX East on Friday, April 6, and will be on a discussion panel with Bitwit Kyle and Corsair representatives. We're planning to record the panel for online viewing.

At GTC 2018, we learned that SK Hynix’s GDDR6 memory is bound for mass production in 3 months, and will be featured on several upcoming nVidia products. Some of these include autonomous vehicle components, but we also learned that we should expect GDDR6 on most, if not all, of nVidia’s upcoming gaming architecture cards.

Given a mass production timeline of June-July for GDDR6 from SK Hynix, assuming Hynix is a launch-day memory provider, we can expect next-generation GPUs to become available after this timeframe. There still needs to be enough time to mount the memory to the boards, after all. We don’t have a hard date for when the next-generation GPU lineup will ship, but from this information, we can assume it’s at least 3 months away -- possibly more. Basically, what we know is that, assuming Hynix is a launch vendor, new GPUs are nebulously >3 months away.

Analyst Christopher Rolland recently confirmed Bitmain’s completed development of a new ASIC miner for Ethereum (and similar cryptocurrencies), and thusly reduced stock targets for both AMD and NVIDIA. According to Rolland, Bitmain’s ASIC may eat into GPU demand by cryptomining companies, as the ASIC will outperform GPUs in efficiency for the hashing power.

Rolland noted that this may, obviously, reduce demand for GPUs for mining applications, highlighting that an approximate 20% of AMD and 10% of NVIDIA sales revenue has recently come from mining partners.

This hardware news update looks into our original CTS Labs story, adding to the research by attempting to communicate with CTS Labs via their PR firm, Bevel PR. We also talk about leaked specifications for the R5 2600X, accidentally posted early to Amazon, and some other leaks on ASUS ROG X470 motherboards.

Minor news items include the loss of power at a Samsung plant, killing 60,000 wafers in the process, and nVidia’s real-time ray-tracing (RTX) demo from GDC.

Show notes below the video.

Here’s a histrionic quote for you: “AMD must cease the sale of Ryzen and EPYC chips in the interest of public safety.”

That’s a real quote from Viceroy Research’s deranged, apoplectic report on CTS Labs’ security allegations against AMD’s Ryzen architecture. The big story today seemed to mirror Meltdown, except for AMD: CTS Labs, a research company supposedly started in 2017, has launched a report declaring glaring security flaws for AMD’s processors. By and large, the biggest flaw revolves around the user installing bad microcode.

There are roots in legitimacy here, but as we dug deep into the origins of the companies involved in this new hit piece on AMD, we found peculiar financial connections that make us question the motive behind the reportage.

The goal here is to research whether the hysterical whitepapers -- hysterical as in “crazy,” not “funny” -- have any weight to them, and where these previously unknown companies come from.

Newegg’s sale of the new AMD Ryzen APUs, including the R3 2200G (that we’re reviewing now) and R5 2400G, posted the APUs above MSRP by roughly $20. The R5 2400G retailed on Newegg for $190, versus a $170 MSRP, and also landed the product significantly above Amazon’s competing pricing. We purchased APUs from both Newegg and Amazon, and paid less for the product from Amazon; of course, AMD (and other manufacturers) can’t control the prices of retailers – that’d actually be illegal – but they can certainly find ways to suggest a price. It is, after all, a manufacturer’s “suggested” retail price.

Today, we received the following note today from Newegg’s service account:

Newegg today revoked its affiliate commission for video cards, which the company's sub-affiliate networks declare to be a change pursuant to "Bitcoin's unexpected popularity." This statement, of course, is comprised primarily of a misunderstanding or misattribution of the market (or bullshit, in other words), although it does consist of some truth. By "Bitcoin," we must first assume that the company really means "cryptocurrency," seeing as Bitcoin is functionally unminable on GPUs. Making this assumption still does not account for the GPU price increase, though; the price increase, as we've discussed on numerous occasions, is mostly resultant of GPU memory prices and GPU memory availability moving in inversely proportional directions. In recent interviews with manufacturers, we learned that 8GB of GDDR5 has increased in manufacturing cost, and has increased BOM, by $20-$30. From what we understand, GDDR5 price movements are typically on a scale of +/- $5, but the $20-$30 hike necessitated some vendors to officially raise GPU MSRP (not just third-party retail price, but actual MSRP).

Samsung Confirms ASIC Miner Production

By Published February 05, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Samsung recently officially confirmed that they are producing ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) intended for cryptocurrency mining, being sold to unnamed clients for ASIC mining machines. These machines are different from GPU miners, and do not meaningfully affect desktop GPU supply.

As the name implies, ASICs are chips designed for a single purpose. There’s nothing unusual about producing ASICs, but mining-specific ones have been the domain of TSMC until now, primarily with client Bitmain. Samsung won’t be doing the mining themselves, just supplying the hardware: TechPowerUp suggests the order was placed by “Chinese clients” which were mentioned in a recent earnings report. Our understanding is that the varieties of cryptocurrency which ASICs can effectively mine are ones that are now beyond the capabilities of home mining operations, like Bitcoin, so they’re used by massive currency farms. SHA-256 algorithms are best mined with ASIC miners.

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